“To God’s Glory” : A Practical Study of a Doctrine of the Westminster Standards.
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn
THE SUBJECT : The Holiness of Truth
THE BIBLE VERSES TO READ : I Peter 1:15-16; II Tim. 3:12; Titus 2:12; Gal. 5:25; II Cor. 7:1; I Thess. 4:1; Eph. 4:24; Titus 1:1.
REFERENCE TO THE STANDARDS : Confession, XIII; XVI; Larger Catechism, Q. 75; 78; 77; Shorter Catechism, Q. 35.
One of the greatest difficulties encountered by those subscribing to the Reformed Faith is that of keeping the right relationship between their doctrine and their life. The right perspective must be kept at all times. There must be a Biblical balance between the mind and the heart.
Paul puts it very well when he says in I Thess. 4:1 — “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.” Or, as our title puts it, the “holiness of truth” (Eph. 4:24b) should be showing forth in our lives.
John Owen states that “holiness is nothing but the implanting, writing, and realization of the gospel in our souls.” This is important for us to understand. What God begins in His children is what He continues to work out in His children. Our Lord Himself said, “Sanctify them in (or by) thy truth: thy word is truth.” How much of this do we realize?
Many times those subscribing to the Reformed Faith seem to have an erroneous opinion. They know, from their study of doctrine, they are “kept” by God. They know they cannot be lost. They know the covenant of grace, the finished work of Christ, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are all at work keeping them. But many times they do not realize that though the grace of God as it works out sanctification in the soul may never die, it can decay. Therefore, there must be a constant commitment on the part of the believer, a commitment to the Truth that has a holy influence on those elected by His Sovereign love.
How can we best be certain we make use of God’s Word in our holy living? There are many methods. But all of them include a loving devotion to the Word of God. Each believer has the responsibility to discover the best method, or methods, to be certain the “Holiness of Truth” is at work in the life.
One method that will have a certain result is that of starting the day with the Bible and with prayer. There is a great, and rightful emphasis ion the Reformed Faith on the authority of God’s Word. We must be certain we make use of a portion of it each day as we offer ourselves to God as His servant, determining to hide His Word in our heart, all to His glory.
Another method is that of faithfulness to the church, the Bride of Christ. A church should be found that is faithful to Biblical truth and it should be attended faithfully. When a believer sits under the authoritative preaching and teaching of God’s Word, and does so faithfully, God will work out His will in that believer. One of the greatest Biblical preachers I have ever heard had three rules for his listeners :
(1) Listen carefully to God’s Word as it is proclaimed;
(2) Take notes of important facts that convict or comfort your soul;
(3) If you have questions, go to God’s servant and ask them!
In addition, another method is that of being determined to practice self-denial in your life. To be a disciple of the Master means disciplining yourself to the way of self-denial (Matt. 16:24). This is not easy, but it is necessary. It is not something for tomorrow but for today. It grows on the believer the more he practices it.
The last method to be mentioned here is that of reading the Puritans. The longer this servant of the Lord lives the more is he convinced that their strong convictions regarding the authority of God’s Word, and their constant allegiance to it, motivated great writings. It is helpful to keep a notebook handy to jot down those thoughts that strike to the depth of the soul. There is no shallowness to their writings. They are deep. Sometimes it takes the reading of a passage over and over again. But the blessed result is well worth the effort.
We must be certain we understand that God requires us that we should be holy, and that we must make use of those things He has provided for us to enable us to reach His standard as far as we are able. We dare not forget His admonition to His children : “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.” (Gen. 17:1). Our love for Him should show forth in our obedience. Our desire for His will to be worked out in our lives will be fulfilled, by His grace, as we press onward in holiness.