Hold Fast to the Truth

We live in a strange time of absolute relativism.

In this brave new world there is no meaning except that which you give to something. Your experience is what determines and defines your reality, and outside of that experience there is no such thing as Truth or Right and Wrong. You can’t tell someone they are wrong today, just that their opinion of reality is different than your own. To insist upon one perceived truth over another is an aggression against a person’s individuality and is not allowed. To claim to be right is the only thing that is wrong.

This all started small. I remember when math teachers were proposing that 2+2 might not always equal 5. Now you can’t make judgements about someone’s life choices without being labeled close minded and bigoted. This video from the Family Policy Institute of Washington is revealing:

We are so confused today that we can’t even tell someone today which bathroom they are supposed to use.

As much as people consider this as avant-guard thinking, the reality is, as Ecclesiastes says, “there is nothing new under the sun.”

Durning Jesus’ trial, Pilate asks him, “What is truth?” Paul warned young Timothy that there would come a time when “people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Timothy dealt with this in the Church, as we still do today.

Today, if you preach that God is loving and gracious and forgiving, well that’s fine. But don’t tell me that I might be sinning in my dating relationships, or that my career and bank account have become idols, or that I have profaned the sabbath under the excuse of “quality family time at the lake”. That’s going too far. We are all too ready and eager to go shopping for a Church and a Preacher that will love the things we love, hate the things we hate, and never criticize our personal choices.

So how are we supposed to live in the midst of all of this? God’s Word to us from 2 Timothy is a strong foundation in this world of shifting sand. Here are a few points of application:

Recognize our own Tendency to Compromise
When reading 2 Timothy 4, it is easy to say that this applies only to those who are on the other end of the political/moral pendulum than me. They’re the ones who have itching ears, who wander from the truth, who find teachers who tickle their ears. In truth, we all gravitate toward likeminded people, and we resist those who will challenge and confront us. If we love the truth, then we must continue to put ourselves in the position where we will be corrected and reproofed by the truth. We must come to the realization that when the Scriptures address sin and call us to repentance, when the Preacher rebukes and exhorts, its not always about the other person; often times, its about you.

Be sober minded
I think a modern interpretation of this phrase might read, “Don’t flip out,” or “Don’t lose your head.” Being sober minded is being grounded in the truth. Yes, we live in a world of lies, and people love and and accept the lie more than they love the truth. There is a veil over their eyes, and they have been blinded to the truth. This is the state of affairs in a broken and sinful world.

So keep your head about you. At times it will seem as though the Truth is advancing, other times its seems as though the inmates are running the asylum. But this is not the end. Christ our Redeemer has overcome all things, including the lies and deception of the evil one. Love and hold fast to the truth, suffering for it, as you certainly will, with patience and compassion for those who are sadly deceived.

Do the Work of the Evangelist
The evangelist is one who proclaims good news in troubled times. In the midst of the lies, Christ came as the Way, the Truth, and the Life; He is the light in the midst of darkness, He is the truth that sets us free. In Him there is a resounding “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, but there is also a glorious “Yes!” godly living (Titus 2:11-14).

As followers of Christ, we are called to proclaim, to those who do not know the truth, and to those who are being swayed by the lies, to live out the truth in word and deed. With truth and love we are to proclaim Christ, calling all to repent and believe. We are to “have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 22-23).

So as I say each week at then end of worship, “Go out into the world in peace, be of good courage, hold fast to that which is good, return no one evil for evil, but help the suffering, strengthen the fainthearted, support the weak, honor and serve all people, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit!”

Grace and peace,

A Knowable Truth

“Pilate said to him, ‘What is truth.’”
(John 18:38 (ESV))

What is truth?  Sometimes we really don’t want to know.  “Tell me the truth, honey…”  A guy hears that and he knows he’s in trouble.  We don’t like the truth that the mirror tells us every morning.  We don’t like to hear the truth when the doctor comes in to give us bad news.  We look for truth in reporting and advertising and in government accounting and always come up shy.  “Truth is all a matter of perspective.”  Or as Obi-Wan said, “What I told you was the truth, from a particular point of view.”

And so we’ve become so jaded and burned by the lack of truthfulness in the world.  “Truth” has become a suspect word.  Those who say that know the truth are ridiculed as either simpletons who couldn’t possibly understand the complexity of truth in any given situation, or arrogant know-it-alls who want to impose their way of thinking on everyone else.  “What’s true for you isn’t necessarily true for me” so we say, and truth becomes a subjective thing that we define from our own experience. 

This carries over into all aspects of our faith and life.  The Westminster Confession is famous for its often abused principle of the Freedom of Conscience.  The famous quote, “God alone is Lord of the conscience” is heralded by every progressive movement within the church today.  The way it’s used goes something like this, “Only God can tell me what’s right and wrong.  No church council, no pastor or committee, no cultural ethos.  If I am convinced that it is right, I will do it.”  So from the Westminster Standard, “God alone is Lord of the Conscience,” we have deteriorated into the most anarchic of thoughts, “I am Lord of my conscience, I will do what I think is right.”  In this way of thinking, there is no real truth, it’s all open to interpretation.  There is no authority, everything is subject to my understanding, even the very Word of God.

This abuse of the Standard is a result of the neglect (intentional or otherwise) of the rest of the statement.  To quote in full:

“God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to His Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship.”

God is the Lord of the conscience.  We are not the lord of our own minds.  Rather, our minds, our consciences, are subject to the authority of God’s Word.  The very last phrase, “in matters of faith and worship” some would say are just the matters that pertain to the church.  In reality, faith and worship, what we believe and what we do with our lives as living sacrifices in spiritual worship (Rom 12), entail every aspect of our being.  Everything that we are – the food we eat, the games we play, the way we dress, and what we say – is subject to, bound by, the Word of God.

The Word of God is authoritative because its author is God.  With God as the giver of the Word, the Word of God is without error, and it will effectively bring about the purpose and will of God.  The wisdom and glory of God are contained and revealed throughout His creation, but never more clearly than in His revealed Word.  To know Him, we turn to the Word.  To know ourselves, we turn to the Word.  The Word of God is the source of all truth. 

As the world continues to ask Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” the church stands ready to show the one who was full of both grace and truth (John 1:14).  We make Christ known, and in Him we find the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  As the maddening crowd clamors for something to believe in, some solid ground on which to stand, holding to the Authority of Scripture gives us a firm foundation. 

There is truth, it is knowable.  We do not define the truth, it defines us.  The truth of God is not subject to our interpretation, it is not relative to our point of view, it is objectively true, unchanging, and powerful.  May you know the truth, and may that truth set you free.