April 7, 2008

Knowing truth is not enough

This morning I decided that while the devotional book, God is Enough has some wonderful entries, too often the readings and ideas either lack scriptural support, or are off-base. I prayed about it and decided that if this morning’s reading was another rant about the importance of the human will I would switch. It was, and I did.

At first I thought to use a book by John MacArthur whose scholarship amazes me, but then realized that I’ve sat under his teaching long enough that our thoughts are too much alike. I need something that challenges me, a writer that looks at things in fresh ways. I selected a title called Ears from Harvested Sheaves. This is unknown to me, but when I Googled the author, J.C. Philpot, I found that this man, born in 1802 and died in 1869 is greatly revered. One site says that his teaching is “deeply soul-humbling, richly Christ-exalting.” His life purpose is quoted: “My desire is to exalt the grace of God; to proclaim salvation alone through Jesus Christ; to declare the sinfulness, helplessness and hopelessness of man in a state of nature; to describe the living experience of the children of God in their trials, temptations, sorrows, consolations and blessings.”

Every sample of his writing touched me, so Ears from Harvested Sheaves will be my devotional challenge for the next while.

Today’s reading is about the difference between receiving the truth and receiving a love of the truth. He says that thousands receive the truth into their judgment, and adopt the plan of salvation as their creed, but are neither saved nor sanctified by merely receiving the truth. Using 2 Thessalonians 2:10, he describes them as “those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

To these, “the message of the cross is foolishness”; however, to receive the love of the truth results in “Jesus being made sweet and precious to the soul” and in this, the gospel is made the “power of God unto salvation” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

When I read it, I wondered if even a genuine Christian might lose or not have a love for the truth? Sometimes it seems so. I hear many people who follow the Lord offer a host of excuses for not listening to the truth or obeying it. It is as if truth is not as important as their own opinion. Yet as I read this, I know that God wishes to speak to me about me, not about others. What am I doing with truth?

The reading says, that “sometimes the Lord, without applying His word with any very great and distinguishing power to the heart, makes ‘his truth to drop’ with a measure of sweetness into the soul,” just as God says in Deuteronomy 32:2, “Let My teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, as raindrops on the tender herb, and as showers on the grass.

When the Word of God comes to me as described here, it cannot help but work in my heart a love for the truth. The gentleness of His words, the wonder of who He is and what He has done are a great blessing and fill me with joy.

Yet sometimes the Word of God strikes me as described in Hebrews 4:12-13: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Instead of sweetness, I’m hit with conviction about sin or sinful attitudes. When that happens, I am challenged to measure my love for the Word of God against my love for the sin this Word has discerned and exposed. Would I rather not admit that I’ve disobeyed God and instead save face? Would I rather be right than righteous? Would I rather be exalted than humbled? Would I rather being well-thought of in the eyes of others instead of give glory to Jesus Christ?

This whole idea of loving the truth is vital. That verse from 2 Thessalonians 2 says that people perish because “they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved.” Receiving it might bring salvation, but unless I also love it, Scripture challenges the reality of my salvation.

Further, I cannot judge the spiritual status of others by what they do or do not do with the truth, but I’d better keep an eye on myself. I know that I cannot lose the eternal life God has given me in Christ, but my life will certainly not be effective for His purposes if I decide that what I want (and love) is more important than loving what He wants for me.

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