What Does it Mean to be "Biblically Balanced"?
I often hear people talk about the need for theology and preaching to be “balanced.” And as best as I can tell, what they mean is that we need to spend the same amount of time talking about everything the Bible talks about.
So, for example, since the Bible talks about what God has done and also what we ought to do in light of what God has done, to be balanced we need to give both themes equal airtime. Since the Bible talks about Jesus and it talks about us, to be balanced we need to spend the same amount of time talking about both. The list could go on: since the Bible talks about x and y, to be balanced we need to talk about x and y the same amount.
But, this is NOT the balance of the Bible. While the Bible talks about a lot of things it does not give all of its themes equal priority.
The overwhelmingly dominant message of the Bible is that God loves and (in Jesus) justifies sinners. There are tons of ways the Bible says this: the whore is made a bride, the dead are raised, the unrighteous are declared righteous, slaves are made sons, the blind see, the sick are healed, the unclean are made pure, the guilty are forgiven, sinners are saved, and so on.
Obviously, no Christian denies that the Bible says more than this. But the work of Jesus on behalf of sinners is clearly the emphasis of Scripture from beginning to end. According to the Bible, what we do for God is important. But it is infinitely less important than what God has done for us.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…(1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
Martin Luther said, “Remove Christ from the Scriptures and there is nothing left.” The emphasis of the Bible, in other words, is on the work of the Redeemer, not on the work of the redeemed. As important as how we live is, the spotlight of Scripture is on Christ, not the Christian. The Bible is not fundamentally about us. It’s fundamentally about Jesus.
My point is simply this: to be “Biblically balanced” is NOT to allot equal airtime to every Biblical theme. To be Biblically balanced is to let our theology and preaching be proportioned by the Bible’s radically disproportionate focus on God’s saving love for sinners seen and accomplished in the crucified and risen Christ.
(Excerpted from my devotional It Is Finished: 365 Days of Good News)