The Foundations of Faith: God is True and Truth, Part 2
By: Renald Showers
The previous article demonstrated how the Scriptures associate what is true and truth with God. Those associations indicate several facts concerning the God of the Bible. He is ultimate reality. His revealed existence is a firm, dependable fact.
He is the only God who does exist; therefore, He is genuine, or real, in contrast with all other gods. They are nonexistent, not real.
Absolute truth is an essential aspect of God’s nature, and He is the fountainhead and ultimate source of truth. He will never deviate from His truth. Every word, every revelation that God has given to mankind is true, reliable, and will endure forever. God demonstrates this fact by keeping promises He has made and fulfilling prophecies of future events He has revealed. The Bible is God’s trustworthy, reliable book of truth to mankind. All of God’s works and judgments are done in accord with truth.
These concepts are emphasized even more by the biblical associations of true and/or truth with each of the three Persons of the triune Godhead.
Associations With the Father
Associations of true. Jesus called the Father “the only true God” (Jn. 17:3; see v. 1). He thereby indicated that the Father is the only “genuine” or “real” God “in contrast to other gods, who are not real.”1 Jesus said, “There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true” (Jn. 5:32). He thereby asserted that this witness concerning Him was “dependable.”2
Several New Testament scholars claim that, in this context, Jesus was referring to the Father’s witness concerning Him.3 Associations of truth. Jesus declar ed that the Father shall be and must be worshiped “in truth” (Jn. 4:23–24). Worship of the Father must be genuine and must ascribe to Him worth that corresponds with the reality of His existence, nature, character, authority, thoughts, and ways. James asserted that the Father uses “the word of truth” to produce regeneration (the new birth) in people (Jas. 1:17–18). He thereby indicated that the gospel message concerning the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a declaration of reality—what actually happened—not falsehood. Therefore, the Father uses an absolutely reliable message to change lives.
The Father commands believers to walk in truth (2 Jn. 4). He requires them to live their lives in light of the reality of His existence and in conformity with His revealed thoughts and ways on a daily basis.
Associations With Jesus Christ
Associations of true. In their attempt to trap Jesus in His talk, disciples of the Pharisees and Herodians deceitfully said, “Master, we know that thou art true” (Mt. 22:16). They thereby claimed that He was a “truthful” or “honest” person.4
The apostle John stated that Jesus “was the true Light” (Jn. 1:9). John’s point was that God’s Son came to the world and became incarnated in human flesh in order to be the ultimate revelation of divine reality to all mankind.5 Jesus made the following claim concerning Himself: As the one who seeks the glory of the Father, He “is true, and no unrighteousness is in him” (Jn. 7:18). He thereby asserted that He is “truthful, righteous,” and “honest.”6
The Pharisees asserted that Jesus’ witness concerning who He was was false.
Jesus insisted that His witness was “true” (Jn. 8:14). He meant that it was “dependable.” 7 He based that claim on the fact that He possessed knowledge about Himself that they did not have.
Jesus declared that His “judgment is true” (Jn. 8:16), meaning it is “dependable.” 8 Because of His relationship with the Father, His judgment is in harmony with Him.9
Many people claimed that “all things” John the Baptist spoke about Jesus “were true” (Jn. 10:41). Jesus said, “I am the true vine” (Jn. 15:1), the “genuine” or “real”10 source of spiritual life and fruitful ministry in contrast with false sources.
Jesus also claimed to be “the true bread from heaven” that the Father gave (Jn. 6:32). As such, He is the “genuine” or “real”11 giver of spiritual “life unto the world” (Jn. 6:33).
The Lord claimed that He “is true” (Rev. 3:7) and “the Amen, the faithful and true witness” (Rev. 3:14). He thereby indicated that He is “dependable” as a person and as a witness.12
The fact that Jesus is dependable will be emphasized again at His Second Coming out of heaven. At that time He will be called “Faithful and True” (Rev. 19:11).13
Associations of truth. Disciples of the Pharisees and Herodians deceitfully said, “Master, we know that thou . . . teachest the way of God in truth” (Mt. 22:16). They thereby claimed that Jesus did “indeed” do this.14
A scribe claimed that Jesus made a statement in accord with “the truth,” or “reality” (Mk. 12:32).15
The apostle John stated that Jesus Christ, the incarnated Son of God, was “full of . . . truth” (Jn. 1:14). Since the Son of God is absolute deity and since absolute truth is an essential aspect of deity, John asserted that Jesus was the total embodiment of absolute truth in human flesh. As such, He could accurately reveal the reality of God in a manner that mankind could understand.
John also said, “truth came by Jesus Christ” (Jn. 1:17). This did not mean that God had given no truth to mankind before Christ became incarnated. God had revealed some truth through such means as the created universe, dreams, and prophesied statements in Old Testament times. But not until Christ’s incarnation had the total embodiment of absolute truth been given to the world.
Because Jesus was the total embodiment of absolute truth in human flesh, He could honestly say, “I am . . . the truth” (Jn. 14:6) and make the following claim: “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (Jn. 18:37). That witness involved the revelation of “divine reality” to mankind.16
Because Jesus was the total embodiment of absolute truth in human flesh, Paul could state, “the truth is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:21). Paul meant “the very truth of God, truth itself resides in Him.”17 Jesus claimed He told “the truth,” what corresponded to reality (Jn. 8:40, 45; 16:7). Jesus indicated that John the Baptist’s testimony concerning Him was a “witness unto the truth” (Jn. 5:33). It substantiated the truthfulness of Jesus’ claims about Himself.
Paul declared that Jesus “was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Rom. 15:8). Through His ministry, Jesus confirmed the “reliability,” or “trustworthiness,” of the coven ant commitments that God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.18
Many people claimed that Jesus truly (“of a truth”) was “the Prophet” God had promised (Dt. 18:15–19) to raise up for Israel in the future (Jn. 6:14; 7:40). Paul asserted that the gospel message concerning the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is “the truth” (Gal. 2:5, 14; Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:5).
Associations With the Holy Spirit
Associations of truth. The apostle John declared, “The Spirit is [the] truth” (1 Jn. 5:6). (The Greek text contains the definite article the before the word truth.) John used the identical words regarding the Spirit that Jesus used regarding Himself in His claim, “I am . . . the truth” (Jn. 14:6). W. E. Vine signified that John thereby “conveys through this latter statement the Deity of the Holy Spirit. . . . He is one in Divine nature with the Father and the Son.”19
Since the Spirit is absolute deity and since absolute truth is an essential aspect of deity, John asserted that the Holy Spirit as a Person was also the total embodiment of absolute truth. As such, He, too, could accurately reveal the reality of God to mankind.
Because the Spirit was also the total embodiment of absolute truth, Jesus repeatedly called Him “the Spirit of [the] truth.” (The Greek text contains the definite article the before the word truth [Jn. 14:17; 15:26; 16:13].) Jesus also indicated that, as the Spirit of the truth, the Holy Spirit would bring to the apostles’ remembrance all the truth that Jesus had already taught them (Jn. 14:26), would reveal to them all the additional truth that Christ wanted taught after His ascension (Jn. 14:26; 16:12–13), and would glorify Jesus (Jn. 16:14–15) and testify concerning Him (Jn. 15:26).
John indicated that, because the Spirit is the truth, He does bear witness concerning Jesus Christ (1 Jn. 5:6).
The triune God of the Bible, including all three Persons of the Godhead, is the only God who genuinely exists. God is ultimate reality. Truth is an essential aspect of God’s nature. Therefore, God is the fountainhead, or ultimate source, of truth. Each Person of the Godhead is the full embodiment of absolute truth. God’s revelation to mankind is truth.
These conclusions prompt an awesome implication. All people who reject the God of the Bible (including Jesus Christ) and God’s revelation to mankind thereby reject ultimate reality and truth. They resort to a view of reality and truth that is contrary to ultimate reality and truth and, therefore, is false. Though they may insist that they are wise to do so (Rom. 1:18–25), in reality they are blinded by God’s ultimate enemy, Satan (2 Cor. 4:3–4), and are subject to his power of spiritual darkness (Col. 1:13). Satan also rejected the ultimate reality and truth of God. As a result, Jesus said that Satan “abode not in the truth” and “there is no truth in him” (Jn. 8:44).
E N D N O T E S
1 William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, “alethinos,” A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957), 36.
2 Ibid., “alethes,” 36.
3 C. K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John (London: S.P.C.K., 1960), 220; also Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), 324–325.
4 Arndt and Gingrich, “alethes,” 36.
5 Rudolf Bultmann, “alethinos,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 1:250.
6 Arndt and Gingrich, “alethes,” 36.
9 Morris, 441.
10 Arndt and Gingrich, “alethinos,” 36.
14 Ibid., “aletheia,” 35.
16 Bultmann, “aletheia,” 1:246.
17 Morris, 294.
18 Bultmann, “aletheia,” 242–243.
19 W. E. Vine, The Epistles of John (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970), 98.