I’ve spent a lot of time on university campuses, three campuses as a student and one as faculty. Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of talk about truth. Generally speaking, the consensus is that truth is individual—what is true for you may not be true for me, and what is true for me may not be true for you. And the truth could change. As we gain new knowledge, we may alter our views. For me, that doesn’t define truth at all. For me, that defines opinion. That is not to say that we can’t learn more about truth as we go through life, but truth doesn’t change, only our knowledge of it does.
In French, there are two ways to express the verb to know. Savoir is used when the meaning is to know a fact or to know how to do something. Connaître is used for being familiar with a place or for knowing people. In English, we don’t have those distinctions, but Jesus told us in John 14:6 that He is the Truth. So in John 8:32 when He speaks of knowing the truth and being set free by the truth, He is referring to Himself. In this case, there is no question of what that truth might be depending on who perceives it. John 8:31 makes it clear. “If you continue to follow my teaching,” Jesus says, “then you will be true disciples...” John 8:32 continues the sentence, “…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” So often people take John 8:32 out of context, and use it alone to encourage the pursuit of knowledge. But that is not the point of this verse. Jesus is encouraging new believers to know Him. He is telling them how to truly be disciples, and He gives them a promise, that abiding in Him will give them freedom. He didn’t mean political freedom as the speakers of John 8:33 must have assumed, but spiritual freedom, freedom from bondage to sin. (John 8:34-36)
Being somewhat academically inclined, and also somewhat idealistic, I like to know the truth for the sake of knowing the truth. But if knowing that truth, also brings freedom, that’s a bonus that I don’t want to miss out on. So I will choose to abide in the teaching of Jesus who is the Truth. Will you?
The more I think about and read about Harold Camping’s prediction of the end of the world, the more I realize how much harm it has done. Not only for those who followed him wholeheartedly, and spent every cent they had before the expected end, but most especially for those who now mock the Christian faith. Rest assured, Judgement Day will come; we just don’t know when.
In Deuteronomy 4:1-2 Moses instructs the Israelites to obey the Word of God, but to not add anything to it or subtract anything from it. This is a commandment that is repeated in Deuteronomy 12:32 and Revelation 22:18-19, and it is exactly what Harold Camping did. He manipulated facts about dates such that he came up with a convoluted mathematical proof that the rapture would occur at a specific time on a specific day. Not only was this adding to the scripture, it was also contradicting the scriptures that say that no one knows the day or the hour. (Matthew 24:36, Matthew 24:42, Matthew 24:50, Matthew 25:13, Mark 13:32, Acts 1:7) If we add to scripture, we are putting ourselves in the place of God, thinking that we know more than God has made known to us.
God provided us with His word to teach us and to bless us, so that we could know and worship the one true God. Deuteronomy 6:1-3 says that by keeping His commandments and teaching them to our children and grandchildren, we would receive blessing and prolong our days. Matthew 4:4 tells us that we need God's Word to live on, that living by bread is not enough. We can, like Jesus, use it to guard our hearts against the devil’s schemes. The Psalms indicate that the word of God is like a light to our path (Psalm 119:105) and useful for maintaining a pure life. (Psalm 119:9, March 9, 2011) Mark 4:20 promises that those who follow the Word will bear much fruit.
Nowhere does the Bible indicate that there are secret codes to figure out so that we can learn what the Bible says is not for us to know. The human race was warned from the very beginning not to try to become equal to God by knowing everything that He knows. In the Garden of Eden, even though God commanded against it, the serpent told Eve that eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would open her eyes so that she would be like the divine beings—she would know what God knows. (Genesis 3:4-5) Secret things belong to the Lord. (Deuteronomy 29:29) He has, however, given us plenty of other information to think about, study and put into practice. We need to take the things that He did reveal to us, and use them to obey His statutes and give glory to Him.
David Teems, author of Majestie: The King Behind the King James Bible, has said, “God is not in the business of explaining things. He’s not obligated to explain anything to us. But we live in a generation today where we feel like we’re entitled to an explanation.” Yes, wouldn’t it be nice if God would let us in on His plan and tell us what our role is in it? Decision-making would be so much easier. Deuteronomy 29:29 lets us know that that won’t happen. God has all the answers, and He only gives us some of them. Sometimes He gives us answers in the form of thoughts or knowledge, but He most certainly gives us answers through the Bible. Because we have access to His Word, we have become responsible for the information that it contains.
Proverbs 25:2 indicates that we (even though we aren’t kings) should not only feel free, but obligated to search out the truth, to find the answers, to investigate the best way of doing things. The title of Proverbs 25 tells us that these proverbs were collected by King Hezekiah, so it is natural that he would be concerned about the responsibility of kings to lead and govern their people. Today, however, we are all required to lead and govern our own lives, and the wisdom of this passage is just as valid for us. Investigate, study and learn what it is that you can know, but realize that you can’t know it all. If we could know all that God knows, He wouldn’t be God. We can know enough, however, to have faith in His trustworthiness.
The passage in Deuteronomy says that we have this information so that we might obey God’s laws. James 4:17 tells us that because we know what is good, we are obligated to do it.