W. Austin Gardner
Does his preaching correspond to the Word
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Does the preaching or teaching of a spiritual leader correspond with the written Word of God?
There is to be found the infallible standard of doctrine and duty. There is the great court of final appeal; beyond this no appeal can be carried, even to the throne of God, because the authority of God is in that book: and therefore he says, “Test every spiritual leader by the law and by the testimony of Holy Scripture, and if he speaks not according to this word, there is no light in him, and therefore he can shed no light on your spiritual darkness and duty.”
That criterion would unseat from their thrones hundreds of so-called spiritual leaders, who, in this day, to the astonishment of those of us who thoroughly believe this Word of God, seem to consider that their office is rather to cast doubt on the Holy Scripture than to confirm the confidence of men in this blessed Word; men who seem to use the pulpit as the place from which to spread rather their own misgivings and negations than their own convictions and affirmations, and who employ both tongue and pen rather to destroy than to construct faith in other souls.
For one, I say, away with all these leaders! They are not God-given men. Again, let it be put on record, that the first test that a man is God’s leader and speaks God’s message, is that, accepting this Word of God as his guide, as the source from which he derives the authority of his message, the substance of his message and the spirit of his message, he preaches and teaches nothing new—old truths in new lights, it may be, but no new truths, for there are none. That which is new and not old is not true.
All spiritual truth is as old as God is, and even the revelation of spiritual truth is as old as the Bible is. Men may talk about “progressive theology,” but such a progressive theology only goes backwards, progressing only in the wrong direction.
There is no addition to be made to the law and testimony. The only addition possible is in the spiritual interpretation and understanding of the law and testimony by the increase of spiritual insight and life in the teacher and the believer.
That is the only true progress; and if people would pay more attention to their capacity for progress in that direction, leaving the Word of God unmutilated, and seeking simply to open their own minds and hearts to its testimony and to the incoming of the Holy Ghost, we should find, instead of a progressive theology, progressive theologians and progressive disciples.
A. T. Pierson, From the Pulpit to the Palm-Branch: A Memorial of C. H. Spurgeon (New York: A. C. Armstrong and Son, 1892), 235–236.