How can we know the truth?
This is a fundamental question in the religious world.
Especially in eastern religions people believe the ultimate source of truth lies within themselves. Such statements are made as: "There is a book of knowledge within every man!" "One gets all truth from the Book of Knowledge Within." "We tap the ancient wisdom and cosmic knowledge within, making it accessible and practical!"
To access this "truth within" people must perform bodily motions, chant mantras and meditate.
According to the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, the truth has been revealed by God in words that have been recorded as sacred Scripture for subsequent generations.
Jeremiah says: "O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jeremiah 10:23).
You cannot find the truth by searching within yourself! Without a knowledge of the Scriptures, much of the truth you know you know is simply not so. "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12). Jude wrote: "These speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves" (Jude 10).
The truth cannot be found by delving into our own hearts. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9). How can the truth be found in a deceitful and wicked heart?
The nations "do not know the thoughts of the Lord, nor do they understand His counsel" (Micah 4:12). "There is none who understands" (Romans 3:11). "The way of peace they have not known" (Isaiah 59:8). "They do not know, nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness" (Psalm 82:5).
Without revelation from God, man wanders in the dark spiritually. To find his way he needs the light of God's word:"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105).
The Scriptures enlighten us.
"And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:19-21).
Jesus said to the religious leaders: "Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?" (Mark 12:24).
Paul wrote to Timothy: "Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:13-17).
When Christ came, God revealed the mystery of salvation and commanded that the truth be made known to all nations through the prophetic writings. Paul glorifies God "who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith" (Romans 16:25, 26).
We cannot know God through human wisdom: "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe" (1 Corinthians 1:21).
The truth is not found within man. God is the source of truth. He has revealed the mystery and it is made known to all nations through the prophetic Scriptures. "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4).
Through the Scriptures we learn about Christ who is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). At the close of his Gospel, John wrote: "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:30, 31). At the beginning of his Gospel, Luke explains that he wrote an orderly account so we might know the certainty of the things in which we have been instructed (Luke 1:3, 4).
Through the Scriptures we know the doctrine of Christ. Paul told Timothy: "These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:14, 15).
Shortly before his death, Peter wrote: "Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior" (2 Peter 3:1, 2).
Peter also mentions Paul's writings: "Consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation -- as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you" (2 Peter 3:15).
To know the truth we must want to do the will of God. Jesus said: "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority" (John 7:16, 17).
To know the truth we must remain in the doctrine of Christ. "Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, 'If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free'" (John 8:31, 32). These words were spoken to people who believed. It is not enough just to believe in Jesus. We can know the truth only if we abide in His word. To really know the truth we must experience it by living according to the truth, by abiding in the doctrine of Christ: "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son" (2 John 9).
Paul said some would turn away from the truth: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (2 Timothy 4:3, 4).
How can we know the truth? The way of man is not in himself. Without revelation from God, man wanders in darkness. The word of God is a light for our path. The Scriptures can make us wise for salvation.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
Through prophetic Scriptures, the truth is made known to all nations. Through the Scriptures we learn about Christ who is the way, the truth and the life. Through the Scriptures we know how to conduct ourselves in the house of God. To know the truth we must want to do the will of God and we must abide in the doctrine of Christ.
Like the Bereans, let us search the Scriptures daily to know what is so (Acts 17:11). Let us not be "led away with the error of the wicked" who "twist the Scriptures," but let us "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:16-18).
Then we can know the truth.
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive