August 15, 2010

Is that true preaching? – Steve Dewhurst

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

When my oldest son David was a young boy we were riding along in the car one day listening to a denominational preacher on the radio. It never occurred  to me that David was actually paying attention to him, but after a few minutes he looked up and asked, “Daddy, is that true preaching?”

The question struck me as both sweet and a little funny. Grammatically the question was awkward. He didn’t want to know if what he was hearing was truly preaching, but whether or not the preaching itself was correct in its content. All of which serves to illustrate an important point: there is a profound difference in what is true and that which is truth.

When we speak of truth we’re speaking of God’s word itself, the standard by which all else is judged. And truth is absolute, that is, it is entirely correct and unchangeable. People sometimes speak of truth changing, but by its very nature, truth can never change. If what is correct can change from day to day, then it never was correct in the first place. Men may have thought it correct due to human ignorance, but truth has always been truth whether frail minds have ever grasped it or not. For example, scientific laws of thermodynamics have been true from creation, although it took many centuries before men could define them. And so it is with spiritual truth. Jesus said in prayer to His Father, “Thy word is truth.” (John 17:17) Our understanding of God’s word may change with study and maturity, but the word, itself, has always been the same.

But then there is the adjective true. That which is true is true because it happens to agree with the truth. Preaching that is true is that which accurately represents the truth of God’s word. When I claim to be telling the truth, what I’m actually doing is stating what I think is the truth; I believe myself to be making true statements that coincide with an objective truth somewhere outside me. My opinions and conclusions will never become truth in and of themselves; my objective should be, however, to always say and embrace what is true according to the truth of God’s word.

We have all heard of instances in which a witness in court has sworn to tell the truth and genuinely believes himself to be doing so, only to learn through contradictory evidence that his truth wasn’t the truth at all. What happened? Well of course, the truth didn’t change; the facts had remained constant throughout. What changed was the man’s understanding of the facts. In spite of his genuine intention to tell the truth, he discovered he was making untrue statements which would not square with the real truth. The critical lesson here is that what we believe to be true is not the truth; put another way, my understanding is not the standard of right and wrong; God’s word is the standard whether I ever understand it correctly or not.

In view of the fact that truth exists objectively outside of us, we ought to be willing to continually examine our personal beliefs in contrast to scripture. God’s word isn’t going to change; it is right. But I can always “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18) As a child of God, I want to know the truth. I want to follow the truth. I want to teach the truth. But as I have grown over the years, I have sometimes discovered that what I thought was true wasn’t true at all—or was only partially true. Yet in all this time, truth itself hasn’t changed a bit. Only my understanding has changed.

So what’s the upshot of it all? Simply that we ought never to become so content with ourselves, or so cocky that we knowtanfuse

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: