My husband recently acquired a set of the three paperback volumes of William Gurnall‘s “The Christian In Complete Armour.” This afternoon he came in from the back porch, where he was sitting enjoying the fresh air, and excitedly read me these next paragraphs. He was deeply impressed by the spiritual wisdom in these two pages. To that end, I share with you, what he has just shared with me.
“The fundamental truths of the gospel are landmarks to keep us safely within the boundaries set by God. Suppose your grandfather owned some property which at one time had been carefully surveyed. He was there when they set the stakes and could have paced it off blindfolded. But he never took the time to show anyone else the markings. Over the years, the markers rotted, were rooted up, or washed away. Now your grandfather has died and left the land to you. But a dishonest neighbor claims it is his, and as proof of ownership points to the burgeoning crop of corn he has planted. You discover that the deed and land description have been lost. Since you do not really know the proper boundary lines yourself, how will you defend your case in court? You will probably end up losing your property because no one else told you where it ends and your neighbor’s begins.
The spiritual parallel is this: Every fundamental truth has some evil neighbor (i.e., heresy) butting up against it, eager to plant a crop of lies upon the sacred ground of God’s Holy Word and thus fool the saints. And the very reason that a spirit of error has encroached so far upon the truth in the last few years is because ministers have not walked the boundaries of the gospel with their people and acquainted them with these primary truths.
We have both staples and luxuries in our religion, just as in our homes. Luxuries are wonderful and often enhance our appreciation of the staples, but they quickly lose their appeal when our basic needs go unmet. What pleasure is there in dining from fine china if you have no food to put on the plate? Of what value is a silk blouse in winter if you have no coat?
A preacher should preach not only fundamental truths, but also those truths he observes to be most frequently undermined by Satan. These are often the ordinances of God that should dictate the Christian’s response to controversial issues of faith and practice.
To know which doctrines are under greatest attack among his own congregation, a pastor must read and study his people as diligently as any book in his library. From the personal tone of Paul’s letters, we can surmise that he frequently paced the boundaries of the young church, looking for encroaching errors. When he discovered that false apostles had infiltrated the Galatian church and were preaching the law again, how he pounded home the gospel truth of justification by faith. When word came to him of division and strife among the Corinthians, what poured forth from his heart but that peerless exhortation on love?
Pastor, your flock may sometimes grow restless and complain that you keep them in the same pasture too long by preaching on one sin. The fault is not yours, but theirs, if they keep straying away from the Shepherd every time your back is turned. Who can blame a dog for continuing to bark when the wolf is still prowling about the fold?
If you long to grow in the likeness of Christ, do not pray for a preacher who will entertain you with a clever new topic each Sunday. Please instead for a man of principle who will preach against sin and for truth without compromise, until his people repent and turn from their evil ways.”
William Gurnall, “The Christian In Complete Armour, Volume 1;” The Banner of Truth Trust; 1986; pg. 242-243 (First published in three volumes in 1655, 1658, and 1662)
Related Link: “Bits Of William Gurnall“
Original Content: Copyright © 2011 by Susan E. Johnson
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