Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. Acts 9:31 (KJV)
Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the “Comforter” (John 14:16 KJV), defined as one who comes alongside to help and strengthen, to lead to a deeper knowledge of gospel truth and give divine strength for life. He is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17) whose work is to remind us of everything Jesus said (John 14:26) and guide us into all truth (John 16:13). So to walk in the “comfort of the Holy Ghost” is to walk in the truth. If the body of Christ is strengthened by being united in Christ who is truth, and if we are called to be united in the Spirit who is the Spirit of truth, then we are to be united in truth. The Greek word for “truth” means something that is true or real in any matter under consideration. It’s an eternal truth that doesn’t change with the shifting sands. Shouldn’t that sound comforting when the world’s truth has become relative to the individual and changes with the times, circumstances and the latest discoveries? But “post-truth” (Oxford Dictionary’s 2016 Word of the Year) where objective facts become less influential than appeals to emotion and personal beliefs, has also worked its way into the church bringing more division. This doesn’t come from Jesus who said He “came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37). Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life for God’s eternal truth, so we would have evidence of it and confidence to live it. What was the point if we could make up our own truth? Truth doesn’t cease to exist because someone chooses not to believe it or hasn’t heard it. There is no unity or salvation in “post truth” or personal truths which are self-centered and go against everything Jesus taught. If King Jesus willingly submitted to the absolute Truth of God, how can His followers expect to do anything less? So where do we need to surrender our own truth to the Truth of God so we can be united and strengthened?
The Book of John could be called the Gospel of Truth. John begins by saying Jesus was the “Word become flesh…full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), and then continues to use the words “true” and “truth” many more times compared to the other gospels. Jesus Himself uses the same word for “truth” 22 times in this book. He said truth is His name and being (John 14:6) and His Father’s Word (John 17:17). Truth was and is important to Jesus and should be to us! But often Christians are divided over issues like whether to take the Bible literally or not, distracting us from what can unite us which is whether we believe it is all God’s Truth inspired by Him and useful (2 Timothy 3:16). Jesus said we are to “live by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). So while there are some specific instructions in the Old Testament that Christians no longer need to follow, it is still all God’s Truth and informs our understanding of and relationship with Him, His plan and our need for salvation. Some find accounts like that of Jonah too far-fetched to be true, but Jesus referred to Jonah as a real person and the time he spent in the belly of the huge fish as a real event in history (Matthew 12:40-41). Others might say they were just stories to teach, but Jesus was clear when He used parables, and even those were to reveal truth to His disciples or hide truth from unbelievers (Matthew 13:10-17). There are many biblical arguments for the case for Truth, but ultimately it’s a heart issue. Is Jesus truly Lord of our lives? Do we really believe the God of the universe is all powerful, all knowing and in control of all things? If He was able to raise Jesus from the dead, can He not also keep His Word alive or accomplish any of the other supernatural accounts recorded in the Bible? Do we believe Scripture that says He inspired the prophets of the Old Testament (2 Peter 1:21), the writers of the New Testament (2 Timothy 3:16), and inspires the thoughts of believers today (John 14:26)? How great is our God if we are limiting Him to our human possibilities and understanding? Where are we leaning pridefully on our own limited intellect and truth when God says His thoughts and ways are far above ours?
Barna’s, State of the Bible research shows that younger generations are becoming more skeptical of the Bible’s inerrancy, inspiration and usefulness. David Kinnaman, president of Barna and director of the research said, “With each passing year, the percent of Americans who believe that the Bible is ‘just another book written by men’ increases.” So what can the body of Christ do to affect that trend? Jesus’ disciples recognized truth as it was lived out by Him. When He was raised from the dead they remembered Scripture and the words He had spoken and believed them to be true (John 2:22). The church is to be the body that holds up His Truth (1 Timothy 3:15) by believing, speaking and living it out. Others are attracted to the Bible when they see the difference it makes in people’s lives. Is this growing skepticism because people aren’t being taught God’s Word so they don’t recognize truth when it is lived out, or are we not living it out so the Bible doesn’t ring true? Are we so divided by our own truths that God’s Truth cannot be seen? Do we preach a truth stripped of God’s love and grace so we come across prideful and self-righteous? What would happen if Christians committed to believing and seeking all of God’s Truth, trusted the Spirit of Truth to guide us in it, and then shared it with others with the love and grace of Jesus?
Prayer: God, You are the Creator and Author of Truth. Thank you that your Son had the strength, humility and love to finish Your work, to prove Your saving Truth. Forgive us when we treat that lightly and hang on to our own truths, for when we are divided or share truth without Your love and grace. Father as King David cried out, give us an undivided heart that we might walk in the truth. May Your Spirit powerfully guide us into all Truth and align our hearts with Yours. Help us to be united in that Truth and live it out in a way that is so beautiful and attractive, so full of Your grace and love that others will be drawn to You and Your Son, that they will believe, be saved and set free. In the strong and loving name of Jesus, The Risen Truth. Amen!
Denise – What a perfect way to start my day! Thank you. Your reminder to all that Jesus is Truth -and His Word the only truth- is so crucial in this day and age when almost nothing we read or hear can be trusted. I pray, with you, for a heart aligned with His – guided by the love and grace only He can give.
Thank you for reading and praying Carol. To God be the glory!