Sunday, September 18, 2016

the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth

The Word for today:
1 Chronicle 25-27
Every now and then, Stand in the Rain takes an opportunity to answer important questions posed by our readers.  So today, as King David organizes the musicians (chapter 25); the gatekeepers and treasurers (chapter 26); the military divisions and tribal leaders (chapter 27), we will leave him to his bureaucratic tasks in order to answer a sincere objection voiced by an esteemed reader from Florida.
She wrote in reaction to the September 16th article ("Franklyn takes 'The Nora Test' " ) in which I stated that the fear of stricter judgment--which has been promised to Bible teachers in James 3:1--motivates me to get it right:
"Stand in the Rain is published in six (or is it seven?) different venues every day. We have been entrusted by the LORD God to tell his story to many, many souls. Some of them are his children, and some of them are his children-in-the-making. Either way, the first thing we've got to do is get it right:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.  (James 3:1)"
To which our Facebook friend from Florida responded--
"I don't believe that fear should ever be the reason, but another word I know fits..."faith."  Whatever the lesson was in this one, ya lost me at "fear."   Lovin' these posts, but the fear has no place in my faith."
The reader is faithfully extolling the forgiving graces of the LORD God.  The grace of God is the overarching truth of scripture.  At the same time, a whole-bible program like Stand in the Rain faces the challenge of  presenting what our courtroom oath refers to as the whole truth.  It is our task to teach every word of God over the course of scripture's 66 books, and to make certain that every word -- springing, as they do, from the uncontradicted heart of God -- harmonizes (or "rhymes") with every other.
If the reader will stay with us throughout this whole-Bible program, we will cover verses like this one:

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13)
Then we must show how that verse presents absolutely no contradiction with this one:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Each of us will give an accounting for his every word (Matthew 12:36).  But as a Bible teacher, I will give an accounting for His every word:

But he answered, "It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"  (Matthew 4:4)

I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. (Matthew 5:18)

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.  (Revelation 22:18-19)

Perfect love casts out fear (1), we are told.  And that is true.  But I am not at liberty to cast fear out of my Bible, where we are taught that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (2); where "the fear of the LORD," in its every instance, is a positive spiritual blessing.
God's heart is not divided against itself.  God's Word is not at odds with itself.  Grace and fear rhyme in scripture.  They are part of one another, in need of one another.
So much a part of one another that they meet and stand together in the words of a beloved hymn:
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved.
The truth, the whole truth, is that you can't have one without the other.
So help us, God.

(1) 1 John 4:18; (2) Proverbs 9:10

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