Ephesians 4:23


These words describe the method, not the substance, of Christian teaching; the latter is adverted to in the next verse. The historical name, "Jesus," instead of the more common official name, "Christ," indicates that this teaching is given through the life of our Lord on earth. We come to the knowledge of truth by hearing him, by being taught of him, by seeing it as it is in him.

I. THE KNOWLEDGE OF TRUTH IS OF SUPREME IMPORTANCE TO US. The means is proportioned to the end. If the life of Christ is necessary for the revelation of truth, the truth thus revealed must be of first moment. Emotion without truth is vapid sentiment; and action without truth can have no moral character, and is as likely to be hurtful as useful. It is a blind man's groping. We can dispense with a superfluity of dogma. We have too many words about truth. But truth itself, the living spiritual reality, is the very breath of our souls. To know ourselves and our vocation, to know God, his love and his will, to know the spiritual order of things as far as it touches our own lives and conduct, is of vital interest.

II. TRUTH IS REVEALED IN CHRIST. Truth is written on the great book of creation, but in obscure hieroglyphics, for nature is an inarticulate prophet. Truth has also come through the inspiration of thought and conscience in poets and seers. But then it is always in words; and words make it but a clumsy garment hiding its finer beauty and, at best, speaking at second hand. In Christ we see truth intelligible, powerful, touching. It is revealed in his very self and in his words and deeds as they are the outcome and signs of his character and nature. Christ is the truth. He has but to be and to be seen and heard for truth to be revealed.

III. THIS REVELATION OF TRUTH IN CHRIST IS OF A DISTINCTIVE CHARACTER.

1. It is human. Truth is seen in Jesus just because he is a real and perfect Man. As man is made in the image of God, the very being of a perfect man must be a manifestation of Divine thoughts.

(1) Therefore any dogmas that are contrary to humanity are false.

(2) Therefore, also, we need not fear truth. She has a human countenance.

2. It is living. Truth in words is cold and dead, though it may be clear and beautiful. Truth in Jesus is alive, revealing itself in action, putting teeth energy, responding to our sympathy.

3. It is spiritual. Truth of religion and of conduct is what we see in Jesus, not reminiscences of secular history nor anticipations of material science. The highest truth concerns God and the soul, duty and the unseen world. 4. It is beautiful. Christ's glory was full of grace and truth. In his face truth has no terrors, but the most winning attractions and the most moving loveliness.

IV. SUCH A PRESENTATION OF TRUTH CALLS FORTH DUTIES ON OUR PART.

1. We have to "learn Christ." That is the one lesson for our souls. We may learn all systems of theology and yet know nothing of the highest truth, if we do not know Christ. They who sit at the feet of Jesus drink from the deepest fountains. As Christ is best described to us in the four Gospels, these Gospels are the chief source of Christian knowledge. Yet inasmuch as the apostles interpret the mind of Christ, we may learn Christ from the whole of the New Testament But we must also come to a personal communion with Christ in order to know him aright.

2. We have to Trove how we have learned Christ by our conduct. This knowledge is to shape our actions. Fidelity, purity, and charity of life must make men see what truth we have found in Jesus. - W.F.A.









And be renewed in the spirit of your mind
The renewal takes place not simply in the mind, but in the spirit of it. It is the special seat of renewal. The mind remains as before, both in its intellectual and emotional structure — in its memory and judgment, imagination and perception. These powers do not in themselves need renewal, and regeneration brings neither new faculties nor susceptibilities. The organism of the mind survives as it was, but the spirit which inhabits and governs it is entirely changed. The ruling and motive power is renovated. The memory, for example, still exercises its former functions, but on a very different class of subjects; the judgment still discharging its old office, is occupied among a new set of themes and ideas; and love retaining all its ardour, attaches itself to objects quite in contrast with those of its earlier preference, and pursuit. The change is not in mind psychologically, either in its essence or in its operation, neither is it in mind, as if it were a superficial change of opinion, either on points of doctrine or of practice; but it is "in the spirit of the mind," in that which gives mind both its bent and its materials of thought. It is not simply in the spirit, as if it lay there in dim and mystic quietude; but it is "in the spirit of the mind," in the power which, when changed itself, radically alters the entire sphere and business of the inner mechanism.

(J. Eadie, D. D.)

It is only living things that grow; and all living things do grow. Be it the lichen that clings to the rook, or the eagle that has her nest on its craggy shelf, or man that rends its heart with powder and draws the gold from its bowels — from the germ out of which they spring, they grow onwards to maturity; in the words of my text, they "increase more and more." These words are as true of spiritual as of natural life. According to heathen fables, Minerva the goddess of wisdom and daughter of Jupiter, sprung full-grown and full-armed from her father's head. No man thus comes from the hand of the Holy Spirit, in sudden, mature, perfect saintship. There is nothing in the spiritual world which resembles this: no, nor even what the natural world presents in the development of the insect tribes. During their last and perfect stage, in the condition, as it is called, of the imago, be their life long or short, they undergo no increase. So soon as the green worm that once crawled on the ground and fed on garbage, bursting its coffin shell, comes forth, a creature with silken wings, to roam in the sunny air, to sleep by night on a bed of flowers, and by day banquet on their nectar, it grows no mere — neither larger nor wiser; its flight and faculties being as perfect on the day of what may be called its new birth, as when, touched by early frosts or drowned in rain, it dies. Here, indeed, we have a symbol of the resurrection body as it shall step from the tomb; in beauty perfect, in growth mature; to undergo henceforth, and through eternal ages, neither change nor decay. It is otherwise with the renewed soul. Before it, in righteousness, and knowledge, and true holiness, stretches a field of illimitable progress — upwards and onwards to what it shall be forever approaching, yet never reach, the throne of God.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

There are a great many men who are like one of my roses. I bought a Gloire de Dijon. It was said to be one of the few ever-blooming roses. It was grafted on a manetti stalk — a kind of dog rose, a rampant and enormous grower, and a very good stalk to graft fine roses on. I planted it. It throve the first part of the summer, and the last part of the summer it grew with great vigour; and I quite gloried when the next spring came, in my Gloire de Dijon. It had wood enough to make twenty such roses as these finer varieties usually have; and I was in the amplitude of triumph. I said, "My soil suits it exactly in this climate; and I will write an article for the Monthly Gardener, and tell what luck I have had with it." He I waited and waited and waited till it blossomed; and behold! it was one of these worthless, quarter-of-a-dollar, single-blossomed roses. And when I came to examine it I found that it was grafted, and that there was a little bit of a graft down near the ground, and that it was the manetti sprout that had grown to such a prodigious size. Now, I have seen a great many people converted, in whom the conversion did not grow, but the old nature did.

(H. W. Beecher.)

A builder was called in to repair some houses. The contract stated that any doors, window sashes, etc., which should be renewed would be paid for. The work proceeded, certain door panels, window frames, and sashes proved to be imperfect and decayed. The defective panels, beadings, and pieces of framing were made good. In due course the painting, graining, and finishing work was completed. I was present when the work underwent examination. The builder's account had been rendered, and an item appeared of so many pounds for renewing doors, sashes, etc. "Certainly not," said the architect on being appealed to; "to repair is one thing, to renew quite another." In vain the builder expostulated. How well I remember the architect's words — "No, sir, your contract comprehends all repairs. Go and get your dictionary and see what the word renew means. Had you taken away the old doors and window sashes, and brought new ones, we would have paid you for them. Such in the meaning of the terms of your contract, and no amount of repairing will renew that which is old."

(Henry Varley.)

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