Shelby G. Floyd
YOU SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH
On one occasion, Jesus said to some Jews who believed on him,
“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
In this passage Jesus Christ confirms that it is possible for one to know the truth and thereby to be set free from sin. There are some teachers today who deny this, saying that it is impossible to apprehend or ascertain the truth on any particular matter. According to them, truth is very illusive, and the closest thing that a man can do is to approximate the truth. This was not the doctrine of Christ; he taught the truth, and he taught the disciples that they could know the truth:
“But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this” (John 8:40 NKJV).
The word “know” in this passage is used in the sense of to understand, perceive, and have knowledge of. There are two ways that a person can know or acquire knowledge. It can be derived directly by sight, or it can be obtained indirectly by faith based upon reliable evidence. Either way that one might look at it, all knowledge comes to man through one or more of his five senses.
WE KNOW THE TRUTH BY FAITH
While much of our knowledge is derived by sight, in the religion of Jesus, our knowledge of God and of his system of things is derived, not by sight, but by faith. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Faith, is the very substance or foundation of our hope, and it is derived from evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Our knowledge of God, and all that he wants us to know, is derived by faith, which comes by hearing his word (Romans 10:17). When Jesus affirmed that we can know the truth, he means that we can hear, understand, perceive and acknowledge the truth, and thereby be set free.
Late in his life, the apostle John wrote to the people of his day and said,
“I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth” (1 John 2:21).
It is a false idea then to say that it is impossible for a person to know the truth. These people to whom John wrote already knew the truth, that is, they had been able to perceive, understand, to get knowledge of, and to know the truth. They also were able to distinguish between what was true and false.
Every proposition is either true or false. It cannot be true and false at the same time. A lie is not of the truth, neither can the truth be of a lie, they are mutually exclusive. If one can know the truth and know that no lie is of the truth, then one can distinguish between truth and error. Therefore, it is possible for a person to know and understand the truth of God.
OBLIGATIONS TO KNOW THE TRUTH
Notice the following observations in reference to man’s possibility to know the truth. It is possible for one to preach the truth as well as that which is false (Mark 16:15-16; Galatians 1:6-9); believe the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:12); receive the truth (Hebrews 10:26; 1 John 2:21); hear the truth (Ephesians 4:21); learn the truth (2 Timothy 3:7) and believe the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13). It is by the truth of God, the gospel, that one is begotten and born again (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:22, 25). It is possible for one to live in the truth by keeping God’s commands (1 John 2:4.) One must obey the truth (Galatians 3:1; Romans 2:8); study the truth (2 Timothy 2:15); tell the truth (Galatians 4:16); think on the truth (Philippians 4:8); worship in truth (John 4:23-24). The church, those who have been called out of darkness into light, must be supporters of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). In order to do this, it is necessary for every child of God to earnestly contend for the truth (Jude 3) and defend the truth (Philippians 1:17; 1 Peter 3:15). According to Christ, one maybe sanctified or set apart by the truth, which is God’s word (John 17:17). One may acknowledge the truth (2 Timothy 2:25); walk in the truth (1 John 1:6-7); have a love for the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10); speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and leave the truth (2 Peter 2:20-22; Hebrews 10:26). All of these facts from God’s truth teach that it is possible for a child of God to distinguish truth from error and thereby come to an understanding of the truth and to be saved.
The Bereans were more noble than those persons who lived at Thessalonica, because they searched the scriptures to see whether the things that Paul was teaching were the truth. The apostle Paul himself admonished his readers to prove all things, and to hold fast to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). To prove all things means to scrutinize, to test, to examine openly and fairly every proposition.
THE PERFECT RULE OF INTERPRETATION
Is it possible to know the truth today? One of the very best rules of interpreting the Bible was stated by Jesus in the long ago. He said,
“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).
The word “know” here means to learn, to come to know, to get a knowledge of; therefore, it is possible for any person to learn of the doctrine of Christ, and to know the truth if he wants to know the truth, and if he is willing to know the truth (1 Timothy 4: 3). Therefore, man’s ability to hear, learn, understand and know the truth is predicated upon his willingness to know the truth. God is willing for all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). Therefore, there is no reason why man cannot know the truth.
PREACH THE TRUTH
Our obligation is to preach, “The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” (2 Timothy 4:1-3). If men do not know the truth, it is because they turn away their ears from the truth (2 Timothy 4:4) and resist the truth as did Jannes and Jambres (2 Timothy 3:8), and therefore, are destitute of the truth (1 Timothy 6:5).
Copyright © 2017 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142