The Foundations of Faith: God is True and Truth
By: Renald Showers
The Scriptures repeatedly associate what is true and truth with God. The primary Old Testament word used for this association is emet. Its foundational concept is “certainty, dependability”; and it is used “in several categories of contexts, all of which relate to God directly or indirectly.”
Furthermore, the word “is used absolutely to denote a reality which is to be regarded as amen ‘firm,’ and therefore ‘solid,’ ‘valid,’ or ‘binding.’”2 It can have “reference to facts which always demand recognition by all men as reality, to the normal state which corresponds to divine and human order, and which is thus to be respected.”3 “It thus signifies what is ‘true.’”4
Other related Old and New Testament words that are translated “true” and “truth” communicate the following concepts: “total dependability,” “faithfulness,”5“certainty,” “trustworthiness,” “revealed reality,” “truth of statement,” “true teaching or faith,” “divine reality,” “constant,” “real or genuine,” and “righteous.”6
Associations of ‘True’ With God
Associations With God Personally. In the Old Testament the Spirit of God moved the prophet Azariah to identify the Lord God of Israel as “the true God”—true in the sense of being “the absolute and exclusive God” (2 Chr. 15:3–4).7 The prophet Jeremiah indicated the same when he declared, “the LORD is the true God; he is the living God” (Jer. 10:10).
In the New Testament the apostle Paul referred to “the living and true God” (1 Th. 1:9), and the apostle John wrote about “him that is true; . . . the true God” (1 Jn. 5:20). Jesus stated, “he that sent me is true” (Jn. 7:28). These were assertions to the effect that the God of the Bible is “genuine” or “real,” “in contrast to other gods, who are not real.”8
Associations With the Word of God. The words of the only God who truly exists are true. After David received specific revelation from God in the form of verbal promise of blessing, he wrote, “O Lord GOD, thou art that God, and thy words are true” (2 Sam. 7:28).
David was saying that God’s words of promise were true in the sense of certain to be fulfilled. Through his assertion, “the ordinances of the LORD are true” (Ps. 19:9), David referred to “Holy Scripture.”9 He thereby claimed that the Bible is God’s trustworthy, reliable Book of truth for mankind.
Psalm 119:160 claims that every word God has given to mankind from the beginning is true and will endure forever.
The person who accepts “the words of God” that Jesus spoke during His earthly life thereby indicates his conviction that “God is true” (trustworthy, reliable) in that verbal revelation He gave to the world through His Son (Jn. 3:33–34). Jesus claimed the same thing about God when He said, “He that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him” (Jn. 8:26).
The apostle Paul indicated that, just “as God is true” (trustworthy, dependable) in His Word that He revealed to mankind, so the “word” (message) concerning Jesus Christ that he preached to the Corinthians was true (2 Cor. 1:18–19).10
The apostle John was given a preview of the souls of Tribulation saints who “were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held” (Rev. 6:9). In asking God how long it would be before He would judge their murderers, they asserted that He is “true” (Rev. 6:10). They indicated that they could depend on Him to keep His word to judge the wicked.11
An angel spoke of “the true sayings of God” (Rev. 19:9). The word translated “sayings” is the Greek term for “words.” This was the angel’s way of referring to genuine words of God.12 Other Associations of ‘True’ With God. Peter indicated that the grace of God in which believers stand is “true” (real, genuine; 1 Pet. 5:12).13 God’s ways of ruling and administering wrathful judgments on the wicked and aspects of their godless world system are declared to be true (done in harmony with absolute truth; Rev. 15:3; 16:7; 19:2).14
Associations of ‘Truth’ With God
Associations With God Personally. When the Lord passed by Moses on Mount Sinai, He said, “The LORD, The LORD God, . . . abundant in . . . truth” (Ex. 34:6). God thereby indicated that truth is an essential aspect of His nature.15 The fact that God is “abundant” in truth implies that He is the fountainhead or ultimate source of truth. Thus truth is “the very essence of God”; and truth “has its essence in God.”16
God referred to Himself twice as “the God of truth” in Isaiah 65:16. He thereby emphasized the fact that He is the God who really exists in contrast with all other gods, which are nonexistent.17
In response to the unique way God led Abraham’s servant to find Rebekah as a wife for Isaac, the servant referred to the Lord God’s truth (Gen. 24:27). He had in mind God’s dependability to lead people in the right path to accomplish His purpose.18
Moses declared that God is “a God of truth” (Dt. 32:4), totally dependable.19
David referred to God as “LORD God of truth” (Ps. 31:5), indicating that He is the “Guarantor of moral and legal standards.”20 David also declared that God is “plenteous in . . . truth” (Ps. 86:15). Since David used the same Hebrew words that God used for Himself in Exodus 34:6, he was asserting that truth is an essential aspect of God’s nature and that He is the fountainhead or ultimate source of truth. Because truth is an essential aspect of God’s nature and He is the fountainhead or ultimate source of truth, the Lord can reveal “the abundance of . . . truth” (Jer. 33:6).
Because God is eternal (Dt. 33:27; Ps. 90:2) and unchangeable (Mal. 3:6) and truth is an essential aspect of His nature, then His truth “endureth to all generations” (Ps. 100:5) and “endureth forever” (Ps. 117:2). God “keepeth truth forever” (Ps. 146:6). This means that God’s truth is eternal. It will never change, and God will never deviate from His truth.
Associations With the Word of God. Because God’s truth is eternal and will never change and because God will never deviate from His truth, then the verbal statements of His eternal truths that God has revealed to mankind are eternal. They will never change, and God will never deviate from them. Thus Psalm 119:89 declares, “Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.”
Jacob called all the verbal promises and instructions that God had revealed to him “all the truth, which thou hast shown unto thy servant” (Gen. 32:10).
Ethan the Ezrahite recorded how God in His truth had sworn verbal loving-kindnesses unto David (Ps. 89:49). Psalm 132:11 indicates that God had sworn a verbal promise in truth to David and “will not turn from it.” Both of these passages emphasize that God is absolutely dependable and keeps His Word.
For this reason the Lord moved Balaam to state, “God is not a man, that he should lie; . . . Hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Num. 23:19). In line with this statement, the Scriptures assert that in the future, God will “perform the truth” that He swore to Abraham and Jacob long ago (Mic. 7:20).
When God glorifies Himself by keeping promises He has made or fulfilling revealed prophecies of future events, He demonstrates that His Word is truth (Ps. 115:1).
The Scriptures declare that God’s “law is the truth” (Ps. 119:142), all His “commandments are truth” (Ps. 119:151) and “are done in truth” (Ps. 111:7–8), and His “counsels of old are . . . truth” (Isa. 25:1).
A heavenly being revealed to Daniel things that were recorded in “the scripture of truth” (literally, “the writing of truth”; Dan. 10:21). This verse refers to a written record of truth in heaven concerning future events that God had decreed. These events that were certain to occur became part of the Scriptures as Daniel recorded them in chapters 11—12 of his book.21
Jesus declared that God’s “word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). Paul referred to “the truth of the gospel” (Col. 1:5) and claimed that his apostolic teaching was “in truth, the word of God” and “not as the word of men” (1 Th. 2:13).
Other Associations of ‘Truth’ With God. All God’s “works are done in truth” (Ps. 33:4). In the future God “will direct” Israel’s “work in truth” (Isa. 61:8). King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon declared that all God’s “works are truth” (Dan. 4:37). God’s judgment “is according to truth” (Rom. 2:2). Believers know “the grace of God in truth” (Col. 1:6). God dwelling in Jerusalem will cause it to “be called a city of truth” (Zech. 8:3).
This study prompts the following conclusion expressed by Jack B. Scott: “It becomes manifestly clear that there is no truth in the biblical sense, i.e. valid truth, outside God. All truth comes from God and is truth because it is related to God.”22
E N D N O T E S
1 Jack B. Scott, “emet,” Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris (Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 1:52.
2 Gottfried Quell, “emet,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 1:232.
3 Ibid., 234–235.
4 Ibid., 233.
5 Scott, “emunah,” “omen,” 1:52.
6 Rudolf Bultmann, “aletheia,” “alethes,” “alethinos,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 1:242–245, 247–249.
7 Quell, 236.
8 William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, “alethinos,” A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957), 36.
9 Quell, 236.
10 Arndt and Gingrich, “pistos,” 670.
11 Arndt and Gingrich, “alethinos,” 36.
12 Bultmann, 249.
13 Arndt and Gingrich, “alethes,” 36.
14 Arndt and Gingrich, “alethinos,” 36.
15 Scott, “emet,” 52.
16 Quell, 237.
17 Bultmann, 249.
18 Scott, “emet,” 52.
19 Scott, “emunah,” 52.
20 Quell, 236.
21 John F. Walvoord, Daniel (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), 250.
22 Scott, “emet,” 53.