The Lever of Truth (Warfield)

Faith and Life Here’s a great excerpt from a chapel sermon by B. B. Warfield on Acts 26:18.  It’s especially for pastors or those who are studying for the pastorate:

Mark, then, first of all, the function which the Ascended Jesus assigns to His witnessing servants. It is summed up in a single term—it is “to open men’s eyes.” Now, of course, the eye of the heart can be opened only by the Spirit of God; and it is not this unperformable duty which Christ lays on His servants. But the eyes of the mind are opened, in a lower sense, by the presentation of the truth and it is this that the Lord requires of His servants. They are “witnesses”; their duty is not to tickle men’s ears or to allay [diminish] their fears; their duty is to make known the truth, though it is precisely the truth that is not agreeable to their ears and that arouses and gives leash to their most terrifying fears.

What men need is to have their eyes opened, and the duty laid on Paul and on all who would be followers of Paul is to open men’s eyes. That it was in this sense that Paul understood his commission is obvious from the succeeding context. He was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, he tells the king, but having been sent to open men’s eyes, that they might turn to God, he preached the Gospel of repentance and turning to God, bearing his witness to small and great alike. So will we, too, fulfill our commission as messengers of God’s grace. We owe, as ministers, a teaching duty and our prime duty—our one duty—is to teach: we must open men’s eyes.

…Truth exists only to produce godliness; that is true and needs to be kept constantly in mind. But no truth, no godliness —that, too, is true and that, too, needs to be kept fully in mind. The only instrument in your hands or my hands for producing godliness is the truth; we are not primarily anything else but witnesses to truth; and the truth of God is the one lever by which we can pry at the hearts of men. Preach the Word; that is our one commission. And it is no more true that the Word cannot be preached without a preacher, than that the preacher cannot preach without a Word. Men are in darkness, they need light, and we are sent to give it to them.

 Benjamin B. Warfield, Faith and Life (Bellingham, WA: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1916), 173–174.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015