As ministers of the Gospel, and more than that as Christians, we are in the truth business. We commit our lives to the Truth (John 14:6) and are commanded to think on things that are true (Philippians 4:8). What do we need to know the truth about? Who do we tell it to?
Here are three things that I think we need to be solid on the truth about. These are certainly not exhaustive—if they were, I would have one sermon and just repreach it until everyone got it.
1. We need to be clear on the truth about God. Who is God? What do we know about God? How do we know it? Our doctrine of Scripture and our doctrine of God are inseparable here, folks. We know God because God reveals Himself to us through Scripture. We would know there is “a god” through nature, but to know there is an Almighty God who transcends the entirety of the material universe? That requires a more specific revelation.
Further, we need to understand and proclaim the whole truth about God. God is not righteous or loving. God is righteous and loving. God does not judge sin or forgive sinners. God judges sin and forgives sinners. There is a tendency to drop off on one side or the other in these matters, where the lovingkindness of God precludes His wrath, or where His wrath guarantees certain sinners their doom. (As an aside, it’s typically the sinners we don’t care for who are beyond redemption, rather than those who reject Christ…)
Our first goal should be to get the truth about God right.
2. We need to be clear on the truth about ourselves. This takes a couple of forms. The first is this: there is not a person born among humanity that is not in need of the saving grace of God. Now, you can check other posts for the theological background for how some come to salvation without knowing Christ (babies, mentally incompetent from birth), but if you can read this you are not going to heaven without a personal relationship with God through the Lord Jesus, crucified and resurrected, based in repentance, grace, and forgiveness. That is the first truth about ourselves that we need to know, and it is a universal truth about all people.
The second form of the truth about ourselves is that we need to know who we are, individually. I know, for example, where I was born and who my parents are. I cannot, rationally, claim to have suffered systemic racial injustice in my life because the truth about me is that I’m a white guy in the South. Further, I was raised Baptist, through and through. I am named after my Dad’s seminary Hebrew professor—even though he’s not pastored since before I was born. These and a thousand other details about me comprise the truth about me that I need to know and understand.
To present anything else about me as true when it is not undermines my ability to communicate the first truth, the more important one, clearly. God is not glorified if I claim to be a redeemed drug dealer—but I am a redeemed Southern Baptist. I am almost convinced that the second took more effort and grace the former would have. I know it took no less.
Our second goal should be to get the truth about ourselves right.
3. From this point, we can move on to telling people the truth about themselves. We are surrounded by a world that needs to hear the truth about it. People are headed to Hell from rejecting the Gospel, from rejecting God’s Word and God’s ways, and too often churches mollycoddle them all the way down that road. It is truly wasteful on our part that we do so, yet we fail to tell the truth about the world. We pardon and excuse, we laugh off and compromise, and all the while?
People are going to Hell, people are suffering in the present time because no one in their life speaks the truth about them. No one points out that Jesus saves from sin, hell, and the self-driven life that destroys. We want to be friends, but we must tell the truth about others. We must get ourselves in the right frame first: I do not tell you that you need a Saviour, but I’m good. Quite the opposite! I know that God’s amazing grace is this great: even after so much grace was given in saving me, He has enough grace to save you, too! Even as the Spirit corrects and rebukes through the Word in my life, He will do the same in yours.
Our third goal should be to get the truth about others right. They are neither more hell-worthy, nor less, than you or I.
I am persuaded, though, that we get these out of order too often. We first see what is wrong with the world, what is wrong with someone else, and want to fix them. Then we go to God for how to correct that sinner next door. After that, we might just notice a little about us on the way.
I am convinced that we must reorder our efforts and work in this order, every time.
What is the truth about God? Am I telling the truth about Him in all ways?
Then, have I told the truth about me? Not bled out all my issues in public, but simply been honest about who I am?
After that, I have a leg to stand on in telling you how God’s truth reaches into your life.