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Our Portion of Truth

August 19, 2010

With Your counsel You will guide me, And afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

– Psalm 73:24-26 NIV

We complain that our culture does not accept absolute truth. Why should we believe that without knowing the author of truth that the world would recognize it? I think that what really bugs us about the culture’s rejection of absolute truth is that saying truth is unknowable is a perversion of what the Bible says about truth.

The author of lies knows that to lie best, begin with the truth and then make a slight twist. A lie with a bit of truth is a powerful lie. This lie is about the nature of knowing truth.

Q. What do we know about “truth”?
A. God is the source of truth. Whether it’s general revelation (what we can observe around us) or special revelation (what’s revealed in scripture); God is behind any truth that we see anywhere. If all truth has a single source, then there can be no contradiction. Sometimes we see what appears to be a contradiction. The problem’s not with the truth, it must be with us. We are failing to clearly perceive, or failing to clearly understand what we are seeing.

Scripture teaches that we lack a clear understanding of the truth for four good reasons:

1) We are finite and simply incapable of understanding infinite matters.

2) God has hidden some truths from us.

The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.
– Deuteronomy 29:29 NLT

These secrets are frankly none of our business.

3) We are fallen. Sin permeates our entire being including our minds. Our pride and self-centeredness keeps us from recognizing most truths even when they slap us upside the head.

4) We are cursed with frustration. Adam’s weeds also frustrate our mental efforts.

Not sure about the truth of partial knowledge? Let’s test it.

“God is omniscient.” I believe that 100%. But to be honest I can only guess at what it really means to be omniscient.

“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” I believe that 100%. But to be honest, I can only imagine what the glory of God must be like. And I’m ignorant of the immensity of our fall. No matter how holy we perceive God to be, and how sinful we see ourselves, the truth, without doubt, is much more severe.

The Old Testament talks about this frustration. Ecclesiastes says that there is not a complete profit to our labors. The deed-consequence principle (you reap what you sow) is firmly established in God’s economy, but understanding the timing of that wisdom is beyond us. The righteous and the unrighteous both die untimely deaths. The wicked prosper while the righteous are hungry. Job asks, “where can wisdom be found?” Even Proverbs, the book of wisdom, has a few chapters of what sound like absolute sayings, followed by a few chapters with exceptions to those sayings. And the problem isn’t solved with the advent of Christ and the new covenant. Even the New Testament talks about seeing through a glass dimly.

Instead of a complete profit to our labors, Ecclesiastes talks about a portion. We see this idea elsewhere in Scripture, that God provides our needs for today, one day at a time. The Lord’s prayer teaches us to ask for our daily bread.

This idea of a portion applies to knowledge as well. It seems that instead of laying out everything in black and white, God has provided us with a portion of knowledge.

Why wouldn’t God just grant us a clearer knowledge? Scripture often presents a tension of two opposing ideas. Why is Scripture so vague in some areas? Why not just answer questions in black and white? It would certainly solve a lot of our denominational problems.

Life, too, is full of troubles and disappointments that push us to cry out to God asking “Why is this happening to me?” Sometimes even seeing the real situation around us can be perplexing. There are “Adam weeds” everywhere.

Whether in theological studies, or in the swampland of life, the answer may be that in the difficulties and in the tensions we are forced to go beyond the easy answers and seek God himself. Even in knowledge and understanding we are put in a position of needing. We can only pray for our daily portion of wisdom. And trust God for understanding.

So it turns out that Adam’s curse of frustration is actually a blessing. God is keeping us from being fat, dumb, and happy. It’s not knowledge that we lack most. We need God.

This is why Scripture says “Seek first the Kingdom of God.”, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom”, and “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

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