The Truth Must Be Believed, and Obeyed to Obtain Eternal Life
This discussion concerns the fact that the true gospel, The Truth, must be believed and obeyed in order to obtain everlasting life with Jesus Christ when he establishes his kingdom on this earth.
The Truth! Jesus said, "Ye shall know The truth, and the truth shall set you free." (John 8:32). Nothing else can do that. And from the beginning of time men have sought for the truth, always in vain, because they refuse to go to the one and only source that has it, which is the word of God.
We can see just how old the pursuit of truth is, in the Bible's account of Jesus' testimony before Pilate. Pilate asked Jesus,
"...Art thou a king then?" Jesus answered, thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, what is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews ..."
John 18: 37-38
What is truth? This question which Pilate asked him, is what is called a redundant question. It was asked flippantly, and no answer was expected, in fact, it is asked in such a way so as to show that Pilate did not even believe that there could be a answer to his question. And he immediately left the room before Jesus had the opportunity to answer. Pilate was ridiculing Jesus, indicating that he thought it was presumptuous and absurd for anyone to presume to know the Truth.
Indeed still today, those of us who openly and freely state that we know the truth, are on the one hand considered very arrogant to even make such a claim; and on the other hand we are pitied by those who, like Pilate, in their self described sophistication look down upon us as naive, simplistic, bigoted, and uneducated for suggesting that we have the Truth.
But make no mistake about it, in spite of such ridicule and criticisms; the Christadelphians do believe that we have found the Truth. The truth, as described in the pages of God's words, which alone can bring salvation. And we encourage those of you reading this discussion, to rise above the false sophistication of Pilate, and don't turn away at our suggestion. Rather instead we encourage you to pay attention to the things which we shall show you tonight, and the principles of the Truth which shall be exhibited and proclaimed every night this week: pay attention to them, and decide for yourselves whether or not this is the case.
Pilate, we learned later, was a man of fear. He knew Jesus was not guilty. He told the Jews concerning Jesus, "I find in him no fault at all." But the Jews intimidated him. They told Pilate, "Whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend." And with these words, Pilate went against what he knew to be right.
Did Pilate then, ask Jesus what is Truth, and leave before Jesus could answer because he was afraid to hear it? The Truth as Jesus taught us, requires a complete change in lifestyle from that desired by the natural, fleshly man. Is this what intimidated Pilate? Is it what is intimidating some reading this discussion? We can't say. But for now, lets put away our fears, and put behind us the world's wisdom which scoffs at the notion of the Truth; and see what the Scriptures teach on the matter.
The Truth consists of two rather general topics. First, the things which concern the kingdom of God, and secondly the things concerning the name of Jesus Christ, And while our intent in this paper is not to thoroughly discuss these things, as they are available elsewhere on this site, lets suffice it for now to say that the Truth consists of the teachings of God in the Bible when correctly understood! When correctly understood.
Now right away, we know that some will be saying to themselves that it is not possible to understand the Bible. After all, look around. How many different churches are there, all claiming to have the correct understanding of the Bible.
We readily agree that there are many denominations of churches around us, all different; and some do suggest that they have correctly divided the word of God. But does that fact alone prove that there can be no correct understanding? Of course not. That simply means that lots of different people have, for whatever reason, read different things into what is written. Well then, does the Bible teach that there is such a thing as a correct understanding? Lets see what the Bible has to say on that score.
Paul, in writing to the Ephesians told them:
"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, ONE FAITH, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
This is the teaching of the Scriptures. One faith. Not many faiths. One hope. Not many divergent or contradictory hopes.
Jesus himself said, as we have already quoted:
"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
and yet again,
"But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
From these verses we learn that not only is there only one faith, and one hope; but that those who would be Jesus' disciples will learn the truth, and worship God in Truth, and that no other worship is acceptable to God. Now if God's desire is for us to worship Him, and the only acceptable worship is worship in Truth, is it not crystal clear that there must be such a thing as the truth, for there to be such a thing as acceptable worship? What if there are many different churches all worshipping a different way? How can that alter the Scriptural point that there is only one truth?
But further on the matter of many different churches, it is an important aspect of the Truth that therewould be many different errors to the Truth, developed in churches as time went on. The fact that many different churches exists today does not take away from the fact that there is one truth. To the contrary, if confirms the word of God as the Truth!
The Holy Spirit, speaking through the apostles told us that it would be that way. The apostle Paul warned us of this fact in tears, when he told the Ephesians:
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. for I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn everyone one night and day with tears.
Why then, do we consider it to be a marvelous thing that there are so many different churches, when the Scriptures itself tells us, warns us in tears, that that was going to be the case. Where's the mystery?
There is no mystery. Except for the mystery of iniquity which Paul warned us about, which was restrained in his day, but later was let loose so that this corruption of the churches could happen. This is Paul's dissertation on what the mystery of iniquity would do, and why it would happen.
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, (let is an old English term for restrain) until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; AND WHY? because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
2 Thess. 2:7-12
Here we are faced with a momentous and stunning fact, one which is frightening to all not truly motivated by the love of the Truth. Because people in the early churches did not love the truth, God sent them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. God sent it.
Now these are generally received by the churches as very harsh words. So harsh in fact that some who do not love the Truth, and therefore find themselves in corrupt churches, have taken to questioning the apostle Paul's christianity. The Bible teaches that God causes the masses in the churches to be blinded because they do not love the truth, but rather have sought out their own peculiar methods of salvation.
Is this harsh? Is this unreasonable? We would imagine that everyone reading this works for a living and answer to a boss. It may be a direct supervisor, or if your self employed, it may be a client; but we all in one way or another answer to a boss. And the children here, all answer to their parents. So all of us answer to a boss.
When our bosses tell us to do something in order to get paid, do we do it? We do, don't we? If we don't do it, what happens? Well, usually, we get fired, or docked for pay, or we lose a customer. When we are told to do a job a certain way, and we do something altogether different, are our bosses happy with us? Do they always tell us that they were sure glad we decided not to do things their way, not to do what they told us to do?
Of course not. Well if that is the case with our bosses, and we do not consider their actions unreasonable; (indeed some of us here have been in position at times to act exactly in this way, when disciplining children) why then should God be considered harsh or uncharitable when he tells us what to do, and we boldly, and blatantly refuse to do it, or believe it. God has explained this principle for us, in His dealings with the children of Israel.
The children of Israel were complaining that God was not fair in His dealing with them. They said that the way of the Lord was unequal. God answers them in language everyone can easily understand. God tells them:
"But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live...But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die."
What could be simpler than that? If we turn from our sins and walk in the statutes which God has set before us, we will live. If we instead do wickedly, and refuse to conform to what God has commanded, we will die. It is hard to imagine anything being clearer than that.
The apostle Paul tells us that the things which happened to the children of Israel are recorded for our examples. He writes to the Corinthians:`
"Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."
1 Cor. 10:11
Well then, what happened to these children of Israel who objected to these simple terms which God set before them. God said, obey my precepts, and you will live, alter them, and you will die. The children of Israel did not repent from their wickedness, and they made no effort to obey the word of God. They would not commit their lives to God in the love of the Truth. Instead of believing, they sought out their own various forms of religion. And what did God do to them?
First, he warned them, and told them:
"If it (that nation of Israel) do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them."
And we know that Israel did not repent. In fact in that chapter, God, who knew that they would not repent cast their sentence upon them because they refused to obey his voice. He told them through Jeremiah:
"Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and that have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up; to make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head. I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will shew them the back and not the face, in the day of their calamity."
And God went another step further yet. He sent his only Son Jesus to them to confirm them in their disbelief, and to blind them because of it. John records this of the Jews:
John 12:37-41 "But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them."
Here is our example. God makes every possible effort that we should see, hear and understand His plan. This is what He wants, indeed, what He demands of us. He accepts us when we do good regardless of our past. But, if we reject His Truth, or when we neglect His truth, and walk some other way contrary to the Truth, then like Israel before us, we will become rejected of God.
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Now, we know that some say that we have not correctly represented the true character of God. After all, they reason, that may have been the case for the nation of Israel, but Jesus died for us. All we have to do is accept Jesus as our personal saviour, and we will live. All this other stuff, this doctrine, and good works are done away with, because now we are saved by faith.
First of all, we should not forget to consider Israel in this matter. God made us a promise, a covenant, that he will forgive us our sins for Jesus's sake. Is that forgiveness unconditional? Its not, is it? Just like the nation of Israel, there is a condition attached to the covenant. Remember the nation of Israel! God made a covenant with them as well. It was called the Law of Moses. He promised them that they would live long in the land of Israel. But that promise which God made with them was nullified because of the failings of the nation of Israel, as we have seen.
What makes us think that we are any different than those people who Paul described as our examples? Israel took great comfort in the fact that they were God's chosen people, and they were! But God will not tolerate disobedience on any level. Jesus died for us, and we are saved through faith in what he accomplished. But if we are disobedient to Divine precepts, his death, for us, will have been in vain.
But Jesus did not die for everyone. He only died for those who are heirs through the new covenant which he made. And how do we become heirs of the new covenant? Lets see what the Bible tells us.
"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew not Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
The Bible teaches that the way in which we become heirs with Christ, the way in which we come into covenant relationship with Christ, is through Baptism. This is how we come into a position where Christ's death can save us. Pay attention to what Paul writes to the Romans:
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. for if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."
When we are baptized then, we are placed under the water which represents the grave, as Christ was placed in the literal grave; and when we come up out of the water, it symbolizes a new life, free from the natural, fleshly man. It is a symbol of the destruction of the body of sin, which Jesus literally accomplished in his death, and s symbol of resurrection to immortal life. And when we go through this symbology, we express our desires to God that we too wish to be saved. And until we go through baptism, we have no opportunity for immortal life, because we are outside the new covenant, and Jesus only died for those who are in covenant relationship with him.
We see how important baptism is in Jesus' own words in John 3:5:
"Jesus answered, Verily verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
And again the words of Jesus in Mark 16:16:
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
And note again how beliefs are entwined in the process of salvation. We must believe and be baptized. Baptism without belief is of no value. Baptism without knowledge is a bath, not a baptism.
So did Jesus die for us? Yes if, note the condition, if we come into covenant relationship with him through an intelligent, knowledgeable, obedient baptism. Did he die for us all? Only in so much as we all have the opportunity to learn the Truth, and be baptized.
And now lets look at the second part of that statement we started off with, that Jesus died for us and now we are saved by faith. We remember a Baptist preacher once telling us that my emphasis on baptism was all wrong, because baptism is a work, and we are now saved by faith. As in all error, this statement which we frequently hear contains a bit of truth, and a whole lot of error. It is truth, and an important truth, that Jesus died for us, and that now we are saved by faith. But does this fact negate the other facts such as we have discussed, that there is only one truth, and that truth, (which as we have just shown, includes the command to be knowledgeably baptized;) must be both believed and obeyed in order to have salvation?
Lets consider this. What is faith? Paul writes in Hebrews 11:1
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, and by it the elders obtained a good report."
Now Paul says that faith is the substance of things hoped for. Substance. Substance is translated from the Greek word hupostasis, and it really means a foundation. So faith is the foundation for the things which we hope for. Its the foundation upon which all our goals are based. If your foundation upon which your hopes are based are lies, what does that make of your faith?
It makes your faith a lie, and therefore without value. In other words, if you have faith that God through Jesus is going to raise your immortal soul and place it in a kingdom in heaven when you die; and, as shall be shown this week, there is no such thing as an immortal soul in man, and God has not promised a kingdom in heaven; then you faith is based upon lies and is therefore worthless.
If you say you believe in Jesus, but you don't know who Jesus is, and in fact, through superstitions like the Trinity, you make him God the Son, instead of what the Bible teaches, that is that he is the Son of God; and in so doing you make it impossible that his sacrifice could even have been acceptable: you are believing in a lie, your foundation makes it impossible that Jesus's sacrifice could even have worked; and therefore your faith is a lie.
It may be strong. It may be very real to you. But remember, the faith that the Pagans had was very strong, and very real to them as well. So real that they could offer up their own flesh and blood, their own beloved children to the hideous and worthless flames which killed their innocent victims. And the faith of the Jews which we have previously considered in this paper, who adopted the Pagan religions of the world around them was strong as well, in the lies that they invented and forced upon their brethren. But what good was it to them? What good did it do them?
It was faith. But it was faith in a lie. And God only seeks those who will worship Him in truth. And if you don't know what you believe, if you don't have a belief; then what kind of foundation do you have? An empty one. One of no value. And that is what your faith is based upon. Something of no value.
Paul goes on in that 11th chapter of Hebrews and tells us that not only is faith substance, or the foundation upon which our hopes are placed, but that faith is evidence. The word evidence is translated from the Greek word ''elegehos. And it really means, conviction.
We must have conviction in the things which we believe. Some say that Jesus died for us, and if we love him for his sacrifice, we will be saved. That's true. But are we convicted to our love of Jesus? Is the faith we hope will save us a genuine conviction of our love to Jesus. If it is, we would never say that belief or actions are irrelevant. We would never say that, because that is not what Jesus said.
"If ye love me, keep my commandments."
And the apostle John tells us identically the same things when he says:
"And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, that, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it."
2 John 6
This is what true faith is all about. It is conviction in the love of Jesus. And how can we tell if our conviction is true or false? Its simple. If our conviction is real, we will keep the commandments of Christ. And what did he command us to do? He commanded us to worship the Father in spirit and in truth!
Did Jesus die for us. He did if we are in the way of Truth! If we have faith, can we be saved? If it is a true faith, yes. But if its a faith in a man who never existed, with a belief in promises never made, with a conviction too wishy-washy to develop obedience to the commandments of Christ, indeed a conviction so weak that it cannot muster the effort to learn the Truth and be baptized; then that faith, while it may appear to you very real, is of no value whatsoever.
* * * * *
Appearances! This is taking on a new dimension in today's religious world. In today's religious world, it is often suggested that teaching and understanding is OK in its place, but is really secondary. What is needed is an emotional religious experience, so that Jesus appears very real to you. This experience is made to take the place of the Truth, mostly because those teaching in such a fashion cannot defend their beliefs in the Bible, so some substitute must be found. And any good speaker knows that it is not difficult to work a crowd into an emotional frenzy. And since their doctrine, being all lies, will not bear close cross examination, the emotion itself is used as proof of their spirit, since their doctrine cannot be.
Is this a safe, and reasonable way to proceed? Common sense tells us that it is not. Because on any given evening, we can go see the Baptists have an emotional religious experience, and then go see the Mormons have an emotional experience, and then go see the Pentecostals have an emotional experience, and then go see the Assembly of God churches have emotional experiences: and all the while each one of them is telling us that the others experience is false, the work of the devil; and that theirs is the only true one.
How can we tell which is true, if any are (and certainly none of the above are)! How can we tell? If we look to ourselves, we could not tell, for it is not in man to direct his own steps. But if we look to the Scriptures it is very simple to tell. The Scriptures teach us:
"To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
In other words, if we are having a valid emotional religious experience, it must be done according to the Truth of the Gospel, and anything else is counterfeit. Now usually, the churches that are claiming the need for a religious experience are saying that it is the Holy Spirit which enters into you and provides such an experience. But what did Jesus say about the Holy Spirit and Truth. Here's what he said:
"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come."
The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth guided those it entered, into all truth. Here is the test. Do you believe that the Holy Spirit has entered into you and led you into an emotional religious experience? If you do, do you now believe the truth? Because if you are not abiding in the Truth, then it was not the Holy Spirit which infatuated you, but another Spirit, called in the Bible, the Spirit of error. John wrote to us concerning these two spirits:
"We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth and the spirit of error."
1 John 4:6
Here is the test for all such religious emotional experience. Do you hear the prophets, and the apostles, and the Lord Jesus himself when they write to us in the pages of the Scriptures? Do we believe what they say, and obey what they taught? Or do you follow cunningly devised fables? This is the test, and its the only test. Never mind your experiences. "To the law and to the testimony. If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
Now before we go on, we would again like to point out something in Israel's history. As we have seen, God, at times blinded Israel because of their willing disbelief. Lets look at God's warning to us in this regard, as it would relate to a religious experience. God warns us about judging things in this manner in Deut. 13. There we find this warning.
"If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord you God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him."
Now note the dangers here explained to Israel. A man rose up among the people and claimed to be able to prophesy through some other God. He prophesied, and the things which he prophesied came to pass. Should Israel have followed such a man? God says no. Why not? God says that He raised up that man to try Israel, to determine whether or not they truly loved God. And what was the test so as to know whether this man was a prophet, or a pretender? The test was to the law and to the testimony. Does this prophet or dreamer teach the things consistent with the commandments of God? If he doesn't, then forget the experience, forget the fact that the dream came to pass. And this should be the test we apply to every dreamer or prophet or our age. If they do not teach the Truth as it is in Jesus, then get away from him.
How dangerous then, is it to blindly follow an experience, when the Scriptures themselves warn us that God brings these things to pass to try us, to discover if we are a lover of Truth, or a lover of error!
* * * * *
No, the Bible is very clear that there is such a thing as The Truth. And faced with the fact that we must learn, understand, obey the Truth; the apologists for error have contrived a new logic so as to be able to maintain their imagined dignity while pursuing the wisdom which the world teaches. Unable to stand in the face of the True Gospel, they say, well, there are many Truths. You have your truths, and we have ours. Your truths are true for you, and our truths are true for us, and we all will be saved.
But is this a Bible truth, (that there are many truths, one for you, and a different one for me)? The answer is clearly, and resolutely; no! Now, let me be very clear that we are not suggesting who can and cannot be saved on an individual basis. Who is included or excluded from the kingdom is a judgment left to Jesus, and to Him alone, and we would not presume for a second to interfere with His judgments. But the Bible teaches that there is no salvation apart from the Truth, and the Bible teaches that there is only one truth, and that that truth is for all of us alike.
We have already looked at Ephesians 4, and Paul's words that there is one hope, one faith, and one baptism. So now lets look at some other verses which will, perhaps even more forcefully drive home the importance of the one Truth. In his letter to the Galatians, we see that Paul was concerned that the Judaizers were corrupting the Truth in that Ecclesia. Now the Judaizers taught that belief in Christ was good, but that all people, Jews and Gentiles alike still had to keep the law of Moses.
Now note what Paul tells them! Does he say, yes, there is a truth for these Judaizers, and a different truth for us, and we will all be saved alike? Does he say that. Lets read what he says in the first chapter of his letter:
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ."
Did Paul recognize many gospels? Absolutely not. He wouldn't even call the message that the Judaizers were bringing a "gospel" at all. He wouldn't even recognize it as a gospel, but rather as a perversion. A perversion. They are perverting the gospel of Christ. Paul goes on:
"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
Those are very strong words, and completely unintelligible if there are many gospels. Why is Paul concerned with the truth of the gospel, if there are many truths? Why did he tell the Galatians that even if an angel from God preached a different Gospel than what Paul taught, that he should be accursed? We have seen earlier in this paper that Paul warned the church at Ephesus by the space of three years night and day with tears, of the fear and dangers of changing the Gospel message. If there are many truths, wasn't that a strange action, and an unbrotherly action on the part of Paul?
And to the Thessalonians Paul wrote:
"If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed."
2 Thess. 3:14
Ashamed of what? If there are many different truths, a different truth for each one of us, what do those who come up with some different truth have to be ashamed of? But they are to be ashamed. Because if they do not have the Truth, its only because they have chosen the love of unrighteousness, over the love of Jesus the Christ.
Now, as we said earlier, because of these statements by Paul which the churches regard as harsh and uncharitable, or unloving; Paul's christianity is sometimes questioned. But its not just Paul who gives us this message. The apostle John, often referred to in the Churches as the apostle of love tells us:
"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
2 John 9-11
Could John be any clearer? Are there many truths? To John, the answer was no. We are told by the churches that we are not to judge their doctrine as lies. Their just following their own truth, which differs from ours. But what does John, the apostle of love say? He says that if they are not abiding in the doctrine of Christ, then they do not have God. And he further tells us that if they come to us with a doctrine which we do not have, we are not to bid them "god speed." We are not to accept them, or support their efforts. If we accept them we become partakers, and that word really means "fellowshippers"; we become fellowshippers of their evil deeds!
If we ask John, is it necessary to know the Truth, or can we just be ignorant, satisfied with what truths we have discovered for ourselves, John's answer is very clear. In his first epistle John wrote:
"That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
1 John 1:3-7
Oh, what a powerful portion of Scriptures this is on the subject we have been dealing with in this discussion. John tells us that the things which he had seen, and the things which he had heard he was declaring unto us. And why? So that we could have fellowship with God, and with Jesus. You see, we have to know those things in order to have fellowship with Christ. We have to know those things in order for the blood of Jesus to cleanse us from all sin.
And is the truth important? Does it matter what you believe? John says, Yes. Can you believe your own truths? John says no. God is light. Light is a metaphor for knowledge. You must have the light, the true light, because in God there is no darkness at all. If you say that you have light, if you say that you have the truth, but you don't, then what does John say about you. You say you have your own truth, but that that truth does not have its basis in the Scriptures, then what is John's opinion of your truth? If you walk in darkness, you lie, and do not the truth.
So we see that John is no different from Paul. Paul said if you preach a gospel which he didn't teach, you are perverting the Truth. John says if you do not have the truth, you're in darkness, and out of fellowship with God.
And what does Jesus say on this same score? Jesus said:
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
This is the Truth that the servants of Jesus understand. There are not many gates, and there are not many paths which lead to life. There is only one, and it is quite narrow. And that word narrow really means "confined". Many truths, and broad paths with many being saved? That is not the teaching of the Gospel. There is one truth, and only through that one truth can salvation be obtained, and its the duty of each and everyone of us to search out the truth.
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And the Truth must be searched for. We cannot find it within ourselves, though we recognize that this too, is a popular theme from today's pulpits. Look into yourself to find the truth. But what does the Bible tell us we will find when we look into ourselves. Jeremiah tells us:
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
Jer. 10:23 "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps."
And Paul tells us concerning the natural man:
"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."
And lastly, we have the Lord Jesus' own testimony about the natural man. Jesus said:
"For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:".
Now, when we look inside ourselves, what does the Scriptures teach us that we will find? Will we find the Truth? Jeremiah says that we will find a heart that is desperately wicked, and he tells us that we will find that man cannot look inside himself to find direction for his steps.
Paul says that we will find a law in our members, which he called sin in his members. This law, says Paul, will war against all good intentions to try to bring about evil. When we look inside ourselves we find sin dwelling there.
And Jesus says we will find evil thoughts, not the truth. The Scriptures are very clear that we cannot look inside ourselves for the Truth. If we want to find the Truth, there is only one possible place to look, and that is in the word of God.
The word of God. As the body is in constant need of food for its strength, so is the mind in constant need of the word of God for its guidance, direction, encouragement and hope. The more we understand and apply the teachings of God in our life, the more perfectly we live the truth; and the more distance we can put between ourselves and those tendencies which are naturally in us.
King David was a man after God's own heart. And David penned the following words.
The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me. I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity. Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight."
David kept all God's judgments before him, he did not put away God's statutes from him. This constant reference to God's will, David said, kept him from his iniquity. David's iniquity was the same that you and I have to face daily. Its the tendency to evil that is inherent in the natural man. Jeremiah, had to fight it. Paul had to fight it. Even Jesus the Christ had to fight it daily. And those righteous men of old new that they could not fight the natural man by looking inwardly. The only thing they would learn there, was what the natural, sinful man wanted. And Paul tells us that the things that the natural mind wants, are enmity with God. No, in order to fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold upon eternal life, they had to look to the word of God for the Truth, for direction. As David says in another Psalm, by making God's word his meditation all the day, he became stronger than the foe, and it kept him in God's way.
Only the Truth can do that. There is only one Truth. Everything else is just man's invention. God has required us that we worship him in Truth. we must learn what the Truth is, before we can do so.
If it seems difficult to to search out the truth, if at first glance, it appears somewhat burdensome, just remember that the appearance of Jesus Christ is near. And when He comes, nothing else, none of the foolish pleasures that the sinful flesh of man relishes will mean anything to us. The only thing that will matter is what we did with the time we were given. We need to make use of that time to learn, study, and refresh ourselves in the word of God. As the author of the Ecclesiastes summed up the matter:
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."
May it be that when we stand before the mighty judge, each and everyone of us will be found to be rejoicing in the one Truth, and be heirs of the covenant of promise; life everlasting in His great Kingdom.
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