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Is the Truth What We REALLY Want?
By David A. DePra
There are many Christians who never ask God for Truth. Some donít even KNOW to ask. Some really havenít the concern for it, as they are comfortable right as they are. Others do ask for the Truth. The question is, however, as to whether the Truth is what we REALLY want? Do we realize what we are asking for?
This question will puzzle you if you think that, "Truth," is a list of Biblical doctrines. Or information that God tells us. If that is all Truth is, then sure, why not ask for it? All it will mean to us is an expanded knowledge of scripture, and the increased ability to parrot doctrines.
According to the Bible, however, Truth isnít Biblical doctrine. Rather, Biblical doctrine is a statement of Truth. To illustrate this point, think about the law of gravity. Gravity, we might say, is the truth, isnít it, about our world? Drop something. It will fall to the ground. THAT is Truth. It is simply the WAY REALITY IS, and the way it works.
Now notice: You can find the law of gravity described in any science book. But those words in that science book Ė are they gravity itself? No. They are merely teaching ABOUT gravity -- and important as that. This is the same with Biblical doctrine. Biblical doctrine is vital and essential, for it describes and represents the Truth. Doctrine teaches us about Truth. But the doctrine isnít the Truth itself. The Truth is something bigger and beyond teachings.
Actually, Jesus told us directly what the Truth is. He said, "I am the Truth." Now, notice: Jesus is not a doctrine. But we do have many important doctrines, "of the Christ," donít we? Sure. If they are right, they correctly represent the nature, character, and work of Jesus. But they arenít HIM. He is something far greater than can be captured in a doctrine.
The fact is, TRUTH is the reality about Jesus Christ. It embodies His Person, and everything about Him. It includes all the ramifications of His finished work, and His life in us. Truth is the will of God and the reality of God. THAT Ė HE -- is the Truth.
So if we, "want the Truth," what we are really saying is that we want to be adjusted to Jesus. Note that Ė not just our circumstances adjusted to Jesus Ė but US adjusted. In effect, we want God to do whatever is necessary IN US to make us able to fellowship and live in harmony with Christ.
Immediately, we see that this is not accomplished by God merely TELLING us things, or giving us information, or doctrines. Rather, it requires a major renewing of our minds, hearts, wills, attitudes, and indeed, everything about us that is not of the Truth!
Maybe NOW we realize a little more about what it would mean to know the Truth. It would mean the UNLEARNING and shattering of everything that is NOT the Truth. It would mean that anything about us, and our lives, which is not the will of God, and which is not in harmony with reality in Christ, must GO. It would mean that all ERROR Ė in our conduct, in our attitudes, and in our thinking Ė must be exposed and dealt with.
If we want the Truth, we need to warm up to the fact that the Truth will not respect our viewpoint, our desires, and our pride. The Truth will SLAY all of that. Indeed, the Truth will never be adjusted to us. God will need to adjust us to the truth Ė to adjust us to Jesus Christ.
Thus, we once again must pose the question: Is the Truth what we REALLY want?
Iíve known lots of folks who thought they knew lots of Truth -- and who were not going to stand for anyone telling them otherwise. Indeed, Truth was sort of a competition for them. It was always as if there was a contest going on with them as to who would have the say, or who could say the cleverest thing. Iíve know people whose number one goal in church was to make sure everyone understood that they were the most intelligent. To them, this was what mattered. Such things are obviously sad commentaries where they exist.
Gladly, Iíve also met people who were hungry for the Truth. But in all honesty, many Christians that Iíve met either havenít cared about Truth, or, more often, havenít KNOWN TO care. They have no frame of reference for Truth.
When is the last time you heard a sermon about the need to grow in the Truth of Jesus Christ, how that happens, and what the cost of such growth is? I bet NEVER. If you have heard such a sermon, praise God. But if you havenít, why not? Read the Bible. Itís one of the THEMES.
Actually, in most conservative, mainstream churches, people donít really care all that much what is preached in church, or whether Christ is doing things among them. Just as long as what is preached doesnít cause trouble. To most people, church isnít about the Truth. It is about having a church. It is about having a social group to rally around. About having friends and activities. About members and money. About RELIGION. And the pastor is the facilitator of this. Paulís statement to the effect that the church is to be, "the pillar and ground of the Truth," is just poetry. Truth isnít an issue. Most people donít know that it ought to be.
You would find this out if you were a pastor trying to find a church, as I have been. The search committees of many churches have absolutely no concern about whether God is speaking His Truth through you. There is almost never a thought given to what impact you will have on the spiritual health of their church. This is almost NEVER a topic for discussion Ė simply because most people donít KNOW it ought to be. But if we had the slightest notion about what God was after in our churches, it would be the PRIMARY concern Ė one that would dwarf every other.
I once sent a video of a sermon I gave to a church looking for a pastor. I got a number of comments back as to, "how well I handed the service," etc. Not one word about the message itself. This is just an example. But one that represents the thinking of many people today.
Another time after a sermon which most everyone said they profited from, a lady walked up to me and told me that I had used a vocabulary word improperly in the sermon. Evidently, this was all she heard. And more importantly, she had Ė excuse me Ė the arrogance to feel she had the right to tell me about it. When things like that happen, it is often hard to know whether to get mad, or to cry. It is almost beyond belief as to the hardness of some people.
I wonít relate the really bad stuff. It doesnít matter anymore personally. But it all boils down to what people care about. It isnít the Truth. It is having their way in their church.
Back to search committees. For the most part, churches are seeking someone who will please the people Ė in the sense of keeping the church happy. Again Ė the spiritual health of the church never seems to be an issue. Amazing, given the poor spiritual health of most churches!
Things are so far off the track that if I actually expressed any of these things during an interview, or in a cover letter, I would not be considered for a pastor position. Believe it. It HAS happened. People do not want the Truth Ė and anyone who might teach it is a troublemaker. He rocks the boat. He messes with THEIR church. He isnít able to be controlled by, "the powers that be." So what happens is that God gives them someone that fits their bill. He gives them exactly what they want. That is why the church is in the shape it is today.
You can take this one to the bank: God is going to hold each of us responsible, not only for Truth we have seen and rejected, but for Truth we COULD have known, had we been open. Those of us in leadership positions in our church are making decisions which affect dozens, or hundreds, of people spiritually. We are not afforded the luxury of being WRONG with God. We must be open to the Truth for ourselves, and as instruments of Truth to those we affect.
Do we REALLY want the Truth to come? Then be prepared for major changes in personnel. Major changes in the mentality and attitude of our church Ė which Iím sure will require a MAJOR UPHEAVAL as the cost. ButÖoops. We canít have that, can we? Not if church, to us, is about politics and power centers. We cannot have Truth if what we want is to be comfortable. But if we want the Truth, then expect all that is NOT of the Truth to be greatly disturbed and disrupted.
Would you hire Jesus Christ as your pastor? Today? If you did, what do you think He would do? Let you tell HIM how to run YOUR church? My point is this, Jesus Christ is the Truth. And any pastor who is speaking the Truth is going to disturb some things Ė many things. In love, but without compromise. Are we prepared for that? For the Truth?
We had better be. Do you know why? Well, we are going to spend eternity living with Jesus Christ. Living with THE Truth. If we arenít willing to start getting adjusted to the Truth NOW, how do we expect to live with the Truth THEN Ė and forever? Clearly, this is serious business.
Read the words of the apostle Paul: "For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth." (2 Cor 13:8) If only we would hang this up outside of our churches!
If there is one thing that Truth does, it DISTURBS. It disturbs everything that is not Truth. Not sometimes, but always. That is because of everything we just said about Truth: Truth exposes error. It exposes EVERYTHING. Truth is, after all, LIGHT, isnít it?
Truth disturbs. That is because, as I said earlier, Truth doesnít respect what we want. It doesnít accommodate US. Thus, if we pray for Truth, we might get more than we bargained for.
Some examples? Iíve known people who have prayed publicly that God would bring them the Truth. And then God brought it. The Truth, in their case, was that THEY had no business in church leadership. Do we really believe people want THAT Truth?
Iíve known others who have asked God for the Truth, only to find out that they were in complete error about what they were teaching. Some respond to the Truth and change. Others just keep going, rather than admit their error.
Others who said they wanted the Truth, found out that they were out of Godís will, and needed to change what they were doing at great personal cost. Some found they needed to break unhealthy relationships, and others found they needed to restore relationships. Some found that the Truth was quite costly.
Truth IS costly. Why? Again -- because it will cost us everything that isnít of the Truth. Get that. If you want the Truth, and God brings it, it will be too late for you to go back to being ignorant. Once the light comes, you will be accountable, and will never be able to honestly say you didnít know. You do know. And because Truth is more than mere information, God will want to adjust you Ė you conduct, attitudes, and thinking, TO the Truth. To Jesus. That will cost you everything that isnít of Jesus.
The Results of Truth
If you want the Truth in your personal life, expect complete adjustment Ė because you werenít born with any Truth in you. But the adjustment of which I speak may not require major outward changes. Or maybe it will. More likely, it is going to require an adjustment of everything that makes you tick AS A CHRISTIAN.
Now, if all of this sounds morbid or scary, it is only because we are comfortable in our prison cell of error and darkness. Sure. For the Truth SETS US FREE Ė but if we arenít used to freedom, we will, at first, want to be comfortable to what we ARE used to, even if it is a prison cell of error. Yet in the end, Truth does set us free into a relationship with the Truth Himself, and enables us to find the complete will of God.
Jesus said, "You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free." His statement is based on the assumption that we do not start out free. Do you see that? Jesus could not say, "The Truth shall set you free," if we already had the Truth, or were already free. No. We all need Truth. Truth is eternal and infinite. And it will set us free.
I spoke earlier of the law of gravity. What would we think of someone who walked around in ignorance, or defiance, of the law of gravity? We would not only think them insane, but in danger, wouldnít we? This represents Godís viewpoint towards us, as we walk around in error. We are not living in reality. We are blind. And we are living in danger.
Thankfully, Jesus promised, "The Holy Spirit will guide you into all Truth." This means that right now, the Holy Spirit IS doing that. The question, therefore, is not whether He is doing it. The question is HOW we are responding. Are we allowing God to adjust us to the Truth? Are do we insist on adjusting the Truth to fit our agenda, our pride, and our ways?
Is the Truth what we REALLY want? It is what God really wants for us. Therefore, if it is what we really want, God will bring it. We have His Word on that. *
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