Sometimes our detractors describe us as being “arrogant” because we say that we have the Truth, and “other Christians” do not. As one of our adversaries has it: “we don’t have a monopoly of the Truth” – and who are we to judge others who worship Jesus just as sincerely as we do?
The root of the mischief – for that is what it is – is that our position is mis-stated. We do not say that of our own selves “we have the Truth”. Rather, we say that the Bible has the Truth, and we believe the Bible with all deference and humility – just as our adversaries are at liberty to do, if they so choose. It is perfectly true to say that “we don’t have a monopoly on the Truth” – but our God does. As it is written: “Yea, let God be True, but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).
As we have often cited, according to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God is Truth. As he said in his prayer for his disciples: “Sanctify them through thy Truth: thy word is Truth” (Jno. 17:17). Whereas Truth is sometimes portrayed as a subjective thing, with “one man’s truth being another man’s heresy,” these words of the Master demonstrate that there is a fixed and absolute standard of Truth – which is the Word of God. And by definition, the which differs from that Word is not Truth. Hence it is said of those who forsake it, that they: “concerning the Truth have erred” (2 Tim. 2:18). And again, that they “erred from the Truth” (Jas. 5:19). Concerning teachers who preach something different to Apostles, it was prophesied: “… they shall turn away their ears from the Truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:4). Here is the vital principle: “no lie is of the Truth,” (1 Jno. 2:21) and that which contradicts the true Words of God are by definition lies.
But what of those “sincere Christians” who have a different point of view to ourselves? Surely it is unChristlike to speak against others who just don’t see things as we do? Actually, no, as we have shown elsewhere in this special issue: This is the teaching of Messiah:
“… they be blind leaders of the blind. And if. the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch”. (Mat. 15:14).
A blind man cannot have a “point of view” – he can see nothing. Those who would brand us to be “unChristlike” should examine what Christ actually said. Men close their eyes to the things of the Truth (Acts 28:27), for the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:14). A person who closes their eyes cannot have vision of what is before them. They need to anoint their eyes with the eyesalve of the Word, so that they can see (Rev. 3:18). Only then can they have a legitimate “point of view”.
THE GOSPEL TRUTH
The Word of Truth comes to us through the Gospel being preached. Hence that Word is styled in Scripture as: “the Truth of the Gospel” (Gal. 2:14, Col. 1:5). The Gospel is defined as “the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ”, which is was necessary for the hearers of Philip to understand and believe in order to be baptised (see Acts 8:12). The BASF describes those two aspects very succinctly and scripturally. It thus epitomises the principles of the Gospel.
Sometimes the issue is raised as to how much a person needs to understand in order to be validly baptized. The Scriptures contain both “first principles” and “solid food” (Heb. 5:12): it is those first principles that need to be understood to lay a foundation for repentance from dead works (Heb. 6:1). Those who do this, are said to “believe and know the Truth” (1 Tim. 4:3), for they have “come unto the knowledge of the Truth” (1 Tim 2:4).
Again, is sometimes asserted that a person doesn’t need to have a particularly detailed knowledge in order to express belief and repentance in submitting to Baptism. But such forget that Israel were “destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). It is possible to not have enough knowlege to be saved – but it is not possible to have too much knowledge! But this assertion overlooks that it is necessary to “believe” the first principles: “he that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mrk 16:16, see also 2 Thes. 2:12). But what is it that has to be believed? As we defined above, the “things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ” – and it is a summary of those things that provide the Statement of our Faith.
UNDERSTANDING AND WORKS
There is a need then, to have an understanding of, and belief in, the principles that collectively form the Gospel. This is described as “the full assurance of understanding” (Col. 2:2), without which there can be no faith, or belief – for how can a man have faith in somthing he knows nothing about?
Sometimes the idea is expressed that we need to live out the principles of the Truth in our lives, rather than to just study the Bible. But this is a false dichotomy: the situation is not either/or, but both! We must “love in deed and in Truth” (1 Jno. 3:18), and be found “walking in Truth” (2 Jno. 4). And it logically follows that we cannot walk in the Truth, if we do not know what that Truth is! We must believe and understand the righteous principles of the Gospel message, in order to “walk according to the Truth of the Gospel” (Gal. 2:14), and thereby “obey the Truth” (Gal. 3:1, 1 Pet 1:22). Yes, it is vital to live out the practical outworking of the Gospel believed, but it is also necessary for us to “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of Truth” (2 Tim 2:15). Both aspects are necessary in order to please our Father and Maker.
Another objection heard from time to time, is that we need to enjoy ourselves as well as doing Bible study. But such sentiments do not come out of the mouths of those who are lovers of the Truth (2 Thes. 2:10). The Apostle Paul wrote: “I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Rom. 7:22). And again, the Psalmist:
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of Yahweh; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psa. 1:1-2, Psa. 119:97).
To study the Scriptures is not a chore to lovers of the Truth. It is a “delight”! Often we hear folk say concerning a novel or some other book that “it was so absorbing I couldn’t put it down!” That is what the Bible is to the brethren of Christ. It absorbs us into itself, and engages the mind in spiritual things. Those of a spiritual mind will delight in it, and will be reluctant to put it down!
The Lord Jesus Christ taught that “the Truth shall make you free.” And as we have demonstrated, the Truth needs to be understood and believed (1 Tim. 4:3). As the Apostle wrote, we need to receive 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 Thes. 2:13).
It is written by Paul to the believers at Colosse: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom …” (Col. 3:16). But logically, the word of Christ cannot dwell in us, unless we put it there! To study the Bible brings great enjoyment and pleasure to men of the Spirit, and it also provides wisdom, and a power by which we can be saved. To study the Word is not an optional extra for the more studious amongst us: everyone that is of the Truth will hear the Master’s word (Jno. 18:37). We disregard it therefore, at our peril.