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American Christians are in a dilemma. Every day seems to be bringing more radical ideas into our culture than yesterday’s – which were already insane. The medical establishment seems to be changing their positions monthly regarding issues like Covid, Gender fluidity, Vaccinations for children, or global warming. The government, media, and schools claim that all white folks are racists, … and on and on.
In this post-Christian America we live today, how can we know for certain what is true and what is “misinformation” or straight-out lies? How does one know who or what to believe? Everyone has an opinion, so who can we trust?
It is obvious that without a clear standard of truth and knowledge to refer to, nothing is absolute, dependable, or trustworthy.
However, our God did not create us to live in confusion, which is why He gave us the Bible - the only supernatural, divinely inspired, inerrant, eternal Word of God - to bring us clarity to navigate our lives.
This is the first principle of Christianity.
Without absolute confidence in the proposition that the Bible is ALL TRUTH, we have no footing to stand on.
We urge you, then, to read through this article to the end. Take your time and think through the statements made. Let these ideas simmer in you. If you agree, then you will be able to - with deep conviction - answer the question...
WHAT IS TRUTH?
David states in Psalm 119:160, “The entirety of Your word is truth”, and Jesus reiterates this in John 17:17 when He says, “Your word is truth.” Why is the entirety of Scripture true? Because fundamentally, God is truth. Truth is not something God has; it is who He is. Truth is the essence of God’s being. The Oxford English Dictionary defines essence as: the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, which determines its character; a property of something without which it would not exist or be what it is. Truth is the intrinsic nature of God’s being; it is that indispensable quality of His being, which determines His character; truth is that property of God’s being that without which, He would not be who He is. Thus, if God did not exist, truth would not exist, for God is truth.
Furthermore, if truth is the essence of God’s being, then whenever God speaks a word (reveals the thoughts of His mind), that word that He reveals is automatically true by virtue of the fact that it comes from God. Figuratively speaking, we could say that if God “breathes out” He is conveying the essence of His being, that is, He is conveying truth. God does not have a body like men; He does not have lungs that inspire (breathe in) and expire (breathe out). Hence, to say that God “breathes out” is anthropomorphic language, which is meant to express the idea of God revealing the thoughts of His mind, i.e., conveying truth (the essence of His being). This is exactly what Paul states in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 –
“All Scripture is breathed out by God [Greek: theopneustos (from theos, “God” and pneo, “breathe out”); properly, “God-breathed”] and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Why is all Scripture (the Bible, the Word of God) profitable for teaching, for
reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness? Because all Scripture is true. And why is all Scripture true? Because all Scripture is “breathed out by God”, and when God “breathes out” He conveys the essence of His being, which is truth.
It is the mind of God that communicates the essence of His being (truth) to our minds. Therefore, we can say that truth is that which coincides with the mind of God. When the thoughts of your mind coincide (agree, intersect) with the thoughts of God’s mind, you have truth. Humanly speaking, truth is the intellectual intersection of God and man. But this raises the following question: If truth is that which coincides with God’s mind, how does the mind of man come to possess truth (to intellectually intersect with God’s mind)? Answer: revelation. God must reveal the thoughts of His mind to the mind of man if man is to have truth. Thus, for man, truth is all of the thoughts revealed by the mind of God to the mind of man – both in general and special revelation – and their logical implications.
Observe that our definition of “truth” not only includes all of the thoughts revealed by the mind of God, but also their logical implications.
For example, through both general and special revelation man knows that it is morally wrong to steal from his neighbor, which logically implies private property, as one cannot steal from a neighbor unless that neighbor owns property that rightly belongs only to him.
Or, when Scripture (special revelation) speaks of marriage and says, “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,” certain logical inferences can be made. For instance, if marriage is the union of a man to his wife (not husband) then homosexual marriage is forbidden.
Or again, if Jesus says that no one comes to the Father except through Him, then not all roads lead to heaven, only the straight and narrow road of Christianity leads to eternal life.
These are but a few of the many logical implications that can be made from those thoughts that have been revealed to the mind of man from the mind of God through general and special revelation.
Diving deeper: seven characteristics of truth
- Truth is eternal. Truth is not limited by time; it has no time constraints. Truth is always true – past, present, future, and even before time began. If one were to argue that, “truth is not eternal; today’s truth may not have been true at some point in the past, and may cease to be true at some point in the future,” we can simply respond by saying, “if your argument is true today, it may not have been true at some point in the past, and may cease to be true at some point in the future.” Thus, in order to deny the eternality of truth, one would have to confirm the eternality of truth, which proves that truth is eternal.
The entirety of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous judgments endures forever. (Psalm 119:160)
The truth of the Lord endures forever. (Psalm 117:2)
- Truth is unchanging. Truth never mutates; it is immutable. This follows from the previous characteristic of truth that was just considered à truth is eternal. If truth is always true – past, present, future – then the obvious implication is that truth never changes along the course of time. Indeed, even before time began there was truth. Time is the medium by which change occurs, thus, if truth is unchanging, then it is not bound by the medium of time; it is omnitemporal. How can we prove that truth is unchanging? The statement, “truth can change,” could only be true if the truth of this statement never changed; thus, truth cannot change.
For I the LORD do not change. (Malachi 3:6)
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)
- Truth is omnipresent. Truth is ubiquitous; it has no boundaries or borders. This can be implied from the previous characteristic of truth that was just considered à truth is unchanging. If truth cannot change over the course of time, then it necessarily follows that truth cannot change with reference to space, since time only operates within the context of space (i.e., time/space continuum). Truth cannot be confined to a particular place because truth is not physical, it does not have height or depth or width or any type of spatial dimensions. Ontologically, truth is spiritual. Thus, if one were to posit, “truth is not in this or that place,” such a posit could only be true if truth were in this or that place. For example, if it was asserted that there is no truth in Portugal, if one were to go to Portugal and declare, “There is no truth in Portugal,” that person would be declaring a truth in Portugal. Thus, truth is omnipresent.
Heaven and earth [time/space] will pass away,
but my words will not pass away. (Matthew 24:35)
- Truth is propositional. A proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence. Accordingly, there is no truth to declare without declarative sentences. If one were to contend that, “not all truth is propositional,” we need only reply, “can you give me an example of a truth that is not propositional?” Any response at all proves that truth is propositional. Words are required to communicate truth, which is precisely why Jesus is called the logos (the Word) in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. Consider again Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth [time/space] will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” The implication is that the propositional words of God are in no way restricted by time or space; His word is omnitemporal and omnipresent.
Now we have received…the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words (i.e., propositionally) not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. (I Corinthians 2:12-13)
5. Truth is intellectual. If words (propositions/declarative sentences) are required to communicate truth, then truth necessitates an intellect or a mind, for one cannot form or communicate words/propositions without a mind. The statement, “truth does not require a mind,” is only true if it can be stated independent of a mind, which is impossible. Hence, truth requires a mind. Truth is rational; it demands cognition, reasoning.
Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD. (Isaiah 1:18)
“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ. (I Corinthians 2:16)
6. Truth is inerrant. It is error-free, infallible, perfect, always right, never incorrect, etc. The claim, “truth is not always free of error,” could only be true if truth is always free of error, which proves that truth is inerrant.
- Truth is moral. Truth is not merely right (correct), it is righteous; it is morally To propound untruths is immoral; to obscure, withhold, or in any way suppress truth is to besmirch the righteous character of God. Put another way, to oppose truth is to lie, and lying is clearly immoral. To argue that truth can lie could only be true if truth cannot lie. Therefore, truth is moral.
I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. (1 John 2:21)
The word of the Lord is upright,
and all His work is done in truth. (Psalm 33:4)
What do we find when we gather these 7 characteristics of truth and join them together? Truth is eternal, unchanging, omnipresent, propositional (must be declared), intellectual (requires a mind), inerrant (error-free), and moral (righteous). All together, we find that truth must originate from an eternal, unchanging, omnipresent, inerrant, declarative, righteous mind.
This is God. More specifically, this is the God of the Bible.
 The essence of God’s being includes all of His many attributes. However, truth is the preeminent attribute of God. It is utterly futile and meaningless to say that God is love, or that God is longsuffering, or that God is gracious, etc., if none of these statements are true. Truth is the attribute of God that is necessary to secure all of His other attributes; the attribute of truth is what strings together the pearls of God’s other attributes. Therefore, truth is the most distinguished attribute of God; indeed, several of God’s attributes are “embedded” or “nested” within the attribute of truth (e.g., immutability, eternality, omnipresence, righteousness).