Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Balance Series #1: Balance

Aaron the High Priest had beautiful robes. The hem of his priestly garments were beautifully decorated with golden bells and embroidered blue, purple and scarlet pomegranates. (a refreshing, juicy fruit of the Mideast.)  Read of the beautiful  balance of bells and fruit in  Exodus 28:1-2, 31-35.

 

Note in  Exodus 28: 2 and 40 that the purpose of these robes was for glory and for beauty.   Our family once vacationed in a State Park where there was a beautiful  place among the trees for religious services for the campers. I was struck by the sign at the entrance of this place;  “Worship the Lord in the holiness of beauty.”    They had it backwards. Beauty does not aid nor produce worship or holiness.   Rather, holiness produces beauty in our lives  and it enables us to worship God.   I Chronicles 16:29

 

Many people have the idea that they can only worship in a beautiful atmosphere. They are attracted to beautiful cathedral-like churches. A Christian should be able to worship God in any environment. I have worshipped God silently in my heart in an office surrounded by men who were making the air blue with profanity, vulgarity  and cigarette smoke. I much prefer to worship God in a beautiful sanctuary. 

 

Christians can worship God in any meeting place: in a room in someone’s home, in a store front, in a plain, stark church building or in a beautiful cathedral. There is nothing holy about meeting in a dirty, messy building. Investing in a church building to make it beautiful and functional  is not a waste of the Lord’s money. Matthew 26:6-13 records a story of Jesus being anointed by a woman with precious, expensive ointment.  Some complained of the waste but  Jesus reproved them and expressed appreciation for her sacrifice.

 

The Biblical truth is that as we become holy, we become beautiful in character and personality and even in appearance.   Holiness makes a woman more truly beautiful. Beauty of face and figure apart from beauty of character is vain Proverbs 31:30 tells us.  Any godly husband would rather have a holy wife than a woman who tries to beautify herself simply with cosmetics, expensive clothing and jewelry. I Peter 3:1-5 explains this. There is nothing sinful in the tasteful application of make-up and in having beautiful, clothing. The point is, that it is holiness that beautifies; not simply  outward adorning.

 

Getting back to the high priest and his robes.  Note the balance of the bells and the pomegranates.  Bells are seen and heard.   Pomegranates are seen and tasted.  In the next article in this series  we will examine areas needing balance in our lives.

 

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March 29, 2006 Posted by | Balance Series | Comments Off on Balance Series #1: Balance

Balance Series #2: Where Balance Is Needed

In many areas of doctrine we must accept twin truths of Scripture, which at first appear to be in contradiction with each other;  but are actually giving us God’s full-orbed truth on a matter.  Here are some of those twin truths of Scripture which at a cursory glance sometimes appear to be contradictions.

 

 

FAITH AND WORKS

 

Faith is a major theme in Paul’s Epistles.  Works is a theme in the Epistle of James. Both men show the need for  the balance of faith and works in our lives. It is  clear in Romans 3 through 5  and in passages such as  Ephesians 2:8-9  and Titus 3:5-6 that we are not saved by attempting to atone for our sins through any works of righteousness on our part; but by faith in God’s provision of His Son, Jesus,  who shed His blood to atone for our sins. It’s the shed blood of Christ which atones for our sins; not our own flawed works.

 

Both James and Paul are saying something like this.   Salvation is by faith and faith alone, apart from any works of our own righteousness; but by a faith that does not remain alone; but results in a changed life of good works  In other words, one who claims faith in Christ, but whose life evidences no love for Christ and for others and has no change in his behaviour, shows he has never truly been saved.   II Corinthians 13:5  and James  2:20 challenge us to make sure the faith  we claim is evidenced by  our love and  good works

 

The Thessalonian church is a good example of the combination of these two themes. They were “show and tell” Christians. Their lives backed up what they preached.   Paul rejoices in their “work of faith” in I Thessalonians 1:3.   In the remaining verses of the first  chapter he describes that work of faith.

 

 

WORSHIP AND SERVICE

 

Balance is also needed in the area of worship and service.  Christians tend to gravitate to one extreme or the others.  Take for example, the story of  Mary and Martha recorded in Luke 10:38-42 .  Mary tended to spend her time in worship at Jesus’ feet. Martha tended to be too busy with kitchen duties to take time to worship Him. Jesus, chided Martha about her unbalanced emphasis on service.  There is certainly nothing wrong in serving Christ, but if we serve to the exclusion of worship we are unbalanced and missing an important ingredient in our lives. In fact, Isaiah teaches in the 6th chapter of Isaiah that we are not prepared to serve Him until first we have worshipped at His feet.  A beautiful Christian is one who has found the balance of worship and service.

 

 

KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM

 

Knowledge is acquired through teachers, books and experience.   We tend to ring the bells of knowledge  to show off the extent of our knowledge.  To be balanced we need the fruit of  godly wisdom to use our knowledge correctly; otherwise, we may end up using knowledge to harm others rather than help them.  In James 3:13-18  James contrasts earthly and heavenly wisdom.  As you read that passage, determine for yourself from the fruit produced, which kind of wisdom you have.   If you lack heavenly wisdom and desire it,   James 1:5-8  shows you clearly how you can have it.

 

 

KNOWLEDGE AND ZEAL

 

Zeal can be a good quality. Paul admonishes us in Titus 2:14 to be zealous of good works.  Zeal can also be a dangerous, harmful quality if it is used without spiritual knowledge and wisdom.  Saul of Tarsus, who was converted to Christ and whose name was changed to Paul,  writes in Romans 10:1-3 about his destructive zeal before he was saved.  In religious fervor he went about persecuting and killing Christians, thinking he was pleasing God.   There are religious people in the world today who in misguided zeal terrorize and randomly kill those who are not of their religion, thinking they are doing a service for their god.

 

 

HONOUR AND MAJESTY

 

The Psalmist in Psalm 96:6 writes about the beautiful blend of honour and majesty which is a part of God’s character and that can be a part of our character as we submit to Him.

 

 

STRENGTH AND BEAUTY

 

In that same passage,  Psalm 96:6  the Psalmist also describes a needed blend in our lives of strength and beauty.  We need to develop strength of character and convictions for that which is right and against that which is wrong.  But with that strength it is important that it be balanced with  the beauty of a humble spirit that reflects in our faces, in our attitudes and in our relationship with others.  Such a balance brings glory to God and blessing to others.

 

 

CONFIDENCE AND HUMILITY

 

Confidence rings like a bell in one who has it. But that confidence needs to be tempered with humility if we are to have a beautiful testimony before others and edify them. If we do not reflect humility, we become proud showmen or hard-nosed dogmatists and God is not glorified.  On  the other hand, if we lack confidence, we become shrinking violets who accomplish nothing for God.

 

 

SPEECH AND SILENCE

 

As witnesses for Christ, it is important  to ring the bell of the Gospel. As witnesses we also need to possess the fruit of silence and self control.  We need to learn when to speak and when to keep our mouth shut.  We preachers especially need to know when to speak and what to say and also when to keep quiet. and listen and learn.

 

 

RIGIDITY AND FLEXIBILITY

 

As Christians let us  ring the bell of rigidity and be inflexible in our stand for truth and righteousness.  On the other hand, we also need to have the balance of being flexible on lesser matters, especially in the area where we differ in matters of opinion and preference.

 

God’s Word  and the relationship we have with one another through the shed blood of Christ, unite us.  But if we magnify our opinions and preferences, these things are bound to divide us.

 

In a family composed of parents, brothers and sisters with different personalities and interests, the thing that unites us is our family bond of love.  So it can be in God’s family. Ask God to help you to know when to be rigid and when to be flexible.

 

 

SEPARATION AND INVOLVEMENT

 

As obedient Christians, it is important that we ring the  bell of separation from sin. See my series SEPARATION for further information concerning this.  At the same time, we must be involved in the lives of the unsaved, showing our friendship to them and yet not getting involved in their sin.  Jesus in his prayer in John 17:15-17.  expressed the need for balance  in the matter of  separation and involvement.  To be salt and light in a corrupt, sin-darkened world,  we need to be involved in the lives of  people.

 

 

 

DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY AND HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY

 

In the area of Biblical doctrine most Christian tend to gravitate to one of two emphases. Some glory in God’s sovereignty and ignore the truth of human responsibility and others glory in the truth of human responsibility and ignore the truth of God’s sovereignty. Both are Biblical doctrines backed by dozens of Scriptures.

 

The Gospel train runs down two parallel tracks.  The track of God’s sovereignty and the track of human responsibility.  Both tracks stay parallel through  scripture.  They cannot be brought together and they cannot be separated or the Gospel train will derail.  To emphasize one to the exclusion of the other is to ring the bells, but ignore the fruit. on the hem of the priest’s garment.

 

 

We are a royal priesthood of believers. I Peter 2:9 announces.  Let’s make sure that the hem of our spiritual garment of salvation which we considered in the first of this two part series has in it both the golden bells and the embroidered fruit in perfect balance.  Only as we live a balanced life can we have a beautiful testimony.

March 29, 2006 Posted by | Balance Series | Comments Off on Balance Series #2: Where Balance Is Needed