Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth

The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth

In conclusion, when we speak of ‘the truth’ we are not speaking therefore of a man made set of concepts and beliefs, or the accumulation of scientific knowledge, or mathematical certainty, neither are we speaking in the relative terms of philosophy or of some wisdom passed down from ancient times. Rather, we are speaking of the ‘revealed truths of God’, which are woven throughout the word and also hidden within the word of God, in the book we commonly call the Bible. Hidden though they might be, yet they are able to be found and understood.
Prov.2:1-6. My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
The wisdom of God can be found in His revealed word. This wisdom only comes from God and can only be found in the word we have received, otherwise called the Bible. Today, there is no other source for this wisdom.
If we really want to know what life is all about, if we really want to know the real purpose of our life, then we must understand God’s greater purpose with man and with the earth. The way to find this is by searching it out and listening very carefully to what God says on these matters. After hearing and understanding, we will then be challenged with a question of loyalty, whether we will align ourselves with God and his purpose or go our own way.

Reading the Bible.
It is therefore important to read the Bible if we are to understand what God has revealed. There are, however, a few conditions that we must always remember. The different books of the Bible were first and foremost written for the generation to whom they were addressed. For example, if we are reading from the OT, then we need to acknowledge that the words were firstly written for them. There are many things that really only had practical bearing upon the nation of Israel, such as dietary laws and many other practices. These have no application for us today as they were part of the Old Covenant. However, the principles underlying all of these statutes and laws do certainly have bearing upon us. This is an important point to remember and one that many people stumble at. Words must firstly be read in their context and setting.
It is also important to understand that most of the NT writings were not written specifically for us, in our times. They were firstly written for the early Christian believers, and in a secondary sense for those who came later. If we are seeking to emulate their beliefs and practices and to discover these things for ourselves, then it is important for us to study what is written. We will then be able to understand not only what they believed, but also how they practiced their beliefs.

In this regard therefore, we need to examine all the NT writings to get the full story of early Christianity, as the Gospel accounts and letters were all written to believers already conversant with the Apostles teachings. We cannot emphasise this enough. No single NT book or letter was written solely for us (except perhaps Revelation), and none was designed to deliver the complete message.
As we read the NT we must remember that in the NT times authority only resided with the Apostles, who were the living representatives of Christ. Jesus himself had taught them, and directed them as they grew in knowledge and understanding. He remained with them throughout their lives to ensure that their witness was true. Interestingly, the Bible of the NT Christians was actually what we call today the Old Testament scriptures, and even the Apostles themselves deferred to its teachings. Most people don’t realise this, but these are the ‘scriptures’, ‘books’ and ‘parchments’ that are mentioned in many of the NT writings (2.Tim.3:15, 4:13, Acts.17:2,11, 18:24,28, Rom.15:4, 2.Pet.3:16).

The Apostles themselves were given enormous responsibility, and if any sought to know the truth of God they had to believe what the Apostle’s taught. This is called in the NT “The Apostle’s Doctrine and Fellowship”, Acts.2:42 & 1.John.1:1-3. There was and is no fellowship with God or Christ upon any other basis. This is why so many latter claimants laid so much emphasis upon the doctrine of apostolic succession. That is, they made the false claim to be the successors of the Apostle’s authority.
Lastly, it is also important to understand that when early Christianity was first established, there was little competition from contrary claims and ideas about Christ and the Gospel. The teachings and practices of Paul and others were fairly simple, inasmuch as they originally did not need to combat many false ideas from within, other than a return to Judaism. A person would be instructed in the things of God as contained in the Gospel message, and then they would be subsequently baptised into Christ. The disciples were then to grow from babies to adults in their understanding, as it is written in many places (Heb.5:12-14, 2.Pet.1:5-10, Eph.4:11-14).
As time went on, false teachings began to emerge. False ideas began to emerge concerning the physical nature of Jesus (1.Jn.2:18-19, 2.Jn.7) and on the Apostle’s teachings on the resurrection (2.Tim.2:17-18). This therefore makes it more complex for us when we read the words and works of the Apostles in the book of Acts, because since their times many false teachings and superstitions have arisen claiming to be of Christian origin. We therefore need to be careful when considering what is recorded so that we understand both the context and circumstances behind what is written, and to ensure that we are not simply pouring the words we read into a pre-existing mould or world view. This was the failure of the Jews in the first century, and we need to take note of this danger as well so that we do not fall into the same error.

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