“That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl 1:9 NAS95). When, in about 977BC, Solomon penned these now famous words, I doubt he understood how true would these words ring almost 3000 years later.
It has been said that we must continue to evolve and that we are faced with things in this generation that no one before has ever had to face. There may be a certain amount of truth in this statement, in regard to the specifics of the situation, but there is no truth in it as to the general relationship it bears with those of the past.
One such example can be found in what is believed today. When Jesus was taken before Pilate He made this statement in response to one of Pilate’s questions, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37 NAS95). Pilate’s reply reflects the attitude of so many in their study of God’s word. He said, “What is truth?” (John 18:38 NAS95), as if it was not possible to know for certain where truth lies. We have been told for so many years that because of upbringing, cultural differences and economic diversity, no one can really know for certain what is truth. Many in the Lord’s church have now come to accept the idea as being a fact.
Many now see the Bible as a good guide, but do not recognize that it is absolute in its truth. They teach that we must allow each to interpret the Bible in light of their own experiences and come to an understanding that is in line with their background. Yet these same people will readily accept that when teaching mathematics, for example, truth is not reliant on one’s background, but is instead absolute, and must be understood by all alike.
The Bible is no different. Jesus said in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in Your truth. Your word is truth.” What God says is not dependent on how I was brought up or what I was taught to believe. It is dependent on what God intended for us to understand. Jesus also said in John 8:24, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” If truth is relevant, how can it ever set us free from our sins? If God expects His people to, “all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10), we must be able to discern truth alike.
The apostle Paul said, “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles– if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,” (Eph. 3:1-4 NAS95). You see how Paul says that the Ephesian brethren would be able to know the mystery that he himself knew by reading what he had written. If each one put a different meaning on the truth that Paul had written, they would not understand what was written, but would be following their own desires. If truth is relevant, why did Paul say it could be understood alike?
Peter conveyed much the same thought in his second letter. Knowing that he did not have much longer to live he said this, “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.” (2 Peter 1:12-15 NAS95). The reminder of these things was, of course, the letters he had written.
We could continue this journey through the word of God to show that the inspired writers believed we could and would understand what truth is, but Jude 3 may be the most telling of all the passages we could look at. Jude wrote, “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” Jude says the faith was delivered once. That does not leave room for my interpretation or that of anyone else either. If it was once delivered, then it can not be delivered again, which means it is not going to change over time.
Pilate’s question still lingers over the centuries, with some wanting to give the answer, “Who knows?” But God has left us the truth in the words penned by the inspired writers and we can know if we have the truth or not, by honestly comparing what we believe with what God says in His word. Can two disagree as to what the word of God says? Certainly, but only to the point of studying until they come to agreement with the word of God. Remember “God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Cor. 14:33). Therefore the confusion over what God’s word says, must come from man. Let us always strive to conform to the will of God rather than our own will.