Thy Word is Truth--Bruce Grice Sunday PM
A. A man stands before judge & jury, places one hand on the Bible and the other in the air, and makes a pledge.
For the next few minutes, with God as his helper, he will "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
He is a witness. His job is neither to expand upon nor dilute the truth.
His job is to tell the truth.
Leave it to the legal counsel to interpret. Leave it to the judge to apply. Leave it to the jury to resolve.
But the witness? The witness speaks the truth.
The Christian, too, is a witness. We, too, make a pledge.
Like the witness in court, we are called to tell the truth. The bench may be absent & the judge unseen, but the Bible is present, and we are the primary witnesses.
Jesus Himself said: You will be My witnesses - in Jerusalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world. Acts 1:8
We are witnesses. And like witnesses in a court, we are called to testify, to tell what we have seen & heard. To speak truthfully.
There is one difference between the witness in court & the witness for Christ:
The witness in court eventually steps down from the witness chair, but the witness for Christ never does.
Since the claims of Christ are always on trial, court is constantly in session, and we remain under oath.
One of the most incredible assessments of Jesus is this summary:
He had done nothing wrong, and He had never lied (Isaiah 53:9).
His every word accurate, his every sentence true.
No cheating on tests. No altering the accounts.
Not once did Jesus stretch the truth. Not once did He shade the truth. Not once did He avoid the truth.
No deceit was found in His mouth.
Remember the words of Jesus in John 14:6 . . .
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me.
A few chapters later Jesus declares to Pilate: For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice John 18:37
The Roman governor replies: What is truth?
The world in which we live. The community in which we dwell seeks truth. The search for truth has occupied man
from the beginning.
Eve wanted to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good & evil . . . to know more of the truth.
Scientific knowledge is pursued . . . Academic disciplines studied . . . to know more of the truth.
Researchers probe both outer space & the inner man to discover all they can about what is true.
Our Heavenly Father wants us as His children to be honest; to commit ourselves to the truth; to speak the truth. *Yet in businesses, workers want their employers to like them, so they flatter. They call it polishing the apple. God calls it a lie. *People want others to admire them. So many times they exaggerate. They call it stretching the truth. God calls it a lie.
1. From Genesis to Revelation, the theme is the same: God loves the truth, and hates deceit.
The Lord hates those who tell lies but is pleased with those who keep their promises. Proverbs 12:22
The Lord hates . . . a lying tongue. Proverbs 6:16-17
God destroys liars . . . and hates those who kill and trick others. Ps. 5:6
Why the hard line? Why the tough stance? For one reason: dishonesty is contrary to the character of God. According to Hebrews 6:18, it is impossible for God to lie.
It's not that God will not lie or that He has chosen not to lie. He cannot lie.
The Book of Titus echoes the same thought: God never lies. Titus 1:2
God always speaks the truth.
When He makes a covenant, He keeps it.
When He makes a statement, He means it. What He says is true. Even:
If we are not faithful, He remains faithful, because He cannot be false to Himself. 2 Timothy 2:13
Satan, on the other hand, finds it impossible to tell the truth.
According to Jesus, Satan: . . . has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44
In fact, deceit was the first tool out of the devil's bag. In the Garden of Eden, Satan didn't discourage Eve. He didn't sneak up on her. He lied to her: You will not die. (Genesis 3:4)
Like Eve, we have to decide who to believe . . . God or Satan.
(In our families, in our friendships, in our offices, in our heart, etc.) The best lie can sound like the truth: Worship at the church of your choice. God is my co-pilot. (Take what somebody says & see if it fits with the Bible.)
Eve was suckered, the fruit was picked, and it's not more than a few paragraphs before husband & son are following suit and the honesty of Eden seems a distant memory. It still does.
Daniel Webster was right when he observed: There is nothing as powerful as the truth and often nothing as strange.
According to a Psychology Today survey, the devil is still spinning webs, and we are still picking fruit.
More people say they have cheated on their marriage partners than on their tax returns or expense accounts.
More than 1/2 say that if their tax returns were audited, they would probably owe the government money.
About 1 out of 3 people admits to deceiving a best friend about something within the last year; 96% of them feel guilty about it.
Perhaps the question shouldn't be "Why does God demand such honesty?" but rather "Why does society tolerate such dishonesty?"
For one thing, many do not like the truth. The lack of absolutes in moral standards today is leaving our generation with nothing to hold on to.
We read about "situation ethics".
Comments such as: Who are you to tell me how to live? I can't pass judgment on what you're doing. tell us that our society has lost its commitment to absolutes.
Many in our society have taken up Pilate's cynical question: What is truth?
4. As His spiritual family, we can lift up the Book we are holding & confidently say, Thy Word is Truth!
TURN TO 2ND THESSALONIANS 2
How valuable is God's truth?
(Personally: to me, to co-worker; Relationships: with family & friends; Decisions, etc.)
GOD USES TRUTH TO SAVE US
But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 2nd Thessalonians 2:13
*Who changes people from lost souls in Satan's camp into the saved children of God? God does.
*What does He use to save lost souls? His Word. To this He called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2nd Thessalonians 2:14
What is the Gospel? The good news of the death, burial, & resurrection of Jesus Christ (1st Corinthians 15).
We are called by that gospel, the message of the Living Word, Jesus Christ.
He is God's message to us.
2. In the Gospels, Jesus often used a word translated "verily" or "truly." Sometimes He said it twice. The word in Greek is simply "amen." The concept within the word is that of "this is the truth"; "I tell you the truth."
Sometimes the truth Jesus spoke was uplifting encouragement: Truly, truly I say to you, if you have faith as mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you" Matthew 17:20
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. John 5:24
On many occasions, Jesus used truth to warn others: When you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. Matthew 6:5
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3
*If a person is unwilling to change & obey God, this truth "hurts."
Jesus confronted both individuals & groups with the truth: To the 5,000 who had sought Him out, He said: Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. John 6:26 When Peter claimed that he would never fall away from Jesus, the Lord said to him: Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you shall deny Me three times. (Matthew 26:34)
Even though Jesus always told the truth & sometimes said it pointedly, He was never insulting.
He never drove away an honest seeker, yet He never denied that sin was the root of human problems.
In a world given over to relativism & subjective standards, in a society where truth is often portrayed as simply one politician's idea or one newscaster's perspective, Jesus comes & speaks the truth to us about God, ourselves, sin, relationships, hope, obedience, and salvation. Isn't that good news?
In 2nd Thessalonians 2:13,14 . . .
GOD USES THE TRUTH TO SAVE US
(How valuable the truth is! How important to reinforce true teaching.)
More than a dozen times in the Thessalonian letters, Paul referred to what had been taught before.
The Thessalonians had already been warned of a coming apostasy.
They had received the teaching that someone would challenge God. They also knew that this would happen before Jesus' return.
Since it had not yet happened, they could know that reports of Jesus' having already returned were false.
They had no reason to be upset by such reports, but they did need to be reminded of the true teaching from God.
GOD USES TRUTH TO STRENGTHEN US
So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter. 2nd Thess. 2:15
Once we are saved, God uses His Word to strengthen us. It can help us grow, develop, and produce fruit in our lives.
How did this happen?
So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions (teachings) which you were taught . . .
These "traditions" were not human ideas; they were inspired instructions. The Thessalonians had already received teaching in oral form & also in written form, when they received 1st Thessalonians.
As Christians, we need God's teaching for our growth & strength.
This teaching has already been given; but for some people, the truth presented in God's Word is not enough.
They want new & different information; they are not content with what God has already given.
As a result, they neglect & replace God's Word and lose God's power.
A different message may be attractive & exciting; but it is powerless, because it is not God's message.
Only God has the power! Only God can use His Word to save & strengthen us!
Besides, there is nothing more exciting than the love of God for His people!
In Luke 8, the people who grew & flourished were those who made full use of the Word of God in their hearts.
So, we stand firm & hold to these teachings!
GOD USES TRUTH TO COMFORT US
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2nd Thessalonians 2:16,17
The Word of God not only gives us the power to do what He wants; it also gives us comfort and hope.
God wants us to be encouraged by the security & destiny which He offers through His Word, His Truth.
The entire Bible can be used to encourage those who are discouraged: For whatever was written in earlier times (the Old Testament) was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4
The loving comfort of Jesus & God the Father was a valuable asset in encouraging the Christians at Thessalonica to endure through a time of persecution. (Same today!)
The "Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father" are the Ones who have "loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace." (2:16)
GOD USES TRUTH TO PROTECT US
Satan supervises a whole collection of evil influences with the aim of damaging our souls.
He says that practices which actually harm us are good for us.
He says that falsehood is truth.
He can take people, objects, and ideas, and twist them to harm us. Satan will use anyone & anything to attack our souls.
Only God through Jesus Christ can save our souls from sin & direct our lives to prevent us from being entangled in Satan's net again.
Only God's truth can protect us from Satan's lies.
Only God's truth gives us the right direction for daily living: The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 2nd Thessalonians 3:3
Since the Word of God is the only protection against Satan, we must spread His Word to as many hearts as possible.
Everyone needs it - from the wealthiest person in the land to the poorest person.
Paul asked for the prayers of other Christians so that the Word would spread its protecting influence in their lives and keep them from the evil influence of Satan's servants: Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph, as it did among you, and that we may be delivered from the wicked and evil men . . . 2nd Thessalonians 3:1,2
God's truth is the way to life and freedom from sin.
It is the power to save, strengthen, and comfort.
Jesus said: If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:31,32
Many years ago a man conned his way into the orchestra of the emperor of China although he could not play a note.
Whenever the group practiced or performed, he would hold his flute against his lips, pretending to play but not making a sound. He received a modest salary and enjoyed a comfortable living. Then one day the emperor requested a solo from each musician. The flutist was nervous. There wasn't enough time to learn the instrument. He pretended to be sick, but the royal physician wasn't fooled. On the day of his solo performance, the imposter took poison and killed himself. The explanation of his death led to a phrase that found its way into the English language: He refused to face the music.
The cure for deceit is simply this: face the music.
Tell the truth.
So many today are living in deceit. Some are walking in the shadows.
B. The lies of Ananias & Sapphira in Acts 5 resulted in death; so have ours.
Some have buried a marriage, parts of a conscience, and even parts of their faith - all because they won't face the truth or tell the truth.
Are you in a dilemma, wondering if you should tell the truth or not?
The question to ask in such moments is: Will God bless my deceit?
Will He who hates lies, bless a strategy built on lies?
Will the Lord, who loves the truth, bless the business of falsehoods?
Will God come to the aid of the cheater? Will He bless my dishonesty? No.
So, as a people who value God's truth, we ask ourselves some tough questions:
Am I being completely honest with my spouse & children? Am I being honest with God?
Am I reliable witness for God at school, work, ball field?
*If not, start today. Don't wait until tomorrow.
The ripple of today's lie is tomorrow's wave and next year's flood.
"The Anvil - God's Word"
Last eve I passed by a blacksmith's door,
And I heard the anvil ring the vesper chime.
Then, looking in, I saw upon the floor,
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
"How many anvils have you had," said I,
"To wear and batter these hammers so?"
"Just one," said he, and then, with twinkling eye,
"The anvil wears the hammers out, you know."
And so, thought I, the anvil of God's Word
For ages skeptics' blow have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed, the hammers gone.