THE DEFINITION OF THE TRUTH
In this chapter we will devote our attention to the definition of the truth. As we all recognize, truth is the opposite of falsehood. Many also regard truth as meaning certain true, reliable principles, such as the principle that honesty is the best policy. After speaking recently on the subject of the truth, I was approached by a learned man who said that truth referred to principles. As an illustration, he said that John 3:16 is a standing principle. This understanding of truth is worldly, an altogether natural concept different from the understanding of truth presented in the Bible. If we would know the meaning of truth in the Bible, we need to get into the depths of the Word.
THE WORD, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIGHT
In John 8:12 the Lord Jesus said, “I am the light of the world,” and in 14:6 He said, “I am…the truth” (KJV). John 17:17 tells us that the Lord’s word is also the truth. According to the Bible, the Lord is the light, the truth, and the Word. The Word, which is also the truth, gives light, for in the Word there is light. Therefore, the Word, the light, and the truth are one.
John 1:14 speaks of the Word becoming flesh and tabernacling among us full of “grace and truth,” and verse 17 speaks of the law being given through Moses, but “grace and truth” coming through Jesus Christ (KJV). When we believe in the Lord Jesus, we receive grace and truth. In his first Epistle, John says that God is love and that God is light (4:16; 1:5). When God comes to us, we receive grace; but when we go to God, He is love. Grace is the realization and expression of love. Love is the source, and grace is the expression. Likewise, truth is the realization and expression of light. Light is the source, and truth is the expression. The expression of light is the shining of the light. When light is concealed from us, it is merely light, but when it shines upon us, it becomes truth.
TRUTH—THE SHINING OF THE LIGHT
Many Christians think that the word truth in the Bible denotes doctrine. But if we change truth in the Gospel of John into doctrine, it sounds absurd. Let us take several examples. “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us…full of grace and doctrine.” “Grace and doctrine came through Jesus Christ.” “I am the way and the doctrine and the life.” “You shall know the doctrine, and the doctrine shall set you free.” “Sanctify them in the doctrine; Your word is doctrine.” “When He, the Spirit of doctrine, comes.” How absurd! Truth does not denote doctrine. It first means the shining of the light, the expression of the light. In other words, truth is light expressed. God never comes to us without shining upon us. When God comes to us as light and shines, we immediately have the sense of truth, of reality.
A VISION TELEVISED INTO OUR BEING
Television is a very good illustration of this. Suppose there is a parade in Washington, D.C. Without television you could not be on the West Coast and receive a vision of the parade. Although you could read about the parade the next day in a newspaper, the newspaper account would not make the parade real to you. Many Christians today use the Bible like a newspaper, but they do not have the vision of what is written in the Word.
For example, the pastors of the Lutheran Church in China believed strongly in justification by faith, and they trained others to preach and teach this doctrine. However, some of these very pastors were not themselves justified by faith, and consequently they were not saved. One such pastor was a man named Ai. Although he fought for the truth of justification by faith, he was an opium smuggler. He had the doctrine of justification by faith, that is, the newspaper account of it, but he did not have the reality. He had never received justification by faith through believing in the Lord’s redeeming blood. One day this pastor heard a Norwegian missionary named Miss Monsen preach on regeneration. Miss Monsen preached not merely the doctrine of regeneration but the reality of regeneration. After her message she greeted Pastor Ai at the gate and asked him if he had been regenerated. He angrily asserted that he had. But Miss Monsen replied that by the tone of his voice and by the expression on his face, she knew that he had not truly been regenerated. Pastor Ai was insulted by having such a word spoken to him in the presence of members of his congregation. That night, filled with hatred for this Norwegian missionary, he plotted to kill her. As he was making his evil plans, the Holy Spirit said to him, “See how evil you are!” The Holy Spirit worked upon him, and he repented with tears, even rolling on the floor as he made confession to the Lord. That night Pastor Ai did not have merely a newspaper account of regeneration; he saw a vision of regeneration by means of the heavenly television. The vision was televised into him, and he was regenerated. The next morning he was happy, and he praised the Lord. In the meeting he stood up to give a testimony of his experience. Through that one testimony, given by a pastor who had been an opium smuggler, hundreds of students turned to the Lord.
Through the experience of Pastor Ai we can see what truth is. Many preachers give messages that are nothing more than newspaper reports. Such messages do not convey the heavenly vision. But thank the Lord for the speaking that televises a vision to us! The vision that is televised into our being is the truth, the reality. In the New Testament truth denotes this kind of heavenly television. Truth is not merely a report, not simply words written in the Bible; it is a heavenly, spiritual vision televised into our being. We all need to learn to differentiate the speaking that gives merely a news report from the speaking that televises a vision into us. Most of the sermons preached in the so-called churches today are like newspaper reports. Because many preachers use the Bible like a newspaper, there is very little of the heavenly vision.
Every vision is a reality. Suppose a meeting of the church in Anaheim is televised to Taipei. The saints in Taipei would not receive a news report; they would see a vision of what is taking place in our meeting. In God’s economy there are many visions. For example, when Christ died on the cross, He shed His blood for us. If this is merely a doctrine to us, we cannot be saved. But as soon as the reality of the death of Christ is televised into our being and we see it as a vision, we are saved. When I was a child, I was taught that Christ died on the cross for my sins and that He shed His blood for me. This was nothing more than a doctrine to me until I was nineteen; then the heavenly vision of Christ’s death was televised into me. At that time I could see Christ dying on the cross for me, shedding His blood for my sins. When I saw this, I wept, I worshipped, and I thanked the Lord. That experience was the vision, the truth. We all have had experiences similar to this.
Take the example of Christ as our holiness. Perhaps you have heard many messages about holiness, but as far as you are concerned, these messages are only news reports. Therefore, you have the knowledge of holiness but not the vision of holiness. But one day, perhaps during morning watch, you have a vision of Christ being holiness to you, and the vision of holiness is televised into your spirit. Because we all need to see the heavenly vision, in Ephesians 1 Paul prayed that we would have a spirit of wisdom and revelation. Actually, such a spirit is simply the vision televised into our being by the Spirit.