By Charles Woodruff
“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to
thy word” (Psalm 119:9). “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).
What shall we study and meditate on? There are many books in the world -- some are
good, some are bad. This is true of sermons you can hear and read -- some are good,
some are bad. We could suggest as some have that you read nothing other than the Bible.
Yet being men and women in a modern world, we are not likely to limit ourselves to that,
especially if we are good readers. God gave us a desire for knowledge in many areas, and
we fulfill it by reading, sometimes.
Many years ago, in another state, I was asked to preach in a particular church on several
different occasions. I suppose I was 39 or 40 then, and the pastor there was considerably
younger than myself. I got to know him pretty well, and stayed with him and his young
family each time I was in the area. He told me that he read at least one of Charles
Spurgeon’s sermons every day. I said, “Very commendable. Spurgeon was a great
preacher and left us a great body of work.” The pastor also put a Spurgeon sermon in his
church paper each week.
The last time I was there, I met another young couple from his church that was staying in
the pastor’s home until their house got repaired. They seemed like a nice couple. A short
time later I got word that this pastor fell into sin with the other woman, and left his wife
and two children for her. Two homes were broken up! A ministry was destroyed!
What brought about this awful situation? This minister was surely not following the
teachings of Spurgeon when he did this. You can’t blame Spurgeon for this, for he was a
godly man. It does show that no matter how much a person is claiming to follow sound
doctrine, he can err if he is not obeying God’s word. Spurgeon preached the word.
Some others he read from like Arthur Pink also preached the word. He read his bible regularly. But it doesn’t matter. He could have been reading John Wesley every day. Or J.C. Philpot, J.C.Ryle, David Wilkerson, Billy Graham, or R.C. Sproul. There had to be something much deeper than which ministers were influencing him. This minister himself studied and preached the word. He seemed to have good Bible knowledge. Why did he put another black mark on the cause of Christ? “But whoso committeth adultery with a
woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul” (Proverbs
6:32). We are all flesh and blood, and I have to say “but for the grace of God there go I”.
There is an answer however. Many, as James says, are only hearers (or readers), of the
word. “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves”
You see, it is not enough to just hear, or read, or be religious, the word must be in the heart to cause the manifestation of doing good works. James also said “…To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). This person knew. All thought him to be a true brother -- God alone knows. He surely does not appear to be God’s chosen, unless he repents. Beloved, as the verse I quoted at the beginning we must hide God’s word in our hearts. As our theme verse says, it is a lamp to guide our path. But we must be doers of the word. Remember in Ephesians, that great scripture mountaintop, it says: “For by grace are ye saved. Through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
“Since for unbelieving men religion seems to stand by opinion alone, they, in order not to
believe anything foolishly or lightly, both wish and demand rational proof that Moses and
the prophets spoke divinely. But I reply: the testimony of the Spirit is more excellent than
all reason. For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word, so also the Word will
not find acceptance in men's hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the
Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who has spoken through the mouths of the prophets
must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what had
been divinely commanded ...”
--John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 1.7.5. (emphasis mine C.W.)
Spiritual Conversation- J.C. Ryle
“Conference on spiritual subjects is a most important means of grace. As iron sharpens
iron, so does exchange of thoughts with brethren sharpen a believer's soul. It brings down
a special blessing on all who make a practice of it. The striking words of Malachi were
meant for the Church in every age --‘Then those who feared the Lord spoke often one to
another--and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written
before him for those who feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name. And they
shall be mine says the Lord, in that day when I make up my jewels.’ (Mal. 3:16, 17.)
What do we know ourselves of spiritual conversation with other Christians? Perhaps we read our Bibles, and pray in private, and use public means of grace. It is all well, very well. But if we stop short here we neglect a great privilege and have yet much to learn. We ought to ‘consider one another to provoke to love and good works.’ We ought to ‘exhort’ and ‘edify one another.’ (Heb. 10:24; 1 Thess. 5:11.) Have we no time for spiritual conversation? Let us think again. The quantity of time wasted on frivolous, trifling, and unprofitable talk, is fearfully great. Do we find nothing to say on spiritual subjects? Do we feel tongue-tied and speechless on the things of Christ? Surely if this is the case, there must be something wrong within. A heart right in the sight of God will generally find words. ‘Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.’" (Matt. 12:34). From Expository Thoughts on the Gospels on Luke 24 13-20.
Published by Charles Woodruff- email: firstname.lastname@example.org