First Baptist Church of Niles
Balancing Your Bible; For Such a Time as This
“Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” These words, addressed to queen Esther reveal she was at the right place at the right time to accomplish the right need of the hour.
What was true of queen Esther has proven to be true of Bible truth. There are certain times in certain conditions when a certain truth needs to be emphasized. It is the need of the hour. This does not lessen the equal importance of every Bible truth, nor that the truth now emphasized has not been believed before, but having been neglected or partially forgotten it must be emphasized to meet the need of the present hour.
One day I picked up a fairly old book that had been given to me. It is quite small, and some of those are the best. This book revealed historically how this premise has proven true. The author's name is Milford H. Lyon.
He said ”Every great religious revival in the history of the Christian church has taken some form around some central truth. This truth may have been long accepted, but had never received the consideration it deserved. Every great religious principle whose emphasis has stirred the church to it's depths and has transformed it's life had previously been accepted, but needed to be brought into the foreground to exert a permanent and powerful influence upon religious thought and character.”
He went on to explain that the revival under Martin Luther and the leaders of the reformation had as it's basic principle Justification by faith. The church in a measure has always believed this, yet when advocated and applied by the leaders of the Reformation. It seemed almost a new discovery. The great religious awakening under Whitfield and Wesley was founded upon the principle and work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. Jonathan Edwards brought into prominence the message of the sovereignty of God. Finney emphasized the importance of personal responsibility and choice and the central truth in the preaching of Moody was salvation by grace and the unmerited favor of God. In each case, the principles previously established were not disregarded, but were used to add another story to the massive and enduring structure of religious truth and achievement.
Arthur Pink in his book “Saving Faith” brought out the fact that changing conditions in Christendom call for an ever varying emphasis on different aspects of Divine Truth. The weapons suited to one conflict were quite useless for another.
At the close of the so called “dark ages” many believed one could never be assured of salvation until the hour of death was reached. This caused Luther and his contemporaries to deliver a positive message to stimulate confidence in the promises of God and lay hold of His sure promises. Yet at times their zeal carried them too far and some of the reformers insisted that assurance was an essential element in saving faith itself and that unless a person knew he was “accepted in the beloved”: he was yet in his sins. The Protestant pendulum swung too far to the opposite side. Balance of truth was restored in the days of the Puritans. The principle of Justification by faith alone was emphasized forcibly but at the close of the sixteenth century and early part of the seventeenth the collateral doctrine of sanctification by the Spirit became prominent. This provided balance.
The ministry of the Puritans was very searching. They emphasized the free grace of God, teaching plainly that the satisfaction of Christ alone gave title to heaven, while at the same time repudiating all creature merits, and they insisted that a supernatural and transforming work of the Spirit in the heart and life of the believer was indispensible to fit him for heaven. Professors of Christian faith were rigidly tested. Christians were constantly urged to make their calling and election sure.
The eighteenth century witnessed a sad departure from the faith. Worldly prosperity brought spiritual deterioration. Worldliness engulfed the churches and lawlessness and wickedness was rampant in the world. The influence of Christianity dwindled. But God raised up men to revive His saints and convert many to Christ. The main emphasis then was upon the sovereign grace of God as exhibited in the everlasting covenant, the efficacy of Christ's atonement unto all and for whom it was made, and the work of the Spirit in regeneration.
Under the revivals of the latter part of the eighteenth century the grand doctrines of the Christian faith occupied the most prominent place. To maintain a balance of truth, it becomes necessary to emphasize the experimental side of things. Intellectual orthodoxy does not qualify anyone for heaven. There must be a moral and spiritual transformation, a miracle of grace in the soul. During this period exposition of scripture receded and practical application of the Word to the heart and life was the characteristic in Christian circles. This called for serious self-examination which resulted in many cases in doubting's and despondency. Where balance is not preserved by preachers or teachers between subjective and objective truth it will carry bad results in lives.
So, in many circles of professing Christians fell into despondency. In some circles the full assurance of salvation was looked upon as fanaticism or presumption. Many were not instructed on the two natures, and they were occupied with self. Many lived with constant doubts and fears and groans.
To meet this situation many sought to direct attention to Christ and his “finished work“ and to get hearers to place confidence upon the bare Word of God. While one evil was corrected another was committed. The scriptures were honored; the work of the Spirit was unwillingly dishonored. Supposing they had the remedy that was sure to work in all cases, what was sure to work in all cases, a superficial work resulted. There were many professors of faith without any evidence of a changed heart.
The pendulum has swung from one side to another. We are people of extremes. And nothing but grace can keep us in the place where we steer the central path.
But now please return to our original question. What is needed for such a time as this? Is there a forgotten or neglected truth that needs to be emphasized? What is needed at this hour to be brought forth to stir hearts again?
In his preface his book Milford Lyons wrote, “There is an abundance of potential energy in the religion of Christ still undeveloped to stir all Christendom to it's depths, and to arouse men out of their spiritual lethargy into which so many have fallen.”
What did he believe was the need to the hour?
It is found in the title of his book. “The Lordship of Jesus”
I am convinced he was right and though it is many years his book was written, it is still the truth needed for such a time as this.