Whatís Your View of Truth
By Reese Currie, Compass Distributors
Pilate asked Jesus a very interesting question in John 18:38, "What is truth?" Jesus did not answer the question then, but He had answered it earlier in John 14:6, when He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
Believing that Jesus Christ is the truth will yield immediately yield everlasting life. Indeed, Jesus said in John 6:47, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life." Note Jesusí wording. The believer now has eternal life; it is not something they will have later, it is something they have now.
But how can that be reconciled with Luke 8:11-15? "Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience."
It gets back to Pilateís question, "What is truth?" Is truth based on personal acceptance or does truth stand on its own?
What does it mean to believe for a while? I always had difficulty interpreting these verses in light of the overwhelming support for the doctrine of eternal security in the rest of the Bible. The doctrine of eternal security is explained most simply as, "once saved always saved." Our salvation is through belief in Jesus Christ. So whatís this stuff about believing for a while and then falling away?
The puzzle is intensified by the parallel found in Matthew 13:21, "yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles."
The misleading translation "endures for a while" does not match the literal meaning of the text; it is a traditional rendering. The Analytical-Literal Translation translates Matthew 13:21, "But he is not having root in himself; instead, it is temporary, and tribulation or persecution having happened because of the word, immediately he is being caused to stumble [fig., is falling away]" (ALT).
So the personís faith is temporary at the outset. It is not a person enduring in fully convinced faith for a while; it is a person who on the front end made a decision to believe for a trial period.
This has been a very hard thing for me to explain to people around me. They do not see how it is possible to form a "temporary belief" about something. It happens every day. It is the same as accepting something as a plausible working theory that may later be disproven.
The problem with subjective belief is that it views things as being true only for the period in which the belief is maintained. It does not view something as being an objective truth, a thing that remains true even if the person stops believing.
Most peopleís belief in gravity is objective. I can point to no one who believes that if they stop believing in gravity, they will be free to jump off buildings and will not plummet to their death. If there is a person who has only a subjective belief in gravity, they could potentially believe that, if they were to stop believing in gravity, the rules of gravity would be suspended and they could jump off buildings with safety.
It sounds like lunacy, doesnít it? Yet, so many times I have proclaimed the truth to someone and they claim not to be bound by the truth merely because they do not believe it. I have also encountered people who justify their actions after having "fallen away" from the faith by saying, "I donít believe in Jesus anymore."
You see, if the concept that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is objective truth, then it doesnít matter if we believe it or not; it is still true. Obviously, it makes a difference to us personally; John 3:18 says, "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." But our belief or lack of belief cannot impact the essential fact that the gospel message is true.
People with subjective belief obviously think that their belief or lack of belief impacts the truth of reality. So they believe for a while to try out the faith, and then, having come to the conclusion that faith is too much trouble, they stop believing. Because they stop believing, they assume the truth is no longer true and they are free of the requirements of the truth. This attitude is not a possible result of a realistic understanding of truth. The truth remains unchanged whether anyone believes it or not.
The Consequence of Subjective Belief
The problem with subjective belief in the area of faith is that, once a person has fallen away from even that paltry level of belief, their understanding of the truth in this area is irreparably corrupted and they cannot receive this truth as objective fact any longer. The "subjective stain" will forever mar their ability to understand this truth objectively, that is, as something that is true whether they believe it or not.
This is the meaning of Hebrews 6:4-6. "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame."
Repentance is the action that leads to the ability to acknowledge the truth. When the view of truth is subjective, and the subjective truth has been rejected, repentance back toward the real, objective truth apparently becomes impossible. To reiterate, it would seem the view of truth in this area becomes irreparably corrupt.
The sort of belief highlighted in Hebrews 6:4-6 has to be understood as the kind of "temporary faith" I am discussing, not saving faith. We can know this because Hebrews 6:9 says, "But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner." This falling away does not accompany salvation; it is a sign that one is not saved.
What If Thatís Me?
Some people may respond fearfully to the above because they have rejected a false gospel and have rejected Christ along with it. For instance, a person abandoning the Jehovahís Witness organization may have believed for a time that Christ was also false. What can a person do then?
There are two sure indicators that you cannot be covered by these verses in Hebrews. First, if it scares you that you might be eternally outside Christís fold, it cannot possibly apply to you, for a person who has thoroughly rejected Christ has rejected all possibility that His message might be true.
Second, to be covered by Hebrews 6:4-6, you must have "temporarily" believed the true gospel message in the first place. According to Luke 24:47, the gospel contains two crucial elements that are almost never preached today, repentance and remission of sins. Repentance is a big topic that we will cover in the coming paragraphs. Remission of sins is the remitting of the penalty for sins, and it necessitates the preaching of a doctrine of eternal security Ė if you can later be punished for sins, your sins have not been remitted. There are only one or two denominations that have churches that preach such a full message, and absolutely no para-church entities that preach both repentance and remission of sins. The message of the Bible is deliberately distorted in order to remain popular with their member denominations, some of which reject either repentance or the doctrine of eternal security.
The Problem Today
I am about to say something that will make some people very offended, but I ask you to continue reading because it is very important that we understand the consequences of our own actions. The church today encourages the subjective form of belief with the terminology, "accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior."
This terminology, that actually encourages a faulty view of truth, is the very reason that there was no revival in the 20th century. It is the very reason that in the past 50 years we have experienced a massive falling away from the Christian faith. It is our own fault for preaching a false message found absolutely nowhere in the Bible that encourages a perverted, self-centered and unrealistic view of truth. How can God bless a message that so twists and bends the understanding of truth? It is obvious that He has not and will not.
If something is true, it is not a matter of our personal acceptance to make it true. The fact is, in order to be saved, we need to discover the truth and adapt to the truth. The truth will not change for us; we must change for it. The truth is not a matter of our personal prerogative. The truth is simply a reality, and it is upon us to acknowledge that reality, and thereby to join in to that reality. Anything less would be to be deceived.
2 Timothy 2:25 says, "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" (KJV). This is precisely the process that is absolutely necessary for a person to come to saving faith. The first step is repentance, which is to stop relying on sin and self for our sufficiency and turn to God as the answer. God will then lead a person to the acknowledgment of the truth. The truth is that Jesus Christ is His Son, Who was sent from the Father to die as a propitiation (or total payment) for our sins, and was raised from the dead. Romans 10:9 says "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
Believing in your heart is not subjective and open to a trial period; believing in your heart is to believe in the objective reality of Jesus Christ and to adapt our lives in light of that reality. 2 Corinthians 5:15 says, "and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again."
No one who has "believed for a while" has believed in their heart that this is the truth of the universe. Instead they have sought to find truth within themselves, but truth does not reside there; truth is a reality that exists outside of us.
This subjective view of truth in the past 200 years has led to the human self-justification of many sins. Due to a subjective view of the truth, homosexuality is deemed acceptable by many churches though condemned by the Bible. Many church people pressure me to take an unbiblical view of divorce, to change to their subjective views. The notion of having female pastors is a subjective decision to throw out the Bibleís teaching on the subject. The permissive attitude toward abortion is a subjective denial of truth.
But the truth is not subjective, it is objective. We would never be so foolish with gravity; how dare we be so foolish with God?
Whatís Your View of Truth? Copyright © 2000 by Compass Distributors
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.), 1982
Scripture taken from the Analytical-Literal Translation of the Holy Bible. Copyright © 1999, 2000 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (http://www.dtl.org).
Scripture marked KJV taken from the King James Version