God’s Revealed Truth Is Something We Discover, Not Invent
I know some people, including a few old friends, who say they are still following Jesus, but are walking away from God’s truth. They’re no longer believing that people need to trust Jesus to be saved and rescued from Hell (some don’t believe in Hell at all), and are no longer affirming that the Bible is entirely true or that Jesus is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6). They’re following the latest drifts of our culture and trying to be popular on social and moral issues, rather than holding on to God’s revealed truth in Scripture.
My heart is heavy for them. It’s easy for all of us to distance ourselves from some truths, especially when it means we can fly underneath the culture's radar and avoid becoming a target.
Jesus said some strong words: “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16-17).
Maybe you’ve seen this going on around you, or sometimes in your own heart. Here are some related thoughts from my book Truth. I hope maybe there’s something you’ll find helpful or encouraging or that the Lord might use in your life:
In The Fellowship of the Ring, Bilbo Baggins says to his young cousin, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
To “keep our feet” in this world requires putting our weight upon what is true.
Theologian J. Gresham Machen wisely said, “Nothing in the world can take the place of truth.” Yet we are constantly bombarded with lies that attempt to do just that.
Truth is not something we invent, only something we can discover. God reveals it to us in His Word.
Truth is rooted in the eternal, all-powerful, and unchangeable God. Therefore His promises cannot fail: “Every word of God proves true” (Proverbs 30:5 ESV).
The Holy Spirit leads people into truth (John 16:13). We’re commanded to know the truth (1 Timothy 4:3), handle the truth accurately (2 Timothy 2:15), and avoid doctrinal untruths (2 Timothy 2:18). Christ’s disciples do the truth (John 3:21) and abide in the truth (John 8:31-32). The “belt of truth” holds together our spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:14). God “does not lie” (Titus 1:2). He is “the God of truth” (Isaiah 65:16 ESV).
“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).
Christ, as the Living Word of God, is inseparable from truth. He not only is the Truth (John 14:6), he is the source of all truth, the embodiment of truth, and the ultimate reference point, in concert with His revealed Word, for evaluating all truth-claims.
Those in countries where democratic ideals are embraced might have the illusion they should have a voice when it comes to truth. But the universe is not a democracy.
Truth is not a ballot measure. God does not consult us to determine right and wrong. It’s we who must go to revealed Scripture to find out what we should believe. Our culture appeals to whatever now is; God appeals to his intentions and design, to what ought to be.
When we wonder what’s right, we’re to turn to God’s Word: “For the word of the Lord is right and true” (Psalm 33:4). As Psalm 119 depicts in every one of its 176 verses, God’s truth is at the heart of the spiritual life.
Christ the Truth-Teller v. Satan the Liar
Unlike God, the devil promises without delivering. He’s always denying, revising, or spinning the truth, rearranging the price tags. Jesus called him a “liar, and the father of lies.” He said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language” (John 8:44).
Everyone speaks their native language fluently. Have you ever known people who lie so convincingly that it’s difficult not to believe them? Satan’s the best liar in the universe. “Go ahead, you deserve it. This won’t hurt anybody.” He’s articulate, smooth, and persuasive. He murders people, and he lies to cover his murders.
When we speak the truth, we speak Christ’s language. When we speak lies, we speak Satan’s language. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice” (John 10:27). He says, “But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will flee from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice” (v. 5).
We’re to become familiar enough with God’s Word that we learn the sound of our Master’s voice, and can tell the difference between his voice and the devil’s impersonation.
In an age of endless Internet gossip, tabloids, false advertising, lying politicians, and “made up reality,” how important is the truth? Reformer Ulrich Zwingli wrote, “The business of the truth is not to be deserted, even to the sacrifice of our lives.”
Luke makes a profound observation: “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).
They searched the Scriptures—probing, not just skimming. The Bible should be primary, all other truth-claims secondary. We need a worldview informed and corrected by God’s Word.
They searched the Scriptures daily. (People died to get the Bible into our hands; the least we can do is read it!) Unless we establish a strong biblical grid, a scriptural filter with which to screen and interpret the world, we’ll end up thinking like the world. We desperately need not only Bible teaching, but group Bible study that explores the text and applies it to daily life.
The test of whether Scripture is my authority is this: Do I allow God’s Word to convince me to believe what I don’t like, what’s contrary to what I’ve always believed or wanted to believe? Do I believe it even when it offends me? Am I willing to bow my knees before God and accept his truth even when my life would be easier, for the moment, if I didn’t?
“Truth is truth even if no one believes it; a lie is a lie even if everyone believes it.”