The Enduring Nature of Truth – by: Allen Raynor
(Feb. 23, 2009)
Truth is unique, truth is enduring. Everything else is fading away, but truth remains. Jesus Himself said in Mat. 24:35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” In John 17:17 Jesus said “Thy Word is truth.” In his first epistle, in chapter 1 vs. 24-25, Peter quotes from Isaiah 40:6-8 when he writes, “All flesh is as grass; and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers and its flower falls away but the word of the Lord endures forever.” Basically everything that is created has a life span but the truth of God remains untouched and unscathed by any attacker.
When considering the enduring nature of truth, there are a couple of things which have occurred in the month of February which illustrate this so very well. On Feb. 2nd George Beverly Shea celebrated his 100th birthday! During a private ceremony to mark the event Shea took the stage expressing his gratitude and then sang one of his favorite hymns, “The Shadow of the Cross,” in his strong and familiar bass-baritone voice.
How many times have we heard Shea sing with unmistakable conviction beloved hymns like “I’d Rather have Jesus,” and “The Love of God?” The joy resonating from his heart has been unmistakable. Shea has been a part of the Billy Graham Crusade team for more than 60 years and stands in remarkably good health today and will likely continue his ministry of singing for the foreseeable future. There is little doubt the thing which keeps him going is his deep love of Jesus and his commitment to the changeless power of Biblical truth!
On Feb. 9th of this year John MacArthur marked his 40th anniversary as pastor of Grace Community Church in Panorama City, California, a Los Angeles suburb. MacArthur’s ministry there has been nothing short of remarkable, leading a group of 300, who were present on his first Sunday in 1969, to average 8000 in Sunday AM worship. Recently on the daily Grace to You radio broadcast, they played the first message preached by him as the church’s pastor entitled “How to Play Church” from Mat. 7:21-23. The quality of recording is far less superior to the cd quality of today, and his voice is a little higher pitched being only 29 years old at the time, but the crux of the message is remarkably similar to what you would hear him preach today. The reason is because the truth has not changed! The truth is really the only operative in existence which has the power to transform lives, any other “fix” is only temporary!
In addition to the thousands of messages he has preached (now all available to download free of charge from http://www.gty.org) MacArthur has written more than 150 books! A recent count revealed I personally have 97 books on my shelf written by him! This total includes a superior New Testament Commentary series which is a compilation of his sermons in 28 volumes to date. He has not yet completed volumes on Luke and Mark.
In a recent book published by Grace to You to mark the occasion of MacArthur’s 40th anniversary entitled Truth Endures: Commemorating Forty Years of Unleashing God’s Truth One Verse at a Time 1969-2009: Landmark Sermons by John MacArthur, his biographer Ian Murray recounts opposition MacArthur has faced over the years. At various points he faced it from his staff, the elder board at the church, the community, news organizations for stands he has taken, the charismatic movement, the seeker- friendly church movement, advocates of the prosperity gospel, and those who advocate what is known as “no lordship salvation,” which is extremely popular today. His first best-seller The Gospel According to Jesus released in 1988 explored what Jesus specifically taught about salvation and exposed how it had been watered down over recent decades to become something far easier than what Jesus taught. The high cost of following Christ had been somehow forgotten and replaced by an “easy believism” which was far outside the reaches of New Testament theology. That book was so monumental that Grace to You released a 20th anniversary edition of the book in 2008.
The secret of the endurance of men like George Beverly Shea and John MacArthur is not so much that they are great men, although they are, but that the truth of God is at work through them encouraging them and molding and shaping them with each passing day. The thought of walking away from it is unconscionable! It is a life-long commitment of tremendous proportion. God is gracious and kind for entrusting mankind with the truth. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 4:7, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” Truly it is not of us but of Him! We rejoice over these milestones knowing it is a gracious God who has allowed His Word to go forth with power! Truly, the truth endures!
In Christ, Pastor Allen Raynor
First Baptist Church, Broomfield, CO