Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, The Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Cabrillo Point, Great Sequoia, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, The Badlands – what do all these places have in common? Well, first, they are national parks or monuments, set aside by our nation’s leaders in a time when foresight and equality of opportunity were still qualities inherent in our governmental system. Second, and more importantly for this article, these are places our family visited in our recent, three week, Wild West Tour. Yes, we drove over 7,000 miles and splatted about 7 million bugs on the grill of our faithful Toyota minivan.
During our trip we had a truly epic opportunity to experience the three “truth’s” we discussed in part one of this series. The natural truth of breathtaking waterfalls, massive sand dunes, towering mountains, and steaming geysers “spoke” (See Psalm 19:1-6 and the similar witness of the heavens) of the glory of God, the principles of God’s Word guided our thoughts and actions to enjoy and encourage one another as a family, and the reality of gospel truth having transformed each of our hearts enlivened us to do all this for the glory of God in Christ.
The concept of truth is tightly woven throughout the fabric of God’s Word, and in this second article we will focus on what the Scriptures directly teach about the nature and importance of truth. It is essential that we as believers engage in the battle for truth with all our energy and skill.
God as the Source of Truth
The Scriptures, from beginning to end, proclaim that God alone is the source of truth. Jeremiah 10:10 states, “But the Lord is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation.”
1 Jn 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
The God of the Bible is the only true God. He is the only one who is “true” and therefore His character and nature form the basis for all reality. Because He is the true God, it necessarily follows that His words are true (Num. 23:19), He is the God who cannot lie (Titus 1:2). The words of God perfectly communicate His attributes and unerringly represent the reality of every past, present, and future situation. God is also true in all His works (Dan. 4:37), for everything God does is in perfect correspondence with the who He is and what He says. God is true in His judgments (Ez. 18:8), always rendering a just and holy verdict, perfectly suited to the truth of every situation.
Christ as the Display of Truth
God the Father cannot be seen, but the Scriptures reveal that God the Son flawlessly manifests the truth.
Jn 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Christ immaculately displays the character and nature of God (John 1:14), He perfectly accomplishes all that God in His truth has decreed (John 1:17), He always speaks and performs the truth (Matt. 22:16), and He Himself is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
The Word as the Avenue of Truth
The Word of God claims to be the sole avenue of everlasting truth – through which the truth about God as embodied in Christ is fully proclaimed. His judgments, laws, and commandments are all infallibly true and righteous. The sum of His Word is everlasting truth.
Ps 119:160 The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.
The Spirit as the Illuminator of Truth
Although the Word of God is, in and of itself, true, its truth cannot be known unless it is illuminated to the inner man of the believer by the Spirit of God. It is for this reason that the Holy Spirit is specifically called the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17).
Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come to testify of the truth and guide the disciples, and now all believers, into the truth.
Jn 16:13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
The Importance of the Truth
The search for the truth is more than an intellectual pursuit or religious exercise. Without the truth there can be no hope of eternal life or deliverance from sin, and death and hell. The Scriptures say that we have been brought forth by the word of truth:
Jas 1:18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.
And literally set free though the knowledge of the truth:
Jn 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
The gospel truth is the very power of God as described by Paul in Romans 1:15-16.
Ro 1:15–16 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Additionally, without truth there can be no righteousness. We do what is right when we operate according to the truth in any given situation. For human beings there is not a perfect correlation between what is true and what is right because, even though we may know the truth about a certain situation, and have true principles to guide us, we do not always make the right decisions due to sin, inattention, foolishness or any number of variables. Additionally, any application of truth to situations involving people is fraught with difficulty for we do not fully know them, ourselves, or the ways they might change in the next moments. For God, however, there is a perfect correlation between truth and righteousness. He knows the full truth in any situation and applies it perfectly in doing what is right.
In fact, every aspect of commanded Christian living including: love, justice, and peace (concepts that the world demands but has no understanding of) are founded upon the truth.
There can be no love without truth – for a person’s highest good (to be conformed to the image of Christ) is always based on saying and doing what is true.
Eph 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,
There is no true justice or peace unless truth is known and can be expressed in a given situation. Apart from truth, only power rules – the one with the most power determines the reality to which all others must bend.
Ps 85:10 Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
The Support of the Truth
Only one institution can properly know and support the truth – the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. The church then, becomes the bastion of truth in a world that is hopelessly deceived. To the extent that the institutions of the world allow the church to inform their knowledge of truth, there will be some level of justice, peace, and goodness. To the extent that they do not, there will injustice, war, and evil.
1 Ti 3:15 but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.
The church is called to be this pillar and support by worshipping in truth (John 4:23-24), proclaiming the word of God in truth (Jer. 23:28), accurately handing the Word of truth (2 Tim 2:15), speaking truth in every situation (Eph 4:25), and walking only in the truth (Prov. 86:11). The Apostle Paul sums up his behavior as a Gods representative of the truth in 2 Corinthians 4:2, “but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. “
The Crisis of the Truth
The importance of the truth is perhaps best highlighted by the strength and depth of the opposition raised up against it. Satan hates the truth. He is the Father of lies and everything he says is a lie. As God’s very nature is to speak and live truth, so Satan’s very nature is to speak and live lies.
Jn 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Those who are under the power of the evil one are captivated by lies and incapable of knowing or expressing the truth. They suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18), they exchange the truth of God for lie (Romans 1:25), they actively oppose the truth (2 Tim 3:8) and they turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths (2 Tim 4:4).
If all this weren’t bad enough, the church is constantly being threatened by false teachers who are deprived of the truth (1 Tim 6:5), who have gone away from the truth (2 Tim 2:18), and who disguise lies as truth (2 Cor 11:13-15).
The church cannot be ultimately destroyed by the lying schemes of the devil, but at any point where the truth is compromised the church becomes weak and ineffective.
Eph 4:14–15 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,
This review of the comprehensive importance of the truth is sobering in the extreme when viewed in light of the current state of the evangelical church. Everywhere truth is downplayed and compromise is tolerated. As though half-truths can somehow be anything less than whole lies – bringing destruction and devastation upon the body of Christ. We must reverse this slide down the slippery slope of cultural conformity, by a robust pursuit of and proclamation of the truth. And yet, with the abundance of lies being told all around us – even by those we once trusted, it can be easy to throw up our hands in despair at ever being able to access true truth. Our next article will address the matter of practical epistemology, knowing and clinging to the truth in an age of lies.