BUY THE TRUTH AND SELL IT NOT
The above title is a direct quote from Proverbs 23:23. Truth is vital in every arena of life, but no more so than in religious and spiritual life.
God “brought us forth” as His children “by the word of truth,” (James 1:18). We purified our souls “in obeying the truth … the word which by the gospel was preached to you” (I Peter 1:22-25). In prayer to His Father, Jesus said, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
To “buy the truth and sell it not” means to make whatever sacrifice is necessary to come to a knowledge and understanding of God’s word (His truth), and, having done so, to never under any circumstances abandon it.
In 1948 from the Florida panhandle town of Crestview, W. B. Hughes preached the gospel on the radio. Twelve to fifteen miles away in the little town of Baker, a 23 year old blind man by the name of U. L. Allen sat expectantly by the radio waiting to hear brother Hughes’ sermon. He hung on every word and absorbed the simple gospel message. On August 5, 1948, at great personal cost, U. L. Allen was baptized into Christ. His father, a dyed-in-the-wool member of a denomination, promptly expelled U. L. from the home. U. L. had had the courage to believe and accept the truth and to leave his father’s religion.
Seven months later, having only a Braille Bible as his resource, U. L. preached his first sermon. He went on to become a faithful gospel preacher, serving churches in Baker and Blackmon, Florida before devoting the rest of his life to evangelistic work and establishing several congregations in the process. His work took him to 15 states (including Hawaii), as well as to Canada and Africa. U. L. was blessed with an amazing recall and quoted vast sections of scripture from memory. Notes were meaningless to him in the pulpit. His message was all in his head and heart. His mind was thoroughly saturated with God’s word. He preached on the radio and baptized many people—including, eventually, his father, mother, sister, and several other relatives. I knew U. L. throughout my boyhood days in the Florida panhandle and our paths continued to frequently pass over the years until his death. He was a sterling example of one who diligently sought and “bought” the truth of God and, coming into its possession, he did not “sell” it!
We must know the truth of what to do to be saved from sin and enter a right relationship with the Lord. We are saved by God’s grace and the atoning blood of Christ, but there is something that every person must know and do in order to appropriate God’s grace to his/her life and to be cleansed by the blood of Christ (Acts 2:37; Acts 9:6; Acts 16:30). Scripture reveals that one must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe the gospel (Mark 16:15-16; Romans 1:16), repent of all sin (Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30; II Peter 3:9), confess faith in Christ (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed in water) into Christ for the remission of sins (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12).
We must know the truth regarding the necessity of remaining faithful to the Lord after becoming His spiritual child (Matthew 28:18-20; John 8:31-32; Acts 2:42; I Corinthians 10:12-13; Colossians 2:8; Hebrews 3:12; Revelation 2:10). Read these texts to see what they say, and study your New Testament to know how to apply these texts.
We must know the truth concerning the acceptable worship of God. To be pleasing to the Heavenly Father, worship must be “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). The acts of worship must be authorized by God’s word, the truth (John 17:17), and they must be sincerely offered to God from the heart. According to the New Testament, scriptural worship consists of singing (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), prayer (I Timothy 2:8), the proclamation of the word of God (Matthew 28:20), the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week (Matthew 26:26-29; Acts 20:7), and the giving of one’s financial resources for the work of the church (I Corinthians 16:1-2). The worship God has ordered is not to be tampered with, and it is not to be corrupted by the religious traditions and doctrines of men (Matthew 15:7-9; Colossians 2:8).
In our sadly divided religious world, we must know the truth about the one church that Christ established, the church that is both undenominational and pre-denominational. The church was established by Christ (Matthew 16:18), was purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28), came into existence on the first day of Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ (Mark 9:1; Acts 1:8; Acts 2), has Christ as its foundation (I Corinthians 3:11), Christ as its head (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22-23), and Christ as its Savior (Ephesians 5:23). The church is the spiritual body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23) and there is but one body (Ephesians 4:4). The Lord adds all of those who are saved from their sins by obedience to the gospel to that one church (Acts 2:47). All Catholic and Protestant religious bodies, with their multiplicity of names, doctrines, and practices, came into existence well after the establishment of Christ’s church in the city of Jerusalem in c. A. D. 30. Only by a knowledge of these truths concerning the church Christ established can one know the difference between the Lord’s church and the churches that men have established. These truths can set one free from denominationalism and bring a person into the glorious liberty of the gospel of Christ (Galatians 5:1).
Truth must be known regarding the practice of daily Christian living in the home, on the job, at school, in all of our social interactions, in the words we speak, and in the attitudes we manifest (Matthew 5:13-16; Matthew 7:12; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 12; I Corinthians 13:1-7; Galatians 5:16-26; Titus 2:11-14; II Peter 1:5-11).
Faithful gospel preachers constantly emphasize these divine truths (I Timothy 4:6; Titus 2:15; II Peter 1:12-15; II Peter 3:1-2). Elders who take seriously their responsibility to pastor/shepherd “the flock of God” among them see to it that these truths and principles are faithfully taught (I Peter 5:1-4; Acts 20:28-31). Faithful congregations/churches of Christ diligently adhere to these truths (Acts 2:42).
At the end of time we all are going to be judged, not by our opinions and “think so’s,” but by the truth of God’s word (John 12:48). It will be well with our souls if we “buy the truth, and sell it not”!
Hugh Fulford, April 28, 2020