“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
– John 8:31-32
This symposium on truth is founded on the above scripture. To recap:
We first clarified what truth is. (John 14:6) It is Jesus himself, man’s creator by the will of the Father in heaven. He is truth incarnate. We can know truth by examining the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. No matter who we are or what religion we belong to, the extent to which the ideal of Jesus Christ is taught is the extent to which a disciple or student will find truth.
We need only to look at other religions and examine where they are successful in developing honest, forthright people who genuinely care about others, and recognize their spiritual connection to the Father of All. The principles upon which they base their ideals are the same principles demonstrated in the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, whether or not he is acknowledged as its source. Take a close look at the highest concepts of the religions of others to see for yourself whether this is so. Jesus’ message of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man is the planetary solution for peace on earth. While doctrines may differ, this simple message unites in faith all who have faith in it, and practice it.
Man has developed many concepts about God and life. Some are beneficial, some are not. Some are used to control people, to fleece people of their material goods, to manipulate people into serving man, etc. But when we begin our search for truth, the first thing we must do is disembowel ourselves of these manmade creeds and ideas. As Jesus said, “must deny themselves.” (Matthew 16:24) And as Paul wrote to “taken off your old self with its practices.” (Colossians 3:9-10), and “be made new in the attitude of your minds.” (Ephesians 4:22-24) We call that a spiritual reboot – being born again. (John 3:3-7)
And when we have let go of all ideas of man, we start anew with the two ideals that we know for a certainty to be true: that God is the Father of every man, which makes every man our brother. When we build our most holy faith on this foundation, we are safeguarded from all error. When we know these precepts to be true, who could convince us that God favors one people over another? Who could convince us that it is acceptable to physically enslave another, or use another as a beast of burden? Who could convince us to harm another? And who could convince us that God does not want His children to be with Him in the heavens?
3. On Receiving Truth
When we have emptied ourselves of error, we are prepared to receive truth and build on our firm foundation. Since we know Jesus is the truth, we turn to the book that is most widely recognized as containing the historical accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus – the Bible.
The entire Bible is beneficial for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Section 1, from Genesis to Malachi, serves as a tutor leading us to Jesus as the Christ (Galatians 3:19-25), and represents the highest ideal of God at the time. Section 2, from Matthew to John, contains the accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry, and represents an enhanced revealing of God to mankind as a personal Father. Section 3, from Acts to Jude, contains the acts of the apostles and disciples and their understanding of Jesus and his teachings. And section 4, the book of Revelation, contains a great and complex prophecy that rounds out the spiritual feast. But clearly, sections 2 and 3 contain the most important message that God has for us in our day.
A thoughtful and sincere examination of sections 2 and 3 reveal “the truth” and how it is to be known and lived. They give us a front row seat to the drama of successful living in our temporal world. They form the measuring rod for understanding the remaining portions of the Bible, and all wise sayings. The lessons learned therein form the building blocks for our faith. Not a hearsay faith, but a faith based on being a competent percipient witness of the truth of Jesus Christ.
4 .On Living the Truth
When we come to know the authentic Jesus, we are in a position to imitate him in our lives. It means ‘we have the mind of Christ.’ (1 Corinthians 2:16) Coming to know not only what he did, but why he did it; not just what he said, but why he said it; not just what he thought, but how he thought – looking at life and filtering all matters through his eyes.
Living the truth requires that we take our stand with Christ and openly and publicly confess our union with him – not by self aggrandizement, but by humbly submitting to the will of the Father, instead of the will of men, and serving one another. This is the meaning of ‘take up their cross and follow me.’ (Matthew 16:24) Living the truth is true religion.
5. On Being Led to Truth
Once we have put on the mind of Christ, we are in a position to be led by spirit – specifically, the Spirit of Truth. The Spirit of Truth is the helper sent by Jesus to lead us into all truth. (John 16:12-14) When Jesus was on earth, he could teach his apostles and disciples only when he was in their presence. Thousands had the privilege of gaining first hand knowledge of truth. However, millions alive at that time did not. And since his resurrection, there have been billions who have likewise missed that opportunity. The pouring out of the Spirit of Truth is Jesus’ means of personally fellowshiping with each one of us. The Spirit of Truth speaks and teaches the things Jesus wants us to know. It is Jesus in our midst.
We can learn about Jesus in a group – in our associations and congregation meetings. But the spirit’s leading is individual according to our individual love for truth and our individual capacity to receive spiritual things. The spirit does not necessarily provide new facts or new information; instead it enhances what we already know and imparts meaning and value. It is more properly designated as ‘the conviction of truth’ as it helps us to discover the ring of truth in every wise saying. That is the meaning of ‘hearing what the spirit says.’ And when we know truth, we are to follow it, heed it, apply it, live it. And in this way, we are made free.