THE CHURCH – PEOPLE WHO KNOW THE TRUTH

In our post-modern, post-Christian world the whole concept of absolute truth is denied. Indeed, even the rationality of seeking or claiming to know ‘truth’ is denied. Everything is considered relative; much is considered purely subjective. Religion, including Christianity, is understood to be merely a human social construct arising from human culture, without any objective or universal validity, or divine origin, and relevant to a person or society only because that person or society chooses to deem it relevant at that particular time. ‘God’ is whatever a person perceives ‘god’ to be, and significant only because that person chooses to make him/it so. In such a mindset to seek for or to speak of a clearly defined ‘god’ who actually exists is absurd.

Biblical Christianity stands in stark contrast to this hopeless and empty mindset.

From the perspective of the Bible, the church knows the truth, and the church knows that it knows the truth. From the biblical perspective the church also knows that what it knows is actually the truth – the one and only absolute truth about God, that actually is true and relevant for all people, in all places, at all times, irrespective of whether that truth is acknowledged or not.

The Bible teaches that:

      • The church consists of people to whom Jesus Christ has made God known. The church actually knows God because it knows Jesus Christ [Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22; John 14:7-9; 15:15]
      • The church consists of people who know who Jesus Christ really is [John 17:8]
      • The church consists of people who have heard and responded to the voice of Christ, the Shepherd, because they know and recognize his voice [John 10:4,5,14,38]
      • The church consists of people who see and know truth that those outside of the church cannot see and cannot understand [Matthew 13:10-17; Mark 4:11; Luke 10:23,24; John 14:17 ; 17:25 -26; 1Corinthians 2:6-18; 2Corinthians 4:4-6]
      • The church consists of people whom the truth has set and is setting free [John 8:32]
      • The church, those who are called, knows that Christ is both the power of God and the wisdom of God [1Corinthians 1:24]
      • The church consists of people who know they are saved and that they belong to God [2Timothy 1:12 ; 1John 5:13,19,20].

If the Bible were speaking here only of subjective personal experiences of God which of necessity vary from person to person and lack objective content, the world, including the religious world, would not be offended. But the Bible claims that this body of truth about God, and no other, is absolute and objective. The Bible claims that the only valid personal, subjective knowledge and experience of the one true God must of necessity be grounded in this one absolute and objective body of truth. In this the church must confront the world with that absolute and very exclusive statement of Jesus Christ:

‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ [John 14:6].

To the post-modern mind these claims to know God and to know the only true truth about God are highly offensive. They are intolerant. They are discriminatory. They are exceedingly judgmental. And Jesus Christ was aware of that. Jesus Christ, the Head of the church, knew that; and he knew that the church, those who have responded to his call ‘Follow me!’ would, like him, suffer hatred, rejection and persecution as he did, because of the offensiveness of his absolute and exclusive claims [Matthew 5:10,11; 10:17,22; John 15:18-25; 16:31-33; 1Corinthians 4:9-13; Galatians 1:13; Philippians 3:6; 1Thessalonians 2;13-16; 1John 3:13].

Sadly, many in contemporary churches have embraced the relativism, subjectivism and hopelessness of the prevailing secular mindset. Even within churches that up to the present era have stood firm on biblical truth many are now embracing the uncertainty of the post-modern rejection of ‘truth’. The truth that was once-for-all given to the church [Jude 3] is being savagely jettisoned, while ‘knowledge’ of ‘God’ is being sourced from and defined by subjective personal experiences. In the eyes of many in the church, the 'knowledge' gained from these subjective, personal experiences is seen as more important, more authoritative and more definitive than the whole body of truth contained in the written word.

The contemporary church must be challenged with the words of Christ: ‘If the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!’ [Matthew 6:23] and ‘Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light …’ [John 3:19].

Like Israel of old, the church is supposed to be the custodian and the proclaimer of God's truth. But, also like Israel of old, it seems that today God's truth is being discarded for mere human ideas:

'I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, "I had a dream! I had a dream!" How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? ... you must not mention 'a message from the LORD' again, because each one's word becomes their own message. So you distort the words of the living God, the LORD almighty, our God' (Jeremiah 23: selected verses from 25 - 40).

If we, in this generation, do not hold fast to the absolute, objective truth given in the Bible, that is true for all people, in all places, at all times, then that truth will be lost for the next generations. The loss of truth, and the distortion of truth, that flow from our sin of replacing the written word of God with our personal subjective experiences will impact our children and our children's children.

Let us all hold fast to the solid body of truth that God in his grace has given us, and by which he has set us free.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2009, 2021.