My God Is True!
September 21, 2009
My God Is True!
I still remember the sight. Paul Wolfe almost certainly will not. I had returned to teach for a few days at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia where Paul was a student. As I walked onto the campus on an overcast, wintry day, I saw in the distance a student purposefully making his way towards Van Til Hall for a lecture. From the distance he appeared gaunt. He raised a hand in a gesticulation of greeting. I acknowledged his wave with one of my own, all the while thinking to myself, ‘I should know that man.’ Only later, in conversation with some Faculty members, did it dawn on me: it was Paul Wolfe—the bright, able student who had been receiving treatment for cancer.
Fast forward to Friday evening, May 26, 2000 and once again to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This time my wife and I were guests at the Seminary Graduation banquet. Unusually one student had been asked to give a word of personal testimony. Yes, Paul Wolfe. I remember turning to my wife and saying to her, ‘This is the young man who has had cancer.’ The graciousness of his testimony to God’s faithfulness lingered long with us. Perhaps it lingers particularly in
my own mind because the title I had given for the Commencement Address the following day was ‘Ad Gloriam Patris: Counsel for Graduates in the School of Christ.’ The passage was John 15:1ff. Paul was a living illustration of its teaching: Abide in Christ and you will bear fruit; those who bear fruit the Father prunes that they may bear more fruit. All this is to the glory of the Father.
I am glad that now—a decade on from his treatment—Paul has been able to put his story into book form. Once you have read a few pages, and are drawn into the narrative, you will realize that these pages need no commendation from me to encourage you to read further.
With simplicity, modesty, and not a little wry humour, Paul tells the story of God’s providence in his life, traces the path—where he is now able to detect it—of God’s wisdom, and recounts the evidences of God’s faithfulness. He does this, not in a spirit of triumphalism, but in a deep consciousness that since the Lord has employed the skill of surgeons and doctors to preserve his life, like his apostolic namesake, there must still be ‘fruitful labour’ for him in the purposes of his heavenly Father (Phil. 1:22). His ministry since then, and now this book, together constitute a down payment on that harvest.
One of the hallmarks of My God is True!, that makes it stand apart, is not only the engaging modesty with which the story is told, but the framework within which it has been written—a deep sense of the undergirding sovereignty and grace of God, his faithfulness, and his wisdom—a recognition that his ways are higher, deeper, and wiser than ours. While this is the story of a young man’s pain, his struggles, his journey through a valley of deep darkness, it is also a story of love—Paul’s love for Christ, his shared love with his wife Christy and their family circle. It is a testimony to what it means to belong to the living fellowship of Christ’s people, the church.
It is almost a decade now since on Saturday morning May 27, 2000 Paul joined some eighty others who ‘commenced’ from Westminster Seminary. To everyone who knew his story his reception of the Master of Divinity Diploma was a particularly moving moment. But yet more moving was to think of him joining in the traditional opening hymn for the Commencement Exercises as an expression of the divinity in which he had been schooled outside of the Seminary classroom:
How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He has said—
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed!
For I am your God, and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call you to go,
The rivers of woe shall not you overflow;
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
And sanctify to you your deepest distress.
When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
My grace all sufficient shall be your supply;
The flame shall not hurt you: I only design
Your dross to consume, and your gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
God has been all this and more to Paul and Christy Wolfe. his is the story of their past. It is also one of a countless multitude of stories about the faithful God who holds their future. It will comfort, encourage, challenge and inspire you as you read it. You will also come to admire and feel an affection for this couple through their story. But more, I hope that through these pages—as is certainly Paul’s desire in writing them—you will come to love, rust, and admire their Lord and Saviour.
Now, please, turn from these words of introduction and read for yourself Paul Wolfe’s story, My God Is True!
Sinclair B. Ferguson, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster
First Presbyterian Church
Purchase at www.wtsbooks.com.