I’ve just begun Henry Scudder’s The Christian’s Daily Walk and was struck by a section in “The Epistle to the Reader” by John Davenport. Apparently, some of Scudder’s detractors opposed the stringent directions found in this book. Davenport cites their objection (“But many of God’s children attain not to this strictness, yet are saved”), then replies,
It is true; though all God’s children travel to one country, yet not with equal speed; they all shoot at one mark, yet not with the same dexterity. some difference there is in the outward action, none in their inward intention; some inequalities there are in the event, none in the affection. In degrees there is some disparity, none in truth and uprightness.
He then lists five areas in which “all that are regenerate are alike strict.”
- They have but one path or way wherein they all walk (Is 35.8).
- They have but one rule to guide them in that way which they all follow (Ga 6.15-16).
- All their eyes are upon this rule, so as they are not willingly ignorant of any truth (2 Pe 3.5).
- They all desire and endeavor to obey every truth (Lk 1.9), not only to walk in all the commandments of God without reproof before men (He 13.19), but also in all things to live honestly and uprightly before God (Ge 17.1).
- If they fall by temptation (Ga 6.1), yet they are in pain till they be set right again. . . . They are so far from perverting the right ways of God (Ac 13.10) that they will justify God in condemning themselves and subscribe to the righteousness of his word, praying that their ways might be directed to keep his statutes (Ps 119.5).
(Quotations from Henry Scudder, The Christian’s Daily Walk [Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle, 1984], 19-20.)
The nature of our age certainly highlights the varying degrees of strictness among God’s people. Our ability to communicate with anyone around the world gives us access to a dizzying array of guidelines by which Christians are to live. Even in our own congregations, we may be surprised at what one allows for himself or what another refuses for herself. Given that situation, these five statements are helpful guides (a) to reveal whether we are indulging our liberty without respect to the word, (b) to reveal whether we are creating human standards by which to prove ourselves righteous, and (c) to deal generously with other believers who may (and will!) disagree with us on any given matter.
May these five marks be present in our lives so as to demonstrate the genuineness of our profession to be Christ’s people.