Many years ago, a resident of Long Island in America ordered from a manufacturer a new barometer. On the morning the barometer arrived in the post, the resident noticed immediately that one hand on the barometer scale was unusually low on the scale. He immediately gave the barometer back to the postman with a very stern letter to the manufacturer. In the letter he complained to the manufacturer that he had sent him a faulty barometer. That afternoon and the following day, a great storm struck Long Island and caused considerable damage.
Sometimes truth can be staring one directly in the face, but we are often so bent on our traditions, or sidetracked by our subjective religiosity, that we are simply blinded. Those who would cultivate a character that is pleasing to God must be those who are always in search of that which is true. In their search for truth from God, characters for Christ guard themselves against being led astray by error.
Webster’s dictionary defines truth as “the state of being the case …. The body of real things, events and facts.” Paul had this meaning in mind when he wrote in reference to his delivery of the message of the gospel to the Ephesians: “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation” (Ep 1:13). Paul made this statement in the context of so many lies that were being proclaimed in the region of his readers. The recipients of his letter were not living in a religious environment that was much different than the one in which we live today. Error often prevails over truth.
Christendom is burdened with too many theatrical religionists who are strong on theatrical religiosity, but weak on the word of God. Some groups are zealous about doing a good number of good works, but weak on their knowledge of the Bible. They subsequently justify their existence as “Christian” on the foundation of works, not the word of God.
We live in a religious world that is the residence of too many prophets who have no desire to have the knowledge of God in their thinking and ways. We recently spoke to a Christian counsellor who said of the church, “We are no longer a people who come together to hear or study the word of God.” A new generation has arisen who seek to validate their relationship with God through good works, but apart from the foundation of the word of God.
True teachers of the word of God are those who seek truth from God. Such is their nature because they are disciples of Christ. All those who are seeking the truth must seek those who are also truth seekers. It is the truth of God’s word that brings Christians together. Truth seekers naturally seek out one another. If we would be God’s people, then we must be people who seek His truth. Our fellowship as disciples of Christ must be based on the word of Christ, not simply on our common works for Christ.
John encouraged Gaius to associate with Demetrius because Demetrius had a good reputation for being one of the truth: “Demetrius has a good report from all, and of the truth itself” (3 Jn 12). We seek out those who love the truth in order “that we might be fellow workers for the truth” (3 Jn 8). We seek out truth seekers, for we rejoice as John who wrote that he had “no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth” (3 Jn 4). Notice that in all of John’s preceding statements that he focused on establishing fellowship that is based on truth, not on the common good works of different individuals.
What would be our reputation before the church? Would it be as Gaius whose reputation was reported throughout the church for his love of the truth? John wrote of Gaius, “For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in truth” (3 Jn 3; see 2 Jn 4). As Gaius, we must be identified as characters for Christ who have an intense desire to be known for being Bible students. Those who are Bible students are truth seekers, and thus all Bible students are drawn together in order to discover together the truth of God.
[Points A & B tomorrow.]