Don't Confuse the Order and Priority of the Truth
Other difficulties arise out of confusing the proper order of truth. Misplaced truth is sometimes more harmful than actual error. In our statements of doctrine, we are to have regard to God's order of things, as well as to the things themselves. If you would solve the simplest question in arithmetic, the figures must not only be the proper ones, but they must be placed in proper order. So is it with the doctrines of the word of God. Some seem to fling them about in ill-assorted couples, or confused bundles, as if it mattered little to the hearer or reader what order was preserved. This reckless confusion troubles the hearts of people with an anxious spirit.
A gospel in which election is placed first is not the gospel of the apostles; though certainly a gospel in which election is denied is still less the apostolic gospel. The true gospel is neither that Christ died for the elect, nor that he died for the whole world; for the excellency of the gospel does not lie in its announcement of the numbers to be saved, but in its proclamation of the great work on the cross itself.
Some present us with a mere dislocation of the gospel, the different truths being so jumbled, that while they may be all there, they produce no result. The truths seem to cancel each other out and the sinner is helpless to discern the Good News of the Gospel. If the verses or chapters of the Epistle to the Romans were transposed or jumbled together, would it be the Epistle to the Romans? So, if, in teaching the gospel, we do not begin at the beginning; if, for instance, we tell the sinner what he has to do, before we tell him what God has done; if we tell him to examine his own heart before we tell him to study the cross of Christ; we take out the whole gladness from the glad tidings, and preach another gospel.
Do we not often, too, read the Bible as if it were a book of law, and not the revelation of grace? In so doing, we draw a cloud over it, and read it as a volume written by a hard master. So that a harsh tone is imparted in its words, and the legal element is made to obscure the evangelical. We are slow to read it as the expansion of the first gracious promise to man; as a revelation of the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; as the book of grace, specially written for us by the Spirit of grace. The law is in it, yet the Bible is not law, but gospel.
As Mount Sinai rears its head, an isolated mass of hard, red granite, amid a thousand desert mountains of softer and less stern material, so does the law stand in the Bible; - a necessary part of it, - but not the characteristic of it; added because of transgressions till the seed should come. Yet have not our suspicious hearts darkened this book of light? Do we not often read it as the proclamation of a command to do, instead of a declaration of what the love of God has done?