In our culture today, the importance of truth is more and more sacrificed for the sake of unity. Afraid that pursuing the concept of absolute truths will lead to division, it is preferred to ‘live and let live’ and just get along with everyone. Even churches are giving up their doctrines for the pursuit of ‘love’. Is this rising trend really for the good of humanity? Is truth not worth pursuing?
My wife and I just welcomed our son, Elionai, to the world some weeks ago. Roughly a year ago when talking about trying to get pregnant, we did not ask him what he would want. He did not have a choice. Suddenly, without giving his permission, he became one of the billions of people sucking the air provided by planet earth. He does not have a clue where he came from, why he is here or where he is going. Just like the rest of us he will start his own personal journey to make sense of this thing called life. All his decision making throughout his entire life, will flow out of his personal beliefs of what he perceives to be true.
The Las Vegas Revelation
A few months ago, my wife and I traveled in the United States. We rented a car and went for a month-long road trip on the west coast. Our first stop was Yosemite followed by Death Valley. After having spent about a week in those national parks, we arrived in Las Vegas on a Saturday night. The contrast we experienced could not have been any bigger. From walking for hours in the nature, surrounded only by trees, views and fresh air going to flashing billboards, crowds and half naked women ready to go on the photo with you. It was quite a drastic change of environment. It made me realize something; when it comes down to truth, the world has become a lot like Vegas. The search for truth, the search for the answers of life is often not a peaceful, quite walk. The journey is rather messy and chaotic. There seems to be so much out there, so many different beliefs all around, people telling you this and that, religions all trying to find ways to attract you to their group. You are being torpedoed with many different versions of truth; school, friends, parents, colleagues, people in the city or even at your door. It can be rather overwhelming and make you wonder if there even is one truth or if all might have bits and pieces of it. The combination of that doubt and the platter of options served to you, makes many people settle. Settle with what they like best. A choice not based on on-going research, but on comfort, tradition, feelings or preferences.
The world seems to be tired of the journey to find the absolute truth, resulting in advocating that everyone can have their own truth instead. And with that, you are not to tell anyone that they are wrong, because who is to say. This attitude has even found its way into the church, where truth is sacrificed for the sake of unity. A part of my testimony is that my life did not reflect the idea that searching for truth was important. What I did, I did this with good intentions, or so I thought. Back then I thought pursuing truth would only lead to differences of opinion, discussions and division, so it would be a lot more important to try to find common ground with those I wanted to reach and rather stay in the shallow part. Looking back however, I can see that the real reason I did not pursue truth was simply because I thought it was boring -or at least not as exciting as creating enjoyable church services / activities. And I think that many are fooled in the same way I was. Just because I do not think that the truth is important, am scared for division or am tired of looking for it, the reality is, it does not make the truth any less true. Whether I think it’s important or not, the world came from somewhere. You came from somewhere. Truth is not relative, truth is absolute. Truth does not adjust to your opinion, beliefs or preference, it stands on its own.
The Bible and truth
The Bible teaches that truth can be found in a person, the person of Jesus (John 14:6). It says that He was before all things, that He created all things and holds all things together (Colossians 1:17, John 1:3). The concept of having truth found in a person is hard to grasp. Even the vast majority of the Christian world has misused Jesus’ statement and created a doctrine that all one needs to do is to profess to follow Jesus and the rest does not matter. They have found a piece of truth and settle with it. The journey of seeking truth for many ends at the moment of accepting Jesus. This attitude towards truth is however not a doctrine that the Bible teaches.
The Bible is the number one promotor of a continual pursuit of truth as we will discuss. Truth is not found in a one-time incident of professing to accept Jesus. John 1:1-15 tells us that the Word is Jesus and Jesus the Word. It is through the Word that you understand Jesus more and more and will find more truth. Even though seeking for truth can be hard and confusing at times, the Bible still spurs you on to continue seeking, and for good reason.
Truth sets free
As a Christian you believe in good and evil. Jesus came to the world to save us from the power of evil (read about that here). The fact that Jesus died on a tree two thousand years ago, does in itself not help you. If I tell you that I have a gift for you wrapped on my desk, does that mean you get to enjoy what I gave you now? Yes and no. No, because it is still on my desk and not in your hands. Yes, you get to if you come here and unwrap it. Jesus’ amazing gift to you only helps you if you unwrap it. Jesus did not only come to save your eternal destiny, He also wants you to get the most out of life here on earth (John 10:10). The power of evil has its tentacles all over your life and imprisons you behind lies, deceptions and error. Through what Jesus has done you can live a life free from evil. Many only unwrap part of the gift and for whatever reason leave the rest in wrapping paper. Unwrapping more of what is made available to you, finding more truth, will help you to identify where the evil forces still have a grip on you and through God’s power you can break free from that too. Through studying the Word more, getting to know Jesus better, you will see for yourself how evil is even impacting you through what looks insignificant and innocent on the surface. Breaking free from deceptions, lies and error results in a life of freedom.
Truth glorifies God
Here Paul is showing another perspective of continuously seeking more truth. Not only do we benefit from it, but it also pleases God. Paul is instructing the believers to change and grow in understanding. Grace does not only cover sins, it also empowers righteous living. The problem is that today most Christians have made themselves comfortable with the lie that we will always continue to sin as we are “just human”. If that was true, it would mean that the devil is more powerful than God, as apparently the power of the devil to continue to make us sin is stronger than God’s power to keep us from sinning. If I got a dollar for every time I have heard Christians quote Paul (Romans 7:15-20) to get away with the idea that God does not expect Christians to live a life free from sin (read 1 John). Continue to read in the same and following chapter and you’ll find that Paul is actually saying the opposite.
When living according to the flesh he finds himself in the situation where he doesn’t do what he should etc., but he says that we should not live according to the flesh but the Spirit and put to death the deeds of the flesh. In that text Paul contrasts the life according to the flesh -when he was still a prisoner of sin- and the life with the Spirit -as he is now free in Christ. Walking after the flesh is going against God (Romans 8:7). As Christians the last thing we want to do is going against Him. How can we then as followers of Jesus still accept sin when we know that this put our beloved savior on the cross? Far be it from us. We want to walk in a way that wholly uplifts our Lord. God not only calls us, but also equips us to live a life free of sin. By being true worshippers in spirit and truth (John 4:23), we can withstand every temptation to sin by His power. Until we get new bodies, we will continue to experience the inner war between the flesh and spirit (read more on this here), but are no longer prisoners to sin and can choose to do it God’s way, which is the best way for us. It is through Jesus, through His truth, that we can live a life that fully glorifies our savior. Is that not worth a never ceasing longing to find more truth?
When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit came upon Him and the Father confirmed through His voice that Jesus was His son. Directly after, the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness where Jesus was tempted. We can only read about three temptations during that time and see that Jesus defended Himself using the same method. Even though the Holy Spirit came upon Him not long before, He did not defend Himself with how He felt in His spirit. Even though He heard the Father confirm His identity not long before, He did not defend Himself with His own experiences. Even though He lived in different times than the Old Testament was written, He did not defend Himself with bending the Word to match the circumstance of His time. I can go on and on with what He did not use to defend Himself against the deceptions of the devil. What He used was “it is written”. Written in a New York Times best seller? Written on Facebook? Written in the vision statement of the local church? No, written in the Word of God.
Deceptions will increase the closer we come to the end of the world. Many Christians, in my church too, wouldn’t know how to defend themselves with the Word. Though they might read it from time to time, they only scratch the surface and do not use it as defense against deception. Many Christians today rely on their pastor, their own experiences, their own preferences, how it feels in their spirit etc. Many confuse living by the Spirit with living by your feelings. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9 KJV. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Proverbs 3:5. According to the Word we cannot trust our heart or own thinking. Jesus used the Word, because it’s the only thing that is a rock-solid truth. The Spirit testifies of that as He points you to Jesus, who is the Word (John 15:26).
Turning to fables
Jesus is asking a question in Scripture that had always bothered me a bit, because I did not at all understand it. “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8 KJV. I mean, there are millions of Christians on the planet, right? What is Jesus talking about… of course He will find faith. Or am I missing something?
For the greater part of my life I have been an active and dedicated member of my church. On the outside it looked good, praying, singing, organizing, evangelizing and so on. And none of it is wrong. But the foundation of it all was wrong. If Jesus would truly have been at the center of my life, I would have spent a lot more time looking into how I can live His way. Instead I pursued a life I could enjoy and values I could support, and made it seem Christian, while it actually was motivated by me satisfying my personal desires and preferences.
During the time when I started taking the warnings in Scripture seriously, I found that they are written down for a reason. The Bible doesn´t just say that the devil will deceive many, he already has most of the Christian world in his hand as it is now. The trend in the church of making truth more and more irrelevant, leaves us defenseless against deception. The trend has grown drastically over the last years, so that more and more people no longer live by the truth and have become an easy prey for the devil. It is hard to see for those who are not truly seeking, as the devil’s deceptions are masqueraded under the banner of “unity” and “love”. But without the truth as guide, there is no reliable source to tell us what true love is and which unity to pursue, making a lot of Christians pursue their ideas instead of God’s.
I could not describe current events better than this prophetic word from the Bible. This is another reason why knowing the truth and standing firm in it is so important, so that we will never forsake sound doctrine. I sincerely hope that you are / will become a seeker of truth. Truth can hurt, but the same truth that might bruise you, is also the one that will set you free. And just so you know, bruises are only for a little while. The value of finding truth will be worth the bruises, if you are willing to humbly accept it. Look through Scripture and see how many times the truth was popular. The truth has almost never been popular. Do you think the Israelites enjoyed having sent prophet after prophet to them who would tell them the truth, that they sinned and needed to repent? No, they did not. How do I know? They killed them all.
The call to respond
I think that I -through my own journey- now have discovered the purpose of Jesus’ question about finding faith. Jesus asked it because He does not look at what I or other people look at. What we see is often the superficial image. He sees what motivates our Christian exterior. I want to make an appeal to you right now, have an honest look at your Christian life and ask yourself ‘am I continuously seeking for more of God’s truth, or have I settled where I am for whatever reason?’. Look past the outward appearance: your church attendance and involvement, the number of Christian books on your shelf or your emotions during worship. In themselves they are not bad things at all, but they can -just like it did in my life- distract you from missing out on the most important thing.
Let us be students of the Word, so that we can have a faith that surpasses our feelings and experiences. Let us be strong in the Word so we can counter every temptation with the words ‘it is written’. Let us live the Word so we can be free and with our lives give God the glory He deserves. Let us together be the answer to Jesus’ question; “shall he find faith” with YES!