This life-long voyage of discovery that we share, holy child of God, surely requires that you and I fully comprehend the vital importance of pursuing truth. I don’t know how any legitimate quest for authentic Christianity can ignore this aspect of our calling. We cannot put too high of a premium on our commitment to seeking truth—it is paramount to our identity as children of God—as it speaks directly to the integrity of our hearts.
However, sadly, many people in today’s world appear to lack that integrity and seem content with a little truth here and a little truth there, but they do not share our “love of the truth so as to be saved.” And, “for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will 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, NASB).
Basically, this passage is saying that God will give people whatever it is that they really want. If what we seek is truth, Jesus said that we have but to “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7, NASB). If, however, people want something else, something that will allow them to feel good about themselves and be comfortable in their chosen lifestyle, or their errant theology, God will allow them to be deluded.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6, NASB). He also said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32, NASB). From these passages, and other like them, we can discern that truth—insofar as our relationship with God is concerned—is singular and distinctive. In other words, you really can know the truth and know that you know it. In fact, the Apostle Paul condemned those who are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7, NASB). While this does not mean that we will ever “know it all,” it does mean that God expects us to come to a reasonably accurate understanding of His will for our lives. In fact, earlier in this same letter, Paul admonished Timothy and, I believe, we as well to, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, NASB).
There are many in our world today who simply do not believe that, when it comes to spiritual matters, there is a body of truth that is singular and distinctive. In other words, they do not believe that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life.” Rather, they might acknowledge Him as a way, a truth, and perhaps even a route to a better way of living; but certainly not the one and only way. And, of course, there are many in our world today who stumble over Jesus’ statement that, “no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Perhaps things really haven’t changed much since the Apostle Paul made the statement 2,000 years ago, “but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness” (I Corinthians 1:23, NASB). The Jews are still stumbling and the Gentiles still think it’s foolishness; but despite their personal wants in the matter, Jesus remains “the way, the truth, and the life!”
But note, also, that Jesus has not left “the truth” in the realm of the secret and mysterious. We don’t have to turn to the “sages of the ages” to search out and reveal truth to us. Jesus stated simply that “If you continue in My word” then you “will know the truth.” What is required to know the truth that Jesus speaks of, the truth that will ensure that we are truly His disciples, the truth that will set us free from sin and death? Only that we have a healthy respect for His word, that we cultivate a desire to know His teachings, that we make it our ambition to continue to walk in them and surrender our hearts and lives to His will for us as expressed through them. We don’t need some kind of magical interpreter to do that for us. All we need are eyes to see and ears to hear (Matthew 13:16) the simple truths set forth in the miraculously inspired and providentially preserved word of God. Don’t you love the passage first penned by Isaiah and later quoted by the Apostle Peter wherein he reminds us:
All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever.
(I Peter 1:24-25, NASB)
Sometimes people challenge the Bible at its source and want to tell us that it is only the work of a few religious zealots who got carried away with trying to establish a new religion. Others say it is the product of some very wise men who took the teachings of Jesus—who, they say, was also just a very wise man—and revised them, edited them, and circulated them among the disciples of Christ in the 1st century. There are many such theories concerning how we eventually arrived at those writings we now refer to as the New Testament.
But, as God’s covenant children, we need to help people understand the true source of Biblical inspiration. And the best way to do that is to take them right to the feet of the Master Himself and let Jesus, in His own words, tell them just how the holy scriptures came to be. Let’s consider some things that Jesus said near the end of His ministry here on earth.
In view of His impending death at the cross, Jesus comforted His disciples by telling them:
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
(John 14:16-17, NASB)
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. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.
(John 16:13-14, NASB)
When Jesus said these things to His disciples, He was letting them know how they would be instructed by God in days to come. Jesus promised His disciples that they would be guided “into all the truth” by “the Spirit of truth.”
But notice the sequence of prophetic authority as it is related by Jesus: first, from the Father, to the Son—“all things that the Father has are Mine”—second, from the Son to the Spirit—“He takes of Mine”—and then, finally, from the Spirit to His disciples, the apostles and prophets of the 1st century—“and will disclose it to you”—as seen in Illustration 1.
Illustration 1. God’s sequence of prophetic authority.
From these statements we learn that the basic tenants of the Christian faith did not originate with mere men or spring from the hearts and minds of men. Rather, as the Apostle Peter reminds us:
But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
(2 Peter 1:20-21, NASB)
Just before His marvelous ascension to glory from the Mount of Olives, Jesus told His apostles, “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49, NASB). This empowering occurred a few days later, on the Jewish holiday called Pentecost:
…they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues [glōssais – languages], as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
(Acts 2:1-4, NASB)
There are several passages of scripture that tell us about the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. For example, the prophet, Mark, records Jesus saying:
These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.
(Mark 16:17-18, NASB)
Mark then goes on to state the purpose for these miraculous gifts, saying:
So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.
(Mark 16:19-20, NASB)
Note that the purpose for the miraculous gifts of the 1st century was to “confirm the word.” Years later, the writer of Hebrews would assert this same truth, saying:
…how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
(Hebrews 2:3-4, NASB)
Note that, the purpose for the miraculous gifts was NOT to convince people to believe. There have always been unbelievers. People often chose not to believe despite the miracles and regardless of any amount of confirmation. The purpose for the miraculous gifts was not to make people believe, but to provide sufficient grounds for belief by confirming the word of God as it was first proclaimed among the people of the 1st century. This is why the Apostle John would later tell us, “It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth” (I John 5:6, NASB).
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