What is truth?
Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory and being of God. Truth is reality, and because God created reality (Genesis 1) and is the ultimate reality, He is the source of all truth. If we want to know God, and therefore truth, we must consult His Word, the Bible, which is the revelation and self-expression of Godís character and therefore pure truth (Jn 17:17).
Truth is attributed to each Person of the Trinity. The Father is the God of truth (Ps. 31:5). Jesus is the incarnation of truth (Jn 14:6). And the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of truth (Jn 15:26).The Triune God cannot lie. He can never change His mind, and He always keeps His promises.
Num 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
Just as God is eternal (Rev 1:8) and unchangeable (Mal 3:6; Heb 13:8), so is His truth and His Word.
Ps 100:5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
1 Pet 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
Ps 12:6-7 The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
Jn 10:35-36 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
The Hebrew word for truth in the Old Testament connotes faithfulness. Godís truth and His inability to lie make Him absolutely reliable and worthy of our trust. This forms the basis of our faith. We believe God because He is true. We believe the Bible because it is true and reliable. If any doubt could be cast on the truthfulness and reliability of God and His Word, we would have no reason to believe.
We Christians are drawn to truth. Unbelievers are repelled by truth. Whereas we believe Godís Word because it is true, unbelievers donít believe it because it is true.
Jn 8:45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
This is because you are either of the truth (Jn 18:37c, d) or of the devil.
Jn 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
According to this verse, we could define a lie as that which is consistent with the mind, will, character and being of Satan.
Truth is not always logical. We often find seemingly conflicting statements in Scripture. These arenít contradictions; they are paradoxes. They are equally true even if our tiny finite minds cannot comprehend how they can be true. The Bibleís teaching on truth is paradoxical. We know that God cannot lie, yet He can deceive people.
Jer 4:10 Ah, Lord GOD! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people.
Jer 20:7 O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived.
Ezek 14:9 And if a prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet.
He can also send lying spirits to deceive people.
1 Kings 22:23 Now, therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee.
2 Chron 18:22 Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets.
He will let Satan loose after the Millennium to deceive the nations.
Rev 20:7-8 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
No one can resist being deceived by God. He is absolutely convincing.
2 Thess 2:11-12 For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Here is where it is important to remember our definition of truth: that which is consistent with Godís character. Truthfulness and deceitfulness are both attributes of Godís character, so when God deceives, He is being true. There is no contradiction here, only paradox.
We know from Numbers 23:19 that God is unable to change His mind, or ďrepent,Ē and yet He can.
Gen 6:6-7 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
God is omnipotent (Rev 19:6). Can God do something He cannot do? Evidently, yes. Our eternally unchangeable God can change His mind. This answers the omnipotence paradox.
We also know from Numbers 23:19 that God always keeps His word, and yet it would seem His promise to Abraham wasnít fulfilled.
Gen 17:7-8 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
Acts 7:5 And he gave him [Abraham] none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.
Heb 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
But in fact God did fulfil His promise to Abraham. It turns out that when God said Abraham would possess Canaan, what He really meant was Abraham would possess a heavenly city.
Heb 11:10 For he [Abraham]looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Heb 11:13-14 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
Heb 11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
God always keeps His word, and when He made His promise to Abraham, He swore by Himself to make it extra convincing.
Heb 6:13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself.
Heb 6:16 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.
Heb 6:17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
Heb 6:18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
Jesus disapproved of swearing oaths, though. He taught that if we say we will do something, we should just do it. If we are reliable, we shouldnít need to take oaths. But in Old Testament times it was okay to swear oaths.
33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
It would also seem God didnít carry out His threat to destroy Nineveh.
1 And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey.
4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
God changed His mind.
Jon 3:10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
If God had sworn to do good to the Ninevites and then changed His mind, perhaps then we could call this a broken promise. But God relented from doing evil. I donít think there was any complaint from the Ninevites.
These are just a few examples of paradoxes in the Bible. There are many more. They may be difficult to resolve, but any definition of truth that doesnít include God, the source of truth, will be completely nonsensical. Truth is the essence of Godís character, and His character is completely trustworthy.
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