Truth calls for a response. We can face the light of God's truth as it is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, and any truth that will also reveal about ourselves, or we can continue to avoid it. If, however, we avoid it, then we will have no choice but to face it fully one day because "[God] has set a day when he will judge all the world's people with fairness. And he has chosen the man Jesus to do the judging for him. God has given proof of this to all of us by raising Jesus from death" (Acts 17:31).
While on earth, Jesus claimed that we would be judged in the light of the truth he himself had spoken. "There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day" (John 12:48). In that day, God "will show what is hidden in the dark and what is in everyone's heart" (1 Corinthians 4:5)....
Suggestions for those searching for truth
If you are among those who are looking for the truth and still have an open mind about it, then I suggest you begin by reading through one of the Gospels at the beginning of the New Testament, in a modern translation. [There are many good translations available, including Good News (for those with English as a second language), New International Version and Contemporary English Version.] However, before you do, pray a prayer something like this:
Lord, I don't know whether you are there or not, but if you are, then I want you to know I am sincere about wanting to know the truth about you. As I read this Gospel, I want you to reveal to me in some way whether this Jesus is really who be claimed to be and if it is true that he died for me. If you should convince me of this, then I will accept him as my Saviour and my Lord and follow wherever this truth leads.
It takes some courage to pray a prayer like that, as we can never be sure where it will lead. However, it is a good test of our sincerity. And it makes sense that we will always be better off facing whatever truth is out there than avoiding it. Jesus once said, "If you really want to obey God, you will know if what I teach comes from God or from me" (John 7:17). In other words, whether or not I am going to know the truth depends on what I really want. George Macdonald, in The Curate's Awakening, warned: "To try to explain truth to him who loves it not, is but to give him more plentiful material for misinterpretation."
The prominent Chinese Christian Watchman Nee spelled out more fully the kind of attitudes we must have if we are to know the truth:
Lies have no price upon them. They are cheap and they abound everywhere. But for the truth there is always a price to pay. First there is the price of humility, for it is to the meek that light is given from God. If we are not prepared to buy the truth at the cost of our own humbling we shall not receive it. Then there is the price of patience. Quick verdicts and impatient decisions have little to do with the divine light which is given to those who will wait upon God and wait for God. And supremely, there is tbe price of obedience. "If any man willeth to do his will, be shall know." Unquestioning obedience is essential if we would know God's will and God's ways. Is our faith the cheap, easy kind tbat pays no price? Or are we prepared to have it founded on the truth of God, however great to us the cost of coming by that truth?
In his book Wise As a Serpent, Harmless As a Dove, Charles Strohmer tells of his own search for truth:
There is a real sense in which this book started to be written more than twenty-five years ago. It was in the late 1960s, and I was in my teens, when the inspiring idea broke in on me that 'whatever the answer to tbe problems of the world was, it must be Truth with a capital "T."' Within months this insight cast like iron in my soul and I resolved to make a search for Truth, whatever that was. And then when I found it, I wanted to communicate it to others who were likewise disenchanted....
In my early twenties, astrology, meditation, visualisation, 'spirit guides', vegetarianism, asceticism and psycbic healing roughly in that order—along with a scattering of other so-called New Age beliefs and practices—dominated my search for Truth. It did not take eighteen years this time, but roughly eight, for complete disenchantment to set in. The joy within me died when the 'truth' of the Aquarian Dream was found to be lies. The hope of more and better lives through reincarnation disappeared. Trusted New Age practices like meditation no longer brought tranquillity, others lost their appeal As a friend said, "I was no better, I was no god." What I now know to be the power of God had smashed my Aquarian Dream.
Not knowing then in what direction to turn for the Truth, I dropped into deep depression. If Truth wasn't in the West or the East, or in a metaphysical marriage of the two, just where was it? I hadn't a clue now.
After several weeks of bewilderment, by God's grace I met the Truth Himself and became a Christian in July 1976. What an awakening, I can tell you! And indeed I wanted to tell everyone about the Truth, Jesus Christ.
The certainty that Charles Strohmer found when he met Jesus has been experienced by countless others over the last 2,000 years (including myself!) regardless of where they started from, or what their past life may have dished up to them. Of course, meeting with Jesus is only the beginning, but the beginning of a wonderful new relationship that will deepen and become more satisfying as your faith grows and he leads you into more and more truth about himself and his plans for you, in this life and the next.
The Russian writer Dostoevsky met with Jesus through reading the New Testament while imprisoned in Siberia. Shortly after his release, he wrote to a woman who had befriended him during this period:
To believe that there is nothing more beautiful, more profound, more sympathetic, more reasonable, more manly, more perfect than Christ, and not only is there nothing but I tell myself with jealous love, there can be nothing. Besides, if anyone proved to me that Christ was outside the truth and it really was so that the truth was outside Christ, then I would prefer to remain with Christ than with the truth.
The great thing is, however, as Dostoevsky found, that you may have both Christ and the truth, for in him truth finds its ultimate expression.
Commitment to truth
Becoming a Christian, in the sense of entering into a personal relationship with the living Christ, is but the beginning of a journey. It can be a painful process as we learn to open up our lives more and more to the light of his truth. However, the rewards are incalculable, both for ourselves and others who may also begin the journey as a result of our decision. Jesus said that if we obeyed him, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). You will find that as God transforms you from within, then your understanding of truth will grow. Character and spiritual understanding are inextricably linked in the Bible. John says, "When we love others, we know that we belong to the truth, and we feel at ease in the presence of God" (1 John 3:19).
One of the great advantages of being a Christian is that you don't have to avoid truth, wherever it may be found. There is no need to explain things away. It fits all the evidence—evidence that comes to us from science regarding the structure of the universe [I have dealt with this in some detail in The Complementary Nature of Science and Christianity.] — evidence from the nature of human beings, their capacity for both great good and great evil; evidence from history, particularly that relating to the remarkable life, teaching and influence of Jesus Christ; evidence from the lives of millions who have claimed to have met this Christ and whose lives have been transformed as a result. Francis Schaeffer, one of the leading Christian thinkers of the past generation, was fond of emphasising that there is only one reason to be a Christian—because it is true.
If you have come to the point where you are prepared to begin such a journey, you may find it helpful to pray a prayer something like this:
Jesus, I am willing to open my life to you. Show me the truth about myself—the best and the worst.
I accept that you died for my sins because of your great love for me, and I thank you for that.
I am sorry for my sin, I repent of it, and I now accept your forgiveness.
Come into my life and begin the process of moulding me into all you planned that I should be.
Give me the courage and strength to live worthily of your love and to follow this truth wherever it leads.
If you make this commitment, then start reading through the New Testament, asking God to reveal more of himself and his plans for you. Also, find other Christians with whom you feel comfortable and who can be an encouragement. We grow in our faith more when we do it with others on the same journey. May God grant you that certainty that only comes from knowing him who is Truth.
Some books I have found helpful in exploring the whole issue of truth in today's postmodern world:
Moving Between the Times by Brian Carrell (The Deepsight Trust, PO Box 87-362, Meadowbank, Auckland, New Zealand, 1998).
The Universe Next Door by James W. Sire (Second edition, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois 60515, 1988).
The Death of Truth by Dennis McCallum, General Editor, and others (Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55438, 1996).
The New Absolutes by William D. Watkins (Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55438, 1996).
The Good, the Bad and the Misled by Mark Roques with Jim Tickner (Monarch Publications, Broadway House, The Broadway, Crowborough, East Sussex, TN6 1HQ, 1994).
Booklets by Dick Tripp
- The Bible: Can We Trust a Book Written Two Thousand Years Ago?
- Did the Writers of the New Testament Get Their Picture of Jesus Right?
- Is Jesus Really God?
- Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?
- With So Many Religions: Why Christianity?
- If There Is a God, Why Is There So Much Suffering?
- Understanding the Trinity: The God Revealed in Jesus Christ
- The Complementary Nature of Science and Christianity
- Forgiveness: What It Is and Why It Matters
- How Does God Guide?
- Repentance: What It Is and Why You Can't Get To Heaven Without It
- What Does It Mean to be Converted or Born Again?
- The Kind of Faith That Will Get You Into Heaven
- Can I Know for Sure That I Am Going to Heaven?
- What is Truth and Does It Matter?
- Does It Matter How We Live? A Christian View of Morality
- Gods Vision for His Family, The Church: A Call to the Churches of the New Millennium
Copyright 1999 by Dick Tripp, R.D. 1, Lyttleton, New Zealand. The booklets above are published by the author in a series called Exploring Faith Today. Dick Tripp is an Anglican clergyman with experience in the parish ministry in the Diocese of Christchurch, New Zealand. He has an MA in Theology from Cambridge University. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org