Tag Archives: Truth

Is there Anything I can Say to Change your Mind?

Any time there is a discussion among individuals in which there is disagreement, the value of the discussion is determined by whether or not both sides believe there is any kind of evidence, argumentation, or proof that could change their mind on their given belief. While it is often the case that people love to have their voices heard and their opinions known, it is far less frequent that people are actually willing to give serious consideration to the idea that they could be wrong.

However, there is one fundamental and devastating flaw to carrying the mentality that there is nothing that could be shown to you to change your mind: it proves that you are not interested in truth. You see, humans are prone to mistakes. They may be mistakes in logic, mistakes in actions, mistakes in information or any of a number of other types. If one refuses to admit the ability of his human understanding to be wrong, or of his own intuition to be misguided, then he has shown that he believes his knowledge to be perfect and incapable of mistake.  In doing so, he has made it impossible to learn anything beyond what he currently thinks he knows. It is only through the acknowledgement that one could be mistaken that growth is possible.

There are many examples in Scripture of men who changed because they recognized their own fallibility, or repented because they made mistakes, even though they carried positions of authority. It is seen in the apostle Paul and his willingness to acknowledge his wrong direction (Acts 9). It is seen in Apollos’ willingness to be instructed by Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18). It is also seen in the conviction of Peter before those in Antioch because of his mistake (Gal. 2). All of these, and many others, made the changes to their beliefs and actions because the evidence stood as proof they were wrong.

Now, before you begin thinking about all of those people in the religious world who have the gall to believe something different from you and not convert to your way of thinking, consider this: could it be you that has that mentality? I have found that members of the church are just as bad as the rest of the religious world when it comes to this approach to Biblical discussion. On innumerable occasions I have discussed things with brethren, sometimes things of great consequence and sometimes nothing more than nuances of Scripture, and have been dismayed at the response received. Instead of showing proof for what they profess, or giving proof to show what I have said is incorrect, they simply respond with a dismissive statement and move on. On other occasions they will quote some other preacher’s belief, as though just because some man believed it one way that should be enough proof for anyone.

Unfortunately, some people get confused about what it means to be willing to consider another person’s point of view or argumentation. It does not mean that you do not have conviction in your own beliefs; in fact, it means exactly the opposite. It shows that you can be even more convicted in your beliefs, you have been willing to put them to the test of truth and have the evidence that shows they have passed the test.

However, when one walks into Bible studies with the attitude that he already knows it all and he is going to show everyone else what truth is, he is no longer studying the Bible, he is dictating it. He will not carry on a conversation about anything, but instead becomes defensive, combative, and vehement. He does not ask questions, or query about what proof may be brought to bear, he begins to impugn the heart and character of the other participants. The worst part is, even if he carries the truth with his beliefs, he has lost because his arrogance and thoughtlessness have closed the doors of communication with others. He is not concerned with whether or not others learn, only that he is considered right.

When we are asked the question that titles this article, our response should always be that if there is adequate and suitable evidence to show that our convictions are wrong we will change our beliefs. If we are completely interested in truth, then what we have believed in the past does not matter, but what has been proven to be true in the present is of the utmost importance.

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The Consequences of Truth

Often when consequences are discussed it is under the umbrella of bad decisions. Discussion is had and lessons are given on the importance of understanding the consequences of bad choices and how they affect life both here and in eternity. However, there are another set of consequences that are not often discussed; they are the consequences of truth.

The term “consequence” has as its main definition, “That which follows from any act, cause, principle, or series of actions. Hence, an event or effect produced by some preceding act or cause.” Therefore, a consequence is any result that stems from a particular cause or series of causes. They can be positive or negative, helpful or hurtful, but truth has just as many consequences as error. Consider some of them with me.

A Lack of Popularity

Truth is rarely popular. This is the case because truth requires a very narrow focus; when truth is found, everything else is error. You cannot believe or practice anything you desire and be dedicated to truth. Consequently, the truth is not popular when men seek their own ways and directions.

We live in an age where multiculturalism, humanism, and relativism have wreaked havoc on people’s view of truth, causing people to believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Therefore, the acceptance of truth, and the consequent realization of error, will keep one from being popular with those who love ambiguity, relativism, and erroneous ideas. If you are concerned about truth, prepare to be unpopular (1 Pet. 4:1-4).

Anger, Resentment, Lies, and Fear from Men

Many people do not have a problem with truth until its effect is cast upon them and the lives they lead. When that happens, there will be two different kinds of reaction: the first will be to change their lives and beliefs to fit the truth, the other will be to become angry and lash out at whoever is presenting the truth. Unfortunately, the latter reaction is far more common than the former.

Jesus talked about how people treat those who proclaim truth when he said: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Mat. 5:11-12). The responses to Stephen and Paul are both excellent examples of the way men respond to truth. If people never respond negatively to our preaching and teaching, it may be time to re-examine whether what we are teaching is “the truth and nothing but the truth.”

Freedom and Eternal Life.

Not all of the consequences of truth are negative. Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). The truth has the ability to make man free. It frees the conscience from doubt and worry, it frees the mind of stress, it frees the soul of sin, and it frees man from the chains of death.

Additionally, acceptance of, and obedience to, truth brings eternal life. Jesus also affirmed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Through the truth we can come to the Father and receive the greatest of gifts: eternal life in his presence.

Truth is essential to a full and complete life, but there are consequences tied to it just as with anything else. We need to understand the consequences of truth, be prepared to accept them, and hold fast to the truth with all our being.

“Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart.” Proverbs 3:3

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The Truth About Lying

How many times have you seen someone try to get out of a tight situation, or maybe get something they want, by telling a “half-truth,” a “white lie,” or a “full-blown” lie? This is a common occurrence and has been from the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3. It has often been considered an acceptable response as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else. But what does the Bible say about lying?

It compounds problems. There are many examples showing how lying has made matters worse instead of better. When Abram and Sarai are travelling to Egypt, Abram tells her to inform anyone who asks that she is his sister (Gen. 12:10-11). Because of Abram’s directions, Pharaoh will take Sarai as his wife at the recommendation of the princes of his country (Vs. 15). God sends plagues upon Egypt because of Pharaoh having taken another man’s wife for himself (Vs. 17). Pharaoh commands Abram and Sarai to leave Egypt (Vs. 19).

Abram and Sarai go to Egypt to escape a famine, yet they are forced to leave because they lied to Pharaoh about their relationship. This will not be the only time that Abraham and Sarah will try this (Gen. 20), and both times it results in them having more problems than they had before.

It corrupts trust. As one examines Genesis 29-31 there is constant conflict between Laban and his son-in-law Jacob. Much of that conflict comes from distrust between the two men based upon the many different deceptions and lies that have occurred over their history. In Genesis 29, Laban deceives Jacob by having him work seven years so that he might marry Rachel, but when the time comes he imparts Leah instead. Jacob then has to agree to work another seven years to receive Rachel. Over the course of the 20 years Jacob works for Laban, Laban deceitfully changes Jacob’s wages ten times (Gen. 31:41). There is such a lack of trust between these two men that Jacob leaves Laban without saying goodbye, hoping to get away without having to deal with the man any more. Lying has never been seen as a way to exhibit honor and trust between people. It only serves to corrupt trust and engender strife.

It condemns souls. Lying is one of the seven things listed in Proverbs six as being an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. An abomination is defined as something that is found detestable or hated. God hates lying in any form. In God’s eyes, there is no difference between a “little white lie” and a “full blown lie.” All lies are equally wrong and they all carry the same consequences for the individual perpetuating them.

John wrote in Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Here, at the end of a list that has included murderers, unbelievers, and idolaters, the inspired apostle John includes liars. God considers lying to be just as bad as any other sin. In order to be pleasing to him, one must strive to be as he is. God cannot lie (Tit. 1:2); and if one is to follow the example of God, he must do as Eph. 4:25 states, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.” It is high time we present the truth about lying in both word and action; and in doing so retain our integrity before both God and man.

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Think on These Things

As Paul concludes the letter to the Philippians he exhorts them to “Rejoice in the Lord alway,” (Phi. 4:4). In order to do that, an individual must first set his mind so as to have the proper outlook, allowing one to rejoice in any situation. Because of that, Paul will give these brethren a list of things they need to think on (Phi. 4:8).

The word translated “think” comes from a word which means “to reckon, weigh the reasons, deliberate,” (Thayer). Therefore, Paul calls upon the Philippians to reckon on and weigh the following things.

Whatsoever things are true. These are things which are proven to be true. They are not assumptions, suppositions, or wishes; instead, they are facts based upon evidence. More problems and sins have entered the body of Christ because people have stopped contemplating truth and instead followed their own suppositions than from any other cause. If we are to continue to be able to rejoice in the Lord we must continue to think on things of truth.

Whatsoever things are honest. More literally Paul is emphasizing the need to think on the things that are honorable. There are people who seem to spend all of their time focusing on people and actions that are disreputable instead of those things which are honorable. We should not be concerned with all the celebrity gossip and worrying about all the bad things that others are doing, but instead should be focused on those things which are right and honorable in the sight of God.

Whatsoever things are just. Christians have an obligation to be constantly concerned with what is right and just. It requires time and effort to find the answers to problems and situations which arise, but the Christian must be willing to search God’s Word to find the just response.

Whatsoever things are pure. This point goes hand in hand with that of being honorable. Those things that are pure are the things without flaw or blemish. We are not to be those who have the attitude of seeking to see how close to the line we can get without crossing over. Instead, the Christian must continue to look at things from the perspective of purity.

Whatsoever things are lovely. This term literally means those things which are “acceptable, pleasing,” (Thayer). Therefore, we are to think on those things which are acceptable and pleasing. Some might try to contort this to say if it feels good, do it. However, if one’s mindset is already placed upon the previous four statements, it will be readily understood that those things which are acceptable and pleasing will come from God’s Word.

Whatsoever things are of good report. These are things which sound good, are well reported, and attractive. It is often the case that people will do things with one group of people, or by themselves, that they would not do with another group because it would be perceived as wrong or unwise. Our endeavors should be to think, talk, and act upon things that are above reproach. If we are doing things before others we would not do before Christians, we need to begin thinking on things of good report.

If we are to be people who are found virtuous before God and ones who praise Him both in word and deed, these things must be the focus of our lives. If we “think on these things” we will be able to lead lives that are above reproach. Such a life will be rich in spiritual blessings and fulfilling in our work both toward God and man. It is taking thought of these things that will finally and truly allow us to “rejoice in the Lord always.”

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“The Pillar and Ground of the Truth”

At about the midway point of Paul’s first letter to Timothy the apostle confirms why he has written those first three chapters to the young preacher. He writes, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). There are two questions that this particular statement brings to the forefront in Paul’s explanation: “what do those two terms mean?” And “to what do the pillar and ground refer?”

To define the two central terms in this statement one must go back to the original language. The term “pillar” comes from the Greek word stulos and it means “a column, pillar, a prop or support.” With the definition of such a word it does not take the mind long to envision the columns that were so prevalent in Greco-Roman architecture in and around the first century. The word “ground” comes from the Greek word hedraiōma and means “a stay, prop, or support.” This word, though it sounds as though it means the same thing as the first term, has a different place of emphasis. The columns were both for visible beauty, and also for outer structure support. The word translated “ground” would have more to do with the internal support structure of a building, that which was absolutely necessary for the continued structural stability of it. Thus, upon definition, there are two terms of support, one visible outwardly, one structurally necessary inwardly.

But to what do these words refer, and why? Earlier in verse 15 Paul states that the things written to Timothy were so that he might know how one is to behave in the house of God. The house is then equated to the church and the church is the pillar and ground of the truth. The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia and means “assembly, called out, gathering.” The general principle of the church throughout Scripture is that the church of Christ is the called out body of believers who assemble to worship and serve God as he has authorized. As one reads 1 Timothy though, the emphasis of much of the book is on the internal workings of the congregation.

The contextual evidence would indicate that the statement of verse 15 is a statement concerning the central creation of God for the purpose of assisting and strengthening the saints: the congregational assembly of the saints itself. Consider the application: the assembly is the pillar. It is the beautiful outer framework that everyone can see and experience for themselves simply by stepping into the assembly of the saints. How many times have people come into the worship services of the church and stated that there was something different from what is experienced elsewhere? The assembly is the outward, visible support structure for the truth. It is that place from which the truth shines forth and attracts those whose sole desire is to serve and worship God acceptably.

The assembly is also the ground of the truth; the internal support structure that keeps the truth’s proclamation present at every gathering. The assembly is the strength for the internal structure of the church. It requires, not just the external perception of the teaching and practice of the truth, but the internal strength and integrity of that truth to function as it should and remain a sturdy structure. Many congregations crumble because they have maintained the pillars, but the internal supports are crumbling, and all that is left is a shell. The congregational assembly is truly “the pillar and ground of the truth.” But it can only be so if we keep the truth, maintain it in our assemblies, and present it with boldness and confidence.

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