“Sanctify them through Your truth: Your Word is truth.”
In a sermon preached at The Metropolitan Tabernacle on March 7th 1886[i], Charles Spurgeon had this to say to his congregation:
“But what is the Truth? There is the point. Is the truth that which I imagine to be revealed to me by some private communication? Am I to fancy that I enjoy some special Revelation and am I to order my life by voices, dreams and impressions? Brothers and Sisters, fall not into this common delusion! God’s Word to us is in Holy Scripture. All the Truth that sanctifies men is in God’s Word! Do not listen to those who cry, “Lo here!” and, “Lo there!” I am plucked by the sleeve almost every day by crazy persons and pretenders who think that they have Revelations from God. One man tells me that God has sent a message to me by him-and I reply, “No, Sir, the Lord knows where I dwell and He is so near to me that He would not need to send to me by you.” Another man announces, in God’s name, a dogma which, on the face of it, is a lie against the Holy Spirit. He says the Spirit of God told him so-and-so, but we know that the Holy Spirit never contradicts Himself. If your imaginary Revelation is not according to this Word of God, it has no weight with us! And if it is according to this Word, it is no new thing!”
“Brothers and Sisters, this Bible is enough if the Lord does but use it and quicken it by His Spirit in our hearts. Truth is neither your opinion, nor mine-your message, nor mine! Jesus says, “Your Word is truth.” That which sanctifies men is not only truth, but it is the particular Truth of God which is revealed in God’s Word-“Your Word is truth.” What a blessing it is that all the Truth that is necessary to sanctify us is revealed in the Word of God, so that we have not to expend our energies upon discovering the Truth of God, but may, to our far greater profit, use Revealed Truth for its Divine ends and purposes! There will be no more Revelations-no more are needed! The Canon is fixed and complete-and he that adds to it shall have added to him the plagues that are written in this Book! What need of more when here is enough for every practical purpose? “Sanctify them through Your truth: Your Word is truth.”
I discovered this excerpt, and the sermon from which it came, as a result of reading some of the many comments to the article I previously posted here at The Battle Cry, Why Do We Say, ‘God Told Me’?. I doubt that many of today’s evangelical Christians would have the patience to sit and listen to the entire sermon, much less a short excerpt that perfectly describes a situation of near epidemic proportions that exists across the entire landscape of American evangelicalism, if not in much of the the worldwide church!
Please know that I am not personally indicting anyone, or any specific church or denomination. I dearly love my brothers and sisters in Christ! I am however, stating unequivocally that Spurgeon’s 19th century observations are as true today as they were over a hundred years ago, if not more so! I truly believe that the percentage of professing believers today who are convinced that subjective experiences and emotions are the acid test of spiritual truth would be much higher than in Spurgeon’s London, if such statistics were available.
What’s the bottom line?
Spurgeon’s case for the written word of God is irrefutable, as far as I’m concerned:
“If your imaginary Revelation is not according to this Word of God, it has no weight with us! And if it is according to this Word, it is no new thing!”
Jesus himself made a rather strong case for what “is written” when he was led into the wilderness and tempted by Satan. Three temptations, three “It is written” responses from the One, who being God, certainly could have spoken to his adversary in the first person singular!
Paul, in his second letter to young Timothy, reminds us that
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Tim 3:16-17
I could present scripture passage after scripture passage concerning one of the rallying cries of the Reformation, “Sola Scriptura”, but I will only give you these:
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” – 2 Peter 1:3-4
Dear brothers and sisters, we don’t need private, special little communiques from God, we have already been given everything we need for every facet of our lives! The only reason for trusting the ‘voices in our heads’ (et. al.), is that when we think God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit is speaking directly to us, with a /private’ message just for us, is to feel somehow special, more spiritual, or more mature as a Christian. It’s kind of like having an ‘in’ with the boss at work that others don’t have. It is normally disguised as a genuine desire for a ‘deeper’ walk, but very often ends up in a sense, no matter how subtle, of spirituality superiority. And aren’t we admonished not to think of ourselves more highly than we should?
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” – Romans 12:3
Are there those believers who are more mature in their faith than others? Yes, of course, but it’s important, if not critically necessary, to remember that no matter where we are in our respective Christian walks, there are those who have trod much farther down the path, from whom we have much to learn (like Paul for Timothy). In the same way, there are those just starting out we can humbly help along the way (like Timothy for Paul).
There is much more that can be said about what might be a cancer eating at the church, but I’ll stop here. And in case you want to play the ‘who are you to criticize if you haven’t experienced it’ card, remember that we’ve ‘been there, and done that’, weighed those ‘experiences’, and found them woefully wanting.
May you have a greatly blessed day!