Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What Is Truth?

Many I meet today would answer that question with the answer: “There is no absolute truth. Everything is relative. The object in front of you is not truth, your perception of it is your truth.” Hogwash such as this is what has kept the masses in utter confusion and abandonment to fate. “We’re all doomed to self-deception. There is no truth,” seems to be the way people come across to me.

Do you sympathize with even a twinge of that? If so, consider the following. In at least professional sports today, it used to be left up to human perception to make the call on close ties and disputed wins. Since I do not follow swimming and racing matches that closely, I hadn’t paid attention to the use of technology in those arenas. Even the use of a stopwatch in human hands has been replaced by technology (such as laser lights) in order to accurately measure achievement and scores. In those cases, it is no longer a matter of human perception or even human reflexes (in the time it takes for the human eye to perceive an event and the hand to “clock” it on a stopwatch). What the athlete accomplished is accurately and indiscriminately documented with precision instruments. Likewise in football and baseball. It is no longer what one person saw compared to what another person saw. It is now “instant replays” that show the indisputable “truth” of an event.

But what about the Bible and the truth it proclaims? Today, people feel there is no absolute truth. A Roman official judging a Jewish man once spoke the words of this article’s title. That official (Pilate) said those words in response to Jesus’ proclamation: “For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone that is on the side of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37)

Yes, in stark contrast to Pilate and cynics today, Jesus had clearly in mind exactly what “truth” was. In fact, just one chapter prior to the above, Jesus was in prayer to his Father and said: “your word is truth.” (John 17:17) From Jesus’ much broader perspective, his Father’s word was absolute truth. Still some would argue even the Bible (God’s Word) is subject to interpretation. After all, they reason, even Wikipedia cites that there are approximately 38,000 religions just claiming to be Christian.So if not even those claiming Christianity can agree, how can there be any absolute truth? Really, is it possible to have absolute truth and know it? Yes, it is; and it is not as difficult as religions today try to make it.

I heard many years ago that the way the American government trains people to recognize counterfeit currency is not through a study of what is fake, but rather through a study of the real thing. This made sense to me. For all the countless flaws that fakes could have, new ones creeping in all the time, how could anyone keep up with such a thing? Then, it could become a matter of much confusion for the examiner. He (or she) might start doubting himself--”Wait a minute, is that a flaw or is it the real thing?” To make it much more simple, they are committed to examining the real thing, getting to know it better than “the back of their hand.” Once a person knows what the real thing looks like, it is easy to spot a fake.

Can such logic be applied to the Bible? Yes, it can. Coming to this one realization can be a real eye opener. If one examines what is truth, what is false will stick out “like a sore thumb.” One rule of thumb in this regard is the following: The truth of a matter can be known when all scriptures are harmonious on a subject. If any scripture contradicts the interpretation of another, then the individual interpretation, not the Bible, is at fault. This is the essence of Paul’s words at Romans 3:4, “let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, even as it is written: ‘That you might be proved righteous in your words and might win when you are being judged’”

But even this still doesn’t resolve for many people the biggest dispute among those claiming to be Christian--the identity of the Christ. Was he, indeed IS he God or the Son of God? While the mountain of evidence for the latter (that Jesus is the Son of God, and NOT God himself) is much clearer than all the inferences that others claim, it is still something that is of vital importance for each of our salvation. Each of us needs to closely examine both sides, having an open mind to accept whatever we can draw from the Word of God and then making an informed decision. I am not saying this is a matter of “whatever you want ot believe.” I am saying that I believe the truth is the latter but also that regardless of the conclusion you reach, you need to be 100% informed and convinced. Why? Because when it all comes down to it, each one of us will be held individually accountable by God himself. This is not a “I can win an argument” issue. This is a “I’d better have this right because my life depends on it” sort of thing.

(To aid you in this matter, I'd recommend you make a two-column list of all the scriptures that address the identity of Christ. One column for "he is God" and the other for "he is God's son." You should begin to see two clear patterns (just as I did). First, the shear weight of evidence by the count of scriptures proves Jesus is not God. Second, the scriptures used by those that believe he is God are not specifically clear. Their greatest evidence is John 1:1 which, after researching Greek, shows itself to be a linguistics debate and not a teaching of John that Jesus was God. In fact, John later states that Jesus was not, is not God--John 1:18; John 20:30,31)

Another debate is "which Bible" is God's Word? But that question belays a hint of ignorance. First of all, the original languages of the Bible (mostly Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek), are not something the majority of mankind understand. All English-language Bibles are a translation of those original languages. What does that mean for the American (or English-speaking) reader? Again, you are responsible for your own relationship with God. So how can you be sure? I own 18 Bible translations. After years of comparative reading, I have taken it down to just four that I use regularly. They are:
1. The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.

2. The Amplified Bible
3. The New International Version (NIV)
4. The Good News for Modern Man (see wikipedia article)

At times, due to discussions with others, I reference the King James Bible for certain reasoning points. I also have word-for-word renditions of the original languages for both the Hebrew and Greek sections of the Bible. (For those that would like to reference multiple translations, there is a website that provides that free of cost.)

So the quick answer is that no single English Bible is the original Word of God. At very least the top three of the above four Bibles are a good start to getting an accurate understanding.

So just as in electronic instruments, God himself provides a perfect unbiased truth. And just like the currency examiner, we can filter out falsehood by closely examining the Bible as the standard of absolute truth. Absolute truth is what God says is true. We find what he says in the Bible.

In reading the wikipedia article, I noted its reference to what the Catholic church dictates as the measure of what true religion is. It was interesting that not even one scripture was used. This seems to conform with what my Catholic mother said: "The Bible is not important. What is important are the traditions and rites as dictated by the Catholic church." To me, that is the most arrogant form of worship, one that raises the words of men over the Word of God. In contrast to what the Catholic church outlines, here is what the Bible outlines as identifying true followers of Christ:

1. The Bible, not men, not religious hierarchies, is the source of truth. (see above article)

2. God’s Kingdom through Christ, not politics or man’s government, is the solution to mankind’s problems. (This is NOT God’s Kingdom through man’s government, it is God’s Kingdom through Christ as real and direct ruler. Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Cor.15:24,25)

3. Christians have a specific & individual obligation to God & Christ. (Matthew 24:14)

4. Christians will be known by their worldwide brotherhood of unity & peace. They maintain this even when the world is involved in war. (John 13:35; 1 Cor.1:10)

5. The true religion can be known by its practices. (Matt. 7:21-23)

There is more here:

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