Jerry Vines Blog

My friend Warren Wiersbe said to me several years ago: “Blessed are the balanced.” I’ve thought about that statement quite a bit.

There is a tendency for us all to get out of balance. And the younger we are, the more we tend to extremes. I know that was true for me. At times my passion outran my understanding. I was sincere, but hadn’t lived long enough to have a more complete picture. I don’t claim to have the complete picture now. But, I have come to believe that balance is important.

Blessed are the balanced in preaching. You can get so caught up in one theme of Scripture that you exclude other themes.

I heard about a preacher who got hung up on the account of the woman at the well. He was speaking on Numbers 22:21, “Balaam…saddled his donkey.” He said, “First, I want to speak  about the usefulness of donkeys. Second, I want to speak about the details of ancient saddles. Then I will close with a few words about the woman at the well.”

Preaching through Bible books helps the preacher to stay balanced in his preaching.

Blessed are the balanced in preaching.

Blessed are the balanced in doctrine.

There is a beautiful tension between many Bible doctrines. In Scripture our finite mind encounters the infinite mind of God. We surely understand we can’t have complete comprehension.

Take Divine sovereignty and human responsibility, for instance. Both are taught in Scripture. Systematic theologies leaning too far in one direction to the detriment of the other get biblical truth out of balance. Neither extreme Calvinism nor extreme Arminianism represents biblical theology.

Blessed are the balanced. 

Blessed are the balanced in church ministry.

The New Testament makes it clear that churches aren’t to focus on either local or global ministry to the exclusion of the other. The New Testament pattern isn’t either/or but both/and.

As a lifetime Southern Baptist I think we are in desperate need of some balance these days.

I believe strongly in the autonomy of the local church. No central authority over a church dictates to it. No convention can tell a church how to conduct its ministry, to develop its programs, or how to give its money. Each church congregation makes those decisions under the Lordship of Christ and the leading of the Holy Spirit. But, I do believe it is important for churches to cooperate with one another in carrying out our Lord’s command to witness to the whole world, from our local “Jerusalem” to the global “ends of the earth.”

Blessed are the balanced.  

There must be some balance in how we use our funds. Obviously we can’t carry on our local work without using much of our tithes and offerings there.

The local church should constantly evaluate the need for and necessity of some of its buildings, staff and programs. We must also be mindful of the opportunity to share with other churches of like faith and order in local, state, national and worldwide causes. If you are going to be part of a convention of churches, you should have some kind of financial commitment to it.

If you want to be independent and do everything as a local church, fine and God bless you. But, if you are part of the Southern Baptist Convention, there should be some kind of financial involvement there.

If you want to be a part of the leadership, setting the course of the SBC, you should lead in financial commitment. A man in your local church probably won’t get placed on the finance committee if he designates $50,000 a year to the music ministry (maybe led by his son!), but only gives $500 annually to the church’s unified budget. He’s free to give his money that way. But, I doubt you would give him the opportunity to make decisions affecting how the bulk of the church’s money is used.

Blessed are the balanced.

During the years of the Conservative Resurgence I was criticized for my church’s low percentage of giving to the SBC’s cooperative program. I just took the criticism and didn’t get mad about it. The issue of liberalism was the primary impediment.

Many of us said, “We don’t want to support the liberalism.” As we began to resolve that issue, the record will show my church steadily increased its gifts. I feel you have to put your money where your mouth is.

Now we hear the criticism, “We don’t want to support the bloated bureaucracy.” Well, I’m sure there is enough bloat in our Convention, entities, and yes, our churches, to go around.

Examine? Sure.

Eliminate all the bloat we can? Yes!

But, blast and blame? No.

It just boils down to this: If you intend to be a Southern Baptist, work through the system to bring about the change you desire. It won’t happen over night.

The SBC boat is a big one and doesn’t change course quickly. It took ten years for us to utilize our trustee system to address the problem of liberalism. If you aren’t willing to take the time and the SBC doesn’t fit your idea of what a convention of churches should be, then seek another. And God bless you as you go.

Blessed are the balanced.

  1. Tim Rogers

    June 1, 2010 @ 5:59 AM

    Dr. Vines,

    Such words of wisdom. Thank you for your voice. I am doing what our friend Dr. Patterson has taught me, asking forgiveness is better sometimes than asking permission. I copied your article and placed it on SBC Today. We have linked to your post and invited our readers to come here and comment also.

    Thank you for your stand through the years. God is not finished with Old Preachers. As you preached, Old Preachers Never Die.

    Blessings,
    Tim

  2. Phil Addison

    June 1, 2010 @ 3:50 PM

    Dear Bro. Vines,

    Here's what I think of the GCR Task Force Report: I think that the GCR Task Force is putting the cart before horse. There must be a great conviction resurgence, then a great committment resurgence before we will see a great commission resurgence. And it must start with the leadership in the convention then down to the folks in the pews. That's just what I think....Starting with Proportionate giving to the CP....I am not mad at all but would ask that when it comes to CP Giving that the leadership simply lead.

    Conviction + Committment = A Great Commison

    Truth In Love,

    Phil Addison
    Stony Point Baptist
    Stony Point, NC

  3. Phil Addison

    June 1, 2010 @ 4:45 PM

    Conviction + Committment = A Great COMMISSION
    Sorry for the typeo.

  4. Frank Cox

    June 1, 2010 @ 10:28 PM

    Thanks Jerry for your statesmanship. You have written tremendous words for Southern Baptist to consider in this blog as we move toward Orlando. Your balanced wisdom comes through.

  5. Alan Stoddard

    June 5, 2010 @ 12:42 PM

    Great words here Dr. Vines. "Blessed are the balanced" is a great BIG IDEA to preach.

    I agree with your statement "And the younger we are, the more we tend to extremes." So true and as I look backward (I'm 46) I amen it.

  6. Fred Evers

    June 12, 2010 @ 7:32 AM

    One of the best statements on the issues facing the SBC I have read. God bless you and thanks for your many years of leadership.

Comments are closed.