In this day and age, “facts” are in shorter supply than toilet paper. From the brief time I’ve been researching COVID-19 until now, I’ve seen fever change from a status of rare to symptomatic. In a recent live news conference, I witnessed New York’s governor lambasting the mayor for fearmongering, saying that lockdown orders scared people and he had no plans to issue any. The next morning, he ordered the entire state to stay at home.
Things are moving faster than anyone can keep up: as the blog on my daughter’s now-shuttered university says, “This is a rapidly changing situation, and more recent posts will supercede any earlier guidance or information.”
Finding unchanging truth is often frustrating and even downright futile nowadays, which makes me more grateful than ever for the eternal truth of the Bible. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
John 1:14-17 adds to the portrait of Jesus: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”
The jaded spirit of our age might respond like the governor who condemned Jesus to death by his unwillingness to get involved: “What is truth?”
“Aletheia” is “truth” in Greek, the original language of the New Testament portion of the Bible. According to the lexicon at blbclassic.org, a tool I love to use, aletheia means “what is true in any matter under consideration: in reality, in fact, certainly; truth as a personal excellence: that candour of mind which is free from affection, pretence, simulation, falsehood, deceit.”
Unlike the Judean governor of old or relativist of today, the Bible has no fuzzy philosophical notion of truth. It is concrete and universal, an attribute of God. He is the “Lord, God of truth” (Psalm 31:5). In fact, truth is a primary characteristic of all three persons of the Trinity. In John 14:16-21, Jesus, the second person, speaks of the first and third:
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.
It turns out that obedience to the Bible, like truth, is foundational to our relationship with God.
One of my adult daughters is now a lover of truth, but when she was a child, she struggled with lying. To instruct her, I made her write Proverbs 12:19 repeatedly: “Truthful lips will be established forever, But a lying tongue is only for a moment.” As adults we all need to heed the words of 1 Samuel 12:24: “Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.”
A good prayer for us in this time is Psalm 25:4-11:
Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day.
Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
According to Your lovingkindness remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.
Good and upright is the Lord;
Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in justice,
And He teaches the humble His way.
All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth
To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
For Your name’s sake, O Lord,
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.
Those who accept Jesus’ sacrificial death as payment for their sins and believe in Him for salvation can confidently say with the psalmist, “You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me” (40:11).
In addition to obedience, John 4:23-24 highlights another caveat in achieving a close relationship with God: “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
While some may claim that truth is a matter of perspective, this limitation can be overcome when the Bible is our standard. Hebrews 4:12-16 explains:
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Now is a time of need, and we can have confidence in God and His word. Psalm 119:160 says, “The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.”
Let the true word of God minister to you during these uncertain times:
The Lord sustains all who fall
And raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to You,
And You give them their food in due time.
You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all His ways
And kind in all His deeds.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.
The Lord keeps all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever (Psalm 145:14-21).
God’s future is far from uncertain. And since He is sovereign, really our future is sure as well, if unknown to us right now.
Yesterday, the governor of my state issued shelter-in-place orders. They take effect tomorrow at midnight. Even while we experience physical lockdown, we can also experience the timeless truth of John 8:31-32, both now and during whatever is to come: “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’”