SECURITY IN TRUTH
A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinNovember 20, 1994
Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice. Pilate said to Him, “What is truth”. (Jn 18:37 & 38)
Today, there is a great variety of beliefs within Christian churches. Some are disturbed by this. They wonder how it could be possible that such broad discrepancies could be formed within Christianity. They all preach from the Bible, and worship the same God. Yet, through the course of time, there have developed wide varieties of doctrine, all claiming to come from the Word of God.
There are many reasons that can be given for the great variety of beliefs today. One, it is inevitable that there will be different interpretations to the same thing. It is a common occurrence that two or more people draw out different conclusions, even though they may have witnessed the same thing. So it happens with the Word. Even though the words of the Bible are the same to everyone, yet each person draws out something different. Gradually, as more and more people came in contact with the Word, more and more interpretations were taken from it. Different doctrines were brought out, even when many had good motives. It is possible for two or more people, each having the desire to simply teach what the Lord says, to come up with totally different conclusions. Indeed, we see this even within particular denominations and churches. Though each member adheres to the same general doctrines, yet they inevitably disagree and come up with different applications when particulars are discussed. Once again, each particular application can be formed with sincerity, without any intent of deception on the part of the person.
However, some beliefs were formed strictly for the sake of selfishness. Some have formed and advocated certain teachings, not for the worship of the Lord, but strictly to have control over others. They deliberately attempt to deceive others. These false teachers the Lord warned about when He told His disciples: … false christ and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (MT 24:24)
Therefore, there are those who put on a good display before others only with the intent to deceive.
Therefore, how can we know for sure who is teaching the truth? This can be especially difficult when we hear an articulate speaker advocating a certain belief or idea, and then we hear another speaker, equally talented, promoting another thought. It does not take long to feel like we are drifting from one opinion to another, not knowing what to believe. It is during these times we may feel like Pilate when he said to the Lord, “What is truth?”
This is why we need to have doctrine from the Word. We need doctrine to have stability in the Word. We need to read, study, and interpret the Word under general guidelines, so our applications will be consistent and effective. Without doctrine, our minds would wonder from one idea to the next, eventually leading to frustration and discouragement. (SS 52, TCR 348) Paul once stated to the Ephesians that we are protected from being deceived when our understanding of truth is conjoined with love. He wrote:
… we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, but spreading the truth in love, may grow up in all things unto Him who is the head-Christ. (Eph 4:14 & 15)
We must have doctrine to live by, if we are to be guided by the Lord towards a productive and effective spiritual life.
It should be noted that just because a person may say that he or she believes in the Lord, does not necessarily mean that person is on the right path to eternal life. (AC 4683) Certainly, there are many recorded in the Word that made a confession that the Lord had the truth, but they really did not mean it. The Pharisees pictured such a person. They once said to the Lord:
Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do you care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. (Mt. 22:16)
Yet, they certainly were not sincere when they made this statement. They merely said this with the intent to trick the Lord, so the people would turn against Him. Likewise, there are those who confess the Lord with their mouths, not with their hearts. They believe that if they merely acknowledge the Lord’s existence and what He did on earth, that is enough for salvation. But that is not a true faith, because it is not conjoined with a love towards the Lord. The Lord spoke of such when He said:
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart form Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Mt 7:21-23)
This is the condition of those who only display a confession of the Lord before others for the sake of themselves.
Those who are not in a true faith towards the Lord make matters of faith a higher priority over acts of good or charity. They believe that it is more important what we believe than what we do. When faith is regarded as the highest essential of the church, divisions are the result. (AC 6272) When salvation is regarded only according to what is known and believed, everyone else is condemned who disagrees with that belief. Such is the result when faith is not conjoined with a love towards the teachings of the Word.
However, we are graciously assured that anyone can have a true faith that leads to the lord Jesus Christ. Everyone can know Who the Lord is and how we can truly worship Him in our lives. Such a faith is put forth in Jeremiah
I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. (Jer 31: 33 & 34)
We all can enter a faith that has a real confidence that the Lord is present in our lives and actively leading us into His kingdom.
How can we enter such a faith? Simply, not just knowing what the Word says or teaches, but by actually living according to it. (AC 8987:3) It is just not our external deeds that must agree with the commandments of the Word, but our thoughts and intentions as well. If there is a genuine belief in the Lord, that belief will manifest itself in the conduct of our lives. The Epistle of James points out the importance of showing our faith in the Lord by our external actions. It states:
Show me you faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble. (James 2: 18 & 19)
When there is a genuine commitment to live according to what we regard as true, our faith is conjoined with love. Faith must be conjoined to love before it real and productive. (AC 4352:3, 7762) When there is such a dedication to live according to the doctrine we sincerely believe to be true, we will have a perception of the Lord leading and directing our lives towards heavenly peace and contentment. This perception gives us the assurance that the Lord is with us, and leading us to enjoy heavenly delights. (AC 5963, 8435) When the Lord removes the doubts and gives us the assurance that we are safe in His care, we will make the same genuine confession His disciples made after He calmed the storm, “Truly, You are the Son of God.” (Mt 22:16)
Nevertheless, before we can enter into such a faith that gives us the assurance that we are in the right path, we must go the Word. However, we must not study the Word just to have it confirm our prejudice or have it say what we want it to say. We must simply look to the Word to learn what the Lord would have us do to be united with Him. If this is the primary purpose for going to the Word, then the Lord will reveal to us truths that are contained therein. From the revelation of truth in the Word, the Lord will produce a conviction and trust that we are in His care. (TCR 137:5) It is the Lord that causes truths to shine forth in His Word. (TCR 349) Everyone can have clear direction in their lives by recognizing how the Word is to be applied in life. When this happens, these words of the Lord will become a reality in our lives:
When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. (Jn 16:13)
If we have a commitment to live according to what we are taught in the Word, the Spirit of truth will come and guide us in all truth.
But before we can see truth in the Word, there must be the acknowledgment that the Lord is the Son of God. This acknowledgment is the first principle of true faith. (TCR 342) We must read and study the Word with a sincere, heartfelt confession that the Lord Jesus Christ has the authority to teach us how to live, because He is Divine Truth itself. If this is our sincere acknowledgment as we approach the Word, our minds are in the proper order whereby the Lord is enabled to enlighten us. When we have this acknowledgment of the Lord, together with the commitment to do what He commands, we are in a genuine worship toward the Lord. If this is the case, we are in the power of becoming aware of truth that is directly from the Lord. (TCR 354) Everyone is created by the Lord to learn genuine truths from the Word. Therefore, everyone, regardless of how they were raised or what they are taught, is able to recognize truth from the Lord. (351) This promise the Lord gives to all who desire to come to Him for direction in life. This promise He gives to anyone, regardless of their doctrinal belief:
… the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (Jn 14:26)
It is important to try to have a genuine doctrine in life. It is important to be able to interpret the Scriptures correctly, so they can teach us Who the Lord really is and what a genuine Christian life involves. Therefore, we should always approach the Word with the desire to learn what the Lord would want us to believe in. The more truths we receive from the Word, and the more they are orderly arranged, the more our faith in the Lord is perfected. We can know that our doctrine is genuine if it glorifies the Lord as the one God of heaven and earth. Our faith is pure if all creative and redemptive power is directed toward Him. Also, the particulars of our doctrine must agree, support, and enhance all other particulars. If the particulars are contradicting or at variance with the clear statements from the Word, that is a sign that we may have to prayerfully re-examine how we are interpreting the Word. Also, our interpretations must lead to what is good for everyone. If our doctrine does not perform uses towards others, then there is something lacking. However, if our doctrine leads us to useful deeds, then our faith is united with charity. If this is the case, the Lord will enlighten our understanding so we may have a sure confidence that we are indeed a part of the Lord’s kingdom. And when we are in a state of charity, we will still be able to see how those who differ with us are still a part of the Lord’s kingdom, because of the good they are striving to perform. When we look to the Lord as the source of truth, than this promise He made will be fulfilled in us:
If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.