What is Truth?

Read Revelation 22:18-19 and Micah 6:1-8

What is Truth?

“The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him.” (Westminster Shorter Catechism, #2)

“The Scriptures principally teach, what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.” (Westminster Shorter Catechism, #3)

Divine Truth

If God is to set the standard for right and wrong, for our purpose in life, and how to pursue it, then it should be clear that we need God to reveal Himself in some way.

Many humans would argue that God speaks to them through feelings: God moving them, something just seeming right, etc… But again, we come to the place we found ourselves in last study, what you feel moved to believe may be different from what I feel. And this leaves us with a dilemma: if God reveals Himself through our gut feelings, then He is inconsistent, for we do not all agree on morals and life. But if God is inconsistent, then He is changeable like the Greek gods, and that never ends well for mortals.

Alternatively, God must reveal Himself outside of you and I. The Christian faith has understood that God does this in two ways: in general revelation (that is, the creation around us) and in special revelation (that is, the Bible). This is the central theme of Psalm 19.

Creation itself informs us that there is a God, but of itself cannot show us the way of redemption in the gospel. Therefore, the Shorter Catechism rightly says, “the Word of God…is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him.”

But what reason do we have for believing this is God’s Word? The Westminster Larger Catechism lists several evidences:

  1. The Bible is Majestic! As Psalm 119 declares, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your Law…Your testimonies are wonderful.” (vv. 18, 129)

  2. The Bible is Pure! Again in Psalm 119:140, “Your word is very pure, therefore Your servant loves it.” And in Psalm 12:6, David declares, “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”

  3. The Bible is consistent! Acts 10:43, “To [Christ] all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” Later, in Acts 26:22-23, Paul declares that Moses and the prophets were all testifying to Christ’s sufferings, work and resurrection. The Scriptures are all united in their message of salvation, even though written over thousands of years!

  4. The Bible is powerful! Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit…” and James 1:18, “Of [Christ’s] own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits     of His creation.” John draws to the close of his gospel with the comment, “these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

Do you notice what these reasons given have in common? The evidence of them is found entirely in looking into the Scriptures themselves. The world could debate each one of these facts, or claim that the judgment of them is subjective to the reader – as Tolstoy or Shakespeare move some people and not others. So the central why we find the Word of God to be divine truth is it’s own testimony, its own claims about itself.* This is what we call self-attesting;“the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very word of God.” (WLC, Q&A 4)

The Holy Spirit alone can convince us that the Bible is absolutely true, the Word of God and not simply the words of men compiled over millennia. “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him. Neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14) The Spirit testifies by and with the Word in the heart, resulting in a full certainty that the Bible is the Word of God.

Directive Truth

Very well, God speaks in His Word, but what does this Word direct us to learn and believe? Primarily two things: the truth about God and how we are to respond to that truth.

The truth about God is vast and deep, and is to be a constant study for the believer. Scripture teaches us about the being of God, the persons of the Trinity, God’s decrees and His working out those decrees. The Bible nowhere tries to argue the existence of God because His existence is revealed in nature and in the human heart (Psalm 19:1, Romans 1:20). But it is full of teaching about who God is and what He does, including that He is Redeemer, which is not naturally revealed in nature or the heart.

As the Bible teaches us about God, it continually adds application: what obedience does this knowledge of God require? Our God doesn’t leave us to guess. Sometimes we do, don’t we? We know (or have been) the one who, when asked, “what do you want for your birthday,” replied, “oh, whatever.” Only to be disappointed with what we were given. But this is not something God does. He is very direct with what He desires us to do. (Micah 6:8) And when we really consider just who God is, we ought to long to obey, after all, in obedience we are not only glorifying God, but experience the greatest enjoyment of a close walk with Him.

*Does this seem circular to you? That is the obvious claim. But in the end of the day all claims are circular, that is, all worldviews have some “assumed” presupposition behind them. The Christian worldview has as its foundational presupposition that there is a God and that He has testified about Himself in the Bible – a claim the unbeliever will never accept no matter how many evidences you present, unless the Spirit works regeneration in his heart.

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