It is by the grace of our God that we may mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the existence of our denomination of churches and in doing so we may humbly say with Jeremiah, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed for His compassions, they fail not. Great Is Thy Faithfulness”. We are asked to convey in this department of Christian Living a few thoughts that are also appropriate to this commemoration and with you Protestant Reformed Young People especially in mind we will attempt to do this by directing your attention to the very important phase of your Christian living that always enjoins you “to abide in the truth”.
That is a great challenge, youth!
It is also a very high calling!
It is the very essence of your Christian living!
And, moreover, it is the “jubilee” of the church. Without it a church may institutionally exist and may even succeed in making an impressive outward appearance but that in itself is vanity. Genuine Christian living which is practiced only as we abide in the truth can and does inspire the church to celebrate her anniversary. “For I rejoice greatly”, writes John, “when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth”. We will no doubt agree that the measure of our actual Christian living will then also determine the measure of our actual joy in this ‘Commemoration of our churches’ twenty-fifth birthday.
Imperative it is, therefore, that we ask ourselves the question, “To what extent are we walking in the truth”? Put differently we might say, “How orthodox is our Christian living?”
There is a danger that we take this matter lightly and then just brush it aside with a “pshaw and piffle”, to go on in the way of our own pleasure. If that be our attitude we have no place in the jubilee of the church of Jesus. Those who “pooh-pooh” Christian living are simply wicked and for all this they shall be brought to judgment. Repent and be transformed in your mind or yours shall be the double stripes.
But even among those of us who will sincerely weigh the question there may be a danger that we become enthusiastic in the wrong way. Talking about “walking in the truth”, we cannot help but feel that in our circles that word “truth” has become stereotyped and so lost its full power and meaning. The “word” Is emphasized at the expense of the “content”. Many will jubilantly cry, “We have the truth”, but when one stops and challenges that statement and inquires more specifically after that which those folks have and call “the truth”, it is found that it amounts to only a vague conception of religious beliefs, and the conclusion is drawn that these cries are inspired by “pa and ma” who untiringly taught the children to say “we have the truth”, without bothering to tell them what it was. An abstract term is empty and even if it is “truth” you cannot possibly walk in it. Wouldn’t it be far better to teach our children the whole concept and then label it “the truth”?
Others there are who have a beautiful intellectual understanding of truth but who fail to walk in it. Having been catechized thoroughly they know and are able to define all the truths of the Word of God. A wonderful virtue this is but it must be exercised. The truth may not lay dormant in our heads but must daily be applied to our lives. The truth is not a thing to be taken up exclusively in the church service and catechism class but rather it is a power (intellectual, moral and spiritual) to be seen in every word, gesture and deed. The truth must live or we soon have a state of “cold orthodoxy” in which there is no spiritual joy.
Still another group seem to be of the opinion that “truth” is something that the minister alone is to ponder and preach. I that were true, why preach to humans? Wouldn’t animals be as receptive? To reason thus is to seek a reason to shirk our responsibility.
Protestant Reformed Youth, what are you?
Carelessly indifferent?. . . . Do you know the “word”, having heard it often but fail to have any solid conception of its meaning?
Coldly orthodox? Do you know “truth” and cram it into your heads because you “must” and then leave it there?
A shirker? Don’t know it and don’t care to perhaps? Assume the attitude that it is easier to leave such “profound things” to others, do you?
Or, do you walk in the truth?
To do this is our life. Yes, it is the future life of our Protestant Reformed Churches. Just as twenty-five years ago our leaders and parents were compelled to bring our churches into existence because they, by the help of God, insisted that they MUST walk in the truth, so you and I of the present generation, by the same Divine aid, will be compelled to perpetuate them only as we walk in truth. God calls you to no other task that is more important than this, and it makes no difference what your position in life may be. Further God never gives you the “green light” to leave the way of truth regardless how preponderant the reason for such a departure may appear to you. Now it may be a job; then a wife or husband; again, more friends, money, honor, etc., but don’t we realize that Jesus in plain words tells us that “to love these things more than to love
Him reveals that we are not worthy of HIM?”
Walk in the truth!
That is a tremendous thing. The implications of it are far reaching and we have not space to begin to discuss them. Yet, we may say a few things hoping that we may inspire you to pursue them further. The truth demands that you are not conformed to this world but are a Separate people unto God. Your dress, appearance, speech, interests, activities, joys, pleasures, hopes, and a thousand more things are not patterned after the children of Satan. You, who are recreated in Christ, look like Him, act like Him, speak like Him, and in all of your life seek the things that you know He would seek if He were here with you in the flesh.
The truth further assures you that your lot according to your flesh will not be pleasant in this world. The world of unrighteousness hates any semblance of truth and you may be sure it will hate you. The more you live your truth, the more you will experience this. It is not because the world is getting better that the church at present experiences no oppression but rather may it be said that her light is diminishing. Through tribulation we enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Your confession expresses what it is to live in the truth. It states in questions 89 and 90 of the catechism that “it is a sincere sorrow of heart, that we have provoked God by our sins; and more and more hate and flee from them and it is a sincere joy of heart in God through Christ, with love and delight to live according to the will of God in all good works.” “Shew me your faith by your works,” says James.
The truth then is not a cold dogmatic system written for the intellectuals to decipher. Rather it is the practical, living application of the principles of God’s word to our daily life. Do not misunderstand this, for it does not mean that purity of doctrine is not important. Rather, the contrary is true. It is of utmost importance, for doctrine and life are a unity. They go together. Where the one is qualified the other is corrupt. To walk in the truth demands that you keep your doctrine pure and “if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine (the pure doctrine of Christ), receive him not into your house” (II John 10), and live in every sphere of life according to it.
Walking in the truth is humanly impossible. We, who are so much of this world, will never do it. That we are what we are is not of us that we should now boast but rather let us give God all glory. His grace alone has led us thus far. May it please Him to continue with us and may we earnestly implore His blessing “in the way of truth”.
If you have started out in the way you know
To be right and the only way to go,
Then, with a soldier-tread,
March boldly straight ahead
And suffer, yea, perish! but never turn back.