Editorial: May 2011
Three hundred years before Christ, Plato predicted that if ever a truly good man were to appear, a man who would tell the truth, he would have his eyes gouged out and in the end be crucified. That risk was once taken, in its fullest measure. The Man appeared. He told the world the truth-about itself-and even made the preposterous claim, "I am the Truth." As Plato foresaw, the Man was crucified. The Word of God, Jesus Christ, is the truth, because He expresses the Father.
The Bible tells us that the devil is in the business of imitating God. His goal is "to be like the Most High" (Isa.14:12-15). Through deception, he tries to replace Christ with a substitute. Jesus Himself warned us of false prophets and false christs. "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ, and will deceive many'" (Matt.24:4-5). The only authentic Christ is the One described in Scripture.
Paul explained that the devil "transforms himself into an angel of light" and his servants appear to be people who are promoting righteousness (2 Cor.11:14-15). Our enemy would love to leave followers of Christ distracted by false teachings and faulty doctrines. As we keep our eyes on Jesus and the clear teachings of Scripture, our Lord can keep us aimed in the right direction.
God's truth uncovers Satan's lies. Truth has no responsibility to make us comfortable. The most characteristic feature of the devil is his opposition to truth. He has nothing to do with the truth, no truth is in him, and he is a liar and the father of lies. "Time's glory is to calm contending kings, to unmask falsehood, and bring truth to light."
The New Testament addresses the distortion resulting from the ideas of popular teachers becoming more important to us than what God says. The Apostle Paul said, God's purpose is "love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith" (1Tim.1:5). Sound teaching does not distort God's Word or divide the church. It unites believers and builds up the body of Christ to care for one another and to do the work of God in the world (1Cor.12:25).
Human attempts to explain God are inadequate, and can even distort our priorities, confuse our thinking, and flatten our understanding of the spiritual life. To avoid distortion of God's truth, we must rely on God's power, rather than human wisdom (1Cor.2:5). Spiritual truth is discernable only to a pure heart, not to a keen intellect. It is not a question of profundity of intellect, but of purity of heart.
The Old Testament prophets often preached to a stubborn people. "God sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the Lord, and they testified against them, but they would not listen" (2Chro.24:19). Their messages often resulted in persecution and sometimes even death (Heb.11:32-38).
The most annoying thing about truth is that it is true, making anything that contradicts it false. Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.
The Greek philosophers did not divorce truth from moral and spiritual values. Plato went so far as to teach, to the consternation of many readers, that knowledge of the truth automatically guarantees moral life. Even the Stoics and Epicureans made ethics the culmination of philosophy. "Truth is the cry of all, but the game of the few."
Christ's message resulted in angry opposition (Lk.4:21-30). Yet, in the sovereignty of God, the terrible miscarriage of justice, which sent Jesus to the cross, purchased our redemption. The opponents of Jesus were of their father the devil.
Jesus Christ came into the world to redeem sinful mankind. He paid the price for our freedom. Our salvation is entirely God's initiative. The truth of this great plan, once hidden, is now revealed in the Gospel. It is now a reality. The connection between truth and freedom is important. Truth never leads to bondage. The Pharisees were not convinced that they needed freedom. In spite of the heavy yokes imposed on others by their false reasoning, they never conceived it as bondage. "The truth shall make you free" (Jn.8.32).
The Talmud says, "When you add to the truth, you subtract from it." "For the truth-teller and truth-seeker, the whole world has very little liking. He is always unpopular, and, not infrequently, his unpopularity is so excessive that it endangers his life. Run eyes back over the list of martyrs, lay and clerical; nine-tenths of them stood accused of nothing worse than honest efforts to find out and announce the truth." However, all truth is not to be told at all times. In seeking truth, you have to get both sides of a story.
"If you tell the truth, you have infinite power supporting you; but if not, you have infinite power against you." A Persian proverb says, "The man who speaks the truth is always at ease." When you tell the truth, you don't have to remember what you said. "There is no power on earth more formidable than the truth. There is nothing so powerful as truth-and often nothing so strange." But, a whispering tongue can poison truth.
James Byrnes said, "For years it had been my policy not to correct untrue statements about me that appeared in the press. As a rule, the friends whose good opinion you value will not believe ill of you. Your enemies will believe, or profess to believe, evil of you regardless of your denial."
Christ said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life." As Christ is the cause of life, so is He the cause of truth. Truth is that on which man can rely. "The world is now too dangerous for anything but the truth; too small for anything but brotherhood."
"If Christ did not speak the truth in all matters, the claims about Himself vanish like the idle babbling of a lunatic bent on deceiving the world. Unlike Plato and Aristotle, He could not afford to be wrong-even once," said Erwin W. Lutzer.
As representatives of the risen Christ, we are to promote reconciliation, justice and integrity in this world (Mic.6:8;2 Cor.5:18-21). This means speaking the truth in the face of opposition. This is the charge to every believer till the day when Christ will set all things right (Rev.20:11-15). Remember, it is better to declare the truth and be rejected, than to withhold the truth just to be accepted. Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, "No one can bar the road to truth, and to advance its cause, I am ready to accept even death." "The truth would become more popular, if it were not always stating ugly facts."
Many people come to Christ in order to meet their needs. That is only a fraction of the truth of the Gospel. Such people think that the God of the Christians is stronger. But they should transform their idea of God. They should know that this God is the Creator and the Lord of the universe, and that He has a plan for the universe. When we receive this God, we enter into His kingdom, won by the death and resurrection of Christ, and realise that Christ is coming back again. The Gospel is deeper and grander than the idea that God meets our immediate needs. "He who begins by loving Christianity better than Truth will proceed by loving his own sect or church better than Christianity, and end by loving himself better than all." "A half-truth is a dangerous thing, especially if you have got hold of the wrong half."
Confucius (551-479 BC) remarked, "Absolute truth is indestructible. Being indestructible, it is eternal. Being eternal, it is self-existent. Being self-existent, it is infinite. Being infinite, it is vast and deep. Being vast and deep, it is transcendental and intelligent." To quote Sir Winston Churchill, "Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it; malice may distort it; but there it is." It was G. K. Chesterton who said, "Truth must necessarily be stranger than fiction; for fiction is the creation of the human mind and therefore congenial to it."
Post modern thinking makes us aware of hypocrisy, but gives us no standard of truth to expose and correct it. Hypocrisy and evil depend on lies. Hypocrisy is a lie in deeds rather than words. Evil always uses lies to cover its oppressions. Only with truth can we stand up to deception and manipulation. Truth is the absolute requirement for all those who hate hypocrisy and care for justice and human dignity. We are called not only to believe the truth, but to live in truth and stand up for the truth so that we become people of truth, worthy of the God of truth.
Billy Graham said, "It is contrary to reason for a thirsty person to turn from a pure, sparkling mountain stream to quench his thirst at a stale, putrid cistern-yet that is what the human race does when it rejects God's truth and standards in favour of the devil's impure philosophies." An Arabian proverb says, "Love the truth though it may do you harm; hate the lie though it may please you." "Seek the truth, listen to the truth, teach the truth, love the truth, abide by the truth, and defend the truth unto death."
The strange case of Al-Janabi has become one of the most infamous episodes in recent history. He concocted his tale that Iraq was hiding mobile bio-weapons laboratories and weapons of mass destruction. The US administration relied heavily on this bogus information and invaded Iraq in March 2003. It was eventually determined that Iraq did not have any such weapons. Janabi recently admitted that he fabricated his story, hoping that his lies would lead to the eventual overthrow of the Iraqi ruler. He still believes that it was right for him to lie.
The Bible teaches us the whole counsel of God, the Truth God intends us to know. We should submit to it as true and trust-worthy, for it is the Word of the God who cannot lie. It is the foundation for exploring and understanding all dimensions of God's truth.
We live in a world full of lies and rejections of the truth. If we love the Bible, we must rise to the defence of its truth claims. We cannot build the Kingdom of God on foundations of dishonesty. In our craving for 'success' and 'results,' we are tempted to sacrifice our integrity, with distorted or exaggerated claims that amount to lies. Jesus taught us to respond to lies with truth. We should resist the temptation to be less than totally truthful. Let us strive for a culture of transparency and full integrity.
Truth will triumph ultimately, even though it is difficult for most people to understand it. It is the proclamation of the word of truth that can bring salvation to those who believe. If we live up to the responsibility of our calling, the people around us will know the Truth and find freedom in Christ. "Though the Gospel we teach is foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling block to the Jews" (1Cor.1:23), Paul decided to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Let us also declare this glorious, powerful Truth-the whole Truth, nothing but the Truth.