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This page contains articles written by Joseph Harris as originally published at www.miniedition.net.
 
 

 

What Is Truth?

The Roman Procurator, Pilate asked the question, "What is truth?" The average, sane, level headed common sense person of today should be able to answer this question, as well as give some qualities of truth. One of my college professors, Dr. Elmer Towns, used to say, "Truth is that which is consistent with itself and corresponds to reality." Webster gives these thoughts for a definition of truth: "The real state of things; the body of real events or facts; CORRECTNESS."

Since God is the first cause of all things, He sets the standard for truth. All truth ultimately comes from Him. If God says something is right, it is. If He says it is wrong, it is. But man does not always agree with God. Truth stands on its own, but never apart from God. Notice also truth is absolute, not relative. The presence of truth demands the existence of that which is false. If something is true, then the opposite of that truth is a lie. One of the first truths uttered by God to man was absolute, concerning death by disobedience in eating of the forbidden fruit. Satan tried to counter the truth of God with his "yea hath God said...?" statement, which has been repackaged and used on man millions of times since Eden.

Truth is absolute, else it cannot be truth. Truth cannot be conditional. Every time a law is broken or enforced, it is a statement of absolute truth. When truth becomes relevant because of time, culture or situation, it loses authority and becomes a servant, not a master. When any act can be wrong for me, but right for you, there can be no order or structure in society. Murder, theft, adultery, etc. can be justified. How can we know the truth of what is right or wrong for a society? What sets the standard for that which is considered legal or illegal, and what is the standard for punishment? If emotion or outcome determines right or wrong, then nothing can be ultimately right or wrong, anarchy is the result and no one has to adhere to any laws or principles, since no act can be said to be wrong, malicious, immoral, degrading, sinful or illegal.

The existence of moral law demands the existence of a lawgiver. Either man has given the law or it came from another source. If man gave it, then it is not absolute, for it can be changed by man. If the consciousness of right and wrong came from another source, then who, or what, or where is that source? If it came from a source higher than man, then the law transcends man, and man cannot alter it.

In almost all societies world wide, it is usually wrong to steal, kill, defraud, etc. In other words, every culture has standards of conduct considered to be good or bad. Where did these standards originate? Even atheistic humanists will usually admit it is wrong to steal, kill, etc. Where did they get this awareness of right and wrong? What is their standard of measurement? This universal awareness came from God, who put his law in the heart of all men to give them a general revelation of Him as creator who is also the divine law giver.

If there is a law and it is broken, then what? Is there accountability and punishment? The accountability is to God first, then man. Notice what Joseph said in the book of Genesis when he refused to commit adultery with the wife of Potiphar: "How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" If there is an absolute law higher than man, there must be a lawgiver higher than man and if man breaks His law, man is accountable to Him. And now we have the rest of the story. Man rejects absolute truth as a higher law, thereby denying a higher power, resulting in denial of accountability to the divine judge of the universe. Conclusion? Man can now sin freely.

With the denial of a higher moral law, given by the divine law giver, the stage is set to create your own truth. Abortion is no longer seen as murder, but birth control or a woman's choice. Being male or female is no longer an absolute, determined by God at conception and validated at birth, but gender can now be chosen by the person. And since no person is necessarily male or female, then anyone can now choose which gender they want to marry, that is, if the other person has determined their gender. If neither has determined their own gender, then whoever, can marry whatever, and become who knows what. (Can’t you just hear that pronouncement by the preacher, "You may now kiss whatever you determine your groom-bride-thing to be.") Stealing is no longer wrong. Redistribution of goods is acceptable if one has more than another, especially if the one lacking was born into poverty, the wrong ethnic background, etc..

People in the media tell us what is truth and what we should believe. Pseudo-Science creates truth and tells us the earth is billions of years old, that it came from nothing with no design, and is slowly getting better and better. And you should believe it, because it's in a textbook.

Before taking the stand of testimony in court, a witness has to swear to, "Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God" which is revealing. Notice, this oath is a confession of man's depravity and his dependence upon God for help in telling the truth. And man certainly needs help in being truthful.

A good perspective on truth is found in this old Hebrew prayer: "From the cowardice that shrinks from new truths; from the laziness that is content with half truths; and from the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth; Oh God of truth, deliver us."

Joseph Harris is the Vice President of Southeastern Baptist College in Laurel, MS. (This article may be reprinted in whole, as long as the name Joseph Harris and www.miniedition.net also appear).   

 

Snow White and the Seven Church Members

Several years ago, when my daughter was around five years of age, we rented the Disney classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  I vividly remember the scene where the dwarfs came in and found Snow White asleep in their loft.  Some of them had apparently never seen a woman and didn't know "what" she was.  Grumpy recognized her and said, "Stay away from her.  She's a woman and they've got wicked wiles."  One of the other dwarfs asked him what wicked wiles were, and he paused then said, "I don't know, but I'm a'gin  'em." 

I had never realized before that Grumpy was an old hard headed Baptist.  Of course then my mind began to wander and before long, the preacher in me took over and I had a sermon with a parallel between the seven dwarfs and seven different kinds of church members that can be found in just about every Baptist congregation today.  Some are good, others bad, and a few just downright worrisome.

Doc was the first dwarf and obviously the leader of the group.  He pulls them all together and keeps things going.  He could be called "Doc" because he might effect healing when it is needed.  Docs are a healing balm in each church and provide direction, calm the storms and bring peace through their spiritual maturity and leadership.

Sleepy was the dwarf who was always sleepy, night or day.  He can be seen yawning and snoozing throughout the film.  I've known several church members who are sleepy.  Some actually do sleep during the church service, but the average "sleepy" member is asleep at the wheel, snoring while Rome burns, the devil destroys their home and church and souls go to hell.  The Bible says to "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.  Eph. 5:14.

Grumpy's name speaks for itself.  Though very perceptive, he was never happy.  He chose to be a grump, always emphasizing the negative, walking on the dark side.  The only time he ever smiled was when Snow White kissed him on top of his bald head, then when he realized he was actually happy, he immediately wiped off the smile with a "Harumph!"  It seems there is always a Grumpy in every church whose motto is, "Every silver lining has a cloud" when their motto should be, "This is the day the Lord hath made, I will rejoice and be glad in it, even if it is a rotten day."  Grumpys have few friends,  but need loving, because their grumpiness is often an attention ploy.

Happy was the exact opposite of Grumpy.  He saw the positive in every situation and spread cheer and hope.  The Happys in every church are a needed blessing as they lift the fallen and bind the wounded.  Their "cheerful heart doeth good"  to all as the goodness of the light of God shines in the darkest of valleys that every church must sometimes pass through.  

Sneezy was apparently allergic to something.  He was often seen with his finger under his nose, trying to stifle a sneeze.  Now let me use a little sanctified imagination here (which is the birthright of every preacher) and describe the Sneezy in every church.  They are allergic to work and commitment.  Ask them to help in Vacation Bible School and you get an allergic reactive sneeze.  Challenge them to be faithful to church and another "ACHOO" spews out.  Preach on tithing and a fit of violent sneezes come forth.  Sneezy just can't handle it.

Bashful was just as his name stated: extremely shy.  He could talk, but hardly did.  He wasn't a bad guy, didn't cause any trouble and was not disliked.  He was just bashful.  Churches are full of his brothers and sisters today.  They are good people and they will talk about golf, deer hunting, fishing, shopping and the latest styles, but are tight lipped when it comes to talking about Jesus.  They spend hours a day with family, school mates and co-workers, and never even mention Jesus, much less tell of His saving grace.  These incognito Christians would probably cause their friends to drop dead of shock if they began telling the wonderful words of life in their daily conversation.

Dopey is last but not least, though he appeared to be the youngest.  One thing was for certain about Dopey.  You never heard him say a negative or derogatory word about the other dwarfs, Snow White, or even the wicked queen.  Of course he never said a word about anyone or anything......period.  Dopey never talked.  Often times, people talk too much and when they do, the conversation can turn negative, ungodly or destructive.   In the Disney film, Bambi, Thumper said that his father told him that "If you can't say somethin' good about somebody, don't say nuthin' at all."   Oh,  for more Dopey Christians in churches today.  "And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.  I Thessalonians 4:11.

Now which one are you?

Joseph Harris is the Vice President of Southeastern Baptist College in Laurel, MS. (This article may be reprinted in whole, as long as the name Joseph Harris and www.miniedition.net also appear).                  

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