Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

    When I consider doing this series about the reality of God, I realized that it was a great task and if there was not some heavenly inspiration behind it, it would not impact others in a beneficial way. I even considered that some might become bored with pursuing such an avenue, especially when it comes to believers. After all, it is assumed that if you are a believer, religious, or go to church, you should know God, right?

    The problem is that people may know about God because of religious teachings, theological debates, and spiritual influences, but such knowledge does not mean one personally knows God. There are those who may tout religious degrees, spiritual enlightenment, and greater revelation, but none of these aspects of religion ensures that one truly knows the God of heaven.

     Sadly, I have discovered this fact not only about others, but about myself. I had an intellectual concept of God, and assumed such knowledge constituted a personal understanding about God. Later I discovered the error of my thinking when I learned that knowledge about God is not the same as possessing a personal familiarity that comes out of having a relationship with Him. This state can be quite natural to those who remain carnal in their understanding of God and way of approaching Him.

     In dealing with many people in different religious circles, the one thing that becomes obvious is that religious people may take liberty to argue Scripture, but their concepts of God bind Him to a narrow box of understanding, which flings such individuals into a quasi-state of unbelief towards the true God of the Bible. For example, there are those who spiritualize the things of God, but fail to obey God because they have no sense as to what is acceptable to Him. Such people often become disillusioned with God. And, as I used to be, there are those who assume they know God because of their religious affiliations, but in the end lack godly fruit. These individuals often become foolish and hypocritical in their attitudes and practices. There are also those who become dissatisfied with God when He does not bow down to their personal emotional whims or expectations. Many pseudo faiths are inundating Christendom, reminding me of Jesus’ warning concerning the end days, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth” (Luke 18:8)?

      God is Spirit and truth (John 4:24). He cannot be known on a fleshly, intellectual, or emotional plane for He is unseen and must be spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:11-14). The problem with trying to understand God according to man’s carnal functions is that it will also produce another type of gospel. For instance, those who consider God on strictly a fleshly plane usually end up with some feel-good or social gospel that promotes self-serving agendas and personal works over grace, while those who only consider God on an intellectual level will end with a New Age gospel that exalts personal enlightenment over the simple gospel of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (2 Corinthians 11:2-4). Those who depend on emotions will end up with a sentimental gospel, where certain sentimental notions about Jesus must be first stirred up before they will respond to the matters of God.

     God is Spirit. This means we can only interact with Him on an unseen, spiritual level. This is one of the reasons we have been given His Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 3:3-5; 1 Corinthians 2:10-11). It is only in His Spirit that we can interact with Him in a personal way. In order to properly interact with Him in the spiritual realm, we must be quick to discern the intent of something and where it is leading us in our understanding about God and His kingdom. We must use our senses to discern God’s perspective and not use them to determine how we feel about something, thereby, promoting prideful judgment on our part.

     This brings us to the intent of something. The intent of the right Spirit is to lead us into all truth about Jesus (John 16:13). The one thing I tell people is that we must not discern a matter on the basis of feelings or what instrument God chooses to use; rather, we must discern in spite of our emotional feelings as to if that instrument is speaking truth. It is important to point out that if we have attached some type of bias or prejudice, whether in ignorance or fear, to a particular instrument in God’s kingdom, that is the instrument He is most apt to use to expose our prejudice and challenge us in our way of thinking. The test is always the same in each case. It comes down to whether we are going to love the truth and choose it regardless of how much it challenges our concepts or whether we become hardened towards it. We will either accept God’s way of doing something or insist that He bow down to our way before we accept an answer to prayer or a change in course. In the past I have discovered that the instrument God often uses to speak forth His truths is the very instrument that will require me to humble myself in order to receive truth in the right spirit. As believers, we must not be faulted for settling for mediocrity or rejecting truth because God did not use the instrument we have deemed as being acceptable in that area or position. Today, people are caught up with the types of vessels and instruments that are being used, thereby limiting God in who He may use to bring about a matter for His glory and not according to people’s limited understanding.

     God is truth. In other words, He is not just a matter of facts. Facts operate according to the natural world and can only graduate to the spiritual arena when truth is the objective. Facts do not operate in any real boundaries, and it is for this reason that facts can be perverted to fit into heretical teachings, twisted to fit self-serving agendas, and touted as being the final authority as to what constitutes truth. However, facts must never be used to constitute what is truth; rather, truth must verify the legitimacy of facts.

      Truth has a foundation that never changes. It is based on the reality of the true God of heaven. It is hedged in by moral uprightness and by that which brings life to the spirit and liberty to the soul. Facts deal with the seen world with its methods, formulas, and proven laws, thereby can be measured, while truth deals with the unseen aspects of the Spirit and cannot be measured. For this reason truths are received by faith. Facts are one dimensional, while truth clarifies and reveals the dimensions of the unseen. Facts inform, while truth verifies a record as being so. Facts feed the intellect, but truth feeds the spiritual man. Facts can lack truth, but truth declares and confirms a fact as being so.

      The problem today is that most people do not see the need to guard, emphasize, and ensure the intent of the Spirit: that of truth. It is easy to put emphasis on the different truths of God, but fail to uphold the complete truth. For example, many Christians emphasize love, but Scripture tells us that love rejoices in the truth and not in iniquity, thereby defining the real emphasis of love as being that of truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). Godly love should always end in truth for it to have the moral character to bear all things, the resolve to believe all things, the devotion to hope in all things and the passion to endure all things.

     Love without truth is not pious for it is void of the moral uprightness that would firmly set one on the immovable Rock, nor will such a void in love ensure its quality or excellent commitment to ensure liberty in the Spirit and personal growth. For example, godly love cannot remain mediocre (lukewarm) in devotion towards God or indifferent towards that which would be destroyed. It cannot remain silent when it sees a person walking over a spiritual cliff into judgment and wrath. Love cannot quietly stand by while others are being hurt by the domino effects of sin. Truth warns in love, stands immovable in authority, prays in passion, is confirmed by heavenly wisdom, and will remain standing as delusion and error fall into traps of foolishness, the miry holes of consequences, and the pits of utter condemnation and destruction.

     As we consider the emphasis of truth in the Bible, it is number one in the description of the transformed mind in Philippians 4:8, and the first to be mentioned in the armor of God in Ephesians 6:14. Jesus made it clear that He brought a sword of truth to bring necessary separation in our lives so that we are able to follow Him into the disciplined life of a disciple (Matthew 10:34-39). He also made it clear that if we believe the truth we will obey it and verify our discipleship, and if we know the truth, it will make us free (John 8:31-32)

     This brings us to another aspect about truth. Truth will bring offense for it is sharp and capable of waking up those who slumber in their sins and destructive habits. It will bring separation from the world, for the world stands as an enemy to truth. It will bring clarity, for there are no shades of compromising grey in it. It will cause a reaction, because it calls for a response. Truth is truth and there is no changing it. You can dull the sharp blades of its clarity with various excuses to make it more palpable to the carnal taste of others, but in the end it will stand as is and judge those who refuse to line up to it. We can discard the righteousness of truth by doing away with the moral aspect of it to allow us the luxury of being comfortable in our religious emphasis, but in the end it will expose the iniquity that motivates the carnal man.

    Since God is the essence of truth, there are various warnings as to what will happen if truth does not become a priority in our spiritual pursuits. Truth must be firmly established in our foundational understanding or we will end up falling for everything and eventually collapsing during storms of judgment. If truth is not our premise, we will end up straying from it. If it is not our preference, we will buy a lie. If it is dulled down by compromise, we will lose our edge of properly discerning. If it is not practiced, we will become hypocrites. If it is not upheld, we will lose our authority in Christ. If it is not our emphasis, then we will miss doing the will of God, which brings me to one of the main warnings in the Bible concerning truth that is found in Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.”  

     The question is why is there such an abrasion towards the truth that even Christians will sacrifice or compromise it? The reason is obvious. The truth is a sharp two-edged sharp sword that will cut through excuses, sentimental nonsense, and quasi-religious environments (Hebrews 4:12). It will expose idols of the heart and topple idols of the mind, making it politically incorrect to a world bent on maintaining its forms of idolatries, seductions, and delusions. It will not be moved from what is so; therefore, it is often classified as being unloving. It will not placate that which perverts it, thus it is considered to be judgmental. It will not bend to avoid hurting one’s feelings; therefore, it becomes offensive. Truth will not move from the center of moral rightness or compromise its intent of lining us up to the righteous ways of God. It will never risk losing its authority, for it cannot cease to be what it is; therefore, it will remain standing upright and sure in the end (2 Corinthians 13:8).

    This brings us back to God being Spirit and truth. The Bible is clear that God can only reveal Himself to man by His Spirit (Zechariah 4:6; Matthew 16:15-18; John 16:7-11). If a matter has not been revealed by the Spirit of God to the spirit of man, it may be a fact in man’s mind, but not a revelation to his spirit. Revelation constitutes truths that have been made real and living to a person’s inner being by the Spirit (Ephesians 1:17). In other words, the person knows that he or she knows a matter is true because it has been declared as being so by God’s Word, established as being such by His Spirit, and confirmed by the godly fruits it produces.

      This brings us to the truth about God. Since the fullness of God is beyond man’s mere comprehension, man can only benefit from the Spirit and truth of the Bible when he approaches it with the intent to believe what it says about God (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:6). Even though the Word establishes the fact that there is a God, the Spirit is the One who reveals who God is in light of His nature, will, and ways. The problem is man takes the existence of God as a fact, but will often define God according to what makes sense to him, redefine God’s will according to what is comfortable and convenient, and establish the ways of God according to his own sense of limited or perverted justice. The result is that man will often erect a god to his own liking.

      It is important to know what spirit we approach the Bible in. If we fail to approach the Bible to believe that all it says is true, we will pick and choose what we do believe. We will argue against truths that do not make sense and we will demand that what we know is the final authority to determine the legitimacy of a matter.

      This brings us back to the reality of God. We cannot know God without the revelation of the Spirit, and we cannot fully receive such revelation about God without loving the truth about who He is, His perfect will, and His righteous ways (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). Therefore, it is important to examine our attitude about God and His Word. If I have my own take on God, the Spirit will not be able to unveil truths about Him that are contained within His Word. If His Word is subject to my personal whims, then I will adjust what I perceive about God according to my own understanding and feelings. It is vital that I am prepared to receive the truths of God by faith because they are going to challenge personal logic, preferred reasoning, and carnal understanding.

      Next month we are going to be considering one of the truths about God, which is generally accepted by mainline Christianity, but proves controversial and confusing in certain camps. As believers we must be prepared to believe what the Bible says in regard to God and choose the way of faith in order to possess the vital truths about Him.

      Are you ready to receive such truths regardless of what it might challenge in your present understanding?