Truth in Books Not Merely in Books

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Many years ago a young Christian spoke to an aged one about the great value of books -books of ministry on the Scriptures -in a way to place undue emphasis on the intellectual side. The other replied, "Young man, the Lord wants truth in boots, not merely in books." A salutary lesson for him and for us all!
Now we hasten to add that there is nothing wrong with reading the good sound ministry which has been handed down to us as a goodly heritage. Would to God that there were more reading of the precious truths that have been preserved for us by means of the printed page; it is sadly neglected in this our day. Such reading and meditation thereon are fast becoming lost arts, while the things of the world (some seemingly good) are read and enjoyed. We greatly fear that the reason many dear children of God do not grow in their souls is the sad neglect in their homes of reading the Word of God and such written ministry as is available.
The enemy of your soul will seek to hinder such reading and meditation by keeping you so occupied with other things that there is little time left; but sometimes it is necessary to set aside time for this most important exercise. We generally find time to eat our meals regardless of how busy we are; shall we be less diligent in seeing that our souls are fed? Perhaps Satan will whisper that you are too weary and cannot take it in, and so encourage spiritual sloth. In this modern age of rush none of us have as much leisure as our forebears, but generally speaking we can make some time for a spiritual meal if we desire. It may be that we have to choose between it and something else, but remember that the Lord approved Mary's choosing that good part of sitting at His feet and hearing His words.
There is also a danger of seeking new and modern writings on the Scriptures, instead of being satisfied with the good things that have been drawn for us from the deep wells by men of God of bygone years. This is dangerous for Our souls, for much of the so-called up-to-date written ministry is only a variation of the old with certain additions and alterations to tickle the ears and please the fancy of those who are always seeking for something "new." Every attempt to dress up the truth will introduce something that is foreign to it. The truth does not need dressing up, and the truth which was suitable for souls 100 years ago is just as applicable and precious today as it was then. In fact, the words needed by the saints at Corinth are needed today, and that without alteration. True, as some say, times have changed; but God and His Word have not changed, nor have the hearts and proclivities of men.
God does not duplicate; He had one Abraham, one Moses, one Samuel, one David, one Daniel, one Paul, one Peter, etc., etc. Each in his day served his own generation (Acts 13:3636For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: (Acts 13:36)), and in so doing is by the will and wisdom of God still serving us. So in the early days of the revival of the truths of the heavenly calling of the Church, the Lord's coming (for and with His saints), the one body, and collateral truths, He used separated (separated from the world as is scarcely known today), God-fearing, spiritual men to unfold these precious things; and in His providence He has ordered that this ministry would be preserved by printing for us today.
There will no more be a repetition of C. H. Mackintosh, J. G. Bellett, G. V. Wigram, J. N. Darby, Wm. Kelly, Charles Stanley, et al, than there will be a duplication of those who served at other times.
If there is a hankering with us for "some new thing," as with the Athenians, we need to beware lest we be like the Israelites who wearied of the plain manna as God gave it; they finally loathed it, and then set about to change it by beating it in mortars, baking it in pans, etc. (Numb. 11:4-84And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? 5We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: 6But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes. 7And the manna was as coriander seed, and the color thereof as the color of bdellium. 8And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil. (Numbers 11:4‑8)). Whenever the simple truth of God has lost its pleasantness to our taste, we are sick spiritually, and the sooner we get before God in self-examination and self-judgment of those things that have perverted our appetite, the better; for if we do not judge ourselves in respect of them, we shall drift farther and farther, and who knows what the end will be?
At this point we might add a few words about the mischievous teaching that the saints of God should read nothing but the Bible. This almost without exception leads its followers into absurdities and grave errors. This theory is a denial that the Lord has given gifts to the Church for its profit, and is also a refusal of such gifts. It is basically pride which makes one feel competent of himself to know all things; there is no man who is in himself a fully and perfectly balanced man. If we set at naught the gifts, we shall develop strange thoughts and ideas, and with no one to correct us we shall become more and more eccentric. Not that these gifts mentioned are absolute authority, not that they were inspired, but we should remember that none of us is self-sufficient, and we would do well to follow the example of the Bereans (Acts 17:1111These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)) who in their nobility of character "received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Let us not forget that those recognized as gifts in ministry have been given as such by Him who is "head over all things to the church," and that the written ministry as well as the oral ministry is valuable to the Church. Read Heb. 13:7-97Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. 8Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. 9Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. (Hebrews 13:7‑9).
Before we close, however, let us return to the subject of our first paragraph. The words of that aged servant of the Lord are valuable and important; mere knowledge of the truth in our heads is not sufficient, precious as that is in its place. The Lord wants us to get the truth down into our hearts, which means that we enjoy it and appropriate it to ourselves. He never intended that the truth should be something to exercise the intellect only, but that it should guide us in the right ways of the Lord. It should also reach us through our consciences.
If then the truth of God is loved in the heart, and allowed to search the conscience in the fear of God, we shall find that it will be in the boots too; that is, we shall then be found walking in it. Another servant of the Lord has said, "We have no truth that we do not walk in"; it is not really our own unless it has that power over us that directs our ways. Another has said, "Nothing but the truth can hold the truth." So if I am not living and walking in the good of the truth, I shall not be able to hold it. How many there are who have lost what they once had even of the knowledge of the truth, through failure to walk in that which they had in their heads. May the Lord keep us close to Himself, with our consciences alive and healthy, and our hearts full of warmth toward Him; then we shall desire to know more of the truth that we may walk in the good of it to His glory.