What is Truth? (4)

By Morris W. R. Bailey

In this final article in this series, I propose to make some concluding observations on the nature of truth. The first of these is that

Truth Is Harmonious

By that, we mean that truth is always in harmony with itself. In the nature of things it cannot be otherwise. For truth can no more contradict truth than one fact can contradict another fact. Therefore, that which contradicts truth can only be error. That is obvious in every field of knowledge.

Mathematically speaking, if it is true-which it is-that four plus four make eight; then it is obviously not true that four minus four will make eight. And no amount of rationalizing can make it so. Historically speaking, if it is true-which it is-that Columbus discovered America in the year 1492; then it is obvious that it is not true to say that he discovered America in 1650. And geographically speaking, if it is true that Canada lies to the north of the United States of America; then it is clearly untrue to say that it lies to the south thereof. That same characteristic of truth prevails in the moral and spiritual realm. No two contradictory doctrinal tenets can both be true. And no two contradictory moral ideologies can both be ethically sound.

The Principle Applied

Since the Bible is God’s word (compare Acts 17:3; 1 Thess. 2:13) and since God’s word is truth (John 17:17), whatever may be said of the nature of truth may also be said of the character of the Bible. Whatever, then, is one’s attitude toward the truth in the spiritual realm, will be his or her attitude toward the Bible.

It thus follows that the principle of the harmony of truth is an important factor that must be recognized when studying the Bible. We must approach the Bible with the attitude that it is in harmony with itself and not just a mixture of conflicting dogmas. Yet it is all too common to hear people express their concept of the Bible, saying. “You can prove anything by the Bible.” This is a false and degrading conception of the Bible and one that borders on blasphemy, for it reflects on the integrity of God, its author.

Another attitude toward the Bible is couched in the oft heard statement that, “We don’t understand the Bible alike.” This is usually suggested as the reason for the conflicting doctrines that make up the babel of confusion that is so evident in the religious world of today. To this concept of the Bible I must also make strong objection, since it differs but little from the one noted previously. For where one reflects upon the integrity of God, the other reflects upon His ability to give us a revelation-that is free from ambiguity. From where I sit, it appears that one attitude is as God dishonoring as the other. The fact is that the things that cause the division so evident in the world today, are not what the Bible teaches, but things that the Bible does not teach. That fact is a subject within itself which we have neither time nor space to explore in this article but can only mention in passing. For the present we merely point out that one cannot prove just anything by the Bible if it is fairly treated. The Bible, if understood at all, will be understood alike by all, for the Bible does not contradict itself, nor does it teach conflicting and contradictory doctrines. A few examples are in order at this point.

1. The Bible does not teach that it is all-sufficient (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) and at the same time authorize human creeds. The two concepts are not compatible. If a human creed is necessary, the Bible is not sufficient. But if the Bible is sufficient, the human creed is unnecessary.

2. The Bible does not teach one person that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and then teach some one else that he was nothing more than a perfect man. The two concepts are irreconcilable. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God (Matt. 26:63, 64; John 19:7). If He is not the Son of God, He therefore made a false claim and one who makes a false claim cannot be even a good man, much less a perfect man.

3. The Bible does not teach one person that salvation is by faith alone, and then teach another person that salvation is by faith plus works of obedience that demonstrate faith and by which faith is made perfect (Jas. 2:21, 22). The two positions are incompatible. For if salvation is by faith alone, then everything but faith is excluded. But if salvation is by a working faith (Gal. 5:6), then it is not by faith alone.

4. The Bible does not teach one person that faith plus baptism results in salvation, (Mark 16:16) and then teach some one else that faith minus baptism results in salvation. The two positions contradict each another. One is the antithesis of the other.

5. The Bible does not teach one group of people the necessity of unity of believers (John 17:20-23; 1 Cor. 1:10-13) and then teach others that the divided state of the denominational world is acceptable to God. The two positions are irreconcilable.

6. Since the Bible teaches that the Christian can fall from grace and be finally and eternally lost (1 Cor. 9:27; Gal. 5:4; Heb. 4:1), it therefore does not teach the doctrine of eternal security, or impossibility of apostasy, that is fervently taught by some religious bodies. Again, one position is the antithesis of the other.

Efforts on the part of men to array one passage of scripture against another are unbecoming to anyone professing respect for God’s word. Any effort to make it appear that the Bible teaches all of the conflicting and contradictory doctrines found in the religious world is a reflection on the truthfulness of God. We say with the apostle Paul, “For what if some were without faith? shall their want of faith make of none effect the faithfulness of God? God forbid: yea, let God be found true, but every man a liar. . .” (Rom. 3:3, 4). No, the Bible does not teach doctrines that conflict and contradict. Scripture may complement scripture. One scripture may explain another scripture. But make no mistake; never does scripture contradict scripture.

Truth Is Immutable

Our final point concerning truth is that it is immutable. That is to say, that it is unchangeable. It does not vary from age to age. It is not subject to revision, nor can it be repealed by man to satisfy his whims. In the natural realm, the laws by which the earth is controlled are based on truth which God established in the beginning of time. Thus, throughout the millenniums that the earth has stood, the vegetable kingdom has perpetuated itself by producing its own seed, which in turn, produces after its kind (Gen. 1:11, 12). The solar day has been composed of evening and morning, light and darkness (Gen. 1:5). The heavenly bodies continue to rule the day and the night and the control of seasons (Gen. 1:24, 25).

Because of the immutability of truth in the natural realm. man knows that when he conforms his manner of life to that truth as revealed in nature’s laws, the desired results are assured. By compliance with mathematical truth, the civil engineer is able to build a bridge that he knows is safe for traffic and the architect is able to design a building that is livable. By compliance with the truth that governs the vegetable kingdom, the farmer is assured that when he sows wheat, it is wheat, and not oats that he will reap.

God’s truth is likewise immutable in the spiritual realm. It is not subject to repeal by man. Nor carp it be tampered with, substituted, nor wrested without disastrous results. In the Galatian letter, Paul warned of the danger of preaching a substitute gospel. “But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema” (Gal. 1:8). Peter wrote of some who wrested the writings of Paul, “as they do also the other scriptures to their destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).

Because of the immutability of God’s truth in the spiritual realm it provides the solution for all the problems of a divided religious world. In one of the best known of His parables, Jesus spoke of the word of God as seed (Luke 8:11). Just as seed in the natural realm always produces after its kind, so also the seed of the kingdom, the word of God, when faithfully preached, and when it finds lodging in honest and good hearts, will produce the same results in every age. So what it produced in New Testament times, it will produce in this year of 1978.

In New Testament times, that seed, or truth, produced Christians. Do I hear some one ask, “What kind of Christians?” There were no kinds. They were just Christians (Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16). When people obeyed the gospel in New Testament times they were added to the church (Acts 2:41, 47). Does some one ask, “What church?” There was but one church to be added to the church built by Jesus Christ and purchased with His blood (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28). In that one church all believers were thus united in one body (Rom. 12:4, 5). That happy state is possible today, if and when men will seek to know the truth (John 8:32). Believe the truth (2 Thess. 2:13). Obey the truth (1 Peter 1:22).

Truth Magazine XXII: 49, pp. 791-792
December 14, 1978