The Truth of God


Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6 ESV

God gave to Adam and Eve all things. All lands were theirs to explore. All plants were theirs to cultivate. All fruit was theirs to enjoy. All animals were theirs to care for and command. If that were not enough, they were also given one another to enjoy and told to fill the earth with ever more image-bearers. Most beautifully, however, they knew God. And within this garden paradise called Eden, the LORD forbid only one, single action: they could not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In another act of God’s loving generosity, He did not issue this prohibition with a stern “because I said so;” instead, He warned them precisely of the danger posed by eating the forbidden fruit, “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17).

Even with God’s tremendous grace and love clearly seen all around, a crafty serpent brought it all crashing down with one horrendously wicked question: “Did God actually say…” (3:1)? Although the inquiry appeared to an innocent one at first, it subtly doubted the truthfulness and, therefore, trustworthiness of God. This doubt was soon followed by Adam and Eve eating the fruit, spilling the curse of sin into themselves and all of creation.

YOUR WORD IS TRUTH

Our present attribute, the truth of God, is a serious matter indeed. Doubting God’s truthfulness led to first sin (or, perhaps, even was the first sin), and it is the ground of all sin in the present as well. A. W. Tozer wrote that “To commit a sin, a man must for the moment believe that things are different from what they really are… He must accept a lie as truth and see truth as a lie.”[1] Because doubting and, in the end, denying the truth of God is the prerequisite for sinning, standing firmly upon His truthfulness is also our most basic defense against sin. To see the truth of God means also exposing the lie of sin from the start.

But what exactly do we mean by ‘the truth of God?’ John Feinberg helpfully notes that “Scripture attributes truth to God, and it tells in what sense he is true.”[2] He proceeds to describe two primary senses of God being true. The first is summarized easily by Jesus Himself when He called the Father “the only true God” (John 17:3). Paul likewise taught the Corinthians that “we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:4-6). While many gods may be worshiped (or no god at all), the LORD forever remains the one true and living God.

The second sense, as Feinberg notes, is that God speaks the truth and does the truth. Because we have already partially discussed the truth of God’s existence, we shall focus more upon this second sense of God’s truth. Although Adam and Eve doubted the truthfulness of God’s words in the garden, they soon found them to be painfully reliable: “Thus, all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died” (Genesis 5:5). God promised death, and death did indeed come.

Yet the truth of God’s words is evident even earlier, within the first chapter of the Bible. Genesis 1:3 tells us “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” This is the very epitome of speaking truly. God spoke reality into existence. His words are such objective and concrete truth that the rays of light formed at His command are enabling you to read these words right now.

Paul was right, therefore, to declare that God “never lies” (Titus 1:2). How could He? As the omnipotent and sovereign King of all creation, His words are truth itself, or as Jesus quoted from Psalm 119:160, “your word is truth” (John 17:17). He cannot speak falsely because what He speaks is. Packer called them “the index of reality.”[3] Our words, by contrast, are judged to be true or false according to the degree in which they accurately describe God’s words and the creation that they brought into being. Like the other attributes, truth is not an abstract reality that God happens to embody perfectly; instead, He is truth, and we are truthful only by the standard of God Himself. As Thomas Watson succinctly declares, “There is nothing true, but what is in God or comes from God.”[4]

SANCTIFIED IN THE TRUTH

When discussing the truth of God, our attention must inevitably turn to His Word, the Scriptures that He has written for us through the hands of the prophets and apostles by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As quoted by Jesus above, the full verse of Psalm 119:160 says “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever,” and four times the New Testament speaks about “the word of truth” (Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:18). Psalm 19:9 tells us that “the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.” And Psalm 119:142 declares, “your law is true.” As God’s people, our definitive, ultimate, and final standard of truth must forever and always be the Scriptures.

Yet how sluggish are we to immerse ourselves within God’s Word! Watson lamented over the lack of meditation over Scripture in his own day, saying, “Most people live in a hurry. They are so distracted with the cares of the world that they can find not time to meditate or scarcely ask their souls how they do.”[5] If those words were true of the 1600s, I believe they are even more so today. We easily find a thousand and one different methods of distracting ourselves from hearing from God in His Word. After all, the multitude of brightly-colored, physiologically addictive apps on our smart phones are much more pleasant than the Word that is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” leaving “no creature hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account” (Hebrews 4:12-13). Our phones are always initially more appealing than the Bible because watching cat videos is easier than actively inviting the Holy One to expose the darkest thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Furthermore, as our attention spans become increasingly geared toward meme-sized bites, reading and meditating over God’s Word is only becoming more difficult.

Nevertheless, Donald Whitney remarks that “the most critical Discipline is the intake of God’s Word. No factor is more influential in making us more like the Son of God than the Spirit of God working through the Word of God. If you want to be changed, if you want to become more like Jesus Christ, discipline yourself to read the Bible.”[6]

Sanctification is the lifetime process in which we are constantly shaped further and further into the likeness of Christ. It is the pursuit of godliness and the constant killing of sin, and Jesus prayed for us to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). The primary instrument for our sanctification, therefore, is the Word, and nothing can take its place.

There is, of course, a stream of Christianity today that desires to be more reliant upon the Spirit’s leading than to God’s Word. But what foolishness that is! The Spirit carried along the authors of Scripture as they wrote (2 Peter 1:21), and Paul referred to the Scriptures as “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). In fact, it is the Holy Spirit who enlightens our hearts to understand the Word, giving us eyes that see and ears that hear. To cast aside the Word in favor of hearing the Spirit speak personally is kind of like tossing aside the phone and attempting to speak to a photograph of whoever you wanted to call.

Psalm 1 makes the delight and constant meditation upon the Scriptures the chief positive indicator of a blessed man. If we are a people of the truth, then we will steep ourselves deeply in God’s Word. If we love our King and desire to love Him more, we will incline our hearts to the Book that He has written for us.

“Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name” (Psalm 86:11).


[1] A. W. Tozer, Tozer Speaks Vol. 1, 94.

[2] John Feinberg, No One Like Him, 372.

[3] J. I. Packer, Knowing God, 113.

[4] Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, 99.

[5] Thomas Watson, Heaven Taken by Storm, 27.

[6] Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 28.

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