An Encounter with God is an Encounter with Truth: Authority, Part 1

What Every Roman Catholic Needs to Know
Authority, Part 1
An Encounter with God is an Encounter with Truth
By Anthony Pezzotta

Yahweh is the God of Truth (Isaiah 65:16).

Jesus is the Way and the Truth (John 14:6).
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13).
The Word of God is the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

We cannot encounter the God of Christianity without encountering truth. Jesus said to his disciples: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Truth is Needed for Genuine Conversion

Conversion to Christ involves repentance and faith. Both are activities of the mind and will in response to truth.

The New Testament word for repentance means literally a change of mind. [1] This involves two acknowledgments:

(1) that our ways are wrong and evil

(2) that God’s ways are right

God’s ways (Truth) are revealed in the Holy Scriptures. We repent by understanding the truth of God’s Word and changing our thinking so that we choose to act in a way that is consistent with God’s purposes.

Repentance is an activity of the mind and will. Our emotions and heart are involved, but more as a result of our decision than as the root of it! Jesus, John the Baptist, and Peter viewed repentance in this way (Matthew 4:17; Matthew 3:2; Acts 2:38).

*** Repentance and faith are activities of the mind and will in response to TRUTH. ***

Likewise, the New Testament word for faith [2] refers to an activity of the mind and will, in response to truth. The word “faith” in Greek derives from a root word which means to be inwardly convinced, persuaded. [3] Biblical faith begins in the mind with knowledge of the truth and works itself out through the will when one personally trusts Christ for forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. Biblical faith is both belief in the truth and trust in the Savior.

Genuine conversion is based on knowledge of the TRUTH about ourselves and about God. We must understand that we are hopeless and helpless sinners, and that God loves us and will save through Jesus all those who repent and believe and trust in Him.

Truth is Necessary for Christian Living

Knowledge of the truth should determine how we live, and help us to live above our negative feelings and emotions:

Love over fear,

Obedience over rebellion,
Trust over despair,
Humility over pride.

Truth, not feelings, should guide us in our spiritual walk (2 John 4; Galatians 2:11).

Truth Is a Reliable Guide, Emotion is Not

Many new “believers” seem to easily give up their faith because their relationship relies more on emotion than on an encounter with the truth (Matthew 13:20, 21). Genuine conversion is not the result of an emotional need being met nor the reaction to a supernatural event strongly affecting emotion, but a real encounter with the revealed truth about oneself, God and Christ Jesus.

No one feels like turning the other cheek. Love does it anyway! God expects the Christian to walk in love. This love in which we walk is not based on emotion and feeling. When we do love God and neighbor wholeheartedly, our emotions and feelings are affected. However, what we feel is the fruit of love, not the root of it. Genuine love is a result of faith and is expressed in obedience to the truth, faithfulness, self-control, kindness, and goodness. [4]

* Read attentively the following statement from the Lord Jesus. Mark the statements below that are true with a “T.” Mark those statements that are inconsistent with the teaching of Jesus with an “F” for false.

20 The one wbo received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, be quickly falls away (Matthew 13:20, 21).

___ Joyful experiences always produce lasting faith.

___ Joy gives a believer roots that will support him in his walk with God through all kinds of hardship and persecution.

___ Faith is much more than feelings of joy. Lasting faith is grounded in convictions (truth) that do not change with time or circumstance.

Truth is a Reliable Guide, Experience Not Always

Not everyone needs a power encounter, but everyone does need an encounter with truth. The encounter with truth is basic and is far more important than the power encounter in both our conversion experience and our daily walk with the Lord.

*** Truth is a more reliable guide than emotion or experience in matters of faith and practice. ***

God clearly teaches that the criterion for believing and following a preacher, teacher, or prophet, is not the miracles he performs but the substance of his teaching, even if the miracles are true.

1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have never known), “and let us worship them,” 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer (Deuteronomy 13:1-3).

* Read attentively the following statement from the Lord Jesus. Mark the statements below that are true with a “T”. Mark those statements that are inconsistent with the teaching of Jesus with an “F” for false.

22 Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” 23 This I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” 24 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock (Matthew 7:22-24).

___ A miracle is proof that God is speaking through a particular person.

___ Evildoers who do not know the Lord can do miracles “in His name.”

___ The words of Jesus, not miracles or prophecies, should be the foundation of our belief and behavior.

* Read attentively the following statement from the apostle Paul. Mark the statements below that are true with a “T”. Mark those statements that are inconsistent with the teaching of Jesus with an “F” for false.

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach a gospel other than the one we preached, let him be eternally condemned (Galatians 1:8).

___ People should always maintain allegiance to the teachings of angels or other spiritual persons who appear to the faithful.

___ People should maintain allegiance to the teachings of one who appears only if his/her message is consistent with the teachings of the Gospel proclaimed by Christ himself and His apostles after him.

___ Any teaching that is contrary to the message of the Gospel as recorded by Christ’s own apostles in the Holy Scriptures must be rejected, even if someone should appear “from heaven” to proclaim it.

Truth is the Basis of Christian Unity

Truth is foundational and essential, and believers are not allowed to compromise with clearly revealed truth for any reason, even for the sake of love and unity, Without truth people might be united in error. What good would that bring?

A patient once went to the doctor with “pain in his chest.” The doctor quickly diagnosed the pains as angina. He shared his conclusions with several of his peers who joined him in recommending that the patient have open heart surgery. The doctors stood united in their decision. There was harmony. They spoke with one voice. They had a wonderful working relationship.

The patient decided to get one more opinion from a doctor not connected with the first. This second doctor revealed that he did not have heart problems at all. He had heartburn. A few antacids, and the “angina” disappeared!

The first doctors were united. The second one had the truth! We must never compromise truth for the sake of unity.

______________________

Footnotes:

[1] Metanoia, oias, n, (Metanoew): “A change of mind: as it appears in one who repents of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done …” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, 1974, p. 405).

[2] Pistis, ews, n,(peithw): “Conviction of the truth of anything, belief … generally with the included idea of trust …” (Ibid., p. 512).

[3] Peithw is the root word from which the word pistis is derived. Peithw means 1. “To persuade.” 2. “To be persuaded” (Middle). 3. “To trust, have confidence.” (Ibid., p. 497).

[4] “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth, so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22).