by Jeremy Walker/
Read all the posts published to date in this 16-part series.
In his great treatment of spiritual warfare, The Christian in Complete Armour, the Puritan author William Gurnall speaks of what he calls “catechize-points.” These, he says, are “truths necessary to be known and believed.”[i] The truths upon which I wish to focus in these posts provide us with a stunning display of grace. They are truths which with Christians need to be thoroughly acquainted, truths with which pastors must thoroughly acquaint the people whom they serve. These are the paths to walk so that you do not miss your way to heaven, nor fail to honor the Lord God along the way. These are the anchors of the faith that mature Christians need to point out to the generations following us. These are spiritual realities to reckon with. These are the gospel verities that must be defended against the errors and heresies that repeatedly threaten to undermine or overwhelm them, either by force or by fraud.
These are central truths. They cannot be pushed to one side or downplayed without restricting our views of God and twisting our views of self. They are determinative, in large measure, for our views of Christian experience, life, duty, and joy. They help to define our gospel witness as the church of Jesus Christ. Get these wrong and so much else will be immediately and persistently skewed.
These are humbling truths. They strip away the boasting to which proud and rebellious man is inclined. With searing honesty they make us face the facts about our own sinful hearts, our spiritual need, and our utter dependence on the mercies and favors of God acting freely and graciously in accordance with his glorious character and infinite being. They are truths that necessarily empty us of self before they fill us with Christ.
These are saving truths. These things are the ground of our hope. Fail to reckon with these things and there is no deliverance for our souls and bodies. Again, there is a holy progression and a divine logic at work. Like a sick man, we must acknowledge the disease in order to pursue the physician. We must accept the diagnosis in order to obtain the medicine. With regard to our souls, we will not flee to Christ as Savior until we are brought to acknowledge the salvation we need as found in him alone. Then, and only then, do we run to him and hide ourselves in him and find all our joy.
These are comforting truths. Here the soul—however stained or troubled in itself, however weak and feeble we know ourselves to be or fear ourselves to be, whatever challenges and obstacles we face, whatever trials and temptations lie before us—finds all that it will ever need. Here and here only we can rest in peace.
Finally, these are God-glorifying truths. They exalt God in Christ. They make much of him, they draw attention to his person, and they shed light upon his work. Here his being and his doing are made manifest. Nowhere outside of salvation through the Lamb do we find such a high and clear revelation of who God is and what God is like. Here the glory of God shines in his grace as nowhere else, prompting lives of earnest service and songs of ardent praise.
My intention is simply to survey some of these fundamental truths—God’s display of his grace—in order that we might feel their sweet force for ourselves. In each instance, I will take what might be called an “epitomising text”— a short portion of God’s Word that encapsulates something of the truth in question. I hope to demonstrate that it is by no means the only Scripture that proves the point, and so bring to bear something of the whole counsel of God upon the matter. My concern is both to explain and to apply these truths. My intention is not first polemical. However, I trust that as we see these truths springing from the pages of our Bibles they will be persuasive to direct, confirm, and encourage us in the things God has revealed. We must see that these are not dead letters, but spiritual realities that ought to grip our souls and govern our thoughts and deeds.
In so doing, I trust we shall be instructed, humbled, saved, and comforted, and bring glory and honor to the God of our salvation as he holds before us in his Word a display of his grace in Christ Jesus, his Son and our Savior.
[i] William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1964, repr. 1989), 1:230.
Part 1 of a 16-part series drawn from Anchored in Grace: Fixed Points for Humble Faith, by Jeremy Walker.
Jeremy Walker serves as a pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church, Crawley, England, and is married to Alissa, with whom he enjoys the blessing of three children. He has written several books and has blogged at Reformation21 and The Wanderer.