Divine revelation to mankind is the source of knowledge concerning ultimate truth and, therefore, ultimate reality.
The Source of Knowledge Concerning Ultimate Truth
God’s Word, the Bible, is God’s most significant means of revealing truth to mankind. Thus Jesus, who is “the truth” (Jn. 14:6), told His believers they would “know the truth” if they continued in His Word (Jn. 8:31–32).
It is the Bible that presents the significant implications for mankind of the associations of true and truth with God.
People’s Responsibilities to the Truth
To be people of the truth. The Bible refers to “men of truth” (Ex. 18:21) and people “of God” (Jn. 8:47; 1 Jn. 4:6). They are people who have the following characteristics:
They fear God, meaning, they acknowledge God’s existence and awesomeness, have a reverential respect for Him, and concern themselves with what concerns Him (Ex. 18:21).
They know God, meaning, they know and accept the truth concerning Him and have a personal relationship with Him through the new birth (1 Jn. 4:6).
They hear “God’s words” that He delivered to mankind through Jesus Christ, His prophets, and apostles; meaning, they accept those words as coming from God, regard them as having divine authority over them, and submit to them in a life-changing way (Jn. 8:47; 18:37; 1 Jn. 4:6). For example, they hate covetousness (Ex. 18:21).
To understand, choose, and be established in the truth. Daniel expressed the need for people to understand God’s truth (Dan. 9:13).
The psalmist chose “the way of truth”; therefore, he laid God’s revealed words before him and clung to them (Ps. 119:30–31). A son is to choose permanent commitment to truth: “Let not . . . truth forsake you” (Prov. 3:3). “Buy the truth, and do not sell it” (Prov. 23:23).
The apostle Peter referred to people established in the truth (2 Pet. 1:12).
To petition and praise God for the truth. “The LORD is near to all who call upon Him . . . in truth” (Ps. 145:18). David petitioned God to lead him in His truth (Ps. 25:5) and let His truth continually preserve him (Ps. 40:11). In Psalm 43:3 the writer petitioned God to send His truth to lead him.
The psalmist claimed that he would praise God’s truth (Ps. 71:22), and David stated that he would praise God’s name for His truth (Ps. 138:2).
To walk in the truth. To walk in the truth means to obey God’s revealed truth by bringing one’s life and practice into conformity with it.
God declared that, for David’s descendants to continue ruling Israel, they must “take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul” (1 Ki. 2:4).
God showed great mercy to David because David walked before Him in truth (1 Ki. 3:6). David promised to walk in God’s truth (Ps. 86:11) and claimed that he did so (Ps. 26:3).
King Hezekiah declared that he had walked before God in truth (2 Ki. 20:3).
The person who practices the truth does so in relationship to God (Jn. 3:21).
The apostle John rejoiced greatly when he found or heard about believers walking in truth (2 Jn. 4; 3 Jn. 3).
To speak the truth. A person who truly maintains fellowship with God honestly speaks what is in his heart. He doesn’t mislead people with speech that gives the opposite impression of what he harbors in his heart (Ps. 15:2).
David did not conceal God’s truth from the people of Israel. He declared it to them (Ps. 40:9–10).
The psalmist asked God not to take “the word of truth” totally out of his mouth (Ps. 119:43).
A person who speaks truth shows forth righteousness (Prov. 12:17).
A father is to make known God’s truth to his children (Isa. 38:19).
God stated that every person is to speak the truth to his neighbor (Zech. 8:16).
“The law of truth” was in Levi’s mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips (Mal. 2:6).
The apostle Paul spoke “the words of truth” to King Agrippa and Festus (Acts 26:25) and spoke all things to the Corinthians in truth (2 Cor. 7:14).
The truth is to be spoken in love (Eph. 4:15), and every person is to stop lying and speak truth with his neighbor (Eph. 4:25).
At times, speaking the truth may create enemies (Gal. 4:16).
To avoid mixing error with the truth. God hates a lying tongue (Prov. 6:16–17). The psalmist begged God to deliver his soul from lying lips (Ps. 120:2). John asserted, “No lie is of the truth” (1 Jn. 2:21).
Christians are to avoid “leavening” the truth by mixing it with anything untrue (1 Cor. 5:8). Paul indicated that false teaching had hindered the Galatians from obeying the truth (Gal. 5:7), and even a small amount of “leaven” (error) “leavens the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9). The only way a message can be true is if its entire content is true. The introduction of even a small amount of error changes the nature of a message from complete truth to error.
To serve in the truth. Joshua exhorted the people of Israel to serve the Lord in truth (Josh. 24:14). Samuel exhorted them to serve the LORD “in truth with all your heart” (1 Sam. 12:24).
God commanded government officials of Israel, who had to pass judgments on cases, to make judgments of truth (based on and in agreement with the truth, Zech. 8:16).
Worship is one means of serving God. Jesus declared that the Father must be worshiped “in truth” (Jn. 4:23–24). Worship of the Father must be genuine and ascribe to Him worth that corresponds with the reality of His existence, nature, character, authority, thoughts, and ways.
God’s servants are to commend themselves “as ministers of God” with speech characterized by truth (2 Cor. 6:4, 7). They are to “do nothing against the truth” (nothing contrary or dishonoring to the truth) “but for the truth” (what supports and honors the truth, 2 Cor. 13:8).
Christ should be preached “in truth” (sincerely, with pure motives, Phil. 1:18).
Servants of God are to handle “the word of truth” (the Scriptures) accurately (2 Tim. 2:15) and instruct those who oppose God’s Word in a way that may bring them to repentance “so that they may know the truth” (2 Tim. 2:25).
Believers are to serve by being “fellow workers for the truth” (3 Jn. 8). They do so by aiding those who are devoted to God’s work (3 Jn. 5–7).
To relate love to the truth. God commanded the people of Israel to “love truth” (Zech. 8:19), and He forbade them to love any “false oath” (v. 17).
John exhorted believers to love “in deed and in truth” and thereby know that they “are of the truth” (1 Jn. 3:18–19). John and “all those who have known the truth” loved “the elect lady and her children . . . in truth” (2 Jn. 1). They did so “because of the truth” that dwelt in them as believers (v. 2). John also declared that he loved Gaius “in truth” (3 Jn. 1).
Paul stated that love “rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6).
Benefits of the Truth
Those who walk in the truth receive many benefits: great mercy (1 Ki. 3:6); preservation from evils (Ps. 40:11–12); the Lord’s nearness (Ps. 145:18); security (Ps. 91:4); purging of iniquity (Prov. 16:6); freedom from sin and results of sin (Jn. 8:32); sanctification (Jn. 17:17, 19); steadfastness against spiritual attack (Eph. 6:14); hope, fruitfulness, and grace (Col. 1:5–6); discernment concerning what God has ordained and permits (1 Tim. 4:3–4); purification of soul (1 Pet. 1:22); and grace, mercy, and peace (2 Jn. 3).
Lack of the Truth
It is possible for people to talk as if they are related to God; but they don’t know “the way of the LORD,” are hardened against Him, are not in the truth, and don’t seek it (Isa. 48:1; Jer. 5:1–5). There are people who lie, “are not valiant for the truth,” and don’t know God (Jer. 9:3).
Jesus indicated that people who reject God’s Word as the truth are of the devil, not of God (Jn. 8:44–47; cf. 1 Jn. 4:6).
Men of corrupt minds are “destitute of the truth” (1 Tim. 6:5). Some people are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7).
People who say they have no sin do not have the truth in them (1 Jn. 1:8). A person who says, “I know” Jesus but does not obey Him does not have the truth in him (1 Jn. 2:4).
Animosity Toward the Truth
Some people refused to believe Jesus because He told the truth (Jn. 8:45). Some purposely suppress God’s revealed truth and exchange it for a lie (Rom. 1:18, 25). False teachers bewitch people into disobeying the truth (Gal. 3:1), while they themselves “resist the truth” (2 Tim. 3:8) and speak evil of “the way of truth” (2 Pet. 2:1–2). Some people “will not endure sound doctrine,” will “turn their ears away from the truth,” and turn “aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:3–4).
Judgment and the Truth
God will judge people with His truth (Ps. 96:13). People who do not obey God’s revealed truth but obey unrighteousness will receive “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish” on “the day of wrath and revelation of the righ – teous judgment of God” (Rom. 2:5, 8–9). All people who receive not “the love of the truth” and believe not the truth “that they might be saved” will be judged (2 Th. 2:10, 12).
God’s Desire and the Truth
God wills (“wish of desire”1) all people “to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).
The Church and the Truth
God intends the church to be “the pillar” and “ground” (“foundation”2) of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). A pillar provides support; and a foundation keeps a building grounded to one location, preventing it from shifting or moving from its original location. God intends the church to fully support His revealed truth against all antagonistic attacks and to prevent His truth from being shifted or moved from its original content as revealed by God.
Nations and the Truth
When Israel was “without the true God” for a long time, it was troubled, vexed, and had no peace (2 Chr. 15:3–6). During Isaiah’s time Israel suffered when none pleaded for truth; truth was fallen in the street, and truth failed (Isa. 59:4, 14–15). During Jeremiah’s time Israel obeyed not “the voice of the LORD their God” nor received “correction”; truth was “perished” and was “cut off from their mouth” (Jer. 7:28). During Hosea’s time God had a controversy with the nation because there was “no truth, or mercy Or knowledge of God in the land” (Hos. 4:1). Israel will be blessed in the future when it is “the righteous nation which keeps the truth” (Isa. 26:2).
E N D N O T E S
1 William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, “thelo,” AGreek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 1957), 355.
2 Ibid., “edraioma,” 217.