The reality of absolute truth necessitates that there be an absolute standard of moral behavior that transcends human culture, context or situation (see last week’s article). Since mankind clearly has an innate moral impulse, we would expect a benevolent God to reveal the details of absolute truth. This revealed truth would function as a moral compass to direct the moral impulse within us. But what would be the nature of this revealed absolute truth?
We would naturally expect that a loving God would make his truth easily accessible to us. God revealed the Truth to chosen spokesmen through his Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21), by whom he ensured that the message would be communicated to all of creation (cf. Mark 16:15). The Truth of God would be contained within the “jars of clay” of human beings (2 Corinthians 4:7). Jesus promises that anyone that has a desire to know the Truth (cf. John 7:17) can arrive at knowledge of the truth. We can “know the truth” if we dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of truth by a disciplined and deliberate search of God’s revelation (the Bible) (John 8:31-32). By committing ourselves to a focused study of God’s Word, we develop the skills to analyze any moral or religious action and determine whether it is true or false (Hebrews 5:14).
While it must be admitted that there are different levels of understanding spiritual truths (Hebrews 5:13-14; 1 Peter 3:16), we would expect that the essential message of God’s truth would be easy for the average person to grasp. The Bible is often painted as a cryptic book that only theologians can decipher. This view of truth presents God as one who is either unwilling or unable to communicate in an understandable way to the average person.
Christianity is a taught religion (cf. 2 Timothy 2:2), and teachers are sent to communicate the Truth (cf. Romans 10:14-15). Teachers and preachers of the gospel are God’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) who are charged to simply deliver God’s Truth to others without altering the message (1 Corinthians 4:6). Teachers offer instruction and assist learners in coming to an understanding of God’s truth (Nehemiah 8:8; Acts 8:31).
But the Truth of God has not been revealed in a manner that only the theologian or highly educated can understand. In fact, Jesus states that God has made his message so simple that children can understand while at the same time being hidden from the “wise and understanding” of this world (Luke 10:21). One can only enter God’s kingdom by becoming “child-like” and being submissive to God’s Truth (Mark 10:15). The Truth of God that seems to elude those who over-think it is often simply expounded from the “mouths of babes” (Matthew 21:16; Psalm 8:2).
Indeed, one would expect that a loving God would make truth available and understandable to the average person. Crowds of people were attracted to Jesus because of his ability to expound eternal Truth in a comprehensible way. Jesus did not teach in the confusing theological language of the scribes, but he delivered the authority of God using parables and images from daily life (Matthew 7:29; 13:3). The Truth of God was given to the “uneducated” and “common” people (Acts 4:13). God’s deep, but simple Truth would destroy “earthly wisdom” and the arguments of men (James 3:15; 2 Corinthians 10:4). God revealed the Truth through simplicity to “confound” the wise (1 Corinthians 1:18-31; 3:18-20). God’s Truth is given to the average person, yet the wise of this world often complicate God’s simple Truth (cf. 2 Timothy 3:7).
The New Testament was written in the Greek language. Students of the New Testament were confused for a long time about the type of Greek used. Many explained the language as “Holy Spirit Greek” (Lightfoot 29). Later ancient papyri documents were unearthed in Egypt that used the same type of Greek. These documents were common writings (non-literary works) including tax receipts, personal letters, bills of sale, etc. It soon became apparent that the Greek used in the New Testament was not some “Holy Spirit Greek” but was the language of the common people (now referred to a Koine, or common, Greek). God inspired men to pen the New Testament using the language of the common people, not some highly formalized communication. This clearly demonstrates that the Truth of God was communicated to mankind in an accessible and simple way.
God gave his message in a form understood by regular people. It was not limited to the theologians. An intelligent, careful, intensive, but straightforward reading of the Bible will reveal the Truth to those who are open to it (cf. Matthew 13:10-17). It has been observed that if a Biblical explanation is extremely complicated, it is most likely wrong. This statement is consistent with the nature of God and his manner of revealing the Truth to mankind. If one does not come to know the Truth it is not because of lack of ability to understand but from a lack of effort to seek God’s Truth. God’s Truth is available to all but we must diligently seek it out.
Lightfoot, Neil R. How We Got the Bible. Third Edition. Baker: Grand Rapids, 2003.
© 2011, Jonathan Jones II. All rights reserved.