Category Archives: Truth

Directed Toward God

“In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). This passage has long been used to describe a society in which there is no absolute standard of right and wrong—a society in which the individual has become the ultimate authority and choice has become a god. I imagine there is not a single reader of this article who cannot identify the similarities between the nation of Israel as described in the book of Judges and the modern world in which we live. There are also none who can deny that this philosophy has long influenced the religious world of today.

As an infant, I was “baptized” (sprinkled) in the Methodist Church. As I grew older, I attended the services of an “Evangelical Free” Church. A few years later I became a Baptist. Finally, I was taught the Gospel and became a Christian. When I was finally exposed to the Lord’s church, I noticed a remarkable difference between the churches of men and the church of God. Instead of doing whatever the members wanted, the emphasis was placed on doing what God wanted. Instead of focusing the services on the parishioners, they were directed toward God. It was refreshing to find individuals who were more concerned about God’s instructions than their own enjoyment. But as I have aged, it seems this longing to serve rather than be served has grown far too rare.

Today, even among those who claim to be New Testament Christians, there appears to be a growing desire to “get more” out of worship. There are calls by preachers and authors to make worship more relevant, to revitalize it, to modernize it, and to make it more effective. But what often gets overlooked in these pursuits is the fact that worship is not designed for the worshiper. By definition, worship is a way for the worshiper to show reverence or pay homage to the one being worshiped. It is not about getting something out of it! Can you imagine any Old Testament Jew returning home from offering worship to God and commenting on how much they got out of their sacrifice? Or how encouraging it was when they burned an animal carcass on the altar? Their service was directed toward God, not man.

However, those who want to get a little more out of their worship have turned their attention toward anything that can generate more emotion. They have become disappointed with the “traditional” worship and seek to spice it up a little. They are not unlike those in Malachi’s day who complained, “How tiresome it is!” (Mal. 1:13). But the real problem with their worship back then was not that it had lost its energy or appeal, but had lost its meaning. They no longer cared about serving God. And I’m afraid we are closer to that situation than many would like to admit.

In Romans 1:25, Paul warns about those who “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” When we attempt to design everything we do in such a way that it will be enjoyable for ourselves, how are we different? It seems to me that some are worshiping worship instead of God. They are more concerned about how they feel at the end of the assembly than they are about whether or not God has been glorified. In fact, the assumption is made that the better they feel, the more God is pleased.

In truth, there is a relationship between emotion (feelings) and worship. However, this relationship is the opposite of what many think. Instead of worship causing us to have certain feelings or emotions, worship is an activity in which we engage ourselves because of our emotions. In other words, emotion is the motivation behind worship, not the result of our worship. We worship God because of what He has done for us. There are similarities between this relationship and our love for God. We love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). As a result of this love, we want to worship and serve Him. Whether we enjoy particular acts of service or worship is irrelevant. Because I love my family, I try to provide a nice home for them to live in. As a result, I end up doing chores which I do not particularly enjoy. However, they are not a burden to me because of my love. Remember Jacob’s service for Rachel (Gen. 29:20)? That’s the attitude we must have.

Thankfully, the commandments God has given are not burdensome and the worship He has described is not tiresome. I enjoy singing songs of praise to my Creator. I am encouraged and strengthened by the time we spend together remembering our Lord, praying to the Father and studying His word. I appreciate the opportunity to show my thankfulness to God for all He has given me by giving back a small portion of those blessings. But, having said all this, I do not engage in these activities because I enjoy them. If that were the case, I would only be serving myself. True worship is directed toward God and is directed by God.

Jason Longstreth, The Forest Hills Messenger, 1/24/16, via The Knollwood Reminder 2/7/16

Speaking the Truth in Love

Inevitably, through the years, when we have spoken plainly about certain sins and indicated that any guilty listeners needed to take heed and straighten up their lives or face the terrible consequences of sin, someone would find the need to remind me that we needed to “speak the truth IN LOVE” (Eph 4:15).

What they don’t seem to get is that we are trying to do just that.  They don’t understand that the “in love” part refers more to the motive than the manner of speaking.  Some situations call for gentleness of speech (Gal 6:1), others call for sharpness of speech (2 Cor 13:10; Ti 1:13; cf. Matt 23), but whether gentle or sharp, it must be in love.

When one needs an exhortation it should be given in love of his spiritual development and soul’s salvation.  The same should motivate us to sharply rebuke with needed.  Also, the same should motivate a gentle word of encouragement.  It is all be done because we love God and love the ones to whom we speak any part of the gospel.  Even when speaking to a rebellious brother fails to bring him to repentance and we have to apply the instructions to withdraw from him, we still must do it “in love.”

I would hope that if I should leave the truth either in preaching or practice that someone would have enough love for me to try to wake me up with as much sharpness needed to bring me around.

How much love are we showing one, slipping deeper and deeper into sin, by whispering “sweet nothings” in his ear as he continues his downward spiral?  If we love him we are going to try whatever scriptural approach it takes (rebuke or exhortation) to bring him to his senses and help him get on the right track.

Because our audiences are generally made up both of those needing the gentle approach and those who need the sharp approach, we should strive to balance our approaches, but whatever the approach it must be “in love” to please God.

By the way, pointing out a scripture that says that a specific kind of sinner (drunkard, thief, or homosexual) cannot inherit the kingdom of God is not HATE speech but rather LOVE speech, because we want these people to be saved.  They cannot be saved while still in their sins.  If we hated them, we would leave them alone to die in their sins.  Expressing hatred and disgust for these sins does not mean we hate those guilty.  We want to get them to the point where it can be said, “such WERE some of you” and not have to be saying, “such ARE some of you” (1 Cor 6:9-11).

Edward O. Bragwell, Sr

Truth Is Absolute

Pilate’s question of Jesus, “What is truth?” is the norm of today in our society. We live in a relativistic world. “No” sometimes means “No,” maybe, possibly, but not certainly. “Yes” may mean “Yes, perhaps, unless I mean no.” And, we certainly do not know what the meaning of “Is” is. Therefore, truth is what we believe the truth is.

May I ask, “Are we, as human beings, really that dumb?” Do we really not know what “yes” and “no” mean? Are we really confused over right and wrong? Is truth really relative? We know better. Our problem ascertaining whether truth is absolute or relative is not intellectual but moral. We, as people, do not like to be told there are some things that are absolutely right and wrong. Why? Because we want to do what we want to do. We don’t want anyone telling us what we can or cannot do. God forbid that we should point out sin. If there really is such a thing as sin, then there really is such a thing as an absolute right and wrong, which means there is such a thing as an absolute standard: truth.

The problem of understanding absolute truth is not new to our day. Isaiah spoke of the same thing. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20). Why did the people of Isaiah’s day confuse right and wrong? “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isa. 5:21). That is the problem today as well. The problem is not “is truth absolute,” but whether we in our eyes see it as absolute. In our pride, we want to do other than what God commands, therefore, truth becomes relative. We allow our pride to determine what is right and wrong, not God.

In order to correct this problem we need to understand truth is the standard by which all knowledge is ascertained whether it be in the field of law, science, medicine, or religion. Truth is the standard. When we go to the store to buy a pound of meat, we are confident it has been correctly weighed. What gives us that confidence? A standard of weights and measures: truth. We recognize the importance of truth in every area of our lives until it comes to religion.

Once we recognize truth as the standard for all knowledge, we must admit that absolute truth must have a source. Truth is absolute because it comes from a Sovereign God. Sovereign means above or superior to all others, chief, greatest, supreme. We can’t get any higher on the scale of government than God. When we say God is sovereign, we include the idea that His authority is inherent because of who He is and what He has done. It is His by right of creation. That is what makes the Gentiles behavior so sad. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie…. (Rom. 1:25). They exchanged the sovereign God and His authority for their own standard. What did they do? They committed the vilest acts known to man (Rom. 1:26-32). Do you see why admitting truth to be absolute is a moral problem not an intellectual problem? They did what they wanted to do, but they could not do that and admit there is truth. Why? To admit there is truth is an admission there is a God, and by right of creation He has the right to tell me what to do.

We cannot get more fundamental than thinking truth is absolute because it comes from a Sovereign God. Once we understand God is Creator that says something about His power, wisdom, greatness, excellence, kindness and majesty. Who am I? Nobody! What can I do against Him? Nothing! Who shall I go to for counsel? No one. But, look, He holds our very lives in His hand. He has the right to rule our lives. He gives absolute truth (Rom. 11:34-36).

Truth is woven into the fabric of our universe. It is ordained and sustained by God. We can disregard truth, but we cannot destroy it; it is indestructible. When men change the image of an incorruptible God into the form of man we have a god we make in our image – that fits what we want to do. If our god is one we can carry in our pocket, then we are never wrong, are we? Truth is what we make it.

Furthermore, our Sovereign God has not left us to wonder what truth really is. He has revealed what He wants for us to please Him. Truth has been made known to man. However, it takes a special kind of heart to see that truth is absolute. Not everyone will because not everyone wants to. Not only do we owe God a debt of gratitude and service, we must listen to Him. His word is truth (Jn. 17:17). Scripture contains truth that God breathed (2Tim. 3:16-17). Each word is from the mind of God (1 Cor. 2:11-13). No man could have imagined the truth God revealed. Only our Sovereign God could have produced truth because He is truth (Jn. 14:6). He produced the truth in such a manner that man can know the truth (Jn. 7:17). It is able to set him free (Jn. 8:32).

Our problem is, “We have lied to ourselves, that we know the truth, until we have crippled our hope of learning the truth. Or, we have convinced ourselves (another lie) that there is no certain truth, so that even faith becomes a leap in the dark, an essential to avoid despair, or maybe truth (?) is treated subjectively, every man to himself. We know that truth in the material universe is not so vacillating: 2+2 = 4 to all men; God is different” many will say (Plain Talk 16:3: May 1979).

Finally, truth, by its very nature is singular. Truth is intolerant and exclusive. It is not subject to arbitration nor subjective appraisals. That which is truth is real and genuine. The truth is not some philosophical extraction which is reached by the reasoning of the human mind. Truth is not relative to time, change or feeling. Truth is without exception or exemption. It is not subject to recounts, no hanging or pregnant chads. It is not subject to a Presidential veto, congressional approval or a ruling by the Supreme Court. It is the standard by which all else is measured. It is objective. God has revealed truth. Our challenge is to search [His Word] and find it.

By Rickie Jenkins from Focus Online

Does The Bible Contain All Truth?

Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).  Therefore, “truth” and the words of Jesus are one in the same.

The words of Jesus are “truth”, not just because they are factual but because they originated with God His Father (John 8:40).  Therefore Jesus could boldly say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and John could gladly declare that Jesus is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, 17).  Peter’s first letter went to those who had purified their souls in “obeying the truth” (1 Pet 1:22).  The “truth” to which Peter referred was “the word of God” or “the gospel” (vs. 23, 25).

Continue reading Does The Bible Contain All Truth?

A Fatal Flaw

Sin is the transgression of law or lawlessness (1 John 3:4).  The New Testament contains the effective law for us today (Matt 28:18-20).  The law of Christ contains guidelines, prohibitions and boundaries (James 1:25; 2:12).  When we fail to live within limits of that law, we sin.  God hates the practice of sin (Prov 6:16-19) because it can prevent us from inheriting the eternal kingdom in Heaven (Eph 5:5).

Continue reading A Fatal Flaw