Truth, Sincerity, and a Bloody Tunic

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Have you read, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it” (Proverbs 23:23)?

Sadly, Truth is not a hot commodity these days. The item flying off shelves is Sincerity – especially in religious matters.  While the wise man counseled God’s people to value Truth (i.e. “buy it”), the current society prefers to question the existence of Truth. No one would dare question Sincerity, though. Today, if a person sincerely believes something to be so, who has the audacity to challenge its accuracy?

Personal perspective, individual preference, emotional response – Sincerity is the standard to go by. The mistaken notion is that Sincerity constitutes Truth. As if believing something strongly enough could make it so.

But this is as wrong as it could be. You don’t believe something to make it true; you believe something because it is true. Christians don’t believe the gospel to make it true; they believe the gospel because it is true!

Truth accords with reality. Truth is the way it is. Truth is the fact of the matter. What is True is true whether you and I know it or not. True is true whether you and I like it or not. True is true whether you and I believe it or not. Our sincerity about something will never change the truth of the matter.

A Bible event testifies to the distinction of Sincerity and Truth. In the book of Genesis, Jacob believed with all his heart that his son Joseph was dead (Genesis 37:31-35). Joseph’s eleven brothers conspired to trap him and sell him into slavery. To hide their misdeeds, they took Joseph’s colorful tunic, tore it, and dipped it in blood. Then they presented the garment to Jacob and said, “We have found this. Do you know whether it is your son’s tunic or not?”  Jacob said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces.” Jacob tore his clothes, he wore sackcloth, and he refused to be comforted. Jacob said that he would go to his grave mourning. He sincerely believed Joseph was dead. In truth, Joseph lived. No matter how sincerely Jacob believed Joseph was dead, it did not change the truth that Joseph was alive.

We may pity Jacob because he was misled by his sons and the bloody tunic. What a shame to needlessly mourn like that. In fact, when the eleven admitted that Joseph lived, Jacob had a hard time believing them (Genesis 45:26-28).  Jacob was deceived and committed to a delusion for many years. But that did not change the truth: Joseph lived.

This account shows us three things about the Truth. First, one can be ignorant of the Truth. But that does not change it. Second, one can be deceived about the Truth. People can lie and lead you astray. It happened to Jacob. But that does not change the Truth. Finally, a person can be utterly sincere in some falsehood or delusion. But that will never alter the Truth.

Religion is not exempt from the force of Truth. Thoughtful people can look at different world religions and wonder if any of them are true. Every religion presents its own cast of characters, holy books, system of salvation, stories of origin, antidotes for suffering, and visions of future life. Are they all true? It is impossible.

Yet some people would say that various religions are all true in their own way; there are many paths and many truths – even portions of Truth are sprinkled throughout them. Another popular idea is that most all religions are basically the same anyway, so people should find the one they like best or content themselves with the religion of their parents. It matters little practically.

The gospel destroys these notions because the gospel is true (Ephesians 1:13). The gospel is the true word of the Lord (1 Pet. 1:22-25). God’s word is Truth (John 17:17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). The Bible is true. So Christians are both lovers of truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10) and preachers of truth (Colossians 1:5-6; 1 Timothy 3:15).

People can be ignorant of the gospel, but that does not change it. They can be misled or deceived about the gospel, but that does not change it. They can be completely sincere in their faith and dedication to error, but that will not alter the gospel either. There is no salvation to be found in counterfeit gospels or false religions (Galatians 1:6-9; Acts 4:12).

The world would like Christians to stop pestering people with Truth. “Leave other cultures alone,” they say, “Let them celebrate their religious heritage. After all, they are sincere.”

Surely they are sincere but so was Jacob. Sincerity does not make a religion true nor does it secure a soul. The gospel says that people are lost because of their sins and there is only one savior – Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16; 3:23; 6:23; John 14:6). People must be told the Truth (John 8:31-32) and encouraged to seek the Truth. Let’s search God’s Word to discover Truth (Acts 17:11). Let’s get back to buying Truth.

By Andrew Roberts

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With God’s Word

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Do you want God to speak to you?  Would you want to hear the audible voice of God? Maybe sometimes we wish God would speak to us audibly. We want to hear His voice. After all, there are certain preachers who claim that God speaks to them. They say, “God told me this,” or “Jesus was speaking to me the other day.” Wouldn’t it be great if we could all hear God?

Or maybe we feel like our circumstances and difficulties are so unique that only direct audible speech could guide us. We have tough decisions to make and wish God would shout from on high and tell us exactly what to do.

Yet, I highly doubt those preachers actually hear God’s voice. Some of them are truly hucksters and liars; others are likely just overanxious leaders thoughtlessly using charismatic jargon.

Furthermore, I don’t think we would necessarily enjoy God speaking to us audibly. The Bible talks about people God spoke to directly and they did not like it very much.

For one reason, God’s voice was a terrifying experience. Folks are fond of the Elijah story where God spoke in “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). We figure we could handle that. But that is more the exception than the rule. God spoke to Job from a whirlwind (Job 38:1; 40:6). In the book of Job, great winds blew over houses (Job 1:19)! We forget God spoke on Mount Sinai and that the Israelites did NOT want God to speak directly to them (Exodus 20:18-21). Similarly, at the voice of God, men fell down afraid (Matthew 17:5-6) and even mistook His voice for thunder (John 12:28-29).

Secondly, when God spoke to people, He did not talk to them about what they wanted to talk about. He said what He wanted to say. He told Abraham to start moving cross-country without naming a destination (Genesis 12:1). The Bible does not indicate that Abraham had been praying about making a move in his life. Or God directed Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac (Genesis 22:1-2). There’s no way that had been a question on Abraham’s heart! Job faced terrible circumstances and he thought he was ready to demand answers from God (Job 23:1-7). But once God started talking, Job could only cover his mouth (Job 40:4). God was not inclined to answer a single one of Job’s complaints (Job 38-42).

No, God does not speak to His people audibly today. And since God is all-wise, I’m going to say that is not a bad thing. Know that God has already spoken to you! He speaks to His people every day and any time of day through His Word, the Bible. God speaks through the Scriptures, the Bible. The 66 books of the Bible (39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament) are inspired – God breathed!

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work,” 2 Timothy 3:16.

The 66 books of the Bible are not called inspired because they are in the Bible. Rather, they are in the Bible because they are inspired. The Bible is the collection, or library, of Scripture – God-breathed writings.

There is no other God and there is no other Scripture. The Bible is God’s revealed truth, His revealed will for our lives.

With God’s word, we are shown our world, how to understand it, and how to operate in it correctly. With God’s word Christians receive their standard for Faith and practice. With God’s word we have guidance for our lives: knowledge, wisdom, and counsel. With God’s word the great questions are answered: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?

Not only this, the Scripture is the standard we are given whereby to judge anyone who claims that God is speaking audibly to them (1 John 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 14:37)! Great care and discernment is required when listening to anyone who claims that God is speaking to them.

As we read the Bible, study it, meditate upon it, and devote our heart to it, the Holy Spirit works through the word in our lives. The word of God is the Spirit’s sword, after all (Ephesians 6:17). It is living and double-edged (Hebrews 4:12). When we take it up, it is He who wields it to

  • pierce our hearts
  • slay sin, error, and doubt
  • wage the great war for the souls of men against the evil one

Instead of waiting for thunder, read your Bible. The Bible is God’s true, constant, accessible, and near voice in our lives. Let’s start every day reading it. And let’s be sure to launch out on a new week with God’s Word.

By Andrew Roberts