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Truth: What is it and Where is it found?

In Blog, Written Teachings | on November, 15, 2013 | by

What is it and Where is it???

This week we received a call from a friend who asked for some help explaining his abstinence from pork. This individual went on to allude to the scripture where Peter has the vision of the sheet coming down from Heaven etc. etc. We all know the story from here.

After questioning him further, it became clear the questioner has the all too frequent misunderstanding that the New Testament was all we need and the Old has been done away with.
Brad Scott has two sayings which apply to the whole issue: 1) “Words mean something,” and 2) “Text taken out of context is pretext.” Scripture also admonishes us to “Study to show yourself approved.” Note this doesn’t say read, it says study.

And so, what about truth? Truth is elusive in today’s world. Whether it be in politics, family relationships, education, or religion, truth is hard to find.

Religion is the engine which drives the other items listed above. Religion is said to mold our thoughts and actions in all areas of our lives. However, with a reported 39,000 denominations of Christianity alone, what is truth?

Since most of the readers of this article are believers in Jesus, let’s just address Christianity. The first question is simply, “Can there be 39,000 versions of Truth?” Obviously not!

In order to delve further, it would be helpful to agree on a few things. First, as believers, most would agree Jesus is/was the Son of God and He did substantiate this with His statement, “The Father and I are one.” Secondly, Jesus is said to be the “Living Word”. Third, the Word of God and Jesus would then be synonymous. If we can believe these things, then studying the Word of God would be, in fact, studying the Son of God.

The word was preached by Jesus and therefore it should be a measuring stick by which we can determine Truth. After all, without such a measure, we have spiritual anarchy where every man does what he deems to be right in his own eyes. This, going back to Brad Scott’s, “Words mean something,” is by Biblical definition, idolatry. Carved idols do not have to be a part of idolatry; it can be simply placing one’s own thoughts and interpretations above God’s.

With those points of agreement and this definition, let’s see where we are today. For this, it would be helpful to understand where we were at the time of Jesus. After all, where we/they were plays a big part in where we are today.

At the time of Jesus, just as now, men’s interpretations and the rules stemming from them were an integral part of religion in Israel. The Sadducees and Pharisees made the rules and the people had to follow them on penalty of death. This concept was behind Paul’s searching out and executing early believers. This set of rules is called the Oral Torah (Law) or by other names such as the Talmud. It is still foundational for many sects of Judaism today…except, of course, for the execution part.

Jesus clearly spoke against man-made laws. In Mark 7: 7-13, he speaks of the “traditions” and says they make The Scripture of no effect. Here he is obviously making a distinction between The Scripture (Torah, Word, or Law) and the Oral Law. If this author was to point out the most key concept of New Testament MIS-understanding it would be this one. Knowing about the two laws is paramount in understanding much of the NT, and especially key to understanding Paul’s writings.

Remember, in the case of Paul, he identifies himself as a “Pharisee of Pharisees.” The obvious understanding here is that he was TOTALLY committed to the observance of the Oral Law. And so, remembering what Jesus said about the traditions, he (Paul) was destroying the Scriptures. To fully understand what happened on the Damascus Road, one has to grasp the fact that he completely reversed his theology. It is also interesting that he went to Mount Sinai where the Torah (Law) was first given and from here on he taught Torah and condemned the Oral Law.

Understanding this, we need to see that the context of Paul is sometimes the only thing telling the reader whether he’s referring to Torah or the Oral Law. He frequently calls the Oral Law the “Law of Works”. In Romans 3 we have one of Paul’s dissertations contrasting the Law of Works versus the Law of Faith. And, by the way, another definition is suitable here. What is faith? To save you looking it up, faith is believing the Promises of God. This is what Abraham did and it was considered righteousness. Paul clearly identifies believers as “the seed(s) of Abraham.” Therefore we should do as Paul says and discard the works of men while adopting the “Law of Faith”.

To have faith however, believers need to know what the promises of God are. This is where study comes in.

Truth means, therefore, one needs to study and have an understanding of God and Jesus and what we are promised. One needs to as the Bereans in Acts 17 where they listened to the teachings and then “Searched the Scriptures daily” to see “whether those things were so.”

With regard to the Bereans comparing what they were being told with what is said in Scripture, one has to ask the question: “What Scripture were they searching?” As said earlier, many today believe the Law has been done away with. This begs the question, what Law are we talking about? Are we referring to the one Jesus used as a measure to judge the Pharisees? Are we referring to the Law the Bereans used to test doctrine? Or, are we talking about Paul’s Law of Works, in other words, the Oral Torah?

Truth with regard to Paul requires an intimate knowledge of the condition at the time he wrote his letters. Peter (2Peter 3:15-16) warns that the “unlearned and unstable” will misinterpret him “to their own destruction.” It appears Peter’s dire warning is not being heeded by those who may be seeking truth.

And so to wrap this article up, what about the sheet Peter saw in the vision in Acts 10? Scripture defines itself, and in this case the explanation of the vision comes in verse 28 where Peter says the vision showed him to call no man unclean (regardless of what he eats). It therefore wasn’t about allowing him to eat those things God has already cursed, but instead about judging men. Again, as Brad Scott says, “Text taken out of context is pretext”.

And then, what about the biggey….Pork? We have all sorts of pseudo-scientific reasons why pork was bad at the beginning of the book but good today. There is, however, one argument not brought forward. That one is simply, God says don’t do it. This is not an issue about pork. It is an issue of obedience or rebellion.

And, there are two prophecies which talk about people of the covenant eating pork. These are in Isiah 65:4 and 66:17. Rebellion is Idolatry.

Are we taking God seriously or not? This is the ultimate question.

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