What is truth? That very question was asked Jesus by Pilate (John 18:38). Truth is that which conforms to fact or actuality. It is the opposite of that which is error or wrong. When it comes to truth in the realm of Christianity, Jesus answered the question for us as He prayed to the Father. He prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Paul told the Thessalonians that they had to have “the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (II Thess. 2:10). The salvation of one’s soul is tied to the truth of God’s word. Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
When Jesus was teaching the woman of Samaria at Jacob’s well, He told her, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Those two requirements for proper worship will apply to every other aspect of our service to the Lord as well. In addition, they constitute the complete man. “In spirit” refers to the inner man being involved. No service to God is acceptable unless it be in sincerity and honesty. Just going through the acts of worship or service is unacceptable, the emotions must be involved; it must be from the heart. “In truth” involves the intellect of man. Man must know what the truth is that must be obeyed and then obey that truth. Far too many lean completely upon the reed of emotion with little or no support from the truth, and as Hezekiah was warned about leaning on Egypt for protection from Assyria, “on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it” (II Ki. 18:21).
When one considers the consequences of following that which is not truth, it becomes of paramount importance that we know what the truth is. It is a fact that, decisions have consequences. If we are making our decisions on what we believe to be true, when if fact it is not true, the end result will be different than that which we sought. There are many decisions that when made based upon lies, falsehoods, misdirection or just mistake, they have little consequence of any real importance. However, when one fails to know the truth concerning what God’s will is for man, the end result can have eternal consequences. One purifies his soul in obeying the truth (I Pet. 1:22). Thus, the soul is not purified if one obeys that which is not the truth. There is a difference between a lie and someone being mistaken, but the end result for the one who follows will be the same. In the account of the young prophet and the old prophet, the young prophet heeded and followed the lies of the old prophet and was slain by a lion as a consequence (I Ki. 13). When Apollos taught error in the city of Ephesus, his was a mistake of ignorance (Acts 18:24-26), yet that mistake would have been just as deadly had not Aquila and Priscilla corrected his teaching. Later, when Paul came to Ephesus, he found some that had been taught by the mistaken preacher and had to teach them the truth (Acts 19:1-6). Remember, it is the truth that will set you free (John 8:32).
Another important aspect or characteristic of truth that is often either ignored or not known is that truth is objective, not subjective. Regardless of the fact that many college text books teach that truth is subjective, common sense tells us it is not. This idea incorporates the view that what is truth for one person may not be truth for others. To them, it is all a matter of what one believes to be truth. It is interesting that those who espouse such a ridiculous doctrine do not adhere to it in any realm other than that of religion. Though they be few, there are some who vehemently deny that man ever walked on the moon. The truth is, either he did or he didn’t. No one teaches that man did walk on the moon, but if others believe that he didn’t then he didn’t to them. No one teaches that man didn’t walk on the moon, but if he did for those who believe he did. Either man walked on the moon, or he didn’t. It cannot be both ways. Yet, when it comes to the realm of religion, many teach that though there are multitudes believing and practicing different and opposing doctrines, they are all following the truth. It just cannot be so. There will be differences is matters of option or opinion, but when it comes to what God has spoken in His word, there can be no differences and still be in truth. Paul told the Corinthian brethren, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Cor. 1:10). God’s word is truth and it is truth to all. It does not teach opposing doctrines.
A question that has long plagued many honest and sincere people is how can there be so many different churches, each practicing their own distinct form of Christianity and all claiming to be following the same guide book, the Bible? The answer is simply this: they are not all following the truth.
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