Is it possible to know God’s truth? And what is God’s truth? The reason I ask is that we so often see people claim that this verse or that verse is misinterpreted, and that it means something completely different. But what if both people are respected brothers or sisters in Christ? Which one of them speaks the truth?
I don’t know the answer to that, I cannot judge how others purport to reach their conclusions. But what we do know is what the Bible reveals about God’s truth. Truth is that which has it’s origin in God, and God only. As His creatures, we can know this truth when God gives it to us, and according to David in many of the Psalms, we should seek it, ask for it and be instructed by it. Jesus, in John 17, tells us that the process of sanctification is part of receiving truth, and that God’s Word is the truth.
Truth then is not something that can be acquired from outside of God, it comes from God and God only, and it is outside of us, and we need to get it from Him.
Sanctification is the process, when after justification, the Spirit works in us to make us more holy. It is the result of our justification and our surrender to the glory and grace of God. In sanctification necessarily follows humbleness, meekness and righteousness, and a thirst for knowledge of God. It is when we are changed so that we may receive teaching and guidance from God. In the Ordo Salutis, the chain of salvation, sanctification is the last part, partially completed on earth but not quite perfected due to the remnants of original sin. It is perfected when we are united with God in the life hereafter.
Getting to know the truth from God is dependent on our spiritual state, and our willingness to let go of preconceived notions and assumptions, and be in a state of learning and openness to being instructed by the Spirit, as we read in John 15.
Practically, how do we do this? All of the above is very helpful, but doesn’t resolve our scenario. Personally, I think that God’s truth cannot be hidden, and one knows when you have reached a true conclusion. There are many things that I personally struggle with, and I’m sure that is true for all of us. So I want to suggest the following simple process which may help us reach true conclusions:
1. Read what the Bible has to say. Read the complete section, the complete chapter and the complete book, if necessary. Also do this both topically (by subject) and systematically (by broader doctrine). This helps us get the context of God’s Word, and allows the Word to clarify and interpret itself.
2. Pray for clarification and illumination. Be humble and open in your prayer.
3. Meditate (think deeply) about the specific topic and Scripture being discussed. Allow your mind to work through and consider all possible conclusions within the context of the piece.
4. Read it again and find other passages like it. Read and try to understand those. Keep praying and meditating about it.
5. Consider the cultural and historical background of the specific Scripture, and try to understand how people throughout history would have understood it. At this point, if need be, consult some works by respected scholars. Try to be broad in this research if you are going this way, because we tend to consult only those we agree with beforehand.
6. Repeat this process as often as needed. On some issues I have been doing it for years. One has to be patient.
The wisdom of God’s truth is a great blessing, but not always easy to come by. Sometimes it is complex and confusing, and while others may be convinced that they have reached a point of complete understanding, it may not be the case for us. There may still be little niggles of confusion and doubt, and while we may be told that we simply have to accept it by faith, it does nothing to settle it for us. Likewise, we must be patient and understanding with others when we feel that we have been blessed with the truth.
God’s truth cannot be bought or conjured up or asserted or penned like a nursery school rhyme. It can only come as part of being made holy, and one cannot be made holy in a state of indulgence, self-importance or arrogance, where the own self is more important than God Himself. Only by being utterly humble and open before Him can we reach true insight, and can we move forward on the journey to know more about His truth, and become holy through being blessed by His knowledge.