The Love of the Truth
" . . . they received not the love of the
that they might be saved."
2 Thessalonians 2:10 KJV
Truth lies in character.
Christ did not simply speak the truth;
he was Truth
—truth through and through,
for truth is a thing not of words
but a life and being.
Frederick William Robertson
Truth—What is It?
What is truth? Beyond all the obvious words like honesty, sincerity and certainty, can you come up with a single word or even a single sentence that describes truth? Before reading on, stop and think about the answer to this question.
How about these? Reality. Naked facts. This is usually what we mean when we use the word truth, and yet naked facts are very subjective. Ask three witnesses for the facts about the same accident and you will get three different versions of the story. In today's culture almost no truth is absolute.
Truth is such a simple word, such a powerful word, yet the depth of its meaning is so elusive. It isn't easy to define. Here are a few examples of what dictionaries, thesauruses, etc., say about it.
Truth is fundamental or spiritual reality, the manifested, veritable essence of a matter. It is the reality that lies at the basis of appearance. Absolute truth is indestructible and eternal. It is infinite and self-existent. It is vast and deep. It is intelligent and beyond the realm of complete experience and understanding.
Truth and faith are twins. Faith is the conviction of truth as well as the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself. Noah Webter's 1828 Dictionary defines truth and faith as synonyms. They are both also found in the same Hebrew words. In the same way that twins have different personalities, faith is truth and truth is faith.
The Bible says this about truth. It is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105). It makes the simple wise (Psalm 19:7). It produces reverence for God (Psalm 119:38). It gives us hope (Psalm 119:49). It sanctifies and purifies (John 17: 17, Ephesians 5:26). It brings stability to those who hear and obey it (Matthew 7:24-25). It gives life (John 5:39). It endures forever (Psalm 119:89, Isaiah 40:8).
The greatest friend of truth is time,
her greatest enemy is prejudice,
and her constant companion is humility.
Charles Caleb Colton
Here are my thoughts. Truth is as deep and mysterious as God Himself. We cannot describe Him in a single word or sentence. The same can be said about truth.
God is ultimate, absolute Truth. He does not just act on truth. He IS truth and His every act is a manifestation of his nature. Jesus was Perfect Truth manifested in flesh and blood. Likewise, truth is who we are in the depths of our being. Our truth isn't always a pretty picture. It is not ultimate truth, but it is the reality that lies at the basis of our appearance.
Frederick Williams Robertson perhaps has said it best. "Truth lies in character. Christ did not simply speak the truth; he was Truth—truth through and through, for truth is a thing not of words but a life and being." We could say the same thing about our lives. Truth is not a thing of words but of our life and being. In the light of Christ we fall far short of His truth and glory.
The indestructible, eternal, self-existent, infinite, absolute, vast, deep, transcendent, intelligent Truth Who Is God can only be found in totality through faith in the One who is The Way, The Truth and The Life. His Name is Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
God is the Truth
"He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he" (Deuteronomy 32:4).
His Holy Spirit is the Truth
"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the
Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning" (John 15:26-27).
His Word is the Truth
"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17).
"For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:
but the word (truth) of our God
shall stand forever.
Jesus is the Truth
"I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth" (John 1:1-2, 14).
Truth is the Spirit of the Law and not the Letter of the Law
The letter of the Law was written on tablets of stone. As long as it remains there it is a dead letter. Truth is an unchanging, living thing. The Spirit of
Truth writes it upon the fleshy tablets of pulsing hearts that are panting for Him (2 Corinthians 3:3).
Many who do not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior understand and live by laws and principles that are true. Their lives are often orderly, stable and sheltered by these laws and principles.
Jesus said to the Jews of His day who lived by laws and principles, "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me" (John 5:39).
If you abide in My word,
then you are truly disciples of Mine;
and you shall know the truth
and the truth
shall make you free.
All truth bears witness to the reality of God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was saying to the Scribes and Pharisees, "You can search the scriptures all day long. You can gain great insight and stability from them but until you see Me in the Scriptures, you have missed it!" The Bible is a great source of rules to live by, but its greatest gift to us is Jesus Christ—THE Truth Himself. In discovering Him, we are set free from the deception,
tyranny and ostensible security of living by principles and laws alone.
"Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know
the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32).
In this passage, Jesus was talking to Pharisees, rigid adherents of laws, principles and traditions. He was telling them of the importance of truth and how to find it. The same advice is true for us. If we faithfully abide in, dwell in, live in the Word of God, we will find the One who is the truth. And we will grow in our knowledge of Him, The Eternal Truth, the only One who can set us free.
"Free" in the Greek as used in John 8:36 means "exempt from obligation or liability; delivered, liberated". It also means "free to go at one's pleasure, a free person as opposed to a slave." Paul called legalism slavery and bondage. Truth exempts, delivers and liberates us from the obligation, liability and slavery of the debts accrued through rigid adherence to principles and laws.
Whether in the Old Testament or the New, the entire Bible is about Jesus Christ. When we read and study it we need to find Him, not rules and principles to live by.
"And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, [Jesus] explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures . . . These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled" (Luke 24:27, 44).
When I am born again
by the Spirit of God,
I know that Jesus Christ
did not come only to teach
—He came to make me
what He teaches I should be.
The Spirit of Truth Fosters Relationship
"Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart" (Psalm 15:1-2).
Only those of us who walk uprightly and speak truth from our hearts can abide in the tabernacle of the Lord. What does this mean? It means those who walk in the spirit, those who love the truth and walk in relationship with Him Who Is Truth will dwell in His presence. The letter of the law kills. What it kills is relationship—with God and man.
"The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth" (Psalm 145:18).
The Lord is near to those who call upon Him in truth. When we call upon Him with heartfelt sincerity, trustworthiness and faithfulness, He draws near to us. We cannot worship and enter into the shelter of His loving arms through rules and laws. We can only worship and draw near to Him in spirit and in truth.
"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).
Unleavened Bread—Incorruptible Truth
Noah Webster says leaven corrupts anything with which it is mixed. Principles and rules are not bad in themselves. It is our belief that the keeping of them will earn us a place in heaven. It is our rigid adherence to them and our demands that everyone else agree with us that leavens them. This leaven creeps into and corrupts our relationships with God and one another.
There can be no relationship with anyone without trust and trust is built upon truth. Incorruptible truth builds trust and strengthens relationships we can never have any other way—those that will stand the test of time.
Love the truth
though it may do you harm;
hate the lie though it may please you.
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Peter 1:23-25).
Unleavened bread is defined as sweet, uncorrupted, devoid of faults and iniquities. Leavened bread is defined as sour, harsh and cruel. It causes anger, bitterness and pain. It puffs up the flesh. The root word for thief, robber and oppressor means sour, fermented, harsh and leavened. (Remember the thief that comes to "steal, kill and destroy" in John 10:10?)
The primary definition of the word leaven in all the lexicons means "fermentation" or "a state of agitation and unrest". Of course! That's what rigid adherence to rules, principles and laws brings—agitation and unrest.
" . . . he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy" (Luke 12:1).
"How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" (Matthew16:11-12).
Old truths are always new to us
if they come to us
with the smell of heaven upon them.
The Old Testament calls unleavened bread the bread of affliction. This is the food of those who walk in Truth.
"Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life" (Deuteronomy 16:3).
Let us commit ourselves to forsaking our rigid adherence to rules, principles and laws and allowing the Spirit of Truth to lead us into all Truth.
"Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:8).
Truth Protects Us
Like David, when he put on Saul's armor to go out to battle Goliath, principles and laws alone render little real protection for us against the wiles of the evil one. The person of Truth, a relationship with The Living Truth, is our shield, our buckler and our girdle.
" . . . His truth is a shield and buckler" (Psalm 91:4).
"Stand firm, therefore, having girded your loins with truth . . . " (Ephesians 6:14).
Love the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth
Unless we have a commitment to love the truth, the whole truth and nothing
but the truth, we will find ourselves living according to principles and rules in our own will power. Only the truth can set us free from the letter of the law.
"These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates . . . therefore love the truth and peace" (Zechariah 8:16,19).
Truth is more desirable than gold,
more than much fine gold,
and sweeter than honey
and the honeycomb.
Unfortunately, some of us select rules and principles from the Bible like we pick fruit and vegetables at the produce stand. If we cut from its pages those things we don't believe are for today, many of us would end up with a holey Bible instead of a Holy Bible.
Many of us search the Scriptures to find laws and principles to live by. In this case, if we actually succeed in living by those principles and laws, we perhaps end up with a nice, orderly life but without a growing relationship with the living Truth, the Lord Jesus Christ. Or anyone else for that matter. In either one of these scenarios, we may be saved and going to heaven, but as it says in 2 Timothy 3:7, we are "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth".
There are laws and principles about almost everything. They can be right or wrong, true or false. For example, the laws of thermo-dynamics and physics are true. Because of these and many other scientific laws, we glimpse spectacular views of God's universe on our nightly news. Scientists in many fields discover more evidence every day refuting evolution and the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe. These laws and principles are good and true. In this case they are revealing a greater truth than their own. They are unfolding the truth of God before the eyes of the entire world.
Prejudice of any kind is bad moral law and false moral principle. Love is a good and true moral and spiritual law. Anything that does not represent God and His nature biblically is wrong and false.
There are many kinds of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. There are those who know little truth. These are content to be spoon fed once a week or once a month by a teacher, preacher or friend. This is a starvation diet of truth. Paul referred to such Christians as still "babes".
"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil" (Hebrews 5:12-14).
For the time will come when
they will not endure sound doctrine;
but after their own lusts
shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears
from the truth,
and shall be turned into fables.
2 Timothy 4:3
There are also many of us who are not interested in the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We are caught up in the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches and the lusts of other things (Mark 4:19). We want to hear what we want to hear. Paul calls this wanting our ears tickled.
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but
wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their
ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths (NAS). But watch thou
in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist and make full proof of thy ministry"(2 Timothy 4:3-4 KJV).
"If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith (truth), and pierced them- selves with many a pang. But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith (truth), love, perseverance and gentleness" (1 Timothy 6:3-11).
Truth, crushed to earth,
shall rise again;
Th' eternal years
of God are hers;
But Error, wounded,
writhes in pain
And dies among his worshipers.
William Cullen Bryant
Though it is fundamentally true that the passage below speaks primarily to non-believers, these verses contain a truth relevant to Christians as well. When we will not endure sound doctrine and instead follow after teachers who feed our lusts for other things, we do not have a love of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. When we pick and choose what we will and won't believe from the Scriptures, God will send a deluding influence among us that we might believe what is false!
"They did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved (healed, made whole). And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness" (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
This is actually pretty scary stuff, though it is nothing new. It has been going on since the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve chose the tree of knowledge of good and evil that they 1) might know what God knew and 2) be as gods (Genesis 3:5). They believed Satan's lies. That's when all the trouble began. The temptation to believe the same lies prevails to this day.
"For truth has stumbled in the street, and uprightness cannot enter. Yes, truth is lacking; and he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey" (Isaiah 59:14-15).
Truth is not created,
The great theologian, Charles Sturgeon (1834-1892) wrote the following in his Morning and Evening devotional. He could have been writing to any of us.
"Human wisdom delights to trim and arrange the doctrines of the cross into a system more artificial and more congenial with the depraved tastes of fallen nature; instead, however, of improving the gospel, carnal wisdom pollutes it, until it becomes another gospel, and not the truth of God at all. All alterations and amendments of the Lord's own Word are defilements and polluting . . . There is among Christians far too much inclination to square and reconcile the truths of revelation; this is a form of irreverence and unbelief. Let us strive against it, and receive truth as we find it."
Paul continually warned those who remained babes in Christ about deceiving
influences. Babes in Christ are the most vulnerable among us.
"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ" (Ephesians 4:13-15).
No two Christians will ever agree on everything in the Bible. There is plenty of room for disagreement in many areas but in central doctrines such as faith, the nature of God, the cross and the resurrection there is no room for disagree- ment. Any departure from the biblical representation of these truths is another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4) and a different (2 Corinthians 11:4, Galatians 1:6) or distorted gospel (Galatians 1:7). In such instances believers must contend for the faith (truth). Certainly Paul did his share of denouncing false teachers and false brethren.
"And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you" (Galatians 2:4-5).
The truth does not vary because men
forget or ignore or traduce it.
Paul used stinging sarcasm to rebuke the Corinthian church for their tolerance for false teachings.
"Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me . . . But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully . . . For you, being so wise, bear with the foolish gladly. For you bear with anyone if he enslaves you, if he devours you, if he takes advantage of you, if he exalts himself, if he hits you in the face" (2 Corinthians 11:1, 3-4, 19-20).
The words Paul spoke to Timothy need to be tattooed on our hearts.
"But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:13-15).
No truths are simple,
especially those of Scripture.
But as we pursue them and
participate in them more fully,
they begin to reveal to us a life
deeper and more integrated than we ever could have otherwise known.
Every Christian would do well to model themselves after the Bereans, who "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11).
To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to hunger and thirst for truth. The only source of ultimate truth for the Christian is the Bible.
It is worth saying again. When we do not love the truth, God sends a deluding influence to us. Beware! The nature of deception is cloaked in just enough truth to make it appear believable. We don't know when we are deceived! We need to look beneath the surface and hold what we believe up to the light of the entire word of God. Also look for confirmation throughout the Bible. If it is true it can be found in more than one verse. It is also always wise to seek counsel from other mature believers who are well versed in the Bible.
The Spirit of Truth
Proverbs 23:23 tells us to "Buy truth and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding". Hebrews 11:9 promises that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him by faith. From my own experience, the down payment on truth is diligently seeking it in the person of Jesus Christ as revealed in His written word. We do this on our knees in prayer and daily Bible study. This is not a mere exercise of the intellect. Until the Spirit of Truth enlightens the eyes of our understanding, the Word of God is nothing but a dead letter.
"This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Galatians 3:2-4).
I have chosen
the way of truth.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. He will guide us into all truth and will not teach us a lie when we come His word with an open heart and mind and a willingness to consider ALL truth in God's Word.
"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 will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you" (John 16:12-14).
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you" (John 14:16-17).
"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning" (John 15:26- 27).
"But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him" (1 John 2:27).
I have spent thousands of hours praying, studying the Bible and listening in my heart for the Spirit of Truth to put His Truth together for me. These were not academic activities but acts of faith.
I have spent thousands more hours listening to sermons and Bible teachings in church, on tape and in classes. Additionally, I have poured over Hebrew and Greek lexicons, Bible Dictionaries, Encyclopedias and Commentaries. I've read the works of many respected men and women of God down through the ages and asked question after question of people I respect.
"All truth is from God;
if wicked men have said anything
that is true and just,
we ought not to reject it,
for it has come from God."
I don't want to make mistakes, but I've not been afraid to make mistakes; because we generally learn alot from our mistakes and God has promised to get us on track if we get off track. I consult with Christians I respect about what I am learning, weigh the evidence and the Lord eventually makes it clear to me when I am off the mark. Yes. I have been off the mark more than a few times. It isn't fatal as long as we remain humble, teachable and correctable. In fact He will use our mistakes to humble us and teach us the truth if we will allow Him.
God doesn't give us all truth at once. As we are faithful to obey what He gives us, however, He gives us more and more understanding and truth. It is a process of intimate discovery, unique to the needs of each person. We will never understand it all this side of Heaven.
The Heavenly Jigsaw Puzzle
Our greatest vulnerability to false doctrine comes from focusing on one or two truths without considering others.
The building of truth upon truth can be compared to putting a jigsaw puzzle together. The easiest part of a jigsaw puzzle to complete is the border. This is simplest because the border pieces have at least one straight edge. In the case of the Scriptures, these would represent the foundational truths of the gospel. At the same time the parts of the puzzle that are the same color, like the blue of the sky or the green of the grass are placed into separate piles. Gradually a few of these "inside" pieces begin to come together. These areas represent small parts of the Big Picture. As each piece of the puzzle falls into place, truth upon truth, the Big Picture becomes clearer.
When we devote ourselves to the study of God's word and are grounded in
the core beliefs of Christianity, understanding begins to compound at an exponential pace. The more pieces of the puzzle we put together, the quicker
Truth, like surgery,
may hurt but it cures.
Anyone who sincerely desires to know Truth can pick up the Bible and it will speak to them. The Bible, however, IS a very complex puzzle of sorts—a very deep, meaningful, exciting, mysterious life-changing puzzle.
Frequently I gain insight into questions I asked the Lord years ago. Times like these are more exciting than finding that one missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle under the rug. Scripture builds upon Scripture. He IS a rewarder of those who diligently seek Truth.
Based on my own experience of close to thirty years of praying, seeking God and studying the Bible, I know these activities are not the ultimate price we pay for truth. God wants these precious pearls of wisdom and insight to be written on our hearts. He wants them to become flesh within us, a part of who we are, because each one is a part of Who He Is.
Psalm 51:6 says "Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being
. . . ".
We actually have no real authority in the truth we are given by God until we have been thoroughly tested in it by His holy consuming fires and heavenly earthquakes. This is primarily how the Lord moves it from our heads to our hearts.
Let no man deceive himself.
If any man among you thinks
that he is wise in this age,
let him become foolish
that he may become wise.
For the wisdom of this world
is foolishness before God.
1 Corinthians 3:18-19
"See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made [created things], that those things which cannot be shaken [eternal things] may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:25-29).
Peter called these fires and earthquakes the testing of our faith.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith (truth), being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls . . . And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you" (1 Peter 1:3-9, 5:10).
When two truths
seem to directly oppose each other,
we must not question either
but remember there is a third
Who reserves to himself
the right to harmonize them.
Madame Anne Sophie
Two Sides of Truth
In case you haven't noticed, Truth often seems to contradict itself. Though it seems to conflict, there are actually two sides of truth. This is one of the great mysteries of Truth.
Job 11:6, " . . . For sound wisdom has two sides."
The writer of Hebrews compares the Word of God (Truth) to a two-edged sword. It cuts both ways.
"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).
When Truth seems to conflict, in such cases, it is not either/or. It is both.
"It is good that you grasp one thing, and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them" (Ecclesiastes 7:18).
Truth often seems to conflict.
In such cases
It is not either/or.
It is both.
"To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven:A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to
pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down,
and a time to build up;
A time to embrace, and a time
to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time
to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of
In my many years of studying and teaching God's word, I've learned that the most difficult thing for believers to understand is this principle. There are two sides to truth.
The side of truth contemporary Christians struggle with the most is the truth of suffering, the essential message of the gospel. (By the term "suffering", I mean testings, trials and tribulations.) In spite of all the Scriptures to the contrary, we don't want to believe suffering is part of Christian living. We want to blame it all on the devil. Though he causes suffering, it is often our own actions that bring it on. Living in a fallen world among fallen people also causes great suffering. Why should we consider it strange when we suffer? Why should we be confused? I believe we struggle with suffering, first because it hurts, but also because we do not love the truth. If we did we would search the Scriptures to find the Truth about suffering and its purpose in our lives.
The cross is the power of God
to those who are being saved by it.
1 Corinthians 1:18
Let's look at some passages on this subject. As best I can see, almost every one of them regarding testing, trials, sufferings, chastenings, and judgments is followed by a strong promise of eternal blessings.
"Blessed is the man whom Thou dost chasten, O Lord, And dost teach out of Thy law, That Thou mayest grant him relief from the days of adversity, Until a pit is dug for the wicked" (Psalm 94:12).
God appointed Jeremiah to " . . . root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant" (Jeremiah 1:10).
We think of suffering seasons as "negative" times, yet they are a necessary part of the process for gaining the "positive" rewards. I place the words negative and positive in quotes, because there really is no such thing in God's ways that is "negative". It is our own lack of understanding or unwillingness to accept the ways of God that causes us to perceive them to be so.
These "negatives" occur in our lives all the time, whether we openly acknowledge them or not. They are unavoidable. They are the way of the cross. They are the ONLY way, whether we like it or not. Without under- standing this central truth of the gospel we can only walk in the flesh. Confusion, discouragement, pride and condemnation will secretly taunt us
until we understand and accept them as part of the ways of God.
We may be highly motivated and very successful according to the world's standards but the eternal blessings and rewards, the fruit of the spirit, the character of Christ formed within us, availability and harmony in our personal relationships, will never come until we are broken by the cross.
"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence" (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
Each of God's paired
"negatives" and "positives"
are two sides of the same truth.
The death and resurrection of the cross.
We cannot have one without the other.
The denial of these "negative" only delays the "positive" results—the fruit—the promised rewards. Please notice a few of them.
" . . . whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosever will lose his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 16:25).
"So the last shall be first, and the first last . . ." (Matthew 20:16).
" . . . he that is least among you all, the same shall be great" (Luke 9:46).
" . . . he that is greatest among you shall be your servant" (Matthew 23:11).
"Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in the world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise" (1 Corinthians 3:18).
"For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke14:11).
"For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison" (2 Corinthians 4:17).
" . . . when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10).
"If we suffer, we shall also reign with him . . . " (2 Timothy 2:12).
"And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the Lord, and He will respond to them and will heal them" (Isaiah 19:22).
" . . . if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:17).
"Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body" (2 Corinthians 3:10).
"And I will give thee the treasures of darkness (misery, sorrow) . . . " (Isaiah 45:3).
"In all labor (sorrow) there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty" (Proverbs 14:23).
We can only be purveyors of His Life
when we are bearers of His cross.
As Rachel died giving birth to her second son, she named him Benoni, which means Son of my Sorrow. Jacob, who sorrowed greatly over the death of his beloved wife, Rachel, later named this same son Benjamin, which means Son of the right hand. The right hand is the place of stability (Psalm 16:8); pleasures (Psalm 16:11); deliverance (Psalm 17:7); support (Psalm 18:35); righteousness (Psalm 48:10); overcoming (Psalm 98:1); and exaltation (Psalm 118:16). After His resurrection, Jesus sat at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). Through His great sorrow He became THE son of the right hand. Through our sorrows we too become sons of the right hand.
Paired "negatives" and "positives" are not only found in the Scriptures, they are also found in many Hebrew and Greek word studies. The following are a few examples. Found in the same word: 1) grief and glory; 2) to bemoan, confess, give thanks and praise; 3) virtue, power and wealth are from the root word meaning to writhe in the pain of childbirth, to grieve, sorrow and travail as well as hope, rest, trust and wait patiently; 4) to inherit or possess and to be consumed and destroyed; 5) forgiveness, mercy, atonement, purging and cleansing; 6) to be prepared is from a root that means to consume, fail, perish, waste, and complete; 7) to be merciful is in the same word as to put to shame; 8) and sin and trespass are in the same word as repent, cleanse, purge, purify and make reconciliation.
Each of God's paired "negatives" and "positives" are two sides of the same truth. The death and resurrection of the cross. We can't have one without the other. This principle is evident in His Word and in His words in the Word.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3).
"Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:4).
Truth has no responsibility
to make us comfortable.
David L. Russell
"When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith (truth) and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character, men of integrity with no weak spots" (James 1:2-4 Phillips Version).
"For (our earthly fathers) verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but (God) for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised by it" (Hebrews 12:10-11).
" . . . tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Romans 5:3-5).
"Turn you at my reproof; behold I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you" (Proverbs 1:23).
" . . . reproofs of instruction are the way of life; to keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman" (Proverbs 6:23-24).
"He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression" (Job 36:15).
"Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted" (Hebrews 2:17-18).
"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
"Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him; On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him; he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him; but he knoweth the way that I take; when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:8-10).
There is no power on earth
more formidable than the truth.
Margaret Lee Runbeck
"For thou, O God, hast proved us; thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place" (Psalm 66: 10-12).
"The rod and reproof give wisdom . . . " (Proverbs 29:15).
"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor (trouble) for a door of hope; and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the days when she came up out of the land of Egypt" (Hosea 2:14-15).
"Before I was afflicted, I went astray; but now I have kept thy word" (Psalm 119:67).
"The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit" (Psalm 34:18).
"Moreover he called for a famine upon the land; he brake the whole staff of bread. He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold as a servant; whose feet they hurt with fetters; he was laid in iron; until the time that his word came; the word of the Lord tried (purged) him" (Psalm 105:16-19).
"Whoso loveth instruction (chastisement) loveth knowledge . . . " (Proverbs 12:1).
"The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. He that refuseth instruction (chastisement) despiseth his own soul; but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding" (Proverbs 15:31-32).
Truth is better
"Foolishness is bound up in the heart of (God's) child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him" (Proverbs 22:15).
"Passing through the valley of Baca (weeping) they make it a spring, the early rain also covers it with blessings" (Psalms 84:6).
"Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility" (Proverbs 18:12).
It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes" (Psalms 119: 71).
"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
"In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end" (Deuteronomy 8:16 NAS).
"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you" (2 Corinthians 4:8-12).
My character determines
whether or not truth
can be revealed in me.
No matter what evil befalls us, God uses it for our good. In the gracious words of Joseph,
" . . . ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good . . ." (Genesis 50:20).
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:28-29).
Without question many of the promises of God come as a result of the testing fires and shakings of God. We cannot have one without the other.
Truth is Integrity
Deception is a sneaky thing. Few of us would choose to be deceived, nor
would we remain in deception if we clearly knew we were mired in it. The problem lies in our lack of love for the truth. Some would rather hope in a
lie than die for the truth. This is what happened in the Book of Judges. Everyone determined truth according to their own eyes instead of the
whole counsel of God. When Jesus is not Lord over our belief system, we
will believe what is right in our own eyes and worship the created rather than the Creator.
A heart of integrity, a heart of truth, humbly says, "Lord, I lay down my life for you. Not my will but thine. Correct me Lord where I am wrong. Shine your light on the darkness within me. I don't want to be right in my own eyes, I want to be right according to Your Truth. I surrender to your gracious and loving hand to do with me as you will all the days of my life. Conform me to your image."
To walk in integrity is to walk in a commitment to Truth at any cost. No price is too high. We all have blind spots and areas of deception. With a commitment to integrity and truth, God will, little by little, cleanse the spots and blemishes from our souls.
Truth from the Word of God will always integrate into our being and manifest through who we are. It manifests as humble, heartfelt honesty and sincerity in all of our interactions with ourselves, God and others. Beyond our actions, however, Truth will reverberate from deep within our being as the very nature of Christ without saying a word. These are the good works of the believer. It is either in us or it is not. Truth manifested in us should be our greatest desire and most fervent prayer.
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16).
Paul was a manifestation of truth
walking around in flowing robes.
Paul was a manifestation of truth walking around in flowing robes. No. He was not Jesus, but he believed The Truth, hungered and thirsted for it, sought it with all his heart, lived it, breathed it, dreamed it and went through the fires and earthquakes of God's presence to have it written upon the tablets of his heart. He lay down his life and ministry for it. He commended himself and those who walked alongside him to every man's conscience in the sight of God. This is "honest to God" integrity (truth).
Those who walk in truth are teachable before the Lord and before brothers and sisters in Christ. People of Truth humbly repent and make amends when wrong, and refuse to intentionally lie or deceive, even with half-truths.
The Pearl of Great Price
As I have already said, there is no price too high to pay for truth. The cost is our very lives.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth the field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls; Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it" (Matthew 13:44-46).
Humility and brutal honesty before God,
ourselves and those closest to us
are the keys to His
treasure chest of Truth.
Honesty with oneself is ground zero. As long as we are willing to lie to our- selves, we cannot expect God to open His fountains of wisdom and truth to us. Oh, we may have a head full of theological opinions and messages; we may have throngs of followers; the doors of opportunity and ministry may swing wide open for us wherever we go, but we will not in truth be God's ministers or God's witnesses. We can only be purveyors of His Life when we are bearers of His cross.
"Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body" (2 Corinthians 4:10).
The word "witness" actually means martyr. Acts 1:5 says the Holy Ghost was sent to give us power to be witnesses—to be martyrs. Though we may have everyone around us completely fooled, until we commit to die to ourselves we cannot be witnesses of His life.
"So then, death is at work in us, but (eternal) life is at work in you" (2 Corinthian 4:12).
Deceived people beget deceived disciples. Honest, sincere, broken people beget true disciples.
"And He also spoke a parable to them: "A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit? A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher" (Luke 6:39-40).
We may fool others. We may even fool ourselves, but we will never fool God.
Until we allow Him to expose the lies and deceptions in our hearts, we will not mature in truth. Until we walk in the truth we know, God will not give us more.
"For whosoever hath (truth), to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not (truth), from him shall be taken away even that he hath" (Matthew13:12).
Jesus' intent is clear in His statement. Whatever truth we have and obey, will be increased abundantly. If we are unfaithful in the truth we have, He will take away even what we do have, and we will be left believing and suffering the consequences of half-truths and lies.
There is small chance of truth at the goal where there is not a childlike humility
at the starting post.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
This has less to do with going to heaven than it does with walking in the grace and manifested presence of the Lord in this life. If we want to dwell on His Holy Hill, we need to repent and expose every lie and deception we know is in our hearts to Him and preferably another believer.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (1 John 1:8-10).
"Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (James 5:16).
We need to make amends to those we have wronged. We need to ask the Lord to forgive us. We also need to ask Him toferret out and reveal every lie and deception buried too deep in our hearts for us to see. This is what integrity before God requires. The Lord will be thrilled to honor this kind of radical commitment to truth.
"But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for every- thing that becomes visible is light" (Ephesians 5:13). And everything that is light is truth.
These are painful steps to take. The rewards for taking them are infinitely beyond our highest hopes, thoughts, prayers and dreams.
Take care that thy faith
is of the right kind—
that it is not a mere belief of doctrine,
but a simple faith,
depending on Christ,
and Christ alone.
Charles H. Sturgeon
We do not walk this path alone. We have Jesus and the Holy Spirit interceding for us before the Father. We have the Father Himself who loved us so much He gave His only Son for us upon a cruel and bloody cross. And we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who have finished the race and are cheering us on to the finish line.
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Truth—Without Spot or Blemish
Throughout the book of Numbers the sacrifice offered to the Lord had to be without spot. The same Hebrew word that means without spot or blemish also means truth and integrity. As exemplified in so many of the previous passages of Scripture, all of our sacrifices must be made with truth and integrity, without spot or blemish.
Jesus is coming for a bride without spot or wrinkle. He is coming for a bride who has washed her garments and made herself ready with the washing of the water of the Word of Truth.
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:25-27).
Truth and faith are God's provision for the preparation of His Son's bride. Through the working of the Holy Spirit, Jesus uses them to sanctify and cleanse us of every spot and wrinkle. When we love truth we seek it, believe it, obey it and immerse ourselves in it. It washes us whiter than snow. It makes us ready for our Bridegroom.
Without a willingness to seek The Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the
Truth by the Spirit of Truth in the Word of Truth, we can never know the Truth. Humility and brutal honesty before God, ourselves and those closest to us are the keys to the Lord's treasure chest of truth. If you are not already there, I invite you to make this commitment now.
with the truth.
1 Corinthians 13:6
Lord, I lay aside every weight, every selfish thought, all personal ambition, every desire for gain. I count all things loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing You, Christ Jesus my Lord; not claiming a righteousness of my own by the works of the flesh or the law but by receiving it through faith in your finished work on the cross. I want to know YOU, the power of your resur- rection, the fellowship of your sufferings. Conform me to your death, that I may attain to your resurrection life in the here and now. I press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus my Lord. In absolute surrender to you, Lord, I ask you to root out all lies and deception, all willfulness and all selfishness.
As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants after you, Lord. My heart longs and faints for You, The True and Living God. I want to know you. Teach me your ways, Lord. Teach me Truth. Enable me to walk in it. Then I will be free indeed. Then, like Paul, I will be a living letter, a witness of Your manifested truth to a lost and dying world. Then I will be ready for the return of the Bridegroom. In Your Precious Name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.
The Love of the Truth (c) Anne Murchison 1994
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