Monday 13 June 2016

The Claims of Truth upon the Church

At the beginning of the first volume of the "Collected Writings of John Murray", we find a summary of Murray's thought. This fragment found among the papers of John Murray, it succinctly summarises his thought on the importance of the claims of truth upon the church. Before I cite these three paragraphs, we all need to consider the basics of Christianity once again.

There are three primary components to truth.

1. Holy Scripture as it relates to God the Father: John 17:17 "Sanctify them in the truth; your [God the Father] word is truth".

2. The Lord Jesus Christ: John 14:6-7 "“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him".

3. The Holy Spirit: John 16:13-15 "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you".

We can mentally assent to these biblical propositions and yet still fail to lay hold of the truth and to walk in the truth. Do you consider yourself, that you are seeking to walk in the truth? The error of post-modern thought has invaded the church and we must be warned against it. This prevalent contemporary thought teaches that there are many truths. This is untrue. Jesus said "I am the truth". What does it mean then to walk in truth?

Firstly, you have to accept that the Bible is the basis for absolute truth. Secondly, you must then submit to the truth of Scripture even when it conflicts with your private interpretation and thirdly you must recognise and acknowledge that there is a single correct line of interpretation on church doctrine, worship, government and ethics. This is a demanding process that elders especially, have to undertake, along with church members, in order for the church then to walk in this REVEALED truth. Revealed as in the teaching of the written pages of holy Scripture, and not some private revelation.

Now then, how do you assess yourself on these three points? Have you erred from the truth unknowingly? The Westminster Confession teaches so on holy Scripture in Chapter 1:9:

The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.

Now hear the wisdom of John Murray on this matter.

The claims of truth are paramount. That is why Westminster Theological Seminary was founded. As members of the Faculty we should not be here if it were not for the claims of truth upon us.
But the battle of the faith is oftentimes focused in the inward travail of soul which the claims of truth demand. There are so many temptations to allow the claims of truth to become secondary.
Mental laziness is one of those temptations. We have become accustomed to a certain pattern of thought and conduct. It may be surrounded by the halo of sanctity derived from an established family, social or ecclesiastical tradition, and we are not willing to bring this pattern or conviction to the test of those criteria which the truth demands. Or perhaps after persuasion to the contrary by the evidence of truth, we are not willing to let truth have its way, just because it means a breach with the convenient and the conventional.
The temptation may come in the opposite way. Convenience or opportunity may dictate the renunciation of former conviction, and the renouncing is dictated by convenience rather than by the claims of truth. We must beware of that temptation also.

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