Decided


Some things are true and others are false but there are many persons who evidently do not believe this. The principle of the age seems to be that black is white, and white is black according to circumstances, and it does not particularly matter which you call it. Now our forefathers were particular about maintaining landmarks: they had strong notions about fixed points of doctrine, and were very tenacious of what they believed to be scriptural. Their fields were protected by hedges and ditches. Sadly, their sons have grubbed up the hedges, filled in the ditches, laid all level, and played leap–frog with the boundary stones. Brethren, we have a faith to preach, and we are sent forth with a message from God. We are not left to fabricate the message as we go along. We are not sent forth by the Master with a kind of general commission—‘as you shall think in your heart and invent in your head, so preach. Keep abreast of the times. Whatever the people want to hear, tell them that, and they shall be blessed’. No, there is something definite in the Bible. It is not a lump of wax to be shaped at our will, or a roll of cloth to be cut according to the prevailing fashion. Some so–called preachers evidently look upon the Scriptures as a box of letters for them to play with and make what they like of, or a wizard’s bottle, out of which they may pour anything they choose.

   Believing, therefore, that there is such a thing as truth, and such a thing as falsehood, that there are truths in the Bible, and that its teaching consists in something definite which is to be believed by men, it becomes us to be decided as to what we teach, and to teach it in a decided manner. We have to deal with men, eternal souls, who will certainly not be helped by erroneous doctrine. We stand in a very solemn position, and ours should be the spirit of old Micah, who said, “as Jehovah liveth, even what Jehovah shall say to me, that will I speak” (1 Kings 22: 14). Neither less nor more than God’s Word are we called to preach and in a spirit which lets those before us know (whatever they may think of it) that we believe God and are not to be shaken in our confidence in him. Everything in the Bible we shall preach with decision. If there be debateable questions which are comparatively unimportant, we shall speak about them undogmatically. But points which are foundations of the faith, which are essential and fundamental, will be declared by us without apology and without reference to our own views. We ought to preach the Word, not as our views at all, but as the mind of God—the testimony of God concerning his own Son. If we had been entrusted with the making of the Bible, we might have altered it to suit the taste of this modern century, but not having been employed to originate the good news, but merely to repeat it, we dare not go beyond the record. What we have been taught of God we teach. If we do not do this, we are not fit for the position. If I had a servant in my house, and I send a message by him to the door, and he amends it on his own authority, he may take away the very soul of the message by so doing. He will not long remain in my employment for I need a servant who will repeat what I say, as nearly as possible, word for word; and if he does do so, then I am responsible for the message, and he is not.

   How are we to show this decision for the truth? We need not worry about this question, for our decision will show itself in its own way. If we really believe a truth, we shall be decided about it. If you really believe the Bible, your very tone in preaching will betray your sincerity, you will speak like a man who has something to say and which he knows to be true. But if are going to show decision for the truth, we must not only do so by our tone and manner, but also by our daily actions. A man’s life is always more forcible than his speech—when men take stock of him they reckon his deeds as pounds and his words as pence. If his life and his doctrines disagree, the mass of lookers–on accept his practice and reject his preaching. A man may know a great deal about truth, and yet be a very damaging witness on its behalf because he is no credit to it. We must also show our decision for the truth by the sacrifices we are ready to make. We must be ready to give up anything and everything for the sake of the principles which we have espoused, and must be ready to offend our best supporters and to alienate our warmest friends. We must be ready to be beggars in purse, and offscourings in reputation, rather than act treacherously to God and His Word. We can die, but we cannot deny the truth. Above all we must show our zeal for the truth by continually, in season and out of season, by power, life, energy, and vigour preaching the Word. We must throw our whole selves into it, and show that the zeal of God’s house has eaten us up. May we be decided!

Updates