TRUE OR FALSE
‘What is truth?’ asked Pilate when Jesus had just declared, ‘To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.’ The eternal Son of God came into the world bearing that title of great honour, THE WORD. He not only spoke the truth at all times but was Himself the TRUTH, as He said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me’. He is truth incarnate. He witnesses to the truth. He makes known the truth. He personally fulfils Old Testament truth. He is the essence of all New Testament truth, and all who would know the truth must bow to His authority, believe His testimony, and rest their soul’s eternity upon His words and promises.
The test to be applied to all religion and all religious experiences is plain. Is it the religion Jesus taught and are those the experiences He promised? And the test must be applied if we value His truth and our souls. To the obviously anti-Christian claims of many false religions the test has already been applied; the results are well known. However, there is a need to bring our own beliefs and experiences to the touchstone of truth. Our Baptist forefathers, in the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, had no disagreement with their Presbyterian contemporaries when they declared, ‘The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word’.
Sadly and solemnly it has to be said that there is such a thing as false faith, false repentance, and false experience. ‘The devils believe and tremble’ (James 2.19), and nothing more need be said about their faith except that it is correct as far as it goes but has not the slightest saving influence on them. There is a godly sorrow which works repentance not to be repented of, but there is the sorrow of the world which works only remorse which in turn leads to death (2 Cor. 7.10). There is true experience of the truth but there is also a false experience with many correct words in it, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I (Jesus) will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity’.
The Reformers whose names appear later in this magazine were those who valued the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, more than their own lives. They proved that the truth of God was sufficient to live by and strong enough to support them through the fires of martyrdom. Do we really believe as we sing it, ‘On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand?’ The faith of such godly men was an exclusive faith. Never a mixture of faith in Christ and a partial trust in works of righteousness. Never a mixture of truth and error in order to save their skins, but a trust in Christ alone to save their souls. Their lives were all of a pattern with their doctrine; it was the old trio which marked them out – Doctrine, Experience, and Practice, and it is the same pattern which must appear in our lives if we are to enjoy the greatest experience of all – ‘to be with Christ which is far better’.