I Cannot Go Beyond!

The title of this post is from Balaam in Numbers 24:13. Starting chapter 22 of Numbers to the end of chapter 24, we read of how Balak, king of the Moabites, was afraid of the children of Israel as they came nearer the promised land. So, in an effort to curse them he hires a man, a prophet of God, called Balaam, to curse Israel.

Several times Balaam tries to curse Israel, but ultimately proclaims a blessing on them instead. This angers Balak each time. Before all of this, Balaam was even warned by God who used a donkey to speak to Balaam.

In 23:25, and 24:13, Balaam tells Balak that he must proclaim what God tells him to say,and that he cannot go beyond what God commands.

This is a striking example of the limits of the messenger of God. For those who are entrusted with preaching and teaching the Word of God there are some important things for us to remember.

My brother, Andrew Hostetler, wrote a a statement that can help the teacher and the preacher know how to handle the Word of God. Its called, “I Am Bound”

I am bound by the Word of God. What it says I will say, What it teaches I will teach and What it proclaims I will proclaim.

Its doctrines are my doctrines, its reproof is my reproof, and its instruction is my instruction.

I will not understate what the Bible clearly teaches. If the Bible calls it sin, I will call it sin; If the Bible calls it an abomination, I will call it an abomination.

I will not overstate what the Bible clearly teaches. If the Bible calls it sin, I will not call it anything more.

I will be honest with the scriptures, it does not matter what I think or what my opinion is, only what the Bible says and teaches. The Word of God is complete and without error. “Let God be true and every man a liar.”

I will not over-emphasis one point in the Bible, because it will bring neglect to the rest of God’s truths and will lead to adding to God’s Word.

I will teach and preach the whole counsel of God which runs from Genesis to Revelation.”

The rules are simple: Teach all of Gods Word, we must be diligent to teach and preach the whole council of God. This is not limited to a narrow set of doctrines, or texts that support a certain ideology. We need to teach in light of all of scripture to get a balanced view of what it means to walk the Christian life, know who God is, and know what he wants us to do. The Word of God is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness…(2 Timothy 3:16)

Do not over-emphasize or under-emphasize. There is a great danger sometimes of understating or overstating certain texts to fit our preconceptions, but we need to stand squarely on the Word of God and not deviate from the clarity of Scripture. We are not at liberty to “read between the lines”, because it can lead to dangerous errors.

There must be a total dependence on Gods Word for the answers.The Scriptures were given to us so that we could have to answers to life’s question (2 Peter 1:3) We need to “know”, that Gods Word is pure, and without error. The Scriptures are a firm foundation on which to stand in the shifting sands of history. This foundation is none other than Jesus Christ who is the Word (John 1:1)

Can we have opinions about certain portions of scripture that are unclear? Sure, just as long as you make sure you don’t teach it as scripture. This has caused many false teachings and helped to establish false cults.

So, if you are a teacher or preacher of the Scriptures, remember that you are bound not to go beyond!

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