Author: Ron Graham
Who Has the Truth?
—Who gave the truth to them?
Sometimes we hear arguments about “who has the truth”. People accuse other people along the lines, “You think you are the only ones who have the truth”. Pilate asked, somewhat cynically, "What is truth?" (John 18:37-38). Such statements show a confusion about the nature of truth.
1 The Source of Truth
The “truth” is God’s “will”. The truth, at its source, is in the mind of God. Since no mortal can read God’s mind, "No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." (1Corinthians 2:11).
Nobody “has the truth” except by revelation from God. God’s Spirit must communicate the mind of God to us accurately and in a manner that we can properly examine and understand. Only then are we in possession of the truth —or more keenly, "the word of truth".
"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." (2Timothy 2:15, ESV).
The truth, as we said, is in God’s mind. He gave it to his Son who communicated to us as "words of eternal life" (John 6:68). The best answer to the question, “Who has the truth?” is that Christ has the truth.
2 Everybody Has the Truth
In reality, therefore, everybody has the truth who has access to the Bible, for it provides the truth concerning Christ and the things of Christ. All those having a Bible have the truth; and none has more truth than another.
Of course, we all depend upon our ability to interpret and understand "the word of truth". This has led people to think that the Bible can be validly interpreted in many ways and leads people to different constructs of truth.
In that case, the Bible would be an influence for truth, but not the truth. The Bible itself, however, denies that claim and presents one God and Father; one Christ and Saviour; one final covenant and sacrifice; one way of salvation; one truth.
Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). There is one truth just as there is one Christ.
He said again, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (John 8:31-32).
Paul said, "There is one Lord, one faith..." (Ephesians 4:5), in contrast to "every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful scheming" (Ephesians 4:14). There is one truth; many lies.
Lies, however, have no power over the truth. Therefore, whoever you are, if you have a Bible in your hands, you can learn to read and understand the truth, and in doing so expose every lie.
3 Departures From the Truth
Early Departures From the Truth
False and deceitful teaching began early. It was evident even in apostolic times. Two main thrusts were the Judaisers and the Gnostics.
The Judaisers wanted to add Jewish traditions to the gospel. The Gnostics wanted to blend pagan philosophy and secret “knowledge” into the gospel.
"Instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering... a genuine faith." (1Timothy 1:3-5 in part).
Roman Catholic Departures From the Truth
The Roman church added its own laws and traditions to the scripture, and the writings of popes became regarded as the word of God. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for doing the same: "You have invalidated the word of God with your tradition" (Matthew 15:3,6)
Protestant Departures From the Truth
The Protestant reformation produced schisms, and they wrote creeds which they consider the truth. They even attribute the formulation of these creeds to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Thus Protestantism has compromised and contradicted its worthy tradition of regarding the Bible as the only word of truth. Written creeds should have been shunned in favour of the Bible alone.
Protestants acknowlege Christ as "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6) don't they? Well then, they need, and ought to have, “no creed but Christ”.
Latter Day Departures From the Truth
Some two centuries after the Protestant Reformation, a new wave of "latter day" movements began to sweep the world. Christian Science, Seventh Day Adventism, the Mormons, Christian Israelites, are some of these.
Most latter day movements hold the writings and utterances of their founders as inspired. They claim to hold the Bible as the word of truth yet compromise and contradict that position by adding the words of their own prophets to revelation.
Latter day movements hold that "all scripture inspired by God" (2Timothy 3:16) includes the modern day writings of their prophets.
Charismatic Departures From the Truth
In our own modern times, there is a new movement which in yet another way is guilty of the same. This “pentecostal” or “charismatic” movement crosses denominational boundaries.
The mainstream of this movement holds the Bible to be God’s word. However its followers produce every day countless thousands of utterances claimed to be direct revelations of the Holy Spirit
This also compromises and contradicts the belief that the Bible is the only "word of truth". Instead, each person has his and her own truth, personally whispered by God, spoken by an angel, or seen in a vision.
Those myriads who claim, “God spoke to me” do not "all speak the same thing...", and are not "perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (1Corinthians 1:10).
If two people claim that God speaks to them, yet they teach conflicting things, they should stop listening to the contradicting “revelations”, and go to the Bible where truly God speaks, and by that means resolve the conflict.
As Paul said, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8).
Our Own Departures From the Truth
Many members of churches of Christ are active agents for unscriptural change, bringing in teachings and practices that the churches once refused.
The church of Christ ought to be "the pillar and support of the truth" (1Timothy 3:15), and not fall into the same error as the catholics, protestants, latter day movements, and charismatic groups.
These agents also believe that the scriptures inform but do not authorise; the scriptures contain truth but no rules for Christians; the scriptures are open to various valid interpretations.
Let's point the finger not only at popes, creeds, or would-be prophets, but anywhere we find denial of, or mere lipservice to, the principle that the Bible is the only word of truth.
Note —LIPSERVICE: Lipservice means saying “YES” with your mouth but saying “NO” in your heart and by your actions. It is honouring God with your lips when your heart is far from him.
We may ourselves contradict and compromise the “Bible Only” principle, if we do not ourselves insist that people subject both what we say, and what they think, to examination by the scriptures.
None of us can claim to “have the truth” except insofar as we have understood the word of Christ correctly. Let us not substitute our thinking for his truth but conform our thinking to his truth.
Let us be tolerant and supportive of those who are doing likewise. Then we will not compromise and contradict our tradition of “Bible only” or “simply Bible” by insisting that our understanding be regarded as the truth, rather than the word of God himself.
The question is not whether we have the truth, but whether we understand it properly. That must always remain an open question, to be answered by going to where the truth is... "Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17).