“…and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
John 8: 31-32 (NRSV)
Can we handle the truth? Especially when that truth is measured against the authority of Scripture and the lordship of Jesus Christ? To walk in biblical truth while living in a postmodern world will be a major challenge for believers as we enter into this second decade of the 21st century.
With all the political rhetoric and social bantering, it is clear that this world is in need of truth. But can we handle it? Behind the news bytes and sound bits, there is an intention movement currently underway to redefine what truth is and what it isn’t. This is nothing new. This inclination to “repackage” the truth comes directly from the father of lies, Satan himself (John 8:44). Be careful how you define truth or you too may fall prey to the subtly of deception. “Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?” (Gen. 3:1, NLT)
In decades past, people could depend on the media to communicate the “truth” with regard to specific issues of the day. Newspapers, magazine publications and newscasters were committed to operate at the highest ethical standards. In addition, people could depend on their local leaders—civic or religious—to offer truth, as they knew best. But over time that has changed. Unfortunately both media and individuals can only offer their own opinions based on personal agendas or corporate bias, leaving individuals still “in search for truth”. Truth is now shaped by social media and image consultants—by the number of “likes”, “retweets” and “followers” one can amass.
What is truth? Truth is defined as that which agrees with reality. The believer’s reality and meaning is grounded in God. That reality began in the Garden of Eden. Created in God’s image, our purpose and destiny is tied to our identity in Him through Christ (Col. 3:3). This reality was sidetracked by sin and replaced with Satan’s counterfeit that placed self on the throne where only Christ was to be seated and exalted. Because of Jesus’ atoning work on the Cross, our sins were forgiven and we are now reconciled back to God (2 Cor. 5:18, 19). When we affirm our faith, we acknowledge that we have died to our old sin nature (Gal. 5:24) and walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). We no longer follow the worldview—its influence was negated by the Blood. Our meaning and reality is now realigned with God (2 Cor. 5:15). “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a).
More than ever before, believers must connect with the only True Source of Truth, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior (John 14:6). God’s Word and the Spirit of Truth stand ready to silence the lies, myths and fables we might hear (2 Tim. 4:3-4). God is the only source of truth for our lives. Can you handle the truth?
For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Acts 20:27 (NKJ)
Our intent in creating this series has been to offer a new perspective on the whole counsel of God that will hopefully increase believers’ confidence in its validity and its value in navigating in the 21st century. If you’re struggling with obedience and how to be obedient to God, continue reading.
We introduced our series by first discussing the wisdom of God. The “unsearchable” knowledge of God (Rom. 11:33) establishes the foundation for acceptance of the whole counsel of God and for victorious living under “Kingdom Rule”.
We expanded the definition of the whole counsel of God to include not only that which is revealed through His Word and the Holy Spirit, but also extends to His realized purpose and His will in the world and in the believer’s life.
The reliability of God’s counsel is a consequence of who He is and His relationship with believers. God is, by nature, exceedingly good and great! Because of that, God’s counsel can be trusted.
So why do people reject God’s counsel?
When I teach God’s Word, I am surprised at the number of pushbacks and arguments I get from people as I share the whole counsel of God. I see in their eyes and hear in their voices, the inner conflict that God’s Word creates in their life as they attempt to convince me (and justify to themselves) their “difference with the counsel” that is being “revealed”. It is out of this place of discomfort that the Bible and the Holy Spirit is regularly accused of being “intolerant”, “outdated”, and “inaccurate”.
The reason for their “disconnect” is the standard they use to assess the “value or correctness” of God’s counsel. Their “source of counsel” is, in most cases, the world, their flesh, and/or the influence of Satan. Once this is understood, it becomes clear the basis of their discomfort is not the sufficiency of Scripture but the struggle for authority in their life—God’s authority or the current worldview? God’s authority or what makes them happy? God’s authority or Satan’s authority? It is a matter of authority and obedience.
Obedience and thewhole counsel of God
I was saved when I was nine years old. I bought the “fire insurance” and wasn’t going to hell. But it was 30 years later that I learned about “lordship” and God’s authority and rule in my life. That required me to change the source of my counsel—no longer the world, my flesh, or Satan—but the whole counsel of God.
My personal journey has led me to believe that people’s disobedience and rejection of God’s counsel usually stems from one or all of the following:
Blinding by Satan. “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NRS)
Paul explains to the Corinthians the reason why people reject the gospel. The translated meaning of veiled is “to hide or hinder the knowledge of a thing.” And who is the culprit responsible for the veiling? It is Satan. Satan’s agenda is to keep people away from their Creator and His purpose for their lives. And what doesn’t Satan want people to know? “The gospel of the glory of God” realized through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus has provided freedom from the bondage of sin, a path back to God (reconciled), and access to spiritual blessings prepared for them (Eph. 1:3-5).
Bentness of the Flesh. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world — the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches — comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever. 1 John 2:15-17
As Christians we not only have become new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) but we also have been delivered from the penalty and the power of sin. However, until Christ’s return or we transition to be with Him in heaven, we must still deal with the presence of sin, in our unredeemed flesh and by virtue of living in this fallen world.
These two facts require BELIEVERS to continually be aware of those factors that tend to “bend us” toward the “world’s view of life” versus God’s expectations of Christian behavior and purpose. If you have not accepted Christ’s offer of salvation, there is still “room at the Cross” with an opportunity to “change the bentness” of your flesh and the influence of this “falling” world in our lives.
Battle for Truth. “Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools. Romans 1:21-22
The battle for truth in the 21st century is raging. We feel the effects of postmodernism both inside and outside the Church. To exacerbate this dilemma, social media and technology has introduced the ability for individuals and groups to flood the channels with their agendas that spread propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation.
Propaganda is defined as the systematic transmission of information or ideas in order to encourage or instill a particular idea, attitude, or response. Misinformation is erroneous or incorrect information. Misinformation differs from propaganda in that it always refers to something which is not true. Its intent is usually neutral. Disinformation refers to disseminating deliberately false information, with the intention of influencing policies of those who receive it.
John Hopkins Sheridan Libraries
So where is one to go for good counsel? To the only source that has a record of being all wise, reliable, and totally committed to our well-being. That Source is God.
God’s Counsel = LIFE
The whole counsel of God includes some things that are difficult to hear—the fact that we are dead in sin and deserving of God’s wrath (Eph. 2:1–3) and the fact that we cannot save ourselves through works (Eph. 2:8–9). The gospel is a call to faithfulness and holy living (Eph. 1: 4). Believers will face persecution (John 16:33) and likely be considered foolish. But none of these things should dissuade us.
When we accepted God’s lordship and are obedient to His will and His purpose, our life will become richer and fuller—God planned it that way through Jesus Christ who is the living WORD (John 10:10). Accept the full counsel of God as your source of wisdom and direction. God’s counsel is the true path of life (Ps. 16:11).
Ravi Zacharias – God’s Plan for your life and how to be obedient
People often use the phrase, “good as his word” to assert one’s personal dependability and trustworthiness. Words reflect a person’s true character and show what he or she is about (Matt 12:34; Mark 7:15). This is especially true of God. However, where human words are frail and finite, God’s words are creative, perfect, and powerful. God’s Word reveals much about His nature. God is His Word!
The Word of God refers to Scripture itself. It was Moses who first received the written Word from God. Although written on pillars of stone, The Ten Commandments outlined God’s expectation of man. By obeying them, the Israelite people would be better prepared to live in “right relationship” with God and his fellowman.
In preparing the nation of Israel to enter the Promised Land, God instructed Moses to strongly emphasize adherence to His commands, decrees, and laws (Deut. 6:1-19). These would serve as an abiding written record of God’s person, presence, and ways. The men, specifically, were to “teach and talk” about them in their homes. God’s Word was to not only influence but also shape everything they did—from when they “lied down to sleep at night to when they rose in the morning.”
Different yet all key in revealing God’s nature
In Psalm 19, we see different names that are used for God’s Word such as the law, the statues and the judgments. In each verse, a different set of nouns are used to describe God’s nature revealed in His Word. In using this literary device, the psalmist, highlights the transforming power of God. Through His Word, God converts and makes wise: He rejoices and enlightens the eyes (Eph. 1:18-19). God true character is reflected in the Word He speaks.
The final couplet speaks to the righteous durability of God’s Word—“it endures forever and is true and right.” The Prophet Isaiah rejoiced in the fact that, “The grass withers, the flower fades but the word of God stands forever (Is. 40:8).” God’s Word can even penetrate and judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12-13). Just as “there is nothing hidden from the sun’s heat” (Ps. 19:6), there is “nothing in all creation hidden from God’s sight”. God is Eternal Creator, Transformer, Everywhere present, and All-knowing.
Pursuit of God’s Word is to be desired
God’s Word is to be desired more than monetary riches or physical luxuries. Through His Word, God offers “incorruptible” rewards—spiritual discernment and godly wisdom that will provide the knowledge and sensitivities needed to navigate this world.
Ps. 19:11 offers a final declaration as to the essential benefit of God’s Word—“by them [the Word of God] we are warned and in keeping them there is great reward.” God’s Word is the “fail safe” for man’s conscience. It offers truth that is desperately needed in a postmodern world that denies the need for absolute truth and moral standards.
Our 21st century culture is “imploding” as a result of misinformation and propaganda through intentional abuse of social media thereby making it difficult to differentiate between truth and lies. The acceptance of untruth is so pervasive that a new word was added to the dictionary in 2016 to describe it—post truth. But as believers we are dependent on God, who through His Word, offers the “the way, the truth, and the light.” God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19). Consequently His Word can be trusted (Heb. 6:18). God is His Word!
“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” Psalm 56:3, 4 (NKJ)
As I prepared to write this week’s WordBytes, I searched the web for topics that were trending in the news—items that would give me a hint of the “heartbeat of the country”. What I discovered was amazing yet not surprising; the trends included “life, conspiracy, hip hop culture, marijuana, motherhood,” and yes, I even found Jesus Christ in the trend. This wasn’t the total list but what my spirit was drawn to was an earlier WordBytes I had written that seemed to offer a response for the current trending topics. Interestingly, this particular WordBytes ranks as the most read in the history of WordBytes. With that, I present the most viable and fail proof option for whatever your concern today—trust in God.
As Election Day 2016 draws near, I thought it would be appropriate to spend some time reaffirming the true source of our confidence—God. Campaign advertisements continually bombard us via social media, telephone, and television; each candidate promising to serve faithfully and with integrity. How ironic that our discussion on trust should follow our recent series, “In Search of Truth” as we listen to “half-truths” and “outright lies” presented by all political parties on the ballot. Who is one to trust? Our text for today summarizes the best place to put our trust—in God.
The background for today’s Psalm can be found in 1 Samuel 21:8-15, where we are told of David’s escape to Gath, the stronghold of the Philistines, arch enemies of Israel. The Philistines were well acquainted with David for he had killed their champion, Goliath, when he was only a young shepherd boy (1 Sam. 17). Now because of King Saul’s jealousy, this young man runs for fear of his life to a place of even greater peril and sure death. He now stands captured by his worst enemy, the king of the Philistines.
Psalm 56 is identified as a song for the distressed. We would agree that David was in distress. We sometimes describe it as being “between a rock and a hard place.” Like David, we sometimes find ourselves wedged between many rocks and brutal hard places. Sometimes this happens as a result of others, like Saul, and other times it is the result of our own disobedience and waywardness. In those times of distress and fear, we are to call out like David—“In God, I have put my trust.”
Trust (batach) in Hebrew means “bold and confident”. The description means to literally “throw oneself down, extended on the ground, upon his face.” Can you imagine that picture? David, literally throwing himself on the mercy of God, fully confident and bold; defiantly proclaiming, “What can flesh do to me?” Did he recall the many times God intervened on his behalf as King Saul sought to capture and kill him? His eye was not on the source of his fear but on the Deliverer of his soul. David’s spirit was humbled, cast down in full confidence and trust in Almighty God for his life—not the Philistine king.
As you face the many challenges of life that tend to shake the very foundation of your faith:
Put your trust in the One who is able to deliver us from all harm. (Ps. 46:1)
Remember those times that God stepped in to deliver you and brought you to a point of safety. (Ps. 91:1,2)
Exchange your fear for bold confidence. (Ps. 20:7)
Stretch out on “mature” faith, like David, and expect miracles, signs, and wonders. Although we flippantly have inscribed on our coins, “In God we trust”, it’s now time to write upon our hearts the Psalmist’s words, “I have put my trust in God.”
SELAH:Is there something I your life that is causing you great distress? Perhaps your stress is being generated by things you have no control over—the state of the economy, unending political wrangling or social injustices that are currently in news headlines. Maybe it’s your health or the changing needs of your immediate family. Perhaps your anxiety is as a result of your own poor decisions or relational conflicts you must deal with. Regardless of the source, go to God. He cares for you. Declare the following prayer and know in God you can always trust.
God of creation and God of salvation, I put my trust in You. Though the earth may tremble and the mountain be carried into the sea, I put my trust in You. Though life may be hard and the challenges daunting, I put my trust in You. I trust in You and You alone because You are MY GOD and MY FATHER. I am Your child. These things I ask in the powerful name of Jesus Christ.
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” 1 Corinthians 15:19 (NKJ)
Christ has risen! (Matt. 28:6) What now? The Disciples and the New Testament Church would now face persecution and even death for their belief in Jesus Christ. If they were to continue the work that Jesus began, they would now need to demonstrate the reality of the resurrection.
The Apostle Paul knew the importance of the resurrection and passionately defended its reality. He shared the magnitude of the resurrection with the church at Corinth by highlighting the risk that would occur if they did not accept it as “fact” and demonstrate its impact in their lives (1 Corinthians 15). This danger still exists for believers in the 21st century. In verse 14 Paul begins to expound the casualty to Christianity if “Christ is not raised.”
First and foremost, our faith is in vain (v.14). Imagine awakening to the news that Christ’s resurrection did not occur? How would your belief system be affected? In what or who would you place your hope and trust? Second, if Christ is not raised, we as believers have falsely represented God (v.15). Jesus’ resurrection is the cornerstone of God’s plan of eternal salvation for man (Hebrew 5:9). Only God could supernaturally raise Christ from the dead (Acts 2:24; Ep. 1:20). To deny the resurrection would also be denying the power of God. Third and most disturbing, Paul concludes if Christ is not raised, we are “still in our sins” AND our family and friends who have died “have perished” (v. 17). It was for sin that Jesus was manifested (1 John 3:5) and through His resurrection that the power of death was destroyed (Heb. 2:14).
“The resurrection of Jesus showed that Christ’s oblation as the sacrificial lamb was accepted by God, which is the basis for the giving of the Spirit to believers and the forgiveness of sins.” 
Finally, our text for today (v. 19) sums up the dilemma that Christians and the world in general would face if there were no resurrection: “If we have hope in Christ only for this life, we are the most miserable people in the world” (NLT). If this life is the total sum of our existence, then Christ would have died in vain and our future prospects would be consigned to the dust from which we were created. Continuity of our existence would be halted with our last breathe.
I question whether we, as believers, fully understand the implications of Christ’s resurrection in the 21st century. Year after year we proclaim, “Christ is risen!” on Easter Sunday often relegating it to a “social phenomenon” that occurred thousands of years ago. Yes, we’re willing to accept Jesus’ atoning sacrifice and the gift of His Holy Spirit, but at the end of the day, what changes have we implemented in our lives to reflect the “supernatural manifestation” that took place on Resurrection Sunday? The reality of Jesus’ resurrection should make a difference in how we live! Are we living our life as Christ had hoped when He sacrificed His life for ours? Are we doing “greater works” than Christ did, as He stated in John 14:12? Are we living each day joyfully expecting His return? (2 Pet. 3:11-12) NOW is the right time to rededicate our life to Christ and boldly demonstrate the reality of His resurrection. Let our hallelujah ring out to witness that Christ is raised!
SELAH: Imagine living today without the expectation of a future resurrection. Journal the emotions you feel as you consider this ending for your life then praise God for the reality of Jesus’ resurrection.
 Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible,
but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” Mark 10:27 (NKJ)
When facing the challenges of life, the first question that comes to mind is whether we are able to handle them. This response is based on our ability or power to alter or control the circumstance. Either we have it or we don’t. Those things we feel unable to master we describe as impossible. As we continue our series, “In God We Trust”, it good to know that we serve the God of Possible.
The Greek rendering of the word “impossible” is adynatos. This word indicates that, a person or thing lacks the ability to do a specific action. In our text today, this word is used as an adjective and means “powerless or impotent.” However, what is impossible for unaided human beings is “possible” or dynatos with God. God is more than able—excelling in power.
The Old Testament is replete with passages that illustrate human limitations. Many times Israel called upon Jehovah to intervene on their behalf. It was Jehovah Jireh (The Lord who provides) they called upon in time of need (Gen. 22:14). After successfully crossing the Red Sea it was Jehovah Ripah (The Lord who heals) they promised to faithfully follow (Ex. 15:26). In the time of battle, Israel lifted their voices to Jehovah Nissi (The Lord who is our banner) as their source for victory (Ex. 17:15). Every name given to God in the Old Testament revealed His unalterable power and ability to handle every circumstance Israel faced. From Genesis to Malachi, God proves Himself to be the God of possible.
The New Testament carries over this Old Testament view of human inability contrasted with God who is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask and think” (Eph. 3:20). Because of his inherent nature, God is able to help those who come to Him (Heb. 2:18), to save completely those who trust in Jesus (Heb. 7:25; Jude 24) and in short, to make every grace abound toward us (2 Cor. 9:8). Man, though created in the image of God, apart from God is impotent—able “to do nothing” (John 15:5).
In an age where self-sufficiency is valued, it’s common to minimize God’s ability to do the impossible. This belief may be held by those who feel there is no one who can understand their unique situation or problem. They may feel embarrassed or even ashamed. God’s love invites them to “cast their burden on Him because He cares for them” (1 Pet. 5:7). Perhaps people view their challenges as insurmountable. To them, The Creator of the universe responds, “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27) Perhaps individuals are burdened by sin—sin they feel is unforgiveable. For that group, Jesus gladly responds with open arms of acceptance and says, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” The next time you’re faced with an impossible task, place your trust in God and shift your focus from your inability to the all-powerful, loving God of possible.
Good to the Last Byte…
What are the impossible things mentioned in the New Testament? Here’s a brief sampling for your personal study: Matthew 19:26, Luke 18:27; Acts 14:8; Romans 8:3 and Hebrews 6:4. It is of course impossible for God to lie, for His nature lacks that capacity (Heb. 6:18). That should bring us great comfort and assurance in His Word.
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling.” (Jude 24, NKJV)
Economic upheaval and social strife at home. Civil wars and natural catastrophes aboard. All these cause us to continually feel anxious, apprehensive, and nervous. The belief that God keeps us gives comfort and assurance at a time when both (comfort and assurance) are greatly needed.
In the Old Testament the most popular use of keep is nastar and shamar. Nastar means to guard, protect, or preserve. We see this in Isaiah 27:3 when God speaks of His protection of Israel, “I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.” Shamar is similar in meaning—the sense is one of “watching over someone or something.” It is likened to a hedge strategically placed for protection. In Number 6, the LORD uses shamar in the priestly blessing for the children of Israel.
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
The New Testament continues this thought of protection and preservation with its Greek meaning of keep—tereo. In John 17:11-12, 15, Jesus prays to the Father to keep those He will leave in the world.
Holy Father, keep (protect) through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept (protected) them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep (protect) them from the evil.
God’s also extends His keeping to our emotional and spiritual needs.
You (God) will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. (Isa. 26:3)
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7)
God’s promise to keep us in “His reach and watch” gives us blessed assurance that cannot be matched. We can confidently “trust in God” without fear for He has set Himself as our sentinel and watchman. He is the God who keeps. (2 Tim. 1:12)
Good to the Last Byte…
The aforementioned blessings can be a great source of comfort to those who are experiencing uncertainty in their life. The next time you are asked to pray for someone, bless them by giving them God’s promise of His keeping.
The Word of God is the truth by which believers are to successfully navigate this world.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NLT).
As believers operate in these end times, it is critical that they are able to stand fast in their faith and boldly proclaim the truth of God’s Word.
Current worldview has created an atmosphere where biblical principles and practices are continually challenged, if not totally ignored. The demand for social and moral freedom has set the stage for denial of biblical truth and authority. The Bible is seen as neither God speaking nor the actual Word of God. Instead, it is seen as an inhibitor to self-determination and self-gratification.
In 21st century vernacular, the Bible is a “buzz kill” taking the “edge of people’s fluff.”
College students relegate the Bible to the status of “glorified fairy tales” with little substantive value. (Lord, help them!) These individuals will be our future workforce, leaders, and yes, our Church.
Gen Xers and Millennials, seeking answers on how to live purposeful lives, discount the Bible as “irrelevant and inadequate” for the challenges they face.
These generations are a formidable influence in the shaping of not only our current political and social policies but also in determining the religious beliefs of generations to come.
And who will direct these groups to the “light of God’s Word”? (Ps. 119:105) Current believers and the Church? There is little difference between them and the aforementioned groups. They seldom read their Bibles, let alone use it as the final authority on truth with their families or in their personal life. They look no different than the rest of the world.
These patterns of disbelief should not come as a surprise. Paul in his letter to Timothy exhorted him:
“Preach the word of God. Be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear. They will reject the truth and follow strange myths.” ( 2 Timothy 4:2-4, NLT)
The Word of God will continue to be challenged by the World and yes, even the Church. It is because of this fact that believers are to stand firm based on the power, sufficiency, and authority of the Word of God.
Paul’s instructions are still pertinent for believers today. We are to boldly proclaim, without excuse, the supremacy and sufficiency of Scripture over the worldview.
How do we prepare for this challenge? Read books to help you defend your faith. Listen to Christian teachers who can help you answer frequent questions people have about God and His Word.
Finally, ask the Holy Spirit (your Personal Teacher) to help you respond to challenges and push back you might receive. Remember, “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Hold fast to the Word!