Truth is a precious and indispensable quality in every arena of human endeavor. In a court of law a witness is required to swear or affirm to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” A family cannot thrive where falsehood and pretense exist and truth and honesty are not practiced. In the fields of medicine, mathematics, physics, aeronautics, history, finance, and all other areas of human activity truth must be known and followed. A nation cannot long survive that is not dedicated to the pursuit of truth and righteousness in all things.
What is true with reference to secular and human pursuits is even truer with reference to spiritual and religious matters. Truth is required in order to both obtain and maintain a right relationship with God, our creator. The wise man Solomon urged, “Buy the truth, and sell it not” (Proverbs 23:23). By this he did not mean that truth is a commodity to be bought and sold on the open market; rather, he was saying that truth is so precious that one should make whatever sacrifice is necessary to discover it and possess it, and having done so, to guard it jealously and not give it up. (A future “News & Views” will deal more fully with this valuable text from the Proverbs).
Christ was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He was the personification and embodiment of truth (John 14:6). He said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). At the trial of Jesus, Pilate asked (apparently in derision and/or sarcasm), “What is truth?” (John 18:38). In His high priestly prayer Jesus affirmed, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17, KJV). Pilate (and we all) will face that word on the day of judgment (John 12:48).
The Holy Spirit guided the apostles of Christ into all truth (John 16:13), and since the death of the apostles no new or additional truth from God has been made known. All religious and spiritual truth is found in the Bible (cf. II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 1:3). The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (I Timothy 3:15) and the responsibility of the church is to proclaim the truth to the whole world until the end of time (Matthew 28:18-20). God desires all men “to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4). This requires a love for the truth, which, unfortunately, some do not have (II Thessalonian 2:10-12). Some are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Timothy 3:7), but are always jumping from one religious bandwagon to another, “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). Some have “erred/strayed concerning the truth” (II Timothy 2:28) and some have turned “their ears away from the truth” (II Timothy 4:4). Christians are to handle aright the word of truth (II Timothy 2:15), walk in truth (II John 4; III John 3), and speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). People of genuine love will not rejoice in iniquity but will rejoice in the truth (I Corinthians 13:6).
God’s truth is not determined by where on planet earth one lives. God’s word/truth is universal and eternally relevant and applicable to all people everywhere. It is the same for those who live in urban areas and those who live in rural areas. God’s truth is the same in New York City and Calvert City (KY), Green Bay and Greenway (AR), Palm Springs and DeFuniak Springs (FL), Dallas, TX and Dallas, GA, Detroit, MI and Detroit, AL, Portland, OR, Portland, ME, and Portland, TN! The same conditions for salvation from sin and faithful discipleship to Christ apply everywhere in all the world (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16).
Truth is not determined by the majority or by counting noses. Only eight souls were saved from the world-wide flood that destroyed the rest of humanity (I Peter 3:20-21). Of the twelve spies sent by Moses to spy out the land of Canaan, only two brought back a truthful report (Numbers 13). With a small army of only 300 men, Gideon prevailed against the powerful Midianite army consisting of thousands (Judges 7). Jesus said, “Enter in at the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in through it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Through the instructions of God’s word we must “right-size” our life in order to enter the gate and walk in the way that leads to everlasting life.
Spiritual truth is not determined by one’s religious heritage or family traditions. What one’s parents and grandparents believed and practiced religiously does not make one’s religion right. Jesus said that the traditions and doctrines of men make one’s worship to be in vain (Matthew 15:8-9). The Savior went on to say, “Every plant (religious body) which my Heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted” (Matthew 15:13). Unfortunately, there are many such “plants” (religious institutions) in the world today, but the Father “planted” none of them (Ephesians 4:4; cf. Ephesians 1:22-23; Matthew 16:18). We have been warned about being taken captive by these things (Colossians 2:8).
The utterances of the Pope and the creeds, councils, and conferences of the Protestants do not determine truth. They change with the culture, they contradict each other, “But the word of the Lord endures forever” (I Peter 1:25; cf. Isaiah 40-6-8), “And His truth endures to all generations” (Psalm 100:5b). The gospel of Christ is true and does not change. Woe to those who would dare to change it! (Galatians 1:6-9).
As we begin a new year, let us reflect on the words of the apostle John: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, as you do walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (III John 2-4).
Love the truth, seek the truth, obey the truth, live the truth, be guided by the truth!
January 7, 2020