Who has the right to establish truth? Our culture think it does. And sadly, many Americans agree. Including some Christians.
The pull of the cultural tide is a powerful force. The changing current of society calls us to jump in and go with the flow. It woos us with rationalizations.
The water’s fine. Everybody’s doing it. The Bible is outdated and irrelevant. Times are different now.
Okay, that last statement is true. Times are different now. And times will continue to change. What’s still outside the bounds of acceptable behavior in our culture today may be celebrated next year.
Unless we stand firm, that charging, changing tide will sweep us away with it.
What is “truth?”
According to Dictionary.com, the noun “truth” is “the true or actual state of a matter; conformity with fact or reality.” But our culture teaches that “truth” – fact and reality – is relative. That it varies depending on the circumstances and the individual. That everyone gets to decide what’s “true” for themselves.
In our culture, “truth” fluctuates based on what seems good, or feels good, or sounds good to them. People who want to be heard declare the “truth” they think others want to hear. Sadly, this even happens in the church (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Some Christians today – even prominent Bible teachers and ministers – have yielded to pressure from the culture to compromise on God’s truth. (Also see “A Heavy Burden on My Heart” , “4 Reasons Christians Compromise with the Culture,” and “How to Know the Difference Between Wise and False Teaching.”)
But by definition, truth is not relative. Truth reflects fact and reality. Truth is permanent, unchanging, and unaffected by temporal things.
Where do we find truth?
The Greek word translated as “truth” in the Bible signifies reality and refers to that which is accurate and trustworthy. Jesus used this word a lot. One key instance is on the night He was betrayed.
That night in the garden, He prayed for His disciples. He asked the Father to “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17). There’s something vital in this verse. Jesus didn’t merely use an adjective to describe God’s word as “true.” Instead, Jesus used a noun to declare God’s Word to be “truth.”
I love how Wayne Grudem expounded on this in his book Systematic Theology:
The Bible is God’s Word, and God’s Word is the ultimate definition of what is true and what is not true: God’s Word is itself truth. Thus, we are to think of the Bible as the ultimate standard of truth, the reference point by which every other claim to truthfulness is to be measured. Those assertions that conform with Scripture are “true” while those that do not conform with Scripture are not true. What then is truth? Truth is what God says, and we have what God says (accurately, but not exhaustively) in the Bible.”
Why is God’s Word True?
The Bible reveals truth because the Bible reveals God.
The Bible declares itself to be the very words of God (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21). A revelation breathed out by our Creator for His creation. God’s words reveal Him. They reflect His character and nature.
Here are just a few aspects of God’s character that are reflected in His Word:
- God cannot lie (Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18)
- God does not change (Malachi 3:6, James 1:17)
- God possesses perfect knowledge of all things (Job 37:16)
- God is true (John 3:33, 1 Thessalonians 1:9) and God is truth (John 14:6)
The one true God embodies truth. The Creator of all that exists establishes truth. Our holy, exalted God defines truth. And God infused His Word with truth.
Culture constantly changes. So why would we base our values, ethics, and behavior on what the culture accepts or doesn’t accept? The Bible must be our basis for morality. We cannot allow the culture to interpret Scripture. Instead let’s use Scripture to speak to the culture. (Also see, “Do You Read the Bible All Wrong?”)
God’s Word is the eternal constant that declares unchanging truth. The Bible is relevant today and forever. Scripture crosses all cultural barriers, language differences, and geographical borders.
Popular “truth” shifts beneath our feet, but the Bible is our solid foundation that is established forever (Psalm 119:151-152). The Bible is the constant against which everything should be measured. (To see more about how Christians should interact with the culture, see “Should Christians Judge the Word?”)
Government can’t legislate truth. Cultural mores can’t reshape truth. Human desire can’t bend truth.
When culture conflicts with the Bible, God’s truth trumps culture every time. Every time.