Tuesday, September 13, 2011

APPREHENDING THE TRUTH

"25 At that time Jesus said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. 26 "Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight." - Mt. 11:25-26
The words of Jesus are ripe for theological discussion on the means of and obstacles to apprehending the Truth.

Since Jesus is the embodiment of God's glory, God has revealed much to man, Jn 1:14. Since numerous passages of Scripture tell us of God's love for all men and of His desire for them to be saved, we have to conclude that He's not prohibited anyone from hearing and obeying the Truth. Consider the following passages as proof that God legitimately offers salvation to all:
  • "There is no partiality with God", Rom. 2:11, cf Gal. 2:6. 
  • The Gospel is to be preached to the whole world, Mt 28:18-20.
  • God desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth, 1 Tim 2:4.
  • He sent His Son to live among us that Jesus might (subjunctive, offering the possibility on condition) taste death for everyone, Heb. 2:9.
  • Jesus is the propitiation for the whole world, but especially and particularly to those who believe in Him, 1 Jn 2:1,2.
  • "For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men", Titus 2:11.
For these and other reasons, including His lack of bias towards all, God makes Truth available to all.

Truth is powerful. Truth, in and of itself, is powerful and stands on it's own. Everything else, everything that is contrary to the revealed will of God, is UN-truth. Un-truth cannot advance as long as Truth stands in the way. Purveyors of Un-truth know this and must therefore deceive by adopting like terminology of Truth - albeit with entirely differing meanings. Un-truth says, "I believe in Jesus, I believe in Grace, I believe in 'truth and spirit' worship, etc" but only when the Un-truth is seen in practice does it become clear that something entirely different is being espoused. God has made his Truth visible so that men can agree on it and so that He may righteously judge men on the basis of whether they obeyed it. Jesus said, "31 If you coninue in my word, you are truly disciples of mine. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth shall make you free", Jn 8:31,32. The power that is in Truth is not a mystery. Truth is powerful because it comes from the mind and mouth of God. Un-truth can not defeat it, but it can hinder the Truth from taking hold in individuals who are distracted, uncommitted, lazy, and otherwise hate - in part or in whole - the Truth. On that last part, a person can say that in general he loves the Truth, but he may hate certain aspects of the Truth. The person can claim to follow Christ, but if for example he hates what Jesus said about eternal punishment for non-Christians, then he doesn't really love the Truth. The Psalmist said, "the sum of Thy words is Truth." The Gospel of Christ, with all of the particulars revealed by His inspired apostles and prophets in the New Testament, must be accepted or else none of it is accepted. It's all or nothing.

When it comes to apprehending the Truth, we know that SATAN is the deceiver. His deceptions are designed by him with the goal of leading people away from the Truth. Paul said, "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God", 2 Cor. 4. The role of Satan in an individual's reception to the Truth is not to be missed or ignored. Satan does not want people to know the Truth and the "father of lies" will lead many astray. It's sobering to think about.

There's another important facet to be wrestled with in this important theological discussion: God allows people to be deceived. Paul said to the Thessalonians, "11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness", 2 Thess. 2. God sends a "deluding influence"! Yes, it's true. But this is not done by the Father in the arbitrary and careless way that a Calvinist embraces - based on a convoluted view of God's sovereignty - but God's involvement here does not violate his fair justice, nor His impartial offer of grace, nor does it violate the free will of the individual. In fact, the passages quoted here tells us this much. The "deluding influence" sent by God is only on those who "do not love Truth" and instead "took pleasure in wickedness."

So far, we see that Truth is powerful. In and of itself, having come from the mouth of God, it is powerful to save those who believe. It goes out from God and always accomplishes the purpose for which it was sent, Isa. 55:11. We have also seen that Satan is an important player against an individual apprehending the Truth. he's not all-powerful, but against the right person he's very powerful. We also see from Thessalonians and also from Romans 1 that God sends a deluding influence and "gives people over" to the degrading passions and wickedness if by free will, they reject His Truth.

Imagine therefore a Triangle where each corner represents God's Truth, Satan, and the Individual sinner. Satan is powerless and there's no deluding influence from God IF the free will agent, the sinner, loves the Truth and honestly seeks it. That's good news. If the free will agent, the sinner, prefers wickedness and pleasures of the flesh, then God's Word will permit the sinner to believe the lie.

To apprehend the Truth, be honest and give up the things that are carnal. The prayer by Jesus in Matthew 11 praising the Father for hiding the truth from the "wise and intelligent" relates to the principle or law that these have blinded themselves from seeing or discovering the truth. By justifying unnatural sexual appetites, they destroy any relationship with God. When they justify vain and unholy worship, they blind themselves to discovering a relationship with God. If we put our wants, our fleshly desires, above what God's revealed Truth, we will justly pay with eternal punishment. The second part of Jesus' prayer says that God reveals His Truth to children. "Children" are the open and honest folks out there who desire eternal things above whatever this life can offer. Therefore, pray and open yourself to God's Truth, and you will be saved. Open yourself to the Truth and you will recognize it. That's good news. The Truth of God is powerful to save those who believe it, Acts 22:16.

No comments:

Post a Comment

HAVE YOUR SAY, PLEASE COMMENT


To email Dan Mayfield: Click Here