Farmville Enterprise October 17, 2018
The most interesting summer job I ever had was working as a court recorder in Maryland. This included starting and changing the reel- to-reel tape to make an audio recording of the courtroom proceedings, accepting items placed into evidence and swearing in the witnesses. “Do you solemnly swear under the penalty of perjury that the testimony you give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?”
These days the word “truth” is used in more than one way. People are often encouraging us to “speak our truth.” This means that others want to hear of our experiences and impressions. In counseling situations some quote a saying that “perception is reality.” This reminds counselors that people usually equate their personal perceptions of what has happened to them as reality. Our “truth” is often subjective. In many college philosophy courses students explore questions about the existence of objective moral truth.
The Bible has a lot to say about truth, as the word appears over 100 or 200 times, depending on the translation. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) The writer of the Gospel of John described Jesus saying, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) John, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” also wrote, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17) “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:31-32) Jesus was full of truth, brought truth and taught freedom-giving truths.
The “word of truth” or “message of truth” are expressions found a few times in the New Testament. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” (James 1:17-18) “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 1:13)
Jesus used the term “Spirit of truth” in referring to the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity. “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 4:23) “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me.” (John 15:26) “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13)
In biblical terms, truth is not subjective. God’s truth does not change. This does not mean that all parts of Scripture are crystal clear or that Christians agree on all interpretations. Still, with the Spirit of truth living within us we can confidently study the Bible and ask God to help us understand what is true.