Truth isn’t as black and white as we may think.
For starters, truth is not just an idea or concept. Jesus says “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John chapter 14, verse 6). Jesus claims he himself is the truth.
Jesus doesn’t claim Christianity has true ideas, he declares, I am what truth is.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John chapter 8, verse 31 to 32).
Truth, according to this verse, is an abolitionist, that would set people free.
Already we can feel our categories bending. As we walk out our Christian faith, we will be surprised to learn how dynamic truth is.
Jesus Christ is Lord! He is the Lord of our life. And if you call Jesus your Lord, and don’t obey his commands, then you call him Lord in vain.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke chapter 6, verse 46)
But there is a complimentary truth to this. The Lord’s commandments are not burdensome. We don’t obey Jesus begrudgingly. We do so with delight.
“In fact, this is love for God; to keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John chapter 5, verse 3).
“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew chapter 11, verse 30).
To obey Lord Jesus is essential, but we wilfully do it because we love him. We obey his Lordship because the name Yeshua is a sweet aroma.
This is an example of a complimentary truth.
Truth can be balanced by another doctrine.
Take the doctrine of suffering. If that is all you preach, you are going to look out into the world and be depressed. So one would do well to balance the truth with the doctrine of resurrection.
Yes, we are promised persecution in this life. “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy chapter 3, verse 12). But this can be balanced by the knowledge of future glory. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the weight of glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans chapter 8, verse 18).
Balancing truth creates a healthy believer.
For a list of Biblical paradoxes, see Professor of Hermeneutics, Bob Utley’s list.
In terms of salvation, there is the tension of man’s responsibility and God’s sovereignty. People continue debating. Some say salvation is all about man’s choice. Some say its only about God’s sovereignty.
If we look at Romans chapter 9, we notice Paul talk about how God sovereignly chooses to save. But if you turn the page, in chapter 10, we see that those who choose to place their faith in Jesus are those who will be saved.
The Bible maintains both. The Bible affirms both man’s choice and God’s sovereignty. Therefore, salvation is constituted by both.
It’s hard to wrap your head around the duality of this truth, but why should we expect to perfectly understand the ways of God to save? Are not his ways higher than our own?
Kindness and Severity
“Consider therefore the kindness and severity of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you will be cut off.” (Romans chapter 11, verse 22).
God blesses in one breath and curses in the next. God is kind to one people group, and stern with another. This can be hard to understand. How can God be both?
Here is another common question, how can God be both loving and just? In response to this question, Tim Keller, in his book The Reason for God writes:
“I always start my response by saying that all loving people are filled with wrath, not just despite of, but because of their love. If you love a person and you see someone ruining them, you get angry.”
Keller reconciles the difference by saying love produces a sternness because you want to protect their wellbeing. It’s truly mind bending, but a person can express their love in both kindness and severity. Both can be true.
The trinity is another mind-bending doctrine. The Bible affirms the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ and God the Father all as God. At the same time, the Bible affirms that the Lord our God is one.
Christians then maintain One God in three persons. It is a seeming contradiction, but it is a core Christian truth.
The time we are living in now, it is increasingly common for people to make statements like “This is my truth.” While I agree with the sentiment that everybody should respect each other’s way of living, we should note how this actually takes all meaning out of truth. When truth is subjective, everything is true. When everything is true, truth itself loses all meaning.
Truth, while it is dynamic, is not up to us to define it. Truth is unchanging just as God’s nature is unchanging. There needs to be a standard of truth that we can measure things by. Fortunately, there is somebody’s nature that is unchanging and unpolluted. Namely, the nature of God. From which, truth finds its reference.
The point of all this truth talk is that truth is not monochromatic. Tension exists. Complexity. Truth is not merely an idea. Not just an abstract concept. Truth frees. Truth saves. To deliver truth is to deliver an aspect of God’s nature. Why should we expect this to be simple? Of course, it isn’t. But that is the beauty of truth. It’s complexity and it’s objectivity.
There is something so special about having your mental framework utterly broken by Jesus. It unleashes a new reality to see the world. There is a startling tension in truth, but this tension is worth the discomfort as it will inevitably renew our mind. And a renewed mind leads to a transformed heart.
Roden Meares enjoys playing basketball, reading comics and going to the gym. He has a passion for evangelising and helping others in their faith through writing.
Roden’s previous articles can be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/roden-meares.html