Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
Truth is a controversial concept and word in our American culture. You can accuse me of being naïve, but I don't think it has always been that way. There have been times in which truth was a commodity that could actually be recognized. However, things have changed in the way our culture views truth. I probably am not smart enough to know why this has happened, but I believe I can see that it has.
Paul believed that the truth could be recognized and even handled. It was a commodity that could be identified and which had strict guidelines as to how one ought to treat it. For these reasons, he wrote, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2.15). Our focus today will be on this phrase.
The word of truth first appears in David's writings from the Psalms. “And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, For I have hoped in Your ordinances.” (Psalm 119.43). Again, the word of truth was a recognizable entity that David wished to remain at his disposal. It was not an abstract concept with no possibility of actualization.
Moving to the other extreme in the order of biblical writings, James attributed the New Birth which he and all believers experience to a real and absolute body of fact which he likewise called “the word of truth.” Consider his statement: “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” (James 1.18). It was this word of truth which was responsible for his being “brought forth.” The word translated as brought us forth literally means to beget or to bring to birth. Again, we observe if the word of truth were but an irrational concept with no ability to be realized or actualized, then James and all believers are brought to birth by something that is less than real, a figment of human imaginations.
Going back to Paul's view of truth, we cite a passage he penned to the Christians at Ephesus. “In Him [Jesus Christ] you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise...” (Ephesians 1.13). Notice that Paul equated “the word of truth” to “the gospel of your salvation.” If the word of truth is abstract, then so is the gospel; conversely, if the gospel can be known then so can the word of truth.
Our culture's view of truth is out of harmony with the view of truth conveyed in the Bible. However, for those who are at all in touch with our culture, this should not be a surprise. Just for a reality check, when was the last time you watched a mainstream network TV show which portrayed the Bible and believers in a positive light? You may have to think long and hard to come up with such an instance. This was not the case a few short decades ago. Mainstream TV shows, at least some of them, actually presented the Bible and those who believed it in a favorable light. Some of those shows have become classics, but far too often they are simply filed away in the minds of our culture as quaint oddities that have since become outdated by the superior knowledge that we possess today.
Truth, at least the kind of truth that the Bible speaks of, is not contradictory or quaint. It does not go out of style and it is never out of place or politically incorrect to hold unwaveringly to it. Truth as presented in the Bible is a valid, no it is THE valid standard by which all human actions and events can legitimately be viewed. So, is the Bible worthy of ridicule, even if everyone is doing it? “Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar!” (Romans 3.4).
1. To what body of knowledge did Paul equate the truth in Ephesians 1.13?
2. If the truth is unknowable as some say, what would it mean to have been begotten or brought forth by the truth?
3. When it is man's word against God's word, which one did Paul pick?
4. What is truth? How was it confirmed and verified? To whom and by whom was it confirmed?
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