The Eternal Nature of Truth
One has said, “The individual is but an atom; he is born, he acts, he dies; but principles are eternal.”1 Truth is an eternal principle. Change it to any degree at all and it becomes false. There may be different conditions and different things to meet in our day than in the days of Christ and the apostles or in the early days of this reformation and, no doubt, there are. But the clear principles of eternal truth, if solidly held, will meet the problems of our day the same as theirs.
[William J. Bryan; “Cross of Gold Speech”]
But we cannot move established landmarks to suit our land lines. We must move our land lines to suit the established landmarks. At this point, I think of Brother George Winn of Guthrie, Oklahoma, whom some of you may still remember. He once said that if God would hand him the Bible and say, “Here, George, just take this Book and fix it to fit you,” he would just hand the Bible back to God and say, “God, the book is all right just like it is. Just fix George to fit the Book.” Brethren, that is the attitude we all need and must have. Let us not be trying to change any part of God’s Word to suit our way of life at any point, but let us earnestly be seeking God to change our lives in any way they need changing to conform to the truths of God’s Word.
In Zechariah 14:20 it says, “In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD.” This is the standard we are to lift up for the people. This is the law of God’s house. Ezekiel 43:12 says, “This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house.”
The first Methodist discipline had in it a paragraph which forbade the reading of such literature or the exercise of any diversions which were not conducive to spirituality and holiness. This may still be in the Methodist discipline. I do not know. But we all know that this principle has long since passed out of the lives of many of the communicants of that faith, and most faiths, so far as that is concerned. The departure from this principle was the moving of a clear definite landmark which had formerly set certain bounds and established a certain course for the people to go by. So long as they remained within those set bounds and followed that certain course in their lives God’s glory was manifest among them and His power worked mightily in their midst. But the removal of this landmark broke down the boundary and set the people adrift and threw them into confusion as to what the standard of Christian living was, and today almost anything of the world is acceptable and very little divine power and glory is manifest in the lives of many. But let us realize that the New Testament can become a dead letter to many of us also if we do not watch ourselves very closely and stay very close to its teachings in our manner of life in every phase.
The general, over-all rule for Christian living, and which would also be the standard for the church to go by collectively and individually, is found in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” This should be the corner stone from which we would survey every thing in every area of our lives. To state this rule or principle conversely will not suffice in this case. To state it conversely would be to state it negatively: “Will this or that dishonor God?” Let us realize we are here for the express purpose to glorify God, and we should hold this principle at all times in its positive form just like it is stated here. “Do all to the glory of God,” and survey everything in life from that cornerstone of truth.
Jesus Himself laid down this pattern for us to go by. In John 4:34 Jesus said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” Again in John 5:30 Jesus said, “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which sent me.” In John 8:29 Jesus said again, “The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” Jesus did always those things which pleased His Father. He is our example. In 1 John 3:22 we read, “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.”
Now let us consider that those who keep His commandments may be save (howbeit, not all are saved who are quite strict about the commandments—Luke 18:18-23), but we must seek to do those things which are the most pleasing unto God if we would enjoy His rich blessings upon our lives. This text is put in its positive form also: “Do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” (1 John 3:22) Let us think of it this way and not in its negative form: “Will this displease God?” We are plagued to a great extent with negative thinking anyway. We think and talk more about the things we do not believe in than the things we do believe in. Some have come more to an attitude of thinking, “Is this or that sin?” than of thinking “Is this or that glorifying to God?” But let us realize there are some things which could not actually be located as sin which do not really please God for us in our particular case and would not be glorifying to Him.