Revealing Definitions and Questions
Series | Inside the Walls
In my last post about truth I stated that problems come when truth-lovers are not totally truthful about God and about His authority. What am I talking about? There are more thoughts to come but, for now, the quick answer is: God’s revelation of truth reveals the true essence of authority. Today I’ll start building toward that answer with some definitions and questions.
The first key word is TRUTH: things as they really are; facts not fiction or, when regarding future events, how things will be really, not what we imagine we’d like the future to be.
Where did truth come from? GOD. Things are as they really are because of God. There isn’t anything that exist–no person, no principle, no nothing–without Him. “By Him all things were created–all things were created through Him and for Him…and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-18). We couldn’t know real things unless we were made real by God and made by Him to really know, including brains and senses and breath that keeps the learning process oxygenated.
We speak about can-be-known things from God as REVELATION. Revelation comes in two types, general (creation) and special (Incarnate and written Word). “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). “[I]n [Christ] the fulness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19) and though “no one has ever seen God,” the Word made flesh “has made Him known” (John 1:18). “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16).
And the reality (or truth) that revelation depends on God and is made known by God means God/truth has AUTHORITY. Truth always wins (at least in the end) because that’s what is real. Fall out of a tree and you will fall. Resisting God’s gravitational authority is futile. When the wrong person ate fruit from the wrong tree the whole human race was condemned. That’s reality. That’s revealed. That’s authority at work; it’s all true.
So if God reveals truth then God is the authority. That’s, in fact, exactly what He’s revealed as true: the truth that truth depends on Him.
It’s one of the reasons we insist on sola Scriptura, that Scripture is the ultimate authority, that the Bible tells reality with more reality than any man or group of men. It’s why we hammered our tent pegs in this truth-loving camp. Men depend on revelation; revelation doesn’t depend on men (see 2 Peter 1:19-21). I love John Piper’s explanation of the “external Word”:
[I]t is objective, fixed, outside ourselves, and therefore unchanging. It is a book….You can take it or leave it. But you can’t make it other than what it is. (The Legacy of Sovereign Joy, 78)
That’s why we have sentiments like, “We love truth no matter how you feel about it.” That’s mostly true.
Truth was true before we existed, before creation. God was. Reality doesn’t need our corroboration. Truth had authority before anyone was around to question it. It’s hard to imagine what that would be like? No doubters. No questioners. No scoffers. Truth in full glory with no dings in its authority. We may not be able to imagine it, but God was there. Truth was His alone to do with whatever He wanted. Of course He could, He was the authority.
What did He do with His truth? How did He use His authority? He created a universe of revelation to reveal the reality about Himself and His authority and how good He is.
At this point I’d bet our conservative camp is largely in agreement, but we’re not done. After all, I’ve barely given any Bible verses, and how about sola Scriptura and all? But what I mean by saying that we’re not done yet is that we haven’t said the most helpful things. Our answer isn’t wrong but neither is it complete. We haven’t seen the flower in full bloom yet. To say that God, in His authority, revealed truth is no more than what we would find on the back of an elementary school flashcard. We need a junior higher to ask, “Why?”
Why did God reveal truth? What is His reason and purpose? We can answer, “for His glory,” and we’d be correct but, again, not complete. Maybe I could ask it a different way. What do we learn about authority by how God used His authority? What do we learn about the truth and about the purpose of truth by considering God’s purpose for truth? The next step in the series is to consider the why in the what of God’s revelations.