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Recently I had two separate moments that brought the same question to mind. One was a news event that described a conclusion based on a set of facts and a rebuttal based on “alternative facts.” The other moment was a discussion where one person stated to another that they stand with the truth, the truth they “believe” that is. These moments made me wonder, what is truth? Can there be “alternate” versions? Does what I “believe” matter? More importantly, how does God define it? As usual this meant it was time to hit the manual again. This is what I found.
The Greek word for Truth is alétheia 225: it is defined as follows:“truth, but not merely truth as spoken; truth of idea, reality, sincerity, truth in the moral sphere, divine truth revealed to man, straightforwardness” (Strong’s). Actually, the ancient Greek culture used alḗtheia to mean “reality.” To them Truth was not a belief or an opinion but fact. This is a good start, Truth as used in the Bible is “Divine Truth,” facts revealed to man by God. This is Truth not merely spoken but undeniable “Reality.” Now we have the definition, how does the Bible use Truth/alétheia?
We have all heard the line, “The truth will set you free.” Where does it come from, and what exactly does it mean? Many in the secular world would be shocked to know they are quoting scripture; it comes from Christ’s words as quoted in John 8:31-32 31: “So He said to the Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. 32. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Again the original Greek here is alétheia. In other words, not an “alternative” truth or the truth we choose to “believe,” but reality, the only Truth, defined by God’s moral authority revealed to man. This was Christ’s response to the Pharisees’ attempt to trap Him, John 8:6: “They said this to test Him, in order to have a basis for accusing Him.” Christ followed with two important things for our question. First, John 8:12: “Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.” Second, John 8:26: “I have much to say about you and much to judge. But the One who sent Me is truthful, and what I have heard from Him, I tell the world.” John 8:26 makes clear that even Christ said the Truth He spoke was first defined by and spoken to Him by God. Later in John 14:6 Christ said: “…I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Christ says He is the “Truth” and that the only way to God (the Father) is through that Truth.
Paul spoke to the church of Corinth about Truth “alternative,” “believed” and “Reality.” 2 Corinthians 4:1-4: 1.Therefore, since we have this ministry through the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2. On the contrary, we disown and refuse our hidden inward nature and shameful ways. We do not live our lives [3834 panourgia] in deceit for selfish goals, nor do we [1389 doloó] corrupt or distort the word of God. Instead, we openly proclaim the reality [225 alétheia] of the divine truth revealed to man… 3. And even if our gospel is hidden, it is hidden only to those who are perishing. 4. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light (enlightenment) of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Here Paul explains that as followers of Christ we do not “corrupt or distort” the Truth to suit our “hidden inward nature” (inner darkness). We do not “live our lives in deceit (lies) for selfish goals.” In other words, as Christians we do not live our lives in lies twisting or editing the truth for what we want to be true. Finally, in verse 4 Paul ties John 8:12 together with this message. Paul points out that those who follow “the god of this age” “cannot see the light,” the Truth of the Gospel of Christ, “who is the image of God.” Christ is the declaration of God’s Truth, the “Light” in the unbeliever’s world of lies (darkness). And back in verse 3 Paul makes clear that the gospel (word or Truth from God) is only “hidden” to those who are perishing, those who do not follow Christ.
James spoke to the twelve tribes about Truth and how they as followers of Christ should handle believers who begin to create their own reality or “alternative” truth. James 5:19-20 19: My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20.remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error [4106 plánē] of their way will save their soul from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (The original Greek uses [4106 plánē] for error “a departure from what God says is true”) James tells them that to “wander from the Truth” is a sin. More than that he clearly states that path will lead their soul to death. Finally, James commands believers not to ignore or accept another believer’s wandering, but to “bring that person back.”
Backing up Paul and James that we are to live in Truth is 3 John 1:3-4: 3. “It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your devotion to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. 4. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” Again, not only is there one Truth, but we are to be devoted to it and “walk” or live in that Truth.
2 Corinthians 13:5&8: 5. “Test yourselves to see whether you are in the faith ([4102 pistis] faithful or confident); examine yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test? 8. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but must always stand for the truth.” Paul instructs that not only are we to “stand for the Truth,” but that we are to “test” our confidence in that Truth. He further states that if you “fail the test,” Christ is not in you. So Faith and Truth have an interesting bond. Truth is the divine word of God in us through Christ, and Faith is a proven devotion to that Truth that can only be achieved through Christ.
Before all these Solomon said in Proverbs 22:17-21: 17. “Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, 18. for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips. 19. So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you. 20. Have I not written to you excellent things Of counsels and knowledge, 21. teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth, so that you bring back truthful reports to those you serve?” So, Solomon agrees we are to “speak the Truth,” but more than that we are to have the Truth “ready on our lips.” He also points out that this will be a representation of your Faith, “that your Trust may be in the Lord.”
We find the last piece to my question in 2 Corinthians 6:14, a scripture that is commonly used to say a Christian should not marry a non-Christian. That lets the rest of us off too easy. It says: “14.Do not be yoked together with unbelievers (unequally yoked). For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15.What harmony is there between Christ and Belial (Satan)? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16.What agreement can exist between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.” 17. “Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will welcome you in.” 18. And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” Paul pulls no punches here. What does a believer have to fellowship with an unbeliever about? What do they “have in common”? How can darkness and Light exist in the same place? What does a Faithful member of the temple of God and a worshiper of idols have to agree on? It is clear you cannot follow God and walk in darkness. So, it is not just for the star-crossed lovers but for all of God’s children to not be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers.
So, here we have it. John, Paul, James, Solomon, and, most importantly, Christ all agree on Truth. I think Zechariah says it best in 8:16-17: 16. “These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates. 17. Also let none of you devise evil in your heart against another, and do not love perjury; for all these are what I hate,’ declares the LORD.” As the original Greek showed, Truth is “Reality” as defined by God and, therefore, indisputable. Furthermore, if Truth is defined by God, then God is Truth. Through their writings these servants of God have immortalized the Truth and instructed us to “live” and “walk” in this Truth. If Reality and Truth are one and the same, then there are no “alternate” versions and whether or not we “believe” it is irrelevant; it is still Reality. If the “Truth will set you free,” then anything less will condemn you to captivity, or, as James said, will lead your soul to death. To this end we are instructed to “test” ourselves to confirm our faithfulness to the Truth. We are told not to “distort” the Truth to make life easier or to have what our “inward nature” desires. We are to “disown” darkness (lies) in ourselves and other believers and to show the Light (Truth) to lead “wanderers” back. Darkness cannot exist where Light is present; obviously the opposite must also be true. Finally, we are not to sacrifice Truth for the fellowship of unbelievers, for their gods have “blinded” them to the Truth. Clearly there is but one Reality, and therefore one Truth, in all things. Whether we fail to see it or choose to ignore it does not make it any less Reality. So the answer to my question, What is Truth? is simple: Truth is… Truth Is. Whether we like it or not, understand it or not or thoroughly believe in it or not, it doesn’t matter, it Just Is! To stand anywhere else would be to deny God Himself.
© 5/5/2017 Scott A Caughel