A timely admonition.
God’s church exists in a world that glorifies and practices the lie. As never before the truth is trampled under foot. True, since that terrible moment when man inclined his ear to the lie of the devil this was the case. Yet, there is development in sin. As life itself deepens and develops the lie develops, until the latter shall have reached its acme in the kingdom of the man of sin.
The godless world worships the lie. It is her life, her sphere, her delight. Maliciously men hold the truth in unrighteousness. Facts, which men gather in the way of natural perception and study, they present in a wholly false and wicked light. In brief, the world always lies. She lies in her art and science, her business and education, her walk and talk. She thinks the lie, desires it, speaks it, sings it, paints it, writes it. In all her education she instructs her youth in the way of falsehood. She lies when she examines the bowels of the earth, when she counts the stars and measures the sun. A Reformed Christian should have no difficulty understanding these things.
In ever increasing measure the church, too, is taking its delight in the way of the lie. This need not surprise us, neither should this lead us to despair. Is not increasing apostasy in the church, according to the Scriptures, one of the signs whereby we shall know that the day of the Lord is drawing nigh? Doctrinally, the truth is being corrupted, the Word of God distorted and the vain philosophy of this world glorified. And, practically, men seek the things of this present time, living the lie even as they profess it.
The danger of yielding to the lie is more than an imaginary one, also for us. Living in a lying world, ourselves believing Satan rather than God by nature, there is also among us too little buying, too much selling of the truth.
Vacation time is once more drawing to a close. By the time this Standard Bearer finds its way to your library table September will be here. Our Christian schools, our catechism classes, our Sunday Schools, our societies,—these all will resume activities within a short time. Make these words of the wisest of them all your motto and hearken to this divine injunction: (Proverbs 23:28) “Buy the truth, and sell it not.”
Buy the truth!
Truth is reality over against that which is unreal or contrary to reality. Too, it is the correct, faithful presentation of reality with respect to all things, God and His work, Christ and the sinner, the present, and the future, heaven and earth, the world and the church.
Within the blessed Trinity the Son is the truth in relation to the Father. By virtue of eternal generation the Father objectifies Himself perfectly in the Son. Thus the Son is the precise image of His Father and the former is all that the latter is. The Son is the Eternal Truth.
God Triune is the truth. He is the eternal reality who was before all things and made all things in order to reveal and glorify Himself. God is the truth because He is perfectly all that belongs to His divine being. God is never different. He never denies Himself. Not for a single moment does He ever contradict Himself. Therefore God is the Immutable One because He is constantly and perfectly HIMSELF. He Is that He Is, always. God is the truth because He always reveals Himself just as He is. As He is, He speaks; as He speaks He is. Therefore, His Word may never be doubted.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth. He is the eternal Son, the everlasting Word, in the nature of man. He is the complete and perfect revelation of the Father. Over against the unreal He is the reality. The shadows, however significant in their time and place, were not real. Christ is the fulfillment of them all. Over against all that is contrary to the truth He conforms to the same. Therefore He is our salvation, while He condemns all that is of darkness and the lie.
The revealed and written Word of God, Scripture, is the truth, the only truth, the sole source, therefore, whence we must draw in order to attain the knowledge of the truth. In this essay I am thinking primarily of the truth as it is contained for us in this written Word of God, The Book.
Holy Writ reveals the truth, reality, with respect to all things. It IS the truth and as such we approach it. We may not contradict Scripture, for all that speaks against it is the lie. We may not doubt the Word of God or imagine that we should approach it with unbiased minds. Even before we have acquainted ourselves with the content of a given passage of Scripture, we know and believe that this passage contains only truth. All that proceeds contrary to this principle is from hell. The Word of God is the whole truth. It brings all things to our minds and hearts in their proper light and significance. Basically, there is nothing in all of God’s creation that Scripture does not explain. And, the Word of God is the only truth; hence, the only source of truth. All else is of the creature, which cannot ascend to that which is beyond natural perception. And surely, unless we do go above that which eye can see and ear can hear we will never attain to the knowledge of the truth.
The Bible reveals the truth about God: that He is God alone; that He is the eternal and infinite comprehension of every perfection; that He is Himself eternal, yet of nothing made all things and still upholds them by His omnipotent and omnipresent providence. Thus God must be known and adored, served and glorified, seen and loved in all things. All that fails to have God as its content and purpose is of the lie. Every creature is embodiment of divine thought and therefore, revelation of God. Exclude God and you have the lie.
The Word of God reveals the truth about man: that he was created by God, good and in His image; that he chose for Satan and the lie and turned his back upon his Maker; that he is now a child of the devil, dead in trespasses, incapable of doing any good and prone to all and every evil. All that evaluates man in any other way is of the lie.
The Book reveals the truth about Christ: that He is the revelation of God in the flesh; that in Him only the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily; that He only is the Savior of sinners and The Light of the World. A man without Christ and the need of a Christ is a liar.
Holy Writ reveals the truth about heaven and earth. They did not come to being in the way of evolution. They were made and are sustained by God.
God’s Word reveals the truth about things earthly and heavenly, natural and spiritual, temporal and eternal. The one is preparatory, shadow, and therefore, transient. On such things we must not set our hearts. The other is the end, the real, and, therefore, incorruptible. Such things we must seek with all our hearts. Whatever departs from this principle in teaching or practice is the lie.
Parents, children, young men, young women,—buy the truth!
You must do all you can, with all the means at your disposal, to procure that truth for yourselves and your loved ones.
You must be willing, eager, to sacrifice all you have for the sake of the truth, even as selling the truth implies that we sacrifice it for anything the world may have for us. To obtain the truth we must sacrifice. It demands our interest, our time, even money. Therefore we must buy. However, let us remember: the truth is always a bargain, even though it demand the sacrifice of money and goods, of leisure and pleasure, of church and former friends, of wife and child, of name and place in this life.
We must resist and reject all that is of the lie in any form.
We must believe and practice, that nothing may stand between us and the unadulterated truth of the Word of God, be it husband or wife or child, be it boyfriend or girlfriend. Nothing or no one may lure us away from the sound conception and confession of the truth to one less pure. At all times the truth must have the right of way.
We must do all we can to know and understand the truth as revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures. Our renewed intellects must be enriched in the contents of the Word of God. Neither should we content ourselves with a mere knowledge of salvation in the narrow sense of the word. The full revelation of God in Jesus Christ we should strive to know.
And, we must seek to know and understand the truth in order that we may live it. Life is the crown of doctrine; the latter the basis for the former. Our lives should be Christian lives, for only such a life is of the truth. We must deem the things spiritual of paramount value and live for them with all we are and all we have. We must live the life that flees the world and seeks the kingdom of God in all our thinking and willing, playing and singing, speaking and all our activities. To this supreme purpose all other things must be made subservient.
“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
But also, Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”
The world and the truth.
It is obvious that the flesh can never and in no wise “buy the truth.” It is in bondage to him who is the liar from the beginning and has set himself to oppose all that is of God, hence, of the truth. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh.” “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
The world, consequently, cannot “buy the truth.” She is in the flesh, and, hence, enmity against God and friend of Satan. She excludes God from all her life. She says in her heart, “there is no God.” And God is the truth, the ultimate, eternal reality. She rejects Jesus Christ and nails Him to the cross today even as she did 2,000 years ago; and Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. She ridicules the Word of God, which we know to be the sole source of all truth. She despises the spiritual things and cannot discern them spiritually; and these are reality in distinction from the things of the world.
Thus the world lives the lie. She lives it with respect to God. Where God is not the center, there life is false, vain, devilish. She lives the lie with respect to the Christ. She has no need of Him. She hates and crucifies Him day by day. He is not a Savior. This again is due to the fact that she lives the lie with respect to man. Man is not dead in sin, helpless, miserable. In all things she lives the lie. She seeks the natural things and despises the spiritual. She adores the earthly and is blind for the heavenly. She loves the temporal and has no eye for the eternal. This is the lie. These things characterize the songs she sings, the pieces she plays on her musical instruments, her art and literature.
Apply this principle to the schools of the world and they become, pure and simple, educational institutions of the lie. Neither do the few Christian teachers in our public school system in any way alter this rule. They cannot and do not change the institution as such. They permit themselves to be bound by them who care not about God and His Kingdom. They may not teach the truth: not THE TRUTH. In as far as they do they bootleg it in. It stands to reason that the world must instruct as she is; and she is a liar. To deny this character of the public schools is to deny the spiritual character of the world. One cannot possibly be Reformed and at the same time deny that the school of the world is precisely that: a worldly school, a school of the lie. Certainly, the world can present mere facts,—historical, geographic, scientific, mathematical, etc.—and these she can give formally correct. But, education is not a mere giving of naked facts. The world itself maintains that in education the facts must be interpreted and explained in their proper light and perspective. Therein she condemns herself. She takes God out of His own creation. He is not the Maker and Sustainer of all things. She takes God out of history. The latter is not the realization of His counsel and the work of His providence. She refuses God a place in geography and science. These are not the wonders of the Almighty. She denies Him a place in civics. All authority and government is not from and unto Him. God is not in all the thoughts of the world. And, mind you, these things the world does deliberately, intentionally. Does this, or does this not, make the world a liar and her education a false education?
A glimpse into our own hearts will verify the truth of what has been said and the above evaluation of the world. We, too, are by nature “after the flesh.” We are inclined to be carnal, earthly, sinful, false even now. What place does God have in your singing? Your speaking? Your play? Your work? What percentage of your life, your time is consciously and wholeheartedly devoted to God? In how far is your life dedicated to the quest of the truth?
The author of Proverbs is speaking to you and me:
Buy the truth, and sell it not!
In Christian practice.
The application of this exhortation may be as broad as life itself. The things I wish to say with a view to the season that lies before us are but a fragment, therefore, of what might be said in this connection.
As churches we must buy the truth.
How easily we sell for very incidental considerations. We yearn to see our congregations grow. We want to draw people to our services; others must be prevented from leaving us. Among one another and with the world round about us we desire to keep the peace. Gradually we compromise. We yield a little here and a little there until all the sharper points of doctrine and life are filed down to suit mere man. We court the friendship of the world because it is easier and profitable, too—outwardly. Against this danger we must be on our guard constantly.
Let us be mindful of our high calling with respect to God’s cause and church. Let us resist without compromise every departure from the truth, be it in doctrine or practice. Let us be adamant in our position against all them who plot to deliver the citadel to the foe. Let us insist that the pure and unadulterated truth be maintained from our pulpits. Be content with nothing less. Let us give the Word of God the supreme place in our midst, and, let us love it, search it, live it. Let us instruct our youth in the doctrine that is according to salvation and in a walk of life that is unto the glory of our God. Let all heresy and conformity to the world be rooted out from the beginning.
As children of God let us buy the truth personally.
Buy it in the way of personal, prayerful study of the Word of God. How easily we sell also here. We are too busy to study; there is no time to read things worthwhile. Or, we are too tired after a day’s work. Some complain that they simply have no pleasure in reading. In most cases this means: in reading things that pertain to truth and doctrine. As though lack of desire can ever be a valid excuse for failing to study the truth of God. Others have not the necessary funds for Christian literature. These, e.g., cannot afford the Standard Bearer. For these and other reasons, then, there is little or no studying of the Word of God in many of our homes.
There can be no escaping the fruits of such indifference and selling of the truth. Such people remain ignorant and weak. They remain children wherein they should be men. If the Word of God is truly “the lamp before our feet and the light upon our pathway,” we cannot ignore it with impunity. Usually, too, such people fail to profit from the preaching of the Word as they should. Only the most superficial type of preaching can be grasped by them. All else is too deep. Is it surprising? And, is it right and honest for such people to lay the blame for their failure to understand at the door of the preacher? Certainly, the preaching of the Word is in many weaknesses. Of course there is room always for Christian, wholesome criticism. Nevertheless, those who do nothing themselves to be founded in the truth of God have scarcely the moral right to judge the preaching by the pastor. Here, if anywhere, the word of the Lord Jesus applies, “First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
Parents, children, young men, young women,—let us make use of the lamp of God’s Word. It is our only guide, our entire comfort, our sole instruction. Read the Word of God itself. We read so much about the Word of God; we read so little in Scripture itself. Let Holy Writ itself speak to you. Read the products of them whose life’s task it is to study Scripture and unto whom the Lord has given the talent and the insight to see depths in His Word which are hidden from us. Meditate on the truth in your quiet hours and discuss it in your Christian gatherings. The truth will live for us in the measure we not only read it, but contemplate it. There is time for this, if only we seek the time. Reading is naturally a greater pleasure for one than for another, yet, we all should cultivate the desire to study. Then, too, the means will be there for the most necessary literature. There are those who cannot afford to read the Standard Bearer, but who can ride in cars, hunt and fish, smoke cigars and chew gum. Yes, chew gum,—after all, the price of four sticks of Spearmint per week will bring the Standard Bearer to your very door. There are those who cannot read the Standard Bearer, but who are faithful subscribers to the Grand Rapids Press, even though the price of one year’s subscription to the latter will give you the former for no less than three years. Let us be honest. God is not mocked.
Buy the truth, too, with respect to the church of God.
We sell the truth when we become or remain members of a certain church, even though we know that it has departed from the truth, merely for the sake of peace, because of relative or friend, because it is larger and the budget smaller, or because of a young man or young lady, who is dearer to us than the very Word and truth of God.
We belong there, and there only, where according to our deepest convictions the purest doctrine is confessed and preached. We may not assume the attitude: this or that church is close enough to the truth. That attitude places man above God. Neither is there truth in this “close enough” attitude. No church who has departed from the truth is “close enough”. Our young men and young women may not permit themselves to be drawn away from the church where, according to their consciences, they belong. Let them beware, therefore, whom they seek as friend and mate. Do not be content with anything and everything. Do not take anything for husband or wife, irrespective of church or creed. Do not be lured away by no more than a pretty or handsome face. (If indeed that much is gained). When you look about for a mate in life consider the truth from the very beginning. Seek a Christian mate. Look for a Christian partner, one that will love the truth and the church that is dear to you, one that can and will discuss the truth with you, one that can and will aid you in bringing up your children in the pure doctrine of the Word of God. In all earnestness, look not only for a husband or wife; look for a father and mother for the children it may please the Lord to give you. Many have come to us from other churches and circles who are distinct assets for our congregations. For these and with these we are grateful. More often, however, the fruits of intermarriage are bitter, indeed. Let our young people not only, but also our parents, take a firm stand in these matters.
Buy the truth with respect to your children.
We sell the truth when we become lax toward catechism and Sunday School. In our own churches, too, the spiritual welfare of many of our children is sacrificed on the altar of money or sport or ease.
Buy the truth for your children in your home life. Do what is in your power to instruct them in the ways of the Lord. Help them with their catechism lessons. Speak to them yourself. Procure for them a reliable Bible Story Book. Read to them and apply to their lives that which you read. Blessed are those children who have parents that are zealous in the way of Christian training. God help the children who have parents that are so full of the world, that there is no time or inclination to be concerned about the eternal welfare of their souls.
And buy the truth with respect to the matter of Christian instruction. Do not look for reasons to send your children to the schools of the world, as a small minority of our parents do. Let such remember: a. Principally we may defend no other principle than that the children of the covenant must be trained daily in the way of the covenant. b. It is not true that the Christian schools today are no better than the schools of the world. This is a contemptible lie. c. The Christian school is historically the school of the Kingdom of God vs. the world; of the truth vs. the lie. They stand as testimonies against the God-less and Christ-less education of the world. d. If the schools today become impossible for us, there remains for us but one calling. Never may we go to the world. We must build schools of our own. How serious many people are in their complaints against the present Christian schools is only too evident from the interest they reveal in possible schools of our own. Let us not be too righteous in word when actually our main objection to the Christian school is the tuition. e. The Christian schools themselves teach our children that they must live alone in this world. Even the Catholics and the Lutherans appreciate this element. f. We may not raise a generation that is estranged to the very principle of Christian education. That we do by patronizing the public schools. That is not testifying against the evils in the Christian schools today. That is killing the very principle of Christian education. No, buy the truth also in this respect. The schools of the nation are about to open their doors to receive the children of the nation for another year; worldly schools for worldly children; Christian schools for Christian children. Let us walk in the way of the Lord. Send your seed where it is in its place and take interest in the instruction that is given it. Then you may expect the blessing of the Lord. The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked. Then, too, you are applying your Prot. Ref. principles to daily life. I am grateful, let me add, that our denomination leads all others in the percentage of children attending the Christian school. That is the case, is it not, Mr. Fakkema?
Not vain in the Lord.
Buy the truth, and sell it not!
The fruit of such a Christian life will assuredly be yours in the measure you heed this admonition, “Your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Your church will increase in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, instead of perishing for want of true knowledge. It will be strong in doctrine and Christian practice, a light in the midst of a world that lies in darkness. There will be abundance of spiritual life and joy.
Your children will learn that the things of God are above all things precious and glorious. They will be instructed and founded in the truth and thus qualified to reveal themselves as children of the light. Parents will experience the truth of the word, “When they will become old, they will not depart from it.”
You yourself will penetrate more deeply into the mysteries of the Word and Kingdom of God. You will be confirmed in the faith and find increased happiness in the service of Jehovah, Whom to know is everlasting life. Much doubt, which now beclouds the life of many a Christian, will be dispelled, as the mist vanishes before the rising sun.
Above all, His name will be magnified “out of Whom and through Whom and unto Whom are all things.”
To us also comes the word of the prophet, “Turn ye turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”
“Grace and truth shall mark the way Where the Lord His own will lead,
If His word they still obey,
And His testimonies heed.
“They that fear and love the Lord Shall Jehovah’s friendship know;
He will grace to them accord,
And His faithful covenant show.”