To Tell The Truth

All he did was tell them the truth.  Yet they wanted to kill him…for telling the truth.

That is what we are told in the Gospel of John by Jesus himself. “As it is, you are looking for a way to kill a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God…” (Jn 8.40).  This should not surprise us since Israel had a history of killing prophets who came along.  Even though hindsight always has the advantage of 20/20 vision, this is very insightful about the nature of truth telling.

The truth is neither convenient nor always a warm-hearted inspirational message.  Sometimes the truth is a reality check, a critique of the way things are because of the way things could be.  It won’t always be something welcomed with wide-open arms but it is still the truth.  Yet for some, the truth remains something welcomed when it suits them and when it doesn’t…  Well, history is full of preachers and prophetic voices who have been dismissed, ridiculed, exiled, imprisoned, and even killed for telling the truth.

The role of any preacher is first to be a truth teller.  While there will always be a place among the Christian community for exercising discernment as to whether the truth is being told, to object because the message fails to be a positive, warm-hearted, inspirational message is simply mistaken.  If the messenger is not telling the truth then by all means object.  But the lack of a positive, warm-hearted, inspirational message has never and never will be an indicator of truth.

If people are to be followers of Jesus then it will always require the truth being told.  Rather than being a list of propositions supported by proof-texts made for an ad hoc argument, it is truth predicated on the reality of The One who is “the way and the truth and the life” (cf. Jn 14.6).  Consequently, it is truth that must be embodied if it is to be proclaimed without hypocrisy.  It is the truth which the church must proclaim to it’s surrounding culture and it the truth that those whom God has called to lead the church must proclaim to the church as well.

Therefore, to tell the truth is one of the vocational tasks of participating in God’s mission.

All he did was tell them the truth.  Yet…

2 responses to “To Tell The Truth

  1. Rex, Yes I agree with you; the truth is very important. Did the first century Christians have it?

    Things to consider:

    “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage —with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Pet. 4:2-3).

    “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” (Rom.16:17-18).

    WORSHIP HAS ALWAYS BEEN a vital matter in the eyes of God. God has actually told us how He wishes to be worshipped by His people, THE CHURCH. Christians today should worship Him according to the same pattern of worship He ordained for the EARLY CHURCH as prescribed in the New Testament. Since the literal meaning of the verb “worship,” is “to adore,” Christians must worship in God’s way showing their deep love and sincere adoration for their Creator. The Bible clearly shows that in each Bible age God set forth specific avenues of worship for His people during that age.

    FOR EXAMPLE, WE SEE in the Patriarchal Age that Adam’s sons, Cain and Abel, were to worship by offering a blood sacrifice. Abel offered a lamb as God commanded and was blessed. Cain attempted to offer a substitute of his own choosing rather than to comply with God’s choice. But God had no respect either for Cain or his offering.
    IN THE MOSAIC AGE we have the account of two priests, Nadab and Abihu, who attempted to worship God by burning incense. However, God considered them disrespectful because they offered in worship something other than that which He had commanded. Instead of using the fire that God had ordained, they substituted a “strange fire” and as a result were burned to death by fire from heaven. True love and adoration for God will express themselves in obedience to His will and respect for His choices in worship.

    GOD HAS ALSO PROVIDED channels of public worship for our Christian Age: the Lord’s Supper, Bible study, prayer, singing and giving. Since God, Himself has chosen these media of congregational worship through which man may express his love to God, He will not accept man’s substitutes. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

    Now, at this point, we could go on to examine each of God’s avenues of worship, in more detail, which I would be happy to do, if you would like.

    Before this gets any longer, let me conclude with this thought: What would you say to the first century Christians in heaven? Would you tell them that they had it all wrong?

    Yes, some mistakes are made throughout the various churches of Christ; –We all fall short– however, these errors can be dealt with using scripture and sound doctrine. Surely, we can see the wisdom of God in making His individual congregations autonomous; thereby errors are not handed down to all the churches by a hiarchy of man, rather than the Holy Spirit and Jesus, our God.

    Grace and Truth,

    Donald Cole

    • Don,

      We disagree on what the truth is. I do not believe the purpose of the New Testament is to give a pattern for Christian worship. You assume a lot about the New Testament…assumptions which I believe are wrong. One of the mistaken assumptions you seem to be making is that the New Testament is to be read as a law in the same way the Torah of the OT was to be read by Israel…or that the New Testament is to be read as a pattern just like God gave Noah a pattern for the ark (I’ve heard sermons before making these analogies). But as I have said in a few sermons, if God was simply interested in creating a legal code of laws for Christians to live by then God already had a perfect law (the Torah) since there was nothing wrong with it in the first place…and if God was really trying to give us a pattern like God gave to Noah, why did God not lay it out clearly rather than leaving Christians to extrapolate a bunch of proof-texts from scripture in order to define what that pattern should be (a subjective task if there ever was one)?

      Further more, while I believe you are sincere in your citation of the story involving Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10, it is but another example of proof-texting without consideration of its context. There is more going on in this story than just merely offering worship that God did not authorize. First, though the NIV translates their offering in Leviticus 10.1 as “unauthorized fire”, the Hebrew could also be translated as “Strange” (KJV) or “unholy” (NRSV) since the actual Hebrew word ָז ָר ה means something which is ‘alien.’ To say that there worship was alien or strange because God did not authorize it is without support in the actual passage since we are never told what exactly God did authorize. Second, if the fate of these two brothers was simply because they offered worship which God did not specifically authorize then God is in fact a respecter of persons because in the same chapter Aaron’s two other sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, disobey a specific command from God but do not suffer the same fate as Nadab and Abihu.

      Grace and Peace,


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