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Searching For Truth
24 October 2013
"What is truth?"
This famous question — asked by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate at the trial of Yeshua (Jesus), and recorded in John 18:38 — is difficult to interpret. Was Pilate being sarcastic, sincere, indifferent, or what?
In most Christian circles there is a strong belief that a follower of Yeshua should have a solid grasp on the truth. Once we understand the truth about God and about what the Bible teaches, we can stand firm in our faith and have peace in our hearts. If we hear the right sermons, or read the right books, or attend a catechism class, then we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free.
But I don't think that we can come to know the truth in such a rigid, defined, and limited manner. Rather than having a definite grasp on truth at the beginning of our journey with Yeshua, I think it is a lot closer to reality, and a lot more along the lines of what the New Testament teaches, to see acquiring truth as a life-long journey which will not be completed until this earthly life is over. The Apostle Paul alluded to this when he wrote:
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when what is complete comes, the partial will be set aside.... For the present we are looking through a mirror obscurely, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:9,10,12)I used to think of truth as a destination which I needed to arrive at as soon as possible in order to be a "good" Christian. Now I see it as a life-long journey, and as I travel along I enter more and more into the realm of truth. On this extended journey, Yeshua is both the path and the destination — He said that He is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." (John 14:6)
Paradoxically, it seems that the more we know, the more we know that we don't know! We will not arrive at total and perfect truth in this life. On this journey into truth, we are not merely seeking correct knowledge in our intellect. Our guide, Yeshua, Himself IS "truth." It is through relationship with Him, by getting to know Him better and better, than we enter into truth and truth enters into us.
A book I read three or so years ago — So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore by Wayne Jacobsen — delves deeply into these concepts. One of my favorite quotes from the book is: "Jesus didn't leave us with a system; he left us with his Spirit — a guide instead of a map."
You can read lots of great excerpts from this book by checking out my articles: So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore and Living For a Living.
The Pharisees of Yeshua's day thought that they had a solid grasp on truth — they acted as if they had God, the Scriptures and their religion all figured out. Yeshua's warnings to them, recorded all throughout the four Gospels, are also warnings to us to not follow the unwise example of the Pharisees.
God wants us to be childlike, teachable, ready to admit we were wrong in our understanding, and ready to learn new truths which He wants to teach us. The Pharisees thought that they had already graduated, but God wants us to remember that we are still in school for the rest of our earthly lives.
During our journey into truth it is dangerous to imagine that we have arrived. We all know the famous parable of the blind men and an elephant. As the story goes, a group of blind men touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part of the elephant. Then, when they compare their experiences of the "truth" of an elephant, they are in total disagreement, because each one experienced only a portion of the whole truth.
For the past two thousand years, followers of Yeshua have had a very similar experience. As soon as we enter into a new truth which God is teaching us, it is easy to become very excited about it. In our enthusiasm we can fall into a number of errors. We can start to focus more and more on that particular truth, and begin to neglect other equally valid truths. Or we may expect everyone else to see this truth at the same time, and with the same intensity, that we see it. Or we are so fascinated with this one truth that we begin to close our hearts to learning any further truth. In any case, we start to get out of balance, which can cause problems for ourselves and for others.
The Apostle Paul wrote that God "desires everyone to be saved and to come into a knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:3-5) To me, "come into a knowledge of the truth" clearly implies a process, a journey. Otherwise, Paul could have simply written that God "desires everyone to be saved and to know the truth."
Yeshua is our Teacher, through the Holy Spirit. As Yeshua said, "When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13a) The truth is not simply intellectual, but organic. It's not simply something you know, it's what you live. It's who you are on the inside, not simply outside conformity.
We are all at different places on our journey with Yeshua into truth; therefore, we are not all learning the same lessons at the same time. Even though it is thrilling to discover new truth (not new for God, but only new for us, because we have not entered into it before), we have to be careful not to let our passion carry us into rigid and judgmental dogmatism.
Of course, I'm not in any way implying that truth is relative or individualistic. As I stated above, Yeshua IS truth, and as He prayed to His Heavenly Father, "Sanctify My followers in the truth; Your word is truth." (John 17:17) God's word, especially His written word, is the foundation of His revealed truth.
Nevertheless, it is possible to study the Bible in search of truth, and yet lack an intimate connection with Yeshua, who IS truth. Paul wrote that there are those who are "always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:7). This is similar to what Yeshua warned the Pharisees about: "You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to Me! Yet you refuse to come to Me to receive this life." (John 5:39-40)
So once again we are back to the reality that our search for truth is a life-long journey with Yeshua, who is the Way and the Truth and the Life. With a childlike openness, a willingness to lay aside incomplete or inaccurate understandings, and an eagerness to embrace new comprehension of the truth, we will make solid progress in our journey into truth.
In all of the articles I write for this Web site, I am sharing the truth as I perceive it, from the point I am at in my own particular journey with Yeshua. Obviously, I have not arrived yet — I don't claim to have it all figured out, or to have a corner on the truth.
My understanding of God, and what it means to be a follower of Yeshua, is constantly evolving and expanding as I grow in intimacy with God and make progress on my journey. I fully expect to see things differently in the future compared to the less-complete understanding I had in the past. To remain in the same understanding of the truth in an unchanging way would mean that I'm not growing or learning, but merely stuck in the exact same spot on the path. That would not be a journey, but deplorable stagnation.
In my next article, I take a look at two individuals who, in their search for truth, explored extremes of Biblical Living.
This article is 23rd a series of articles on this Web site related to My Journey with Yeshua (Jesus) which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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