Monday, June 9, 2008

In Search Of Truth


Looking At Truth In "Spirit Blade- Chapter One"

Have you ever tried to discover the truth about something that was spiritual in nature? How did you go about doing it?

Did you read, pray, trust in your feelings, or maybe talk to a friend? Do you believe spiritual truth is absolute, whether anyone believes in it or not? Or do you believe there can be many truths, and what is real depends on personal belief?

Merikk is struggling with what he was raised to believe. There's probably a part of him that would really like to just fit in and be like everyone else. Who wants to be an outcast, right? But he can't simply bury the questions he has. He's not interested in believing in something he "feels" may be right "in his heart". He wants to come as close as possible to really knowing the truth about himself, the universe and whatever higher power may be in control of it.

Did you know that God likes it when we ask questions? He wants us to find answers and confront our doubts. God knows what's real and knows who he is, so he's not afraid of our questions. If truth is really true, it has no reason to fear investigation.

Check out these parts of the Bible that support investigation of truth:

Proverbs 25:2 (NIV) It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.

Jeremiah 29:13 (NLT) If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me. (Emphasis ours)

1 Peter 1:10 (NLT) This salvation was something the prophets wanted to know more about. They prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you, even though they had many questions as to what it all could mean.

Even the Old Testament prophets, who spoke for God himself, had questions and things they had trouble understanding! And searching out truth is an honor worthy of kings! There isn't anything unspiritual about asking questions or having doubts, as long as we follow through and really search for the answers. That's the kind of journey God really wants us to go on!

At this point, Ebony might say, "I'd rather just remain open-minded toward all possible religions and beliefs instead of limiting myself to just one religion." But Merikk isn't interested in finding religion. He's interested in understanding how the universe works and what his place is in it. In any case we have to ask ourselves, "What does it mean to be "open-minded"? What does it mean to "tolerate" someone's religious practice?

According to Webster's Dictionary, to tolerate means: to allow to be, or to be done without opposition.

(We should probably point out that we don't truly have the ABILITY to be anything but tolerant of someone's beliefs, since being intolerant would require the ability to hypnotize or mentally control someone.)

So, to tolerate another's religious practice means that we allow that person to practice what beliefs they want. We don't physically try to prevent them from praying, reading their scriptures or going to a religious service. However, being tolerant does not mean that we can never question their beliefs or express doubt in them. Being tolerant doesn't mean that we give equal weight to every idea in the world if enough people believe in it. The same is true for being "open-minded".

Acts 17:11-12 (NLT) And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul's message. They searched the scriptures day after day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did some of the prominent Greek women and many men.

Based on this verse, we can conclude that being open-minded, according to the Bible, includes an eagerness to learn, but an equal dedication to that which is really true.

Truth is a very important concept in the Bible. Take a look:

Psalm 31:5- Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth.

Psalm 119:30 -I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws.

Proverbs 23:23- Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding.

Zecharia 8:19b- Therefore love truth and peace.

And how many times did Jesus uses the phrase, "I tell you the truth" while teaching? We counted 78 throughout all four Gospels!

Jesus said a few other things about truth as well:

John 3:20-21- Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

Did you notice that in this example, Jesus presents truth as the opposite of evil? Jesus makes the observation here that evil hates to be questioned and wants to remain hidden and unchallenged. By contrast, truth loves to be examined, because it has nothing to hide and points us to God!

Jesus also said that God is looking for people who will worship him not just with their spirits, but also with minds that value truth!

John 4:23

- Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

In fact, Jesus himself actually IS ultimate truth/reality, according to the Bible:

John 1:14- The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:17- For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 14:6- Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

The same can be said of the Holy Spirit. Jesus refers to him as "The Spirit Of Truth". (John 15:26, 16:13)

And finally, have you ever tried to answer the question: Why did Jesus come into the world? Was it to show God's love? To save humanity? To die for our sins? To show us how to live our lives? Jesus certainly did all these things. But Jesus didn't include any of them when he himself explained his reason for coming to the world:

John 18:37- "You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

As much as we may say we respect him as a man of love and peace, as a teacher or prophet, Jesus is the most controversial figure in history. He taught the existence of absolute truth, said that he himself is the truth, and in the verse above says that "if you're really commited to truth, you'll listen to me."

Wow. Anyone uncomfortable yet? These are not politically correct or socially safe ideas. Even many who call themselves Christian would probably cringe if confronted with the absoluteness of what the Bible teaches.

Merikk was feeling uncomfortable, too. He realized that if he pursued answers, he would probably lose some friends and become an outcast. In this first chapter, he steps far outside his comfort zone to gain real answers to real questions. His journey will become harder before it becomes easier, but the answers are not far away.

Next Week: Agreeing to Disagree in Acts Chapter 15.

Coffee House Question

If you knew that you would live, without serious illness or injury, no matter what, until you were 90 years old, what would you do differently?

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