Frequently Asked Questions About Christianity, Answered Honestly!
Can Christians Really Know What is
Truth, and what is not?
by Tony Warren
ot only can we know where truth is, it is crucial and obligatory that we seek it out. For in the Spirit of truth, the knowledge of correct doctrine is how we avoid the errors and false doctrines that so deceive the inattentive and unfaithful. In other words, how can you even know for certain what is false, if you don't really know what is true? Since every professing Christian "claims" to be under the spiritual influence of Christ, we must of necessity examine them in the light of the Holy Scriptures.
1st John 4:1
We cannot try or test the spirits if we do not know what is truth,, and then compare their words with the truth. Without this knowledge, any misguided person can claim that he is a Christian and teach you every false doctrine under the sun. By contrast, if you have the Spirit of God to know the truth, you will know what is falsehood. How? We test the spirits by comparing the words that come out of their mouths, with the authoritative, unadulterated word of God. It really is just that simple. If what someone is saying is a witness of, and in total agreement with the scriptures, then we know that it is true. Scripture is the Christian's ultimate authority and arbiter. If something someone says is not what scripture "actually say," then it is a personal opinion (private interpretation). This is the exact process by which those Jewish men in Berea tried or tested Paul's witness to see if what he was claiming was biblical (in agreement with the Scriptures) when other Jewish leaders simply condemned him out of hand. As a result, those more honest men of Berea found his testimony to be faithful and true, and God informs us that many of them believed. That is God's faithful example of trying the spirits for us today.
- "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many False prophets are gone out into the world."
These men did not throw up their hands in frustration asking, "where is truth," they searched it out. How did these noble or honest Jewish men know who was telling he truth between the Apostle and the Jewish leaders? It was simple--they read the scriptures to compare what God had said to what Paul was claiming. They did so in order to discern whether or not what the Apostle had said was the truth or not. That is how we try the spirits (1st John 4:1). We don't blindly follow our congregation leaders, or trust in traditions or rites, or simply believe what an author or theologian claim is the truth. We compare what they say to the final authority, which is the word of God. If it is in agreement with the whole of God's word, then it is true. If it is contrary to scripture, then it is false.
- "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
- therefore many of them believed; also honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few."
1st Thessalonians 5:20-21
Again, the word of God encourages us to prove or test all things. We are to examine them to see if they are accurate and true teachings, as compared with Scripture, and then hold fast to that which is faithful. That is how we can know for certain what is absolutely true, in comparison to what man "alleges" is true.
- "despise not Prophesyings.
- Prove all things, hold fast that which is good."
2nd Timothy 2:15
It's not a recommendation, God commands us to labor, make an effort to rightly cut or cut straightly in administering the word, so as to meet His divine approbation. Truth comes by the Spirit, through the word. As a practical example, if someone were to attempt to teach us that we are saved by works and not grace, the only way we would know if that were true or not, is to read the authoritative and divinely inspired word of God to see for ourselves if that were true. We don't defer to our Pastor's words, or a famous book author, nor do we blindly accept what a televangelist says. The God fearing methodology is to defer to God's word. We read His words and we find that God declares "unambiguously" that we are saved by Grace, and not by works lest any man should have reason to boast. Therefore, we must receive what God has divinely inspired written, rather than what man claims that He actually intended. For He is the ultimate authority over doctrines and practices of His people. In doing this, we have tried the spirits and found them to be wanting. In this way, the Holy Spirit of God works within us to reveal what is truth, and indeed is named (John 16:13) the Spirit of truth.
- "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
Where is truth? God not only informs us that we can know the truth, but that it is the truth that will set us free. His Spirit, working through His word. Indeed, if we couldn't really know the truth for sure, how could we be held responsible for believing false teachings? This modern church philosophy of, "don't worry, we'll understand it all by and by," is reckless, careless and a dangerous way to look at the question of doctrine. It is specifically because the truth is written down and witnessed to us, that those who will not receive this love of truth (or truth in love) will receive greater condemnation by God.
- "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
2nd Thessalonians 2:10-12
Those who want to privately interpret scripture for their own agenda, or who make claims that we can't really know what truth is on this side of the grave, do not demonstrate much spiritual understanding of Christianity. The truth is what is written in the scriptures, and those who have no real love of God to humbly receive it, will be damned by God because of this neglect. No one is going to be able to stand before God and excuse himself in ignorance of the law claiming, "I didn't know where truth was," when he never sought it in the first place. Man can fool himself, lie to himself and even justify himself, but he cannot fool the discerner of even the very intents of the heart. All hidden desires, reasons, agendas and secrets are made manifest to God and illuminated by the light of His Word.
- "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the Love of the Truth, that they might be Saved.
- And for this reason God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie;
- that they all might be damned who believed not the Truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
We will never fool or deceive God by proclaiming that we didn't know where truth was, as we go along oblivious to stewardship or labor in love. The truth is, we will generally find that those claiming that one cannot really know for certain where truth is, are those who aren't really looking for truth. They are those who profess with their mouth a love for Christ, but who really don't have time for Him as Lord of their lives. They don't really want to conform to the teachings of scripture and so feign that it is ambiguous, confusing and understanding it is a non-essential. Just because one refuses to receive the truth for one reason or another, doesn't mean that it is not there. Likewise, merely calling ourselves Christian doesn't really mean that we are actually regenerated where we really are Christian. True Christians are born from above that they are a new creation wherein they have within themselves the Spirit of Truth. They don't pretend that they cannot for sure know obvious truths, they know God and are known of Him specifically because they have this Spirit of Truth. They are loved of God and therefore as faithful stewards, love His word (1st John 4:19). By Grace of God they accept and receive it as the ultimate authority over the church in matters of faith and doctrine. They know the truth because it is alive within them. It was never that man cannot know what is truth, it was that man is a slave to sin, ny nature carnal where he inherently doesn't want to receive what is written. It's not that scripture is so terribly unclear, it is that man wants to make the clear, unclear, the better to hide his rebellion. So he twists and wrests scripture to appear to be holding to its requirements. But Christians with a conscience should understand that it's not in how we work the Scriptures, it's in how the Scriptures work us. For man can look at a tree and earnestly declare that it isn't wood, but the truth is not so deceitful--and where is truth? Compare Scripture with man's word and know that God is true and every man (Romans 3:4) a liar. Let it not be supposed that God's word is untrue and man's word deemed accurate when they contradict. The Spirit of Christ compels us to receive His word as true, and man's word in subjection to it. ...always!
- "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
- Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."
- "And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."
May the Lord, who is gracious in all things, comfort us and move His Spirit within us to receive the truth so boldly declared within His Word, that we might humbly walk in His statute, keep His righteous judgments, and receive the love of the truth as the Spirit directs.
Copyright 1998 Tony Warren
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