Knowing God’s Infinite, Eternal, and Unchangeable Truth
In 21st century postmodern culture, ‘truth’ is thought to be something variable and changeable.
It is claimed by some that ‘truth’ is different for everyone. It is thought to be similar to one’s opinion or personal judgment, maintaining that ‘truth’ is nebulous and relative instead of definitive and certain. In one short statement, a postmodern age declares today: “There is no absolute truth”. But there are at least two problems with such a statement. First, that statement itself is an absolute statement! Secondly, it does not work with my banker. He tells me quite categorically how much money I have irrespective of how much I believe I have. Similarly, my doctor tells me quite categorically I have cancer despite the fact that I am very comfortable and ‘feel’ perfectly well. It is foolish to deny there is such a thing as absolute, objective truth!
Aligned to the notion of truth in a postmodern age is the idea that ‘truth’ is not important – what is important is that one is sincere. Again, how foolish!
One can be sincerely wrong. Is it not important if I swallow arsenic as long as I was sincerely believing I was taking aspirin? Of course it matters!
The truth of God is absolute truth. It is truth which is the same always. It is truth that is the same for everyone. Everywhere. The truth of God never changes, it is consistently the truth. God’s truth also reconciles with facts. God’s truth cannot be separated from reality. Truth is factual, evidential and objective.
But God’s truth is more than all that. In the bible, ‘the truth’ means much more than simple facts. In a very real way, truth is related to salvation (1 Tim 2:4); to faith and Godliness (Titus 1:1); and to the Word (John 17:17). This is perhaps best seen in 2 Tim 3:7-8: “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith.”
Most importantly, God’s truth cannot be separated from God Himself. God’s truth is always in accord with His own nature.
God cannot contradict Himself. 2 Tim 2:13 makes this point well: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” That is why Jesus, who is God, could say that He was the truth (John 14:6).
Knowledge of the truth cannot be separated from a knowledge of sin. 1John 1:8 says: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us”. The story of truth begins with the story of sin. Someone has said the gospel is a love story starting with a divorce! If there was no sin there would be no such thing as “religion” and certainly no need of a gospel or a Saviour.
It follows, therefore, that very much aligned to this is the fact that a knowledge of truth necessarily also involves a knowledge of God’s mercy. To have a knowledge of sin but no knowledge of God’s mercy is only a half-truth, as is a knowledge of God’s mercy without a knowledge of sin. Our Bible tells us that “truth meets with mercy” (Ps 85:10). The truth that our sins are real can meet with God’s mercy in Christ as “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ”. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is the fact that we are all sinners yet we can all be forgiven and saved through faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
God makes it clear in the Bible that he desires all to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). But how do we come to know ‘the truth’?
When Pontius Pilate asked the question: “What is truth?” he was not genuinely looking for an answer to the question – he was actually making a statement. That is why Jesus did not reply to Pilate. Pilate was asserting that it was impossible for anyone to find the answer to the question: “What is Truth?” He was declaring that it was impossible to know truth. However, that flatly contradicts the teaching of the Bible. Jesus stated categorically in John 8:31, 32:
If you abide in My Word, you shall be My disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.
There are two ways in particular that we can know the truth. The first is to know Christ. Christ is the truth. Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” The bible speaks of the truth “as it is in Jesus” (Eph 4:21). We will never find truth until we find Christ.
How do we find Christ? This leads us to the second way of knowing truth – it is to know the Word. In His great intercessory prayer, Jesus declared: “Thy Word is Truth” (John 17:17). John’s gospel begins by stating that Jesus is the Word, so, to know Christ and to know the Word are effectively the same thing. In John 8:31 and 32 Christ Himself states: “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him: ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’” It is therefore clear that knowing the Bible is knowing ‘truth’.
The Bible is a revelation to us from God. It is the medium through which God reveals Himself, His Salvation and His Will for humans on earth. In the last analysis, God, salvation and ‘truth’ actually cannot be found – they must be revealed to us! God reveals ‘truth’ and salvation through the Bible.
Finally, we must remember we can only know truth, indeed anything divine, through the Holy Spirit. After all, the Holy Spirit is often called the “Spirit of Truth” in the Bible (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). At the end of the day, it is all God’s work. Truth, salvation and Christ must be revealed to us by God’s Holy Spirit. Mercifully, God is pleased to do that and declares in the Bible that we will “find Him when we seek Him with all our hearts.” (Deut 4:29 and Jer 29:13). It is the Holy Spirit’s work to ‘reveal’ divine things to poor, blind, foolish sinners. That is why it is so important not to grieve, quench or resist the Holy Spirit. It is frightening to discover that it is possible to know the Bible and yet not know Christ. This is clear from the way the Saviour rebuked the Scribes who searched the Scriptures yet would not come to Him for life (John 5:39, 40). We need the Holy Spirit to illumine the pages of Scripture to reveal Christ to us. At the end of the day, the one thing we all need is the Holy Spirit. What a wonderful promise Jesus gives us in Luke 11:13
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!