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CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: Truth? What is it?
When speaking of truth, readers of the Bible often first think of Pilate's question to Jesus in John 18:38: "What is truth?" Still today, many wrestle with whether there is anything that is absolutely true or false or whether truth even exists.
A simple definition of truth is to define it as something that corresponds to its object. In other words, it is "truth" to say water is a substance that consists of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen and is found in oceans, rivers, and other locations. In fact, to deny this is true is to make a competing truth claim. To say, "That is not true," is to claim the one making the statement knows it is not true because of another truth. Therefore, truth does exist.
The next question is, "Can truth be known?" As limited human beings, we cannot claim to know all truth, but we can claim there are true things we can discover. This is true both of the physical world (such as identifying rocks or trees) and of the abstract world (numbers or ideas). Therefore, we can know truth about reality, including evaluations regarding spiritual claims or truth about God.
At this point, the law of non-contradiction can be helpful in discovering whether an idea about God is true. The law of non-contradiction states that two opposing ideas cannot both be true at the same time and place under the same conditions. In other words, 2+2 cannot equal 4 and 2+2 equal 5 at the same time and place under the same conditions. It must be one or the other, 4 or 5.
Applied to spiritual truth, the law of non-contradiction can be helpful in evaluating many ideas regarding God. For example, a single God either exists or does not exist. A single God cannot logically exist for one person but not for another. In other words, it is inconsistent to make the postmodern claim, "It's true for you, but it's not true for me" when it comes to God's existence. He either does exist or He does not. He cannot both exist and not exist at the same time and place in the same conditions.
This same view of truth can help regarding many other faith claims as well. For example, Christianity's fundamental belief is the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Did He come alive again or not? There are only two options. The evidence must be evaluated with a conclusion of what is the most likely choice. While acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior is an act of faith, the resurrection is a matter of fact. It either took place or it did not.
A similar approach can be made regarding the Bible. Is it the inspired Word of God or not? It must be inspired, inspired in part, or not inspired. The options are limited. It is inconsistent to make the claim "the truth is relative" because truth is not relative. Truth is that which corresponds to its object. Some issues may be a matter of opinion, but others are a matter of fact or of truth.
When we face questions of truth, our wisest response is to evaluate the options and determine the best decision based on the available information. Our understanding of truth may vary from one person to another, but truth is consistent. We need not abandon the concept of truth simply because others view some truths about life differently.
Ultimately, truth is a spiritual issue as well as a philosophical one. Jesus claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). If He is the truth, then the proper response would be to follow Him and His teachings. Pilate's question, "What is truth?" continues to find far-reaching relevance into each of our lives today as we each must decide what to do when we encounter Jesus Christ. Shalom!
CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: God is Love and What Does This Mean?
The Bible teaches that God loves us, yet also teaches that God is love. First John 4:7~9 reveals, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him."
In the original Greek used to write the New Testament, there is more than one word for love. The Greek word agapos, often referred to as agape love, is the word used in 1 John 4. It is used when speaking of an unconditional love. This love of God is boundless.
God does not only give love; He is the source of love. As the Creator of all things (Genesis 1:1), He is the One who created love. It is because of His love that we are able to love. As 1 John 4:19 notes, "We love because he first loved us."
The fullest expression of God as love was through the Son, Jesus Christ. God created us, sustains us, and has revealed Himself to us through Jesus. John 1:14 declares, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."
Among the most famous of Bible passages on love is 1 Corinthians 13. In these verses we find a picture of God's love expressed in poetic terms that displays many of the aspects of God's love toward us. We are told, "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:4~8).
Further, John 3:16 teaches, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." God has made clear that His love through the Son of God, Jesus, grants an opportunity for those who will believe to spend eternity with Him. It is God's desire for us to enjoy His love both in this life and for all eternity.
The Bible is also clear we have done nothing to deserve God's perfect love. Romans 5:8 shares, "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Even when Jesus knew we would fail and even before we were born, He gave His life as the ultimate expression of His love.
God is love. He created love, created us to love Him, and has extended His love to each of us. Our election is to surrender to His great love (Ephesians 2:8~9) that we may experience His love in our lives today (John 10:10) and for eternity (John 3:16).
CHAPLAIN THOUGHTS: Loving One Another
At the Last Supper, Jesus instructed His disciples to love one another: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34~35). What did He mean?
Jesus wants His followers to care for each other on the deepest levels. A distinguishing feature of Christians should be their love for one another. Our love for one another flows out of our love for God, which is a result of God's love for us (1 John 4:19). John, one of Jesus' disciples, wrote often about love. For example, "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. … And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother" (1 John 4:10~11, 21).
Jesus wants His followers to be bound not primarily by service, command, family, nationality, pledge, race, interest, or anything else, but by love.
When the Holy Spirit appeared at Pentecost, people were gathered from all over the world; people from other nations with varied interests and backgrounds (Acts 2:9~11), yet once they were bound in Christ, they began serving each other, pooling their resources, and giving to those in need (Acts 2:42~47). This was love in action.
Jesus gave us a model of how to love one another. He loves unconditionally (Romans 5:8), sacrificially (2 Corinthians 5:21), with an ability to forgive (Ephesians 4:32), and forever (Romans 8:38~39). He, and His love, is holy (Hebrews 7:26). We are to love like that.
We are able to follow Jesus' example because of the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 3:18). Our choice to follow the Holy Spirit's leading and Jesus' instruction in the Word of God gives us the ability to follow His example.
We are to love each other, our neighbors, and even our enemies (Matthew 5:43~48). This sort of love is described in
1 Corinthians 13:4~8: "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away."
Loving one another the way Christ loved us is only possible with the supernatural power of God (2 Peter 1:3~8). Jesus gives us the command to love one another, then gives us the power to do just that.