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Preserve Truth, Promote Justice


February 11, 2009

Complacency leads to compromise which leads to corruption. It's just another form of "we drift, we doubt, we disobey, we die." Something bothers me right now, and it's this. I see the church being tempted to move away from its first duty, from the first mark of the faithful Church. This temptation comes in the talk of those who want tolerance more than just understanding of others' religions, who want faith-based organizations to stop evangelizing if they receive government funds of any kind, who mandate that religious positions must not influence practices, and probably much more. Yes, we can understand other viewpoints, the tenets of other religions and of atheists, but if we hold to the authority of the Word of God as being the final authority for life and practice, if we hold to God's authority as being sovereign and the nature of the Church's authority as being derived and exclusively spiritual, ministerial, and moral, then
we must go back to basics and think.

The Church (believers in/of Jesus Christ) exercises its authority by addressing the spiritual and moral needs of people who, prior to salvation, are by nature slaves to sin and Satan, and who, after salvation, need instruction in how to live and walk in the Holy Spirit. (See Matthew 20.25-28; Matthew 26.51, 52; Luke 9. 54-56; John 18.36, 37; 2 Cor. 10.3, 4; Eph. 6.11-18; 1 Peter 5.1-3, e.g.) The first mark of the Church is to faithfully adhere to and proclaim the Word of God in purity and in truth. (John 8.31, 47; John 14.23; Gal. 1.8, 9; 2 Thess. 2.15; 2 Tim. 3.16-4.4; 1 John 4.1-3; 2 John 9-11)
Preserve the truth.

Preserving the truth of the gospel, the truth of the Word of God is the primary calling of the called-out ones, the Church. In addition to this, the Church is called to the right administration of the sacraments and to the faithful exercise of church discipline, but I want to focus on "issue #one."

In the process of preserving the truth, the Church proclaims that there is a God who has lordship and sovereignty over all; that this one, true God is good and is to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served. Human beings owe this Creator God worship (Romans 1.18-25) on the basis of the Creator/creature relationship alone as their first obligation. All worship is directed to God alone through Christ alone, in spirit and in truth, as instituted by God, who inspires awe, is absolutely sovereign, infinitely just and gracious, and incomprehensible, i.e., the God of Scripture.

Believers have been given the authority and responsibility as "the pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Tim. 3.15) to declare and demonstrate to all creation, to the whole world, the gospel of Jesus Christ through the faithful preaching of the Word and bearing witness to divine truth as revealed in God's Holy Word. Jesus said to "preach repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name to all nations" (Luke 24.47; cf. Matthew 28.18,19) God makes His appeal through us, as Christ's ambassadors (2 Cor. 5.20) and so we are to devote ourselves to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching, and to teaching. (1 Tim. 4.13) We are to present ourselves as ones approved, workmen unashamed and who correctly handle the word of truth, preaching the Word in season and out of season, sound, healthy, correct doctrine. (2 Tim. 2.2, 15; 4.2)
Preserve the truth. Contend for the faith. (Jude 3) Defend the truth against all forces of unbelief and error. (2 Tim 1.13, 14; 2.25; Titus 1.9-11; 1 Peter 3.15)

The Church, the Body of Christ, is called to evangelize and to grow. This is part of the witness mandate of Acts 1.8. We bear witness to the truth, Jesus Christ, to the uttermost parts of the earth. We do this in what we declare and in what we demonstrate to the watching world. The Church is called to administer the sacraments and to minister to the saints, i.e., to provide and care for them.

Ministering to the saints can include giving food and drink, extending shelter, providing clothes, and visiting the sick and those in prison. (Matthew 24.37-40) Spiritual gifts are to be used in ministry to serve others and faithfully administer God's grace in its various forms. ( 1 Peter 4.10, 11; Romans 12; 1 Cor. 12; Ephesians 4) We are to spur one another on and stir one another up toward love and good deeds, to love one another, to serve one another in love, to bear burdens, to edify the Body of Christ and build up the saints in love. We are to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The Church is called to perform deeds of benevolence and mercy.
Promote justice. The poor occupy a special place in the heart of God. We are called to defend the cause of the weak and fatherless, maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed, rescue the weak and needy, and to deliver the oppressed from the hand of the wicked. We are to strive against those who seek to deprive the poor of their rights and to withhold justice from the oppressed of God's people. (Is. 10. 1, 2)

Kings are called to judge the poor with fairness (Prov. 29.14) and to show mercy to the poor (Daniel 4.27). Jesus came to preach good news to the poor (Is. 61.1; Luke 4.18). Looking after orphans and widows in their distress defines the religions that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless. (James 1.17) Helping the weak and remembering the words of the Lord Jesus that it is more blessed to give than to receive, (Acts 20.35) working to give and to share with those in need, (Eph 4.28) and contributing to the needs of the saints (1 Cor. 16; 2 Cor. 9) are just examples of how we are to promote justice.

In keeping to its calling, the Church, the Body of Christ, is to govern its affairs. In a ministerial fashion, believers are to teach and instruct one another to obey everything Christ has commanded them. (Matthew 28.20; Romans 15.14; Col. 3.16; 1 Thess. 5.11) Elders especially are to guard the flock, hold firm to the trustworthy message, encourage others by sound doctrine, and watch over souls entrusted to their care as shepherds and overseers. They are called to maintain the purity of the church, exercise church discipline for that purpose, and to keep reconciliation as the goal for building up and not for destroying people under their watch.

In preserving truth and promoting justice, the Church and those who comprise the Body of Christ must separate from error and unbelief, keeping themselves from idols, holding fast to that which is good, "coming out from among them," separating unto God in adhering to the truth of the Word of God.

In this regard, and I see this as something that is rising up right now, I want to talk about the warnings concerning Balaam. Micah 6.5 says, "O My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that you may know the righteousness of the Lord." We have sober warnings in the NT about this Balaam, about "the way of Balaam" (2 Peter 2.15), "the error of Balaam," (Jude 11), and about "the doctrine of Balaam" (Revelation 2.14). Balaam's story goes like this.

Balaam is called upon by King Balak to curse Israel. At first Balaam refuses. Then Balak offers greater wealth and honor. Balaam wants a house full of silver and gold but also says he cannot go beyond the word of the Lord his God, to do less or more. God permits Balaam to go with Balak's servants but he is to speak only what God says. Going with the princes of Moab angers God, and the angel of the Lord stands in the way. Balaam is on his donkey with two servants with him. The donkey sees the angel of the Lord with a drawn sword and turns aside. Balaam strikes the donkey. The donkey keeps responding to seeing the angel of the Lord and Balaam strikes the donkey again. Then God opens the mouth of the donkey who talks to Balaam. Balaam is so angry he tells the donkey he would kill him if he had a sword in his hand. The donkey proclaims his faithfulness to Balaam. Then the Lord opens the eyes of Balaam to see the angel of the Lord with sword drawn and Balaam falls flat on his face. The Lord tells Balaam that he withstood him because his way was perverse before him. The Lord expresses that the donkey turned aside from him three times, that He would have slain Balaam and saved the donkey alive. The "way of Balaam" was his willingness to prostitute his spiritual gifts and privileges for the wages of unrighteousness, for his willingness to preach something contrary to God's Word for personal gain.

Balaam ends up blessing Israel, saying, "Blessed is he that blesses you, and cursed is he that curses you." (Numbers 24.9) The "error of Balaam" was compromising truth to accommodate pagan patrons because of greed and desiring reward, thinking that provoking Israel to sin would bring God's curse and Israel's destruction. This is Satan's attempt to maneuver people into a position where God will curse them such that they die. The "doctrine of Balaam" was teaching Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. (Numbers 25; 31.16; Rev. 2.14)

Yes, we are to help the poor, to promote justice; but will we compromise truth to do it or do it out of greed and love of money? Let us remember our primary calling: Preserve Truth. Promote Justice. Let's do that without compromise, without going the way of Balaam but separating ourselves from idols, and not falling into the love of money or perverting teachings for personal gain. Study Balaam's struggle with the iniquity of his heart and remember his end. He was slain with the sword when the children of Israel were avenged of the Midianites. (Num.31.8)

Rev. Jim Craig, the MCM Board, and I thank you for your generous support. As you give generously, gladly, graciously, and as the Holy Spirit guides, you enable us to minister in Christ's Name to the lost, to the hungry, to the thirsty, to the broken, to the displaced, to the forgotten, to the orphaned, and to the poor.
God bless you!

Preserving Truth and Promoting Justice, by God's grace,

Mary Craig

P.S. Go to www.marycraig.org. Order books from our Catalog section using PayPal. Worship with us 4:30 p.m. Sundays. Grow and flourish in small group ministry at Craighouse®, located in the Pompano Plaza at 114 E. McNab Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33060. Log on to www.craighouse.org for a map and more events and Bible studies. Reach MCM at 954-491-7270. Send in your prayer requests.

Hold fast the form of sound words, which you have
Heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
That good thing which was committed unto you, keep by the
Holy Ghost which dwells in us. (2 Timothy 1.13, 14)


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