Much is said today about liberalism and conservatism, and much needs to be said; and probably this always will be the case. We understand the principles of binding where God has not bound and loosing where God has not loosed. Both areas get us into trouble with God. It is easy to get stretched to one of the two extremes. All should strive to be balanced right where the Lord has decreed. This takes diligent study and careful self-examination (2 Corinthians 13:5).
We are probably all considered by someone in the world to be too liberal and also by others to be too conservative. We are not in the people-pleasing business, but we should diligently try to please the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:9). Notice three principles that can help us maintain the balance that we so desperately need. Let us be biblical in doctrine, conservative in practice, and liberal in love.
BIBLICAL IN DOCTRINE.
Our teaching and preaching must be biblical. The gospel is God’s power to save (Romans 1:16). The Word of God is able to save the soul (James 1:21) and able to build one up and provide an inheritance among the sanctified (Acts 20:32). The early church continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42). The apostles shunned not to proclaim the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). Paul charged Timothy to charge some that they teach no other doctrine (1 Timothy 1:3), and he boldly commanded Timothy to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2). Paul wrote that one was to be accursed who would teach any other gospel (Galatians 1:8–9). Whatever one says or teaches is to be within the confines of the authority of the Lord (Colossians 3:17). Looking at the great sermon of Acts 2, one reads a sermon that is filled with Scripture. So let us resolve in teaching privately or preaching publicly to remain constantly biblical in doctrine.
CONSERVATIVE IN PRACTICE.
A principle of God from cover to cover of His Book is to keep the paths of the righteous (Proverbs 2:20). All that we do must be within the realm of the authorized from our Lord (Colossians 3:17). We must examine carefully the things we do each day. God has a standard for us to follow. This standard will be a yardstick on judgment day. We will be judged by the Book (Romans 2:16). The Lord’s words will be used (John 12:48). This prompts us to examine ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:28), to prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and approve the things that are excellent (Philippians 1:10). Only as we continue in the Lord’s Word are we His disciples (John 8:31). The Lord’s example, the name we wear, the church we are a part of, our baptism, the Lord’s supper we partake of each week, the place where we long to be in eternity, and other things all call upon us to be conservative in practice.
LIBERAL IN LOVE.
Yes, God’s people are liberal in areas that spring from hearts overflowing in love. We are to be liberal in giving as we give back to God who has so graciously blessed us (2 Corinthians 9:6–7). We are to be overflowing in compassion and mercy because we have been such recipients from the Lord and others. May we be filled with forgiveness, rich in good works, and ever abounding in the Lord’s work (1 Corinthians 15:58).
The Lord is my judge. I want to stand before Him having been biblical in doctrine, conservative in practice, and liberal in love. —Vance Hutton, Double Springs, Alabama
(Glad Tidings of Good Things)