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January 15, 2012
Seeking the Truth
As tragic as it is,“Many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1John 4:1). One of the most discouraging things to people through the ages has been the prevalence of all sorts of religious doctrines. Every sincere person needs to recognize the existence of error, but at the same time realize that TRUTH can be sought and known. Jesus promised that “the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32). Truth is the only antidote for error.
Truth is accessible to all men alike. God is no respector of persons, and “would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1Timothy 2:4). Yet there are certain basic considerations which are essential for the sincere truth seeker. Let us notice some of them.
1. The initial battle is with YOUR OWN WILL. If you really want truth you can find it (John 7:17). The desire of the Holy Spirit is that you “be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). But you must make up your mind that you DESIRE to know. Then you will be ready to begin the search. A “good and honest heart” must come first.
2. You must have a wholesome, respectful attitude toward the truth. To search for truth will be a waste of your time if you do not plan to accept it—whatever it may be. Paul declared to the Thessalonian brethren that certain people perish “because they received not the love of the truth” (2Thessalonians 2:10). He stated also that they all will be “judged who believed not the truth” (2Thessalonians 2:12). Hence, one must LOVE the truth and BELIEVE the truth to avoid God’s condemnation.
3. Be SURE that your SOURCE of information is reliable. God’s revealed word is the only infallible source of religious truth (John 17:17). In the production of the Bible “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2Peter 1:21). They could not err, therefore, in what they spoke under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately there are many people who are not concerned about the SOURCE of their religious faith. Perhaps it has been inherited from parents. It may be that they have accepted what is popular in the community, or have acted wholly upon their feelings. Man needs a PERFECT guide. He cannot direct his own steps (Jeremiah 10:23). He CANNOT simply take it for granted that anything he happens to believe and do will be acceptable to God. Let no one substitute human wisdom and reasoning for divine revelation, but depend entirely upon what God has spoken. He has spoken in the Scriptures.
Paul enumerates certain characteristics and powers of the scriptures “given by inspiration of God” (2Timothy 3:16,17). They are God-breathed; they are profitable; they equip one perfectly; they are all-sufficient as a guide for man in his search for forgiveness and the hope of eternal life. To find out whether any doctrine is true, one must “search the scriptures” (Acts 17:11), with the understanding that whatever cannot be established by the word of God is not the truth.
4. Recognize that it does not lie within your province to CHANGE that which the word of God teaches. Be content with what you find in the BIBLE. Remember, too, that even those men who are called “preachers,” “priests,” “rabbis,” and “theologians” have NO AUTHORITY AT ALL to bind upon you any tradition or commandment of men. In fact, NO man has any binding authority whatsoever. Preachers—and all others—are just men. Nothing more! BUT the Author of the Bible is God. The Holy Spirit simply revealed to humanity what was in the mind of God. He KNEW what God desired. He communicated this to the special ambassadors chosen by the Lord. He also gave these men the spiritual words with which to express spiritual truths to men. Read very carefully Paul’s discussion of this matter (1Corinthians 2:6-16).
Never be guilty of trying to make God say MORE than He has said in His revealed word. Nor, for that matter, should you be content to do LESS than He has said. It is a fearful thing to pervert or corrupt the word of the gospel (Galatians 1:6-9). If you want to know how to be converted to Christ, read what the Scriptures reveal. Nothing else is needed. Anything different from the Bible will condemn rather than save. If you want to know the truth about how to worship God, the same Scriptures will supply that information. The Bible alone makes known God’s will to you. Steer clear, then, of any disposition to alter this divine revelation. IT is perfect; you are not.
5. Do not allow ANYONE to hinder your obedience to the truth. A soul (yours) is too valuable. The gospel of Christ is God’s power to save (Romans 1:16). Your concern must be, “What does CHRIST teach me to do to have remission of sins?” Read carefully such passages as Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:38; Romans 10:10; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3,4. The simple requirements of Jesus Christ are faith, repentance, confession of faith, and immersion for the remission of sins. Let no one stand in your way to dissuade you from obeying Him who is the “author of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9). BELIEVE the truth to avoid condemnation (and because it IS THE TRUTH). OBEY the truth to have your soul purified (1Peter 1:22).
Such devotion to the truth as described above must necessarily produce the results that our Lord promised. There is nothing wrong with the truth. The trouble is with man who finds so many excuses, so many interferences. How much do YOU want the truth? Is any price too great to pay for it? Surely there is nothing as important as obeying Him who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6). All who seek salvation in the Lord’s way will find it and the TRUTH WILL MAKE THEM FREE.
A Final Word
In the New Testament we can see clearly the attitude that certain men had toward the truth of God. Some of these we need to imitate; others we need to reject. A marvelous example is found in the Ethiopian eunuch described in Acts 8:26-39. He was completely without prejudice. He really wanted to know what the prophet Isaiah meant. He was willing for another to teach him. In fact, he “desired” that Philip teach him. He knew that he needed instruction (Acts 8:30,31). It is no wonder that he obeyed the truth just as quickly as the opportunity was afforded. He was a sincere seeker of truth.
Then there is the remarkable spirit manifested by the people in Berea (Acts 17:11). They were not gullible, but they did receive the word “with all readiness of mind!” They searched the Scriptures to find out “whether these things were so!” They knew what the standard of truth was, and they used it. They were not resentful, but receptive.
How different was the reaction of the people of Antioch in Pisidia, as described by Luke in Acts 13:44-46. They were not truth-seekers. They were bound by human traditions and their personal prejudices. Consequently, when the truth was preached by Paul, “they were filled with envy and spake against those things … contradicting and blaspheming.” How sad a spectacle! They seemed not to care that they were putting the word of God from themselves and judging themselves “unworthy of everlasting life” (verse 46). This is what anyone will do unless he is very careful to cultivate the five principles enumerated earlier in this article. Let all of us search our hearts on the matter of attitudes toward the word of God and then be sure to “let the word of Christ dwell” in us richly (Colossians 3:16).
— Barney Keith
via Gospel Guide, January 1969