Building On The Rock - (No. 2)
In a previous lesson we spoke of man's real need for stability and security. God provides us with a firm foundation. The foundation is Christ. We build upon Christ when we come to him, hear and obey his words. There are other teachers than Christ, claiming to be the sure foundation. But they lack these identifying features: (1) The true teacher's message points up to God as the source of the message. The false teacher's message points down to man as the source of the message. (2) The true prophet's teaching is not susceptible to improvement and revision. The false prophet's message must be constantly changed and adapted. (3) To build upon the true prophet's teaching is to be certain of ultimate good and security. To build upon the false prophet's message is to be certain of ultimate failure and punishment.
Christ is the true prophet, the rock upon which we men may anchor our souls. (See. Matt. 7:15-28) To build upon the person of Christ necessarily involves revelation. We cannot hear and obey His will unless we know what it is. Thus the need for revelation. John affirms that "grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17) The purpose of the revelation of spiritual truth is to make known the full and complete will of God for man's salvation. The substance of revelation is the full and complete will of God. (Jude 3) The authority for this revelation is that it is God's will. (1 Peter 1:12) The purpose is it is man's salvation. (Eph. 1:13)
The gospel is the word of the truth. (Eph. 1:13) The truth is the means by which men are begotten of God. (James 1:18) The gospel, the word of the truth, was revealed from heaven by men who were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:19-21) The gospel did not come through "private interpretation." It is the "more sure word.
Characteristics Of Truth
1. God alone can reveal truth. It is impossible for men to discover the truth of God's will. The truth is true because God declared it. It is not susceptible to being proved. Truth, as Holiness, is a characteristic of God. It is inherent with him. He is not merely true; he is Truth. It is impossible for men to discover spiritual truth. (1 Cor. 2:9,10) He is the authority which sustains all truth. "0 the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor?" (Rom. 11:33,34) God is the potter; man is the clay.
It is most significant to note that those who revealed the truth do not argue that what they revealed is true. They seek to prove nothing beyond the fact that what they revealed came from God.
2. Truth is, therefore, always its own authority. The Thessalonians believed in the finality of truth's authority. What Paul preached to them they accepted as the Truth of God. (1 Thess. 2:13) No man's understanding of truth is a basis for accepting the truth. The ground upon which truth rests is God, not man. Not even men who understand and serve the truth.
Truth is the sufficient explanation of God's mind. Men cannot make it more authoritative by an explanation. Revelation seeks to make known to man, in order to faith, God's mind, insofar as man is capable of understanding. Man's faith can never be larger than the gospel. For faith is dependent upon the gospel for its life. Mature faith is that faith which embraces the whole of the gospel.
Believing men do not call upon unbelieving men to pattern after their "belief." They call upon men to believe the gospel.
3. Truth has boundaries, definite and fixed. John rejoiced that he found "children walking in the truth." (2 John 4) To walk within something necessarily demands boundaries. Boundaries must be identifiable. The boundaries must tell us when we are "within" in order to avoid walking "without." Boundaries must be clearly observable so that the one "walking" may himself be able to determine where he is with reference to where he should be.
Peter, Barnabas and other Jewish Christians, "walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel." (Gal. 2:14) Paul commanded the Romans to identify and turn away from those false teachers who did not respect the boundaries of the doctrine of Christ. (Rom. 1:17) In I Tim. 1:9-11, Paul categorizes and specifies classes of men and particular sins which are outside the boundaries of the truth of the gospel. Those who limit the gospel to good news of Christ's death, burial and resurrection, have not seen the full scope of the message of redemption.
4. Truth is a straight line. It does not change or vary. It does not conform or it cannot be bent or forced into a pattern satisfactory to man. It cannot be molded. It is the mold into which our lives must be poured to forge out sound faith. Man's relationship to truth is a wavy line. Unfortunately, he does not always walk within it. Truth expects man to conform to it and adapt himself accordingly.
Stability and security are the certain blessings to a man who builds upon Christ, the Rock. As he hears and conforms to the truth revealed through Christ he is rock-founded. He is confident in the truth's finality because it has been spoken by God. There is no higher court of appeal. "Jehovah is in His Holy Temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him." (Hab. 2:20) The one building upon Christ matures as he assimilates the truth's explanation into his own life. He enjoys a "straight" walk as he contains himself within Truth's boundaries. He does not conform to truth as one who is chafed by restraints. He walks as a free-bondservant; living within divine liberty.
Such a man is confident that his rock-built life will one day result in the ultimate good from a gracious God: "Come, ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
— 1161 Boston, Aurora. Colorado