|Vol. 15 No. 6 June 2013||
Arlis D. Richardson
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). In order to be made free by truth, there are five fundamentals of that truth that must be adapted to our lives.
We have to know it. Not only are we commanded to know the Word of God, but there is a crying need for us to know it. It is necessary if we are to lead others. It is necessary if we are to properly be guided ourselves. Knowledge of God’s Word comforts us. Knowledge is equipment. It is the only offensive equipment we have, but we cannot use it to fight Satan if we have not taken possession of it. Some people confuse zeal with knowledge, but zeal without knowledge is dangerous (Romans 10:1-2). It is like a loaded gun in the hands of a fool. Such can do more harm in a short time than can be repaired in years. A zealous person without knowledge is somewhat like an automobile in the hands of a beginner. There is a great possibility of an accident. Knowledge will eliminate most problems in the church, but knowledge without zeal is also dangerous (2 Peter 2:20-22), but having knowledge and not living in accordance with that knowledge can cost the loss of souls (James 4:17).
Another fundamental is to grow. Knowledge and zeal must be combined for spiritual growth. What about a child that does not grow past the baby stage? Some do not grow spiritually because they fail to assemble with God’s people where they may learn together (Hebrews 10:25-26). Jesus should be our example. He did not refuse to attend services because hypocrites were there (Luke 4:33). We should not be satisfied with only doing our duty (Luke 17:10). Growth is assured if we hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6). As material food makes the physical body grow, so does spiritual food assure spiritual growth. Poor nutrition and sporadic eating harms the physical body. Likewise sporadic spiritual eating will harm us spiritually. Too little of proper food, natural or spiritual, will result in death.
A third fundamental of spiritual truth is to glow. The Christian is a reflected light – like the moon. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). However, sometimes the light of God is not reflected properly because of lazy living. “I wrote unto the church; but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words, and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.” The wicked, who live in darkness of sin, can only be guided by the light that Christians reflect from God (Philippians 2:15). Only when this light enters do they quit stumbling around. Accidents, in darkness, often result in death, but those wicked in darkness can turn from darkness to light (Ephesians 5:8). Christians should not shine only on the outside. If so, our reflected light will eventually become hazy. It takes the light shining in the inner man for it to be shown glowing on the outside. “The seed is the word of God” (Titus 2:14).
Go. Far too many are at ease in Zion, but go or woe (1 Corinthians 9:16)! “Be baptized” is no more a command than “go baptize.” The Gospel was spread all over the known world during the time of Paul (Colossians 1:23). Those scattered, preached it everywhere they went (Acts 8:4). The command is “Go,” not “Let them come.” The right attitude will cause Christians to be concerned about going – around the corner – and around the world! If we fail to carry out the Great Commission command, much of humanity will be lost to Satan and his hell! It will be our fault. Those who are physically able must go. Those unable to go can and must send those who can go (Romans 10:12-15).
Sow. The Word of God must be sown in all types of people. “…The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). It is God that will give the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). A farmer does not expect all grain to produce, but trusts in God to give a good crop. The farmer still plants plenty of seed. Likewise, Christians must realize all people will not accept the Word of God, but they still must plant the seed and let God work to bring forth the fruit from their labors.
In conclusion, when the Word of God is planted, it will enter different types of hearts. After becoming Christians, we can only remain good soil and produce good fruit for our Master by knowing the Word of God, growing in that knowledge, glowing as the reflected light of Jesus, going to the lost and sowing the same type of seed that produced us (as Christians).
The apostle Paul instructed his son in the faith, the evangelist Timothy, to “Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2). Some of the reasons Timothy was told to preach the Word were (1) God’s Word is truth (John 17:17) and (2) the time would come when men would turn their ears away from the truth (2 Timothy 4:3-4). In this context, Paul said that men would not put up with (endure, tolerate) healthful (sound) teaching/doctrine but would satisfy their own desires. It was as though they had itching ears. They would seek teachers to “scratch” their itching ears. Those who would not endure the sound doctrine and who would turn their ears from the truth would turn to teachings made up by men (fables). Paul knew this by inspiration, of course, and urged Timothy to preach the Word, knowing that God’s Word would counter the fables and false teachings of men.
In God’s plan for the church, we have a primary function that is to be the support and foundation of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). The central purpose of the church is found in the Great Commission. We are to preach the Truth, the Gospel (Mark 16:15). As Paul told the Ephesians, it is God’s purpose for his manifold wisdom to be made known through the church (Ephesians 3:10-11). So, the church fulfills an important role in supporting the truth.
The varied duties of Christians are encompassed in this serious responsibility to support the Truth. Personal godliness is needed in one who truly supports the Truth. Our lives will reflect the extent of our faith and trust in God’s Word. Scriptural worship reflects our loyalty and support of the Truth. Acceptable worship toward God is to be offered “in truth” (John 4:24). For example, our singing in worship without instrumental accompaniment shows our devotion to God and His Truth and also indicates our respect for the authority of the Truth.
Some say the truth “speaks for itself.” While I think I understand the intent of this statement, the church must know the Truth, set forth the Truth and defend the Truth. If we do not know the Truth and know it well, the Truth may suffer at our hands. We must be able to contend for and defend the Truth. We must stand up for Truth. We must remember our duty is to be the “pillar and the ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).