Hearts Inflamed With Love For Truth
By William Gurnall
Truth is the great treasure which God delivers to His saints with serious instruction to keep it against all that try to undermine it. Some things we trust God with and some He trusts us with. The most important thing which we put into God’s hand to be kept for us is our soul: "He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day" (2 Tim. 1:12). And God trusts us with His truth: "Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). So Paul exhorts Timothy to "hold fast the form of sound words...that good thing which was committed unto thee" (2 Tim. 1:13-14).
If a man entrusted with keeping the king’s crown and jewels is to protect these earthly valuables from being lost or stolen, how much more serious the responsibility of the Christian to protect God’s treasure! The Word of truth is the testimony of Himself which God gives to saints, His chosen witnesses whom He calls to live out this truth by a free and holy profession before all men.
God Highly Values Truth
God has placed a very high price on truth: "Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name" (Psa. 138:2). Let us look at a few of the ways God values truth.
God’s mercy to give truth – When God graciously provides His Word to a people, He is giving one of the greatest mercies they can receive; He calls them "the great things" of His "law" (Hos. 8:12). And God, who knows how to prize His own gifts, said of His Word which He showed to Jacob that "He hath not dealt so with any nation" (Psa. 147:20) – that is, not so richly and graciously.
God’s care to preserve His truth – God has never let truth get lost. In shipwrecks men do not try to save lumber and trivia of little worth but only what is most precious to them. In all the great revolutions of kingdoms and churches, God has preserved His truth. Thousands of saints’ lives have been taken away, but the devil despises truth more than all the saints. And this is what still lives!
If truth were not so precious to God He would not allow it to be purchased with the blood of His people – or most important, with the blood of His Son. In that great day when the earth’s elements will melt in fire, God’s truth will not even be singed: "The word of the Lord endureth for ever" (1 Pet. 1:25).
God’s severity to the enemies of truth – A dreadful curse is pronounced upon anyone who adds to or takes away from truth. One pulls down all the plagues written in the Bible; and the other takes away his part out of the book of life and out of the holy city (Rev. 22:18-19). It is no wonder that God values truth so highly when we consider what it is – truth is the substance of His thoughts and counsels from everlasting to everlasting. It is the fullest representation that God Himself could give of His own being so we might know and love Him.
Princes used to send their pictures by ambassadors to those they hoped to win and marry. God is such infinite perfection that no hand can draw Him to life but His own; and this is exactly what He has done in His Word – and because of this, saints of every century have joyfully given their hearts to Him.
As we accept or reject truth we accept or despise God. Although men cannot pull God from His throne and ungod Him, they come as close as possible when they attack the truth – they execute God in effigy. Yet God never stops wanting those of us who love Him to cleave to His truth.
Meditate Often on the Excellency of Truth
The eye is the window where love enters, and a spiritual eye which can see truth in her native beauty cannot help but love her. This was the way David’s heart was ravished with the love of the Word of truth: "O how love I Thy law! It is my meditation all the day" (Psa. 119:97). And he found a great difference between meditating on the truths of God’s Word and the best the world could offer: "I have seen," he said, "an end of all perfection" (v. 96). In just a few thoughts he could see all the way to the bottom of the world’s glory; but when he took up God’s truth, his thoughts went on and on in admiration and sweet meditation: "Thy commandment is exceeding broad" (v. 96).
Great ships cannot sail in narrow rivers and shallow waters; and neither can minds full of heavenly knowledge of God find room to move about freely in the world’s philosophies. A gracious soul soon runs aground upon these flats; but let it launch out into the meditation of God, His Word, and the mysterious truths of the Gospel, and he finds a place of broad waters, an ocean to lose himself in. Let me now direct your meditation to a few lovely properties which you shall find in exploring these truths.
Truth is pure – It is not only pure but makes the soul that embraces it pure and holy. "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth" (John 17:17). It is the pure water which God uses to wash souls clean: "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you" (Ezek. 36:25).
Truth is sure – Truth has a firm bottom; we can lay the whole weight of our souls upon it and know it will not break. Cleave to truth and it will cleave to you. It will go with you to prison and anywhere else you must go for her sake. "Not one thing," said Joshua, "hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof" (Josh. 23:14). Whatever truth promises, you can count on it. "Fourscore years," Polycarp said, "I have served God and found Him a good Master."
Truth is free – And the man who cleaves to it is free: "The truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). But Christ bluntly told the Jews why they were in bondage: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do" (v. 44). All sinners are slaves to Satan. The man who has lust living on him like a parasite finds no rest as he serves and provides for it every day. But if all the devil’s lusts bolted a single sinner to his dungeon floor, and the truth of Christ opened his heart, you would soon see the foundations of the prison shaken, its doors thrown open, and the chains falling off.
Truth will not be bound. And neither will it stay in a soul that is tied up in sin. Therefore, once truth and the soul agree – Christ and the soul – the person can lift up his head and know that his redemption and delivery from spiritual slavery draw near. The key is already in the lock to let him out. It is impossible for us to know truth as it "is in Jesus" and remain strangers to the freedom that comes with it (Eph. 4:21).
Truth is victorious – Truth will prevail over everything. It is the great counsel of God, and although many plots are constantly generating energy against it, this counsel of the Lord stands. Sometimes the enemies of truth take the militia of this lower world into their own hands and truth seems to fall to the ground; and often those who bear witness to its goodness are slain.
But persecutors need not buy marble to record their victories in; dust will be good enough, for they will not last that long. "Three days and an half" the witnesses may lie dead in the streets, and truth sits by them (Rev. 11:11). But after a short time they are up walking again and truth is triumphing along with them.
If persecutors could kill the successors of their victims, their work might not be so temporary; they would not have to fear another man’s pulling down what they set up. Yet even then their work would lie open to heaven and could be as easily frustrated as Babel. You might receive news that truth is sick but never that it is dead. It is error that is short-lived. "A lying tongue is but for a moment," yet truth’s age runs parallel with God’s eternity (Prov. 12:19).
Truth lives to reign in peace with those who are now willing to suffer for it. Christian, do you not want to be one of those victors who shall ride beside Christ’s triumphant chariot into the heavenly city and take a crown with the faithful saints who stood in the militant days when Christ and His truth battled Satan here on earth? With your thoughts, wipe away the tears and blood which now cover the face of suffering truth and present it to your eyes as it will look in glory.
Let Your Heart Be Filled with the Fear of God’s Wrath Against Apostasy
If your mind is seared and your heart scorched with the fire of man’s wrath, hold them awhile against hell-fire, which God has prepared for the fearful who run from truth’s standard. "Pardon me, O emperor, if I obey not thy command; thou threatenest a prison, but God a hell," said a defiant martyr who did not fear what man could do to him. And David himself did not fear those who persecuted him without a reason: "Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of Thy word" (Psa. 119:161). Man’s fury, even at its zenith, is but a temperate climate compared to the wrath of the living God.
Man’s anger has never been able to slow down or stop the love of God and has made saints sing in the fire in spite of their enemies’ fuel. But the man under God’s wrath is like one shut up in a closed oven – with no crack open to let any of the heat out or any refreshing air in to save him.
– From the 2002 printing of The Christian in Complete Armour; Volume Two by William Gurnall. Reprinted by permission of Banner of Truth, P.O. Box 621, Carlisle, PA 17013.