Tag Archives: truth

Fighting Truth Decay

Truth has fallen on hard times.  As I read the headlines each day, I can’t help but wonder:  “What happened to truth?”  Then I think of all the ways God’s people are bombarded with lies every day.  They’re carefully crafted lies and they so easily deceive.  Satan, the head trafficker of lies, is doing booming business.  Though it comes from an entirely different context, Isaiah 59:14-15 seems to have been penned just this morning:

Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.  Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.

How can we as Christians continue to stand in the face of this truth crisis?  How will the church survive?  It’s going to be like it always has:  on the basis of the public, objective truth of God’s Word.  Let me point out four ways we need to work with God’s Word to battle truth decay in our day.

The Preaching

When you come to worship each Lord’s Day, you’ll hear your pastor proclaim God’s Word as steadfast, eternal truth.  You can’t underestimate the impact that has.  When you hear a man himself firmly convicted of the truth he’s preaching, that’s going to be a boost for your own grasp on the truth.  Moreover, if that preaching is faithful to God’s Word, it’s not merely a man you’re hearing.  In fact, Scripture teaches that the preaching of God’s Word is God’s Word (1 Thess. 2:13).  It’s a word from him who will never lie (Titus 1:2).  Faithful preaching is the Word of Christ, who is not only the way and the life, but also the truth (John 14:6).  There’s a reason why the Holy Spirit tells believers not to forsaking gathering together (Heb. 10:25) — the Spirit of truth drives home the word of truth in our gatherings.  So come each Lord’s Day and get your truth supplement.

Regular Daily Family Worship

Imagine if every family in the church were to gather regularly for the reading of God’s truth.  Imagine the good that would do not only for our children, but also for parents.  To listen to the truth of God’s Word each day and then to reflect on it together is going to be powerfully reinforcing its message for us.  A super helpful resource for reflecting and discussing every chapter of the Bible together is the Family Worship Bible Guide.

Regular Daily Bible Reading

One of the biggest regrets of my pastoral ministry is that in my first congregation, I didn’t teach the importance of developing the discipline of reading through all the Scriptures — that was so foolish!  God taught me this in my second congregation through a godly elder in a home visit.  More than ever, we need to be imbibing the truth of Scripture for ourselves every day.  It’s not enough just to read a Bible devotional.  Bible devotionals are selective — they only give you a verse or two chosen by the author of the devotional.  Bible devotionals are sometimes defective — too many of them neglect the fact that the Bible is first of all about Jesus.  Bible devotionals are always subjective — as you read it you only get the limited viewpoint of that author.  Bible devotionals can be helpful, but it’s not the same as doing the hard work of reading and studying the Bible for yourself.  It’s through that hard work that you appropriate God’s truth for yourself.  Developing that habit means that every day we’re letting the Holy Spirit speak truth to our hearts through the Word.  There are all kinds of Bible reading plans out there — you just need to pick one and starting running with it.  It may be hard at first, but if you persevere for the long haul, you won’t regret it.

Studying the Bible with Others

Finally, the truth gets reinforced as we study the Scriptures with one another in the communion of saints.  We have brothers and sisters who have seen truths in the Bible that we have not yet seen.  We need them to share that with us.  Similarly, we may have grasped truths from the Scriptures that they haven’t yet.  They need us to bring those truths to them.  Getting a better handle on the truths of God’s Word needs to be a communal effort.  Together, we can see and grasp more of the truth we need for life in this world in the grip of lies.

Let me leave you with Phil. 4:8, where the Holy Spirit says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true…think about these things.”  What is more true than God’s own Word?

Seeing Clearly

old lady young lady illusion

Look at the picture above.  What do you see?  Some of you will automatically see a beautiful young woman from a different era.  Others will see a decrepit old lady.  If you look long enough, you will soon see both.  This is a powerful illustration of how different people will see the same picture and see different things.  Though you see something different from the next person, you’re both right.  People can reach different conclusions and no one is wrong.  We’re just seeing the same thing from different perspectives.  Similarly, people will read the same Bible passage and reach different conclusions.  Yet, no one is wrong.  Two readers can reach two different conclusions and they can both be right.  Just like with the illustration above, parts of the Bible lend themselves to more than one correct conclusion.  As we come to see that, we come to embrace one another and live in unity together, not merely tolerating one another, but actually affirming one another.

Really?  If you think that Bredenhof has finally come to his senses, you need to read further.  If you think that I’m buying into that manner of thinking, I can assure you I’m not.

To begin with, we need to recognize something about that illustration above.  It was designed so that people would reach two different conclusions.  Whoever created it did so with the intention of portraying both a young woman and an old lady.  This illusion was no accident.  Because of the intention of the creator, the person who says that it only portrays a young woman is just as wrong as the person who says that it only portrays an old lady.  The person who says that it portrays a young woman is just as correct as the person who says that it portrays an old lady, but neither is as correct as the person who says that it portrays both.  The intention was to get people to see both.

But what if the person who created a portrait only intended it to be understood one way?  What if his intention was to portray one thing and one thing only?  Now, what if a vast majority of people had an eye-defect which prevented them from seeing only the one thing that the creator intended to portray?  This eye-defect is what creates illusions.  But then, further, what if the artist had a pair of corrective lenses that he could give to viewers of his portrait, so that, with these lenses, they see only what he wants them to see?  With these corrective lenses, viewers would comprehend the sole correct meaning of the portrait.  That changes the situation quite drastically, doesn’t it?

Let’s go to the Bible for an illustration.  In 1 Thessalonians 1:10, the apostle Paul writes that the Thessalonian Christians are waiting for the return of Jesus from heaven.  He adds that this Jesus is the one whom God raised from the dead:  “…whom he raised from the dead…”  Now someone might approach that passage and say, “It’s like the illustration of the old lady and the young woman…”  To which we must immediately reply, “Oh, you mean the illusion of the old lady and the young woman?”  Someone might say, “You could take this literally and say that Paul believes that the heart of Jesus started pumping blood again on Easter Sunday, but you could equally say that Paul is teaching that Jesus came to life again in the hearts of his disciples.  Both could be correct.”  Really?  What this fails to see is that we are not dealing merely with the words of man, but the infallible Word of God.  The nature of God must factor into this.  The God of truth does not lie or create illusions.  The problem is with man.  The problem is that we have not only an “eye-defect,” but also a heart-defect.  Since we are inclined to hate God, we are inclined also to misread his Word and see what we want to see.

God corrects our heart-defect with his Spirit.  His Holy Spirit, who inspired the Word in the first place, gives us the desire to understand God’s Word as he intends it to be understood.  God has promised that the Spirit of Truth will lead us to his truth (John 16:13).  Therefore, the Christian says, “Father, help me with your Spirit to understand what you mean in your Word.  Help me not to see illusions, but the true reality.”  This is a prayer that pleases God and will be heard by him.

God answers our prayer and helps us to see the true reality with his “corrective lenses.”  His Spirit leads his children to put on these corrective lenses so that our “eye-defect” can be addressed.  What are these corrective lenses?  It’s the rest of his Word.  If we’re looking at 1 Thessalonians 1:10, a faithful Christian is going to go elsewhere in Scripture to help us understand this teaching in the correct way.  For example, we go to 1 Corinthians 15.  In that passage, the Holy Spirit is adamant that Jesus rose from the dead and this was not felt in the hearts of his followers, but seen with their eyes (1 Cor. 15:3-8).  In John’s gospel, the disciples touch Jesus and he eats with them — this did not happen in their hearts.  There is only one correct understanding of 1 Thessalonians 1:10 — Jesus physically rose from the dead on Easter Sunday.  This was history.  This is no illusion.  It really happened as plainly described by God in his Word.

There are still difficult passages in Scripture where we struggle to reach the correct conclusion.  As a preacher, I have occasionally encountered passages where I have to honestly say, “I’m not sure.”  There are some passages where faithful Christians do reach different conclusions, even with the Spirit filling them and leading them to put on the corrective lenses.  But that still does not mean that all the different conclusions are equally legitimate.  Some are wrong and some are right or some are more wrong and some are more right.  Even if we can’t perceive it, this is the way things are.  The God of truth is still speaking in this Word and his intention is not to offer illusions to confuse us, but absolute truth to encourage us (John 17:17).

The most important thing to realize is that the Bible is ultimately not a human book.  In the final analysis, this is God’s book.  Yes, there are 66 books where various human authors were involved, but behind them all was one Author.  In every chapter, every verse, even every word, this one Author has his intentions.  The unregenerate will not discern those intentions, certainly not with any consistency.  Christians can and will.  Our calling as Christians is to prayerfully follow the Spirit by putting on the corrective lenses of the Word, comparing Scripture with Scripture, and thereby striving to faithfully discern what our Father intends to say.  The inerrant Word must always be our guide, also when it comes to understanding the Word.

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”  Psalm 36:9