Triumphing With Truth
St. Paul, Minnesota
Abraham Lincoln once said, "Let the people know the truth and this, country is safe." A greater authority than Mr. Lincoln put it even more emphatically. Jesus said, "If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31, 32). In every age and on every issue, there has always been an urgent need for men to speak, believe and obey the truth. Soloman, in his wisdom, saw the need for one to "buy the truth and sell it not." (Prov. 23:23). Our age is no different in this respect from any other. The basic trouble with the world today is the same as it was in the first century. Men have either "hindered the truth in unrighteousness" (Rom. 1:18), or else they have (exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever." (Rom. 1:25). The condition portrayed by Isaiah is also prevalent in our day. "And justice is turned away backward, and righteousness standeth afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and uprightness cannot enter. Yea, truth is lacking; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey." Isa. 59:14, 15).
The importance of truth can be readily seen when we understand its potency in our lives. Jesus' statement was a comprehensive coverage of the power of truth. "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." But the power of truth is derived from. the process of incorporating it into our lives and this process is broken down and enumerated step by step in the teachings of Christ through His apostles.
1. Truth is the begettal power in the new birth. "Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures." (James 1:18). Without truth, the new birth cannot be initiated, and consequently, cannot be culminated. It, therefore, follows, as night follows day, that one cannot enter the kingdom of God without receiving the truth of his word. "And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (II Thess. 2:11, 12).
2. Truth is the purifying power of the soul. "Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren. . . ." (I Pet. 1:22). When a person sets his mind to seek truth and obeys it step by step as it is unfolded to him, he is led into a life of purity and dedication. Jesus underscored this thought when he identified truth as the means of being sanctified or set apart to the service of God. "Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth." (John 17:17). The Hebrew writer instructs us that without this sanctification, "no man shall see the Lord." (Heb. 12:14). The man who will stand in God's presence must be dressed in the white garments of truth. Without truth, we must stand before God naked and ashamed with our souls stained by the impurities of sin.
3. Truth is the stabilizing strength of the child of God. Peter wrote "Wherefore I shall be ready always to put you in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and are established in the truth which is with you." (II Pet. 1:12) John said, "Greater joy have I none than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth" (John 4). Truth is a part of the protective armor of a Christian soldier (Eph. 6:14). It is the power which enables the Christian to stand against all the forces of the Satanic world. With truth we triumph; without it we tremble and fall.
4. Truth is a conditioning factor of acceptable worship of God. Jesus said: "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24). Worship is the means man has of communing with God. It is the avenue through which he prostrates himself before his Creator and by which he derives strength from Him. Yet, if his worship is not according to God's truth it is worthless and powerless.
It is evident from the foregoing considerations that a knowledge of and obedience to truth is absolutely essential for any relationship with God and for any true triumph over Satan. If we were to surrender truth, we would have neither cause nor strength to stand. We would have neither weapons to fight nor armour to protect. We would be as a muley cow in a hooking contest. If we allow truth to fall in the street, we make it impossible for uprightness to enter and make ourselves an easy prey for the prowlings of perilous powers. It is no wonder then that when the truth of God's word was challenged, Paul would say: "to whom we gave place in the way of subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you." (Gal. 2:5). The present condition of the world in general and of the church in particular make it imperative that those who truly love the Lord duplicate Paul's action in this regard. We must feel with this courageous apostle that "we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth." (11 Cor. 13:8).
Men have always tried to shirk the responsibility of facing up to and fighting for truth. One of the most subtle ways ever devised to get around the force and essentiality of truth is contained in the question which Pilate asked Jesus. When Jesus was on trial before this cowardly ruler, He witnessed of himself, "To this end have 1 been born, and to, this end am I come into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate said unto him, What is truth?" (John 18:37, 38). With this question, the profane Pilot sought to side-step the issue. He was afraid to face truth and to relieve himself of the responsibility, he tried to indicate that truth cannot be identified.
This sentiment has resounded many times through the intervening years. Our Catholic friends when pressed with the essentiality of truth, will respond that truth is subjective. By this they mean that truth is conditioned by circumstances and situations so that what is truth to one person may not be truth to another. The Modernist today would tell us that truth is relative. It may change from age to age and even from country to country. In denying the absolute nature of truth, these twentieth century Pilates crucify afresh the truth which God has revealed and attempt to excuse themselves by asking, "What is truth?" There is a danger of this attitude existing among those who are in the Lord's church. In some circles, there seems to be a fear of studying both sides of any question which might be classed as a "church issue." Does not such a disposition result from an unwillingness to have truth identified? With Abraham Lincoln, I believe in the integrity of the common man. When both sides of an issue are presented with an honest and sincere desire for truth to prevail, honest souls, will be able to distinguish between what is truth and what is not.
The identity of truth is not difficult to determine when one seeks it in the proper way and in the proper place. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6). This was an emphatic way of stating that what Jesus taught and the way he lived constituted the divine truth of God. "For the law was given by Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17). In revealing and recording this truth for posterity, Jesus selected and inspired the holy men who wrote the New Testament. He gave this wondcrful promise to his apostles? "I have yet ,many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come." To the person who, believes the Bible at all, this passage should forever settle the question as to what is truth. Jesus told the apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth. Furthermore, he commanded them to teach all things that he had commanded them. (Matt. 28:20). It does not take a Soloman to see that if these statements were fulfilled, then the teachings of the inspired men of God contained all truth. The very fact that their teachings contained all truth identified their teachings as the word of God. And so we read such expressions as: "Thy word is truth," (John 17:17) ; "the word of truth," (Eph. 1 :13; 2 Tim. 2:15; etc.) and "the truth of the gospel." (Gal. 2:14). God's word contains truth, all truth. Things which are authorized by His word are according to truth. Things which are not authorized by His word are not in harmony with truth. This fact may be ignored, but it cannot be successfully denied. Yet it must not only be acknowledged in theory, it must be respected in practice. To fail to do so would make us guilty of paying mere lip-service to our Lord, and would place us in the category with those he addressed in Matt. 15:8, 9: "This people honoreth me with their lips; But their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men."
The modernist may deny the reality of truth; the denomination alist may obscure the identity of truth; but the true child of God must "buy the truth and sell it not." He must search for it diligently until he has found it. Then he must embrace it above all else. He must believe it, obey it and fight for it with all the strength of his body, soul and mind. Then and then alone will the truth indeed make him free.
Next Month: Truth or Truce
Truth Magazine, V:2, pp. 16-18