Whatever Happened to Truth?

There was a time when truth was more valued. This isn’t to say people didn’t ever lie, but is was a shameful thing to be considered a liar. There was a time when, for many, a handshake was a good as one’s word. Today, many people’s word is as useless as a flimsy handshake.

The Bible says a lot about truth. We are told in Proverbs 23:23, “Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.” To buy, here, does not mean to purchase but to acquire, to obtain. Just as in the case when Jesus tells the church in Laodicea, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen” (Rev. 3:18). The Lord was not telling them to purchase what only He can give, but to receive, to trade in, to obtain what He is graciously willing to give.

But do we see much desire for truth today? Is not our day much like Isaiah’s, a time when, “Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter” (Isa. 59:14)?

Deception is considered a valuable tool and virtue to many politicians, the press, and education system. Oh, they will not necessarily openly declare this, but they don’t need to. Many have built their entire careers on lying and “bending the truth.” The press has, for many years now, been propagating instead of journaling. The education system feels no shame in “reconstructing” history, and very few are compelled to examine the actual writings of our forefathers to glean truth.

Even much of the populace is fine with being lied to, as many applaud those doing the lying . Lies, deception, and twisting truth is acceptable if these will accomplish the desired goal. I’ve observed such behaviors even among some who profess to be followers of Christ. Underhanded tactics and turning a blind eye, acting as if Christ condones such deceptive polity done in His Holy name.

Jesus declares, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and of the Father’s word, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Yet, how many who profess His name so easily chuck the truth, lest it offends or makes one feel uncomfortable. Sadly, very few pastors are willing to preach the whole counsel of God (truth), lest they lose popularity or members of their congregation. So many parishioners simply want to be encouraged and patted on the back, not to be convicted and challenged so that they might become better persons. And many churches are endorsing ideologies that are grounded in falsehood, but again, the compromise of truth is deemed acceptable if it supports their desired goal.

The jettisoning of truth, however, comes with a cost. We are left with only cargo containing falsehood, and God is not to be found in what is false or deceptive. The Bible warns, “Let no one deceive you in any way. For [the day of the Lord] will not come, unless the rebellion [i.e., the apostasy] comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed” (2 Thes. 2:3). Before the Antichrist ever comes onto the scene, there will first be a great apostasy—a departure from solid, orthodox faith.  This must be so, for there must be a populace ready to embrace this false, deceptive, evil messiah. This great deception will come as a consequence, and judgement, of people’s trampling of truth for the embracing of falsehood and unrighteousness. “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thes. 2:9-12). We must not think unrighteousness merely includes rapists and murderers. No, but it includes religious people—even those who call themselves “Christian”—but who do not love the truth but believe and take pleasure in what is contrary to the truth.

So, what has happened to the truth? It has not gone anywhere. People can choose to abandon truth, but it can never truly be escaped. It might be beneath people’s feet and trampled with the dust, but no further. But make no mistake, when God comes for this priceless jewel and takes it away from a world that’s unworthy of it, how dreadful when all that’s left for the world is the fool’s gold it had so loved, embraced, and cherished. 

8 Lessons (of Many More) We Can Learn from the Seven Churches of Revelation 2-3

There are those who believe the seven churches of Revelation represent seven “church ages.” While I’ve considered this possibility,  I’m not convinced. I believe these seven literal churches represent the struggles and pitfalls churches continually face throughout the entire church age (singular) until the return of Christ. I think each of us would be wise to prayerfully and honestly read Revelation 2-3 and let the Holy Spirit reveal to us the unpleasant realities of our own hearts and the awful conditions of many of our churches. We’d be wiser still if we repent of all sin He reveals.

The words to the churches are instructions, warnings, and encouragement for us as much as they were to them. Of the seven churches, only two received complete commendation. Two received only rebuke, while the rest received both. Most of our churches fall into the latter groups. May we take Jesus’ words to heart.

  1. Jesus walks in our midst. This truth, if churches really believed and understood this, would challenge attitudes, thoughts, words, and behaviors. Jesus notices every detail going on in churches, whether it’s during services, meetings, or behind closed doors—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Behind the talk, the actions, and the motives, everything is perceived by His scrutinizing eye.
  2. Love is as important as sound doctrine (and vice versa). Which is more important, love or sound doctrine? The question is like asking which is more important, air or water? Neither is more important but both are vital. The church of Ephesus was commended by Christ for holding firmly to sound doctrine but sternly rebuked for losing love for Him. The church in Pergamum was commended for holding fast to His name but sternly rebuked for permitting false teachers and their teachings. For churches to be healthy and truly Christ-honoring, sound doctrine and fervent love for Christ. To surrender one is like giving up air or water—too long without either is fatal.
  3. Suffering does not equal God’s displeasure. The church in Smyrna was highly commended by Christ with no rebuke, although it had to endure tribulation, poverty, and intense suffering. This truth goes directly against the heresies of the modern “prosperity” gospel and teachings that God’s favor is evidenced by the comforts of this world.
  4. Jesus will judge idolatry and sexual immorality if not repented of. Jesus doesn’t turn a blind eye to idolatry, immorality, perversions, or the seduction of His people into such practices. The churches in Pergamum and Thyatira were severely rebuked by Christ for permitting idolatrous practices and sexual immorality. Jesus commands repentance and threatens severe consequences for those who refuse to repent. This should sound an alarm to churches today who permit idolatrous teachings (e.g., yoga, goddess worship, pluralism, etc.) and sexual immorality of various kinds or who turn a blind eye to sexual abuse. Jesus’ command of repentance is just as valid today as back then.
  5. Jesus searches the mind and heart, not just actions. To the church in Thyatira, “the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire” (2:18), declares, “All the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works” (2:23). Jesus not only sees the works and actions, but He also sees the motives, lusts, and ambitions behind all the pretensions. He threatens tribulation and commands repentance. For all who refuse to repent, the consequences only become more severe. Jesus is not speaking to the world here, but to His church. 
  6. Having a reputation of being alive does not mean God is pleased. Many churches appear to be thriving today. They have large numbers of people and programs. From all accounts they appear alive and hopping. The church in Sardis had a reputation of being alive, but Jesus says it was dead and lethargic. Seeing is not always believing, and perception doesn’t necessarily capture reality.
  7. Jesus honors love and faithfulness to Him. Of the seven churches, only two received only commendation. All the others received rebukes of some kind. So Jesus had some grievance against over 70% of the churches. Very few churches possess the caliber of faith and loving devotion as Smyrna and Philadelphia. Although such churches usually face trials of different kinds, Jesus promises His faithfulness and reward for these churches.
  8. Our perception can differ greatly from God’s. Just as suffering doesn’t necessarily mean God’s distance or displeasure, affluence doesn’t necessarily mean God is pleased. The church in Laodicea was rich and prosperous, but Jesus rebuked it, saying, “You are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (3:17). Churches can be presumptuous, thinking God is pleased because attendance has grown and the cashflow is coming in. Ironically, these can be evidence that things are severely wrong.

May we, today, have an ear, and hear what the Spirit says to the churches today.

The Word of God is like a razor sharp scalpel in the hands of the Great Physician, of which He uses to cut the cancers of sin, shame, and addictions from our souls. Yes, it hurts, at times. It can be very uncomfortable, yet afterwards He applies the soothing ointment of grace and we find healing.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~ Hebrews 4:12