Our God is a God of truth:
There is no greater subject to think about, to talk about, and to study than the Living God. The attributes of God are something we will never fully fathom and are something we will worship God for throughout all eternity. I have looked at various divine attributes in this irregular series, and it is now time to focus on God’s truthfulness.
Truth of course has always been in short supply, but this is even more so today. In the postmodern times that we live in, this attribute of God needs to be especially held on to and trumpeted. The Bible speaks much about the fact that our God is a God of truth.
His truthfulness is based on who he is, on his character. God is a true God, is always true to his word, and is always reliable. He is the basis and standard of truth. He is the source of all truth, and the benchmark by which we can discern truth from error. Scripture often speaks to this, as in the following passages:
Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
Psalm 33:4 For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth.
Isaiah 45:19 I the Lord speak the truth;
I declare what is right.
John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John 3:32-33 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.
John 18:37 For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.
Romans 3:3-4 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,
“That you may be justified in your words,
and prevail when you are judged.”
Titus 1:1-2 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began.
Hebrews 6:13-18 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
Many more such texts could be mentioned. Our God is a God of truth, and that makes all the difference in the world. Plenty of theologians could be quoted here on this attribute, but let me appeal to just two of them. J. I. Packer, in his classic work, Knowing God, puts it this way:
Truth in the Bible is a quality of persons primarily, and of propositions only secondarily: it means stability, reliability, firmness, trustworthiness, the quality of a person who is entirely self-consistent, sincere, realistic, undeceived. God is such a person: truth, in this sense, is His nature, and he has not got it in Him to be anything else. That is why he cannot lie (Titus 1:2; cf. Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Heb. 6:18). That is why His words to us are true, and cannot be other than true. They are the index of reality: they show us things as they really are, and as they will be for us in the future according to whether we heed God’s words to us or not.
And Joel Beeke and Brian Cosby in their recent volume None Else say this:
God is “truth” in three senses. First, God is truth in the world’s metaphysical sense of reality: He is the true God as opposed to all false and unreal deities. Second, God is truth in the logical sense of accuracy: He is the living and eternal wisdom who knows all things as they are, and His words are without error. Third, God is truth in the ethical sense of fidelity: He lives, speaks, and acts with unfailing faithfulness, consistency and moral integrity.
As with all the attributes of God, having a solid understanding of this one is not meant to simply tickle our intellect or stimulate our theological sensibilities. It is meant to have a very real impact on our lives as believers. Indeed, it is the fact that God can never lie nor distort the truth that makes him fully reliable, dependable and trustworthy.
We can always count on him to be true to himself and to be true to his word. We can have complete confidence in our relationship with him because he does not change when it comes to being utterly true and right. We can go through the greatest of troubles and trials if we know that God is forever true and will never let us down by being other than who he is.
What makes the Christian life so rock solid is not our own consistency or faithfulness, but the certainty that we have knowing that God is fully consistent and faithful. We are not left to flounder and stumble in uncertainty and doubt. He is a rock on which we can always stand and depend upon. John Stott in his 1964 commentary on the epistles of John put it this way:
The mid-twentieth century is an epoch of fundamental insecurity. Everything is changing; nothing is stable. New nations are constantly coming to birth. New social and political patterns are evolving. The very survival of civilization is in doubt before the threat of a nuclear war. These external insecurities are reflected in the world of the mind and of the spirit. Even the Christian Church, which has received ‘a kingdom that cannot be moved’ and is charged to proclaim Him who is ‘the same yesterday, and today, and for ever’ (Heb. 12:28, 13:8) now speaks its message softly, shyly, and without conviction. There is a widespread distrust of dogmatism and a preference for agnosticism or free thought. Many Christians are filled with uncertainty and confusion.
Against this background, to read the Epistles of John is to enter another world altogether, whose marks are assurance, knowledge, confidence, and boldness. The predominant theme of these Epistles is Christian certainty. Their characteristic verbs are ginoskein, ‘to perceive’ (15 times), and eidenai, ‘to know’ (25 times), while the characteristic noun is parresia, ‘confidence of attitude’ or ‘boldness of speech.’ The Christian’s certainty is twofold—objective (that the Christian religion is true) and subjective (that he himself has been born of God and possesses eternal life). Both are expounded by John, who takes it for granted that this double assurance is right and healthy in all Christian people. His teaching about these certainties, their nature and the grounds on which they are built, urgently needs to be heard and heeded today.
Yes, exactly right. In a time of truth decay and doubts about everything, the Christian church needs to once again bravely and boldly proclaim truth. We must not be shy about affirming the basic truths of the faith. We must not be shy about standing up for biblical values and beliefs in a culture that is drowning in scepticism, relativism and uncertainty.
We have just what the world needs, and we dare not be ashamed in sharing that with them. That is the most loving thing we can do. Sure, the world, which is steeped in an aversion to truth and absolutes, will react angrily to any proclamation of truth. It will be costly to share truth in such an environment. But we must do it nonetheless.
I quite like how Catherine Booth put it in her book Aggressive Christianity:
The interests of truth demand this outspokenness. How is error to be met but by the bold proclamation of the truth? How the emissaries of Satan are palming upon mankind his lies – always at it, night and day. How are they to be silenced but by witnesses faithfully crying in their ears, ‘This is a lie, and that is a lie. This is the truth and this is the way. We know, we see, we feel – walk in it. Turn, turn, for why would you want to die?’ God wants outspoken witnesses. There are plenty of false witnesses now, as there ever were, and what does Jesus Christ want? He wants His true witnesses to come out and face them, and be a match for them – not to sneak away in holes and corners, and be ashamed of their religion, and talk about an ‘unobtrusive religion’ – unobtrusive nonsense. There is no such thing! Come out before the world.
Our God is a God of truth so his people must be a people of truth. God’s truthfulness is the firm foundation which the believer rests upon, and upon which the world needs in place of the sinking sand it now has built its house on.