“I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.”

(John 14:6)

In the upper room, just prior to Jesus’ passion, Thomas had said to his master, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Verse 6, cited above, gives us the Lord’s famous answer to that all-important question: The destination is God the Father, and Jesus Christ himself is the way into his presence, now and forever.

But notice something special: Jesus not only told Thomas that he was the way, but also that he was the truth and the life. Why did he add these extra words?

Speaking as one who studied and practiced eastern religion for many years, my thought is that Jesus was no longer speaking just to Thomas, but to the whole wide world, and in particular to seekers everywhere who are longing to experience the ultimate spiritual reality for themselves.

Here in northern California where I live, such folks are legion. Some practice Zen, others yoga, others Wicca, others Tai Chi, and so on. Though their practices differ, they all are seeking the same thing. Jesus tells us what that is:

The way: the door through which they might enter into an abiding experience of the ultimate spiritual reality.

The truth: the one true worldview, by which they might come to see all reality as it really is, do what it requires, and so be reconciled to it once and for all.

The life: the divine life, come to live within them once and for all, so that death itself becomes but a doorway to further life, eternal life, life to the full.

The way, the truth, the life. What big big words these are, so big they can overshadow the whole wide world, giving hope to all who seek!

This morning my son Jonathan sent me this encouraging paragraph by a pastor of pastors, John Newton; may it encourage you as well. d


March 18, 1767.

I can truly say, that I bear you upon my heart and in my prayers. I have rejoiced to see the beginning of a good and gracious work in you; and I have confidence in the Lord Jesus, that He will carry it on and complete it; and that you will be amongst the number of those who shall sing redeeming love to eternity.

Therefore fear none of the things appointed for you to suffer by the way, but gird up the loins of your mind, and hope to the end. Be not impatient, but wait humbly upon the Lord.

You have one hard lesson to learn, that is, the evil of your own heart: you know something of it, but it is needful that you should know more; for the more we know of ourselves, the more we shall prize and love Jesus and His salvation. I hope what you find in yourself by daily experience will humble you, but not discourage you; humble you it should, and I believe it does. Are not you amazed sometimes that you should have so much as a hope that, poor and needy as you are, the Lord thinks of you?

But let not all you feel discourage you; for if our Physician is almighty, our disease cannot be desperate; and if He casts none out that come to Him, why should you fear? Our sins are many, but His mercies are more: our sins are great, but His righteousness is greater: we are weak, but He is power.

Most of our complaints are owing to unbelief, and to the remainder of a legal spirit; and these evils are not removed in a day.

Wait on the Lord, and He will enable you to see more and more of the power and grace of our High Priest. The more you know Him, the better you will trust Him; the more you trust Him, the better you will love Him; the more you love Him, the better you will serve Him.

This is God’s way: you are not called to buy, but to beg; not to be strong in yourself, but in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. He is teaching you these things, and I trust He will teach you to the end.

Remember, the growth of a believer is not like a mushroom, but like an oak, which increases slowly indeed, but surely. Many suns, showers, and frosts pass upon it before it comes to perfection; and in winter, when it seems dead, it is gathering strength at the root.

Be humble, watchful, and diligent in the means of grace, and endeavour to look through all, and fix your eye upon Jesus, and all shall be well.

I commend you to the care of the good Shepherd, and remain, for His sake,

Yours, &c.

John Newton

Early in 2017 the Leadership Team of Immanuel Baptist Church asked me write a new constitution for our congregation. Over the course of several months I did so, drawing liberally upon a number of earlier confessions and existing constitutions espousing a Reformed Baptist faith. Once the constitution was complete, the team selected several of the leading men in the church to vet my labors. Over the course of several more months we did exactly that, enjoying some vigorous debate and making a number of important changes. Also, we consulted the Director of Missions for our region here in Northern California, as well as one of the attorney’s serving the California Southern Baptist Association. Finally, for around three more months, the Constitution Committee went through the entire document with the members of our church, answering their questions, addressing their concerns, and making still more changes. The result is a constitution that reflects the prayer, wisdom, and extended labor of countless Baptist folk, all of whom desired to craft and live by a Statement of Faith, Church Covenant, and system of bylaws that reflect the true teaching of Scripture. With much gratitude to God I am pleased to present it to you here, and also eager to receive any feedback by which this labor of love might be improved. My hope and prayer is that this constitution will be a blessing to a great many of my Baptist brothers and sisters. You may read it HERE. – Dean Davis

Now then, give me this hill country about which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out, as the LORD has spoken.

Joshua 14:12


These are the words of Caleb to Joshua. Caleb is now 85 years old. He has journeyed through the wilderness with the Israelites for 45 years. The rebels, who refused to take the land when God first offered it to them, have died off. Their children, however, have now entered it, destroyed many (though not yet all) of the Canaanite kings and peoples, and taken their cities. And now Joshua is bestowing upon each tribe and each family its allotment of territory in the Promised Land. Joshua’s friend Caleb knows exactly the parcel he desires.

“Give me this hill country,” he cries. Why? Presumably because he had caught a glimpse of it 45 years earlier, when he and the other eleven spies had done reconnaissance in the land, and marveled at the majestic city of Hebron. Yes, he had seen the Anakim there—the giant forefathers of Goliath. Yes, he had seen their great cities and fortifications, seemingly rising up to heaven itself. And yes, for a moment at least, he may have felt like a grasshopper in the face of such mighty warriors, cities, and fortifications.

But none of that stopped Caleb then, and none of it would stop him now. For he had also seen the goodness of that hill country, how it flowed with milk and honey, how it dripped with beauty, how it beckoned to be sown and cultivated, how it whispered soul-stirring promises of massive crops thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold. Oh yes, Caleb had seen all that as well, and he had not forgotten. The vision still burned in his heart. He wanted to seize and occupy forever the hill country of the Amorites—and if God was pleased with him, he would.

Brothers and sisters, do you hear the Spirit of Promise speaking to you through this text? I think you do, for if you have been born again you have already caught a glimpse of what the hill country represents. It is not just heaven, the Land and City above, though it is indeed that. Rather, it is the One who created the Land and City above, the One who lives there, seated at the right hand of the Father. John writes, “And we beheld his glory, glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” You have glimpsed the grace and truth, for you have glimpsed the Holy One in whom they reside.

But like Caleb of old, you and I have not yet fully occupied the heavenly Hebron; we have not yet fully come to know the Lord who calls us to the deep spiritual knowledge of himself (John 17:3). And yet, also like Caleb of old, we are intent on doing so. Indeed, what choice do we have? God’s Calebs cannot possibly be content with the lowlands. Moreover, they know this good hill country is theirs for the taking, for through the Spirit they know the LORD is with them, pleased with them, and (no matter what their age) eager to give them strength to fight, prevail, and enter in.

If you doubt all this, please listen to the voice of an outstanding New Testament Caleb: Not that I have already obtained these things, or already reached perfection; but I eagerly pursue them, so that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself as having attained. But this one thing I do: forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forward to the things up ahead, I race towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12f) Where does such a spirit come from? Surely it comes from God himself, who is at work within us, both to will and to do according to his good pleasure. Surely it is God himself who offers us the hill country of the Amorites.

At the close of our text it is written that Hebron was formerly called Kiriath-arba, for Arba—the greatest man among the Anakim—once lived there. He still does. Your adversary the devil did not create the hill country, nor does he own it. As a matter of fact, he altogether hates it. And yet, in a mystery, he surrounds it and has a measure of power to keep people from it.

But not the Caleb’s of God. By God’s purpose and grace, they WILL take it and keep it. For as their strength was in the day when they caught their first glimpse of Christ, so it is now, only more. More than ever, the fire burns. More than ever they are eager and ready for war with every enemy of their sanctification. More than ever they go out and come in, joyful and victorious after the fight.

Yes, more than ever they are indeed occupying the hill country for which they pleaded with their dear friend and comrade, Joshua. And more than ever he thoroughly delights to give it to them.


Now, let me also offer a word of exhortation to those who are married and espoused to Christ. All I will say is this: O let Christ’s Bride live on him, and take all from him! Like a poor woman married to a rich man, she lives upon his riches. Many people are prepared to say, “If Christ will call us his Bride, we will live on ourselves: We will pray, repent, believe, etc.” But the Bride of Christ must get all these things in him, and take all from him, and live wholly on him, and freely on him. When Joseph’s brethren did not recognize him, they were buying and selling with him; they would take nothing from him without offering money. But when they realized he was a brother, despite all the offenses they had committed against him, they were content to come down, every man of them, and take all from him for nothing. And this is the way we must take with Christ when we are married to him. We must not, with the legalist, have repentance and duties of our own. No, we must take everything from him, who is the repository of all divine fullness. In this matter, the believer’s part is simply to receive, out of that fullness,  grace upon grace.

–Ralph Erskine