On trial for his life, Martin Luther is reported to have said, “Peace if possible…The truth at any rate.”
The other day a famous preacher appeared on a talk show. He was apparently trying to rehab his image. He had been accused of having numerous sexual encounters with young men in his mega-church. After some long awkward silences, the host asked him, “What is your stance on gay marriage?”
The man gathered himself… looked straight into the camera… and said “I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman…that being said, that is my truth. And other people have their truth and that’s o.k.” It was an artful dodge, but his defense was flawed by definition.
The Greek word that we translate as “truth” in the New Testament literally means “nothing hid or concealed.” I take that to mean that truth is either true or it is not. There is no room for nuance here. Jude verse 3 (the guiding scripture of the Jude 3 Fellowship) reads “contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.” From this verse I conclude:
- Truth, (as Paul put it)“The truth as it is in Jesus”–was a ‘once for all’ proposition
- It is one truth for all people and for all times
- It had and has been delivered ‘once for all’ to the saints.
- To treat truth as such is something that will involve contending (the Greek word is agonidzo—we get our word agonize from it.
One could rightfully ask, contend against what or whom? I will tell you that Jude’s epistle as well as the epistles of Peter and John deal with people in the church who have caused strife and confusion by distorting or tinkering with the Gospel. In every generation there have been those who took it upon themselves to adapt the gospel to their current culture. It is no different today. The preacher I mentioned earlier illustrates this point. His “this is my truth” remark was really a tacit acknowledgement that others’ truth was par with the truth as it is found in Jesus.
People have literally stopped their ears when I say “Jesus said that “all who came before Him were liars and thieves.” It is written “There is no other name under heaven by which men shall be saved.” One really has just a few options when it comes to the claims of Christ. The very notion of propositional truth—that is, there is one truth that is to be either accepted and believed, or rejected—is under assault today.
You need a thesaurus to decipher and parse the various ways that pubic figures disguise lies. One of my favorites was when the then Presidential candidate John Kerry was caught repeating again and again a statement that he knew to be false and misleading. One of his surrogates came up with this creative defense. “Secretary Kerry is one of those rare men possessed of a fluid consciousness. Intellectual fluidity was this man’s actual wording.
I remember hearing once, “In war, the first casualty is always the truth.” We need as never before to be convinced that the Bible is ‘true truth’ as Francis Schaeffer put it. By all means, we are all free to obfuscate redefine, speculate. bend tear and mutilate as much as we please. If, however, something is universally true and based on the very Word of God, then we have a dilemma. The Bible states in no uncertain terms that not all will be saved. It also makes it crystal clear that you can be sincere and at the same time sincerely wrong, and that there is judgment involved.
I remember my Apologetics teacher, Dr. John Warwick Montgomery said that “a universe in which both Unitarianism and Roman Catholicism could both be universally true would be a mad house!” Does this mean that I have the right to tell people they are going to hell? I wouldn’t treat it that way. But neither do I have the right to eliminate my uncomfortableness by saying that the Bible is wrong about Hell and that no one is going there…
I guess Martin Luther had it right;
Peace if possible…the truth at any rate. I can say and I do say right now that no one HAS to go to Hell. Anyone reading this can right now repent, confess that they have sinned and offended God and that they believe that Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross, He died for them. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”
Now there is some true truth.”