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A Shot of Encouragement

Light Doesn’t Need Handcuffs on Darkness

Great quote on the power of Truth in the public square from John Milton’s Areopagitica in 1644:

Who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter? … [Truth] needs no policies, nor stratagems, nor licensings to make her victorious; those are the shifts and the defenses that error uses against her power: give her but room, and do not bind her when she sleeps.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

A Cosmic Ton of Truth

Here is a reminder that there is something called truth, that there is something called reality, and that truth is that which corresponds to reality.

That doesn’t mean that we always know the truth; men lie, because they are sons of the father of lies. Lies are often tasty, like smooth wine when the light dances on the surface, whether they are cultural lies or personal lies. Even more, our brains only have so much capacity, and there is a cosmic ton of truth, and your truck only carries so much.

But whether or not anyone knows it or says it, there is true truth.

As Christians we could be classified as believing in representational truth, that is, a statement is true when it represents the state of reality accurately. But there are many who cannot make such a direct statement. They believe that truth, if it exists, is instrumental, not representative. So for them a statement is true when it works. If it’s not useful then it is “false.” It’s not just that truth is relative or subjective; there are really right and wrong, but those categories can be decided, they can be redefined, they are not received as revelation.

People are messing with words, and calling opinions “news” because news exists for something, not as something.

“The real darkening of sin is found…in our having lost the gift to comprehend the true context, the proper coherence, the systematic unity of all things.” (Abraham Kuyper, “Common Grace in Science”)

God’s Word is living and abiding, but also imperishable. It remains forever. It is true. Scoffers are like chaff that the social media feeds blow away. They need to repent in order to come to the knowledge of truth. Delight yourself with deep roots in reality. Know, and stand in the truth.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

The Taste of Truth

Eve was deceived by the deceiver of the world. Sin in the heart deceives the sinner. Riches deceive from what is truly valuable. God is never deceived; He sees straight through. And we must put deceit away if we want to receive the word of truth.

I’ve observed before that we’re never commanded to read the Scripture. We’re commanded to hear it, to meditate on it night and day, and to do it. But listening or, for those of us with our own copies, reading is only a necessary step in the process. From the inside we’re to “long for the pure spiritual milk (of the word).” Crave it like a newborn craves milk. It’s one of the few things worth getting fussy about. “I need the Word now!”

The Word is good. The Word of the Lord tastes good (1 Peter 2:3), which we know from the Word. The Word gives our spiritual lives energy and nourishes growth in salvation (1 Peter 2:2). We believe that man lives by the Word of God, and we must get rid of some things before we come to eat it.

“Put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (1 Peter 2:1). In English this sounds like an imperative, and it is necessary. But in Greek the verb in verse 1 is a participle that depends on the main verb, the imperative in verse 2, “desire.” “Having put away” in verse 1 is the condition.

We’re instructed to get rid of every kind of lying, and we could also see the irony. Are we coming to receive truth while full of falsehood? Do we have duplicity in our hearts and yet want something pure? Jacob wanted God’s blessing through the word of his father, but he had to deceive his father to get it? It ought not be so.

Let us not be deceived by sin, or sin by deceiving. Instead let us taste and talk about the truth.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Stiff-arming the Truth

Though a short exhortation always precedes the act of confession in our Lord’s Day worship, why not place confession after the sermon? Imagine the large variety of sins that could be harvested by spending more time in the Bible field. More Spirit-inspired truth gives the Spirit more tools to dig for deep rooted sins.

There’s nothing wrong with liturgy in a different order. Revelation provides reasons to repent so presumably more revelation leads to more reasons leads to more repentance. But just as often God describes the reverse: repentance leads to accepting the truth.

Peter and James both assume that a Christian must deal with sin before consuming the Word. “Putting away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” crave the spiritual milk (1 Peter 2:1-2). Likewise, “putting away all filthiness and rampant wickedness, receive the implanted word” (James 1:21). Sin spoils our appetite for Scripture. Sin stiff-arms the truth.

Paul presented the order even more plainly to Timothy as he explained the process for persuading opponents. Correct opponents with gentleness and “God may perhaps grant repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:25). He isn’t describing the proper order of a Sunday worship service, but the principle applies. Repentance enables knowledge.

Which comes first: the understanding of truth or repentance from sin? Sometimes we don’t need more information or another sermon before we change. Sometimes we can’t see the truth because we’re clutching sin patches over our eyes. What sights we’ll see from the place of repentance.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Tightening the Screws

Ambrose Bierce construed the verb “acknowledge” or “confess” in The Devil’s Dictionary as follows: “acknowledgment of one another’s faults is the highest duty imposed by our love of truth.” In other words, the more we are wound by truth the tighter we put the screws on our neighbors.

We love the truth; that’s good and necessary. We are learning to confess sin, to speak the truth about sin, not only for salvation but also for worship. Appropriate confession depends on accurate truth so that we know what should be confessed, so that we don’t chase the standard around like a ball of mercury.

Loving the truth is good, confessing sin is also good. But a great temptation for truth lovers is to see it as our duty to speak about everyone else’s need for confession first. I suppose this is better than seeing no sin at all; at least we acknowledge God’s law. But if we acknowledge the truth and exalt it as the rule of life (which it is) primarily for others (which it isn’t), we double our disobedience. Denial of sin is another sin.

We also make our work double. Approaching confession in this way requires us to regard the truth in one instance and then to disregard it in another, to be smart and then dumb. Many, it seems, listened to Jesus’ words but they did not do them. They both acknowledged His word and refused to acknowledge it. James referred to the hearer-no-doer as a self-deceiver. Self-deception causes self-destructive without self-awareness. The Word is a mirror so that we can see ourselves, not a microscope so that we can scrutinize someone else.

Our highest duty as truth lovers is to love the truth accurately, as it exists on its own, and applicably, as it exposes our hearts. We have plenty to acknowledge at home before we take our show on the road.