by Charles Simpson
I grew up with lots of labels; there were
racial, religious, political, geographic and all
kinds of labels and stereotypes. It has
taken me awhile to grow past trusting labels
that have led to a lot of stereotypes.
Early on, I even labeled myself as not only
Christian, but pre-millennial dispensational
Southern Baptist from Alabama. Almost
every word in that sentence is a label and
Something happened to me in 1964; I received
the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and that put me
in another group, “Charismatics.” That
too has become a label and is often
stereotyped. But that grouping led me to
meet people who did not fit my previous
labels. Over the years, I have realized
that people neither fit all of their labels
nor do they like them. People want to be
known for who they really are and so do
I. Most of us have worn some
uncomfortable labels and found them
inadequate. We are more than whatever
group with which we identify.
Labels and categories may be useful at times
but they are often inaccurate and even
dangerous. They can blind us to the
truth about a person, create conflict … they
have even created violence and wars. “Don’t
call me a ______________!” That is the
response to some labels or “That is not what
or who I am!” Categories can and do
It is my opinion that while labels are still
prevalent, they are losing their value.
Knowing someone personally or knowing for
ourselves is becoming more and more the
accepted norm. We have much more access
to information and people than we did just a
few years ago. Society is going through
some amazing changes that seem to be producing
a measure of chaos; some of it is dangerous if
we do not know our own foundation.
I attribute much of the changes that are
taking place in our culture to
digitalization. Advances in technology
always affect society. The printing
press is a prime example as is the revolution
in transportation. Each change seems to
produce more information, interaction, speed,
The digital revolution has accelerated all of
the above. I am not an expert on this, but I
use it all the time—so do you. “Digital”
is the new way to store and communicate data
and information; it is highly mobile and
flexible. Digits are numbers. For
instance a clock tells us the time by numbers
rather than with hour or minute hands
(analog). Cameras are now digital rather than
the old method of capturing an image on film.
The digital method has become the motor for
all kinds of information and
communication. Because it is capable of
storing so much data and transmitting it more
rapidly and clearly, it has changed how almost
everything works from our phone to our
car. I can use my cell phone to access
any information or contact any person.
My library is now sadly almost obsolete.
Digitalization has done something else.
It has empowered the individual in
unimaginable ways, for good or bad.
Along with our technology, we become more
mobile, able to collaborate, able to move
rapidly, and be more informed.
“Empowered” is the word. But to do
what? Never before has it been more
important to know the truth; to know our own
core character, beliefs, and purpose in
life. Because we have access to so much
that may be true or false, the ability to
discern the difference is critical!
Have you ever heard of someone who took a
medicine and later it was pulled from the
market because someone or numerous people
died? Have you known of someone who
received bad advice and got a bad
result? Many more people die from bad
ideas than any other reason. Yet, bad
medicine, bad advice, and evil ideas are still
out there to be consumed. Knowing the
truth is a precious ability.
Truth has been the quest of theologians,
philosophers, scientists, economists, and
other seekers for millennia. “What is
truth?” That was the question that
Pontius Pilate asked Jesus as Jesus stood
before him on trial. Jesus had just said
that He had come into the world to bear
witness to the truth (John 18:37-38).
Jesus had said a lot about the truth—that He
is the truth; that knowing the truth would set
us free (John 14:6; John 8:31-32). He said
that His truth (Gospel) would go into all the
world (Matthew 24:14; Matthew 28:18-20).
Jesus’ mission was to create a new race of
people who would be born of Spirit and truth
(John 3:1-8; John 4:21-24). Knowing Him
in the Spirit would set us free from
How can we
know the truth?
So how can we know truth? Truth is not a
subjective feeling. Often people feel
good about a lie. Truth exists outside
of us. We can see it in creation, it is
tangible; it is objective. Truth can be
verified as fact. Our legal system is based on
facts. Theologically, we believe that
Jesus rose again after crucifixion. The
apostle Paul did not “feel” that it was true;
he said that over 500 people saw Jesus at one
time (see 1 Corinthians 15:6).
If something is true, the results can be
replicated. It works no matter who says
it or uses it. For instance, two plus
two equals four. That is an objective
fact which can be demonstrated and replicated
by anyone, anywhere. No one owns
it. Gravity is not the province of a
particular group of people. It belongs
to no nation or denomination. It works
for everyone everywhere and penetrates
I believe that the Gospel of Jesus is true;
it can be verified, demonstrated, and
replicated anywhere in the world.
Wherever, and by whomever it has been
received, it produces morality and
liberty. It is for everyone to accept or
reject. When rejected, bad things
happen. There is plenty of history to
demonstrate that. For instance, Pilate
and Jewish leaders rejected the truth that day
when Jesus was on trial. They chose
Barabbas, a thief, to be released. On
the way to the Cross, Jesus said, “Don’t weep
for me, weep for your children.” History
amply demonstrates the truth of what He said.
The Romans made a choice to crucify Him.
It was a terrible choice.
The Jewish leaders were locked into a
category: “We are Abraham’s descendants, we
have never been slaves of anyone.”
Reality was that they even at that moment were
enslaved by Rome. The labels that
everyone carried blinded and destroyed
them. They are certainly not alone in
their ultimate sorrow. Think about the
fruit of atheism in Russia or Nazism in
Germany. Freedom comes through the
Gospel; tyranny and slavery come through lies
So what is
It should be simple: just seek, find, and
believe the truth; then we can be free. But
there is a problem; truth is expensive! Jesus
was crucified, the apostles were
martyred. All of our freedoms have been
secured by blood and treasure.
Remember that word “witness.” Jesus
stated that He came to be witness to the
truth. He told the apostles that they
would be witnesses unto Him in all the
world. The word for witness comes from
the same word that is translated
“martyr.” Over and over, Jesus warned of
persecution and all manner of evil would be
said against them (see Matthew 5:11, Matthew
10:22; John 15:21; John 16:1-4). History
proved Him right. What Jesus’ Cross and
the subsequent persecution of believers tells
us is that truth is both very costly and very
precious. Those who secure it are
penalized long before they are idealized.
I grew up hearing the names of the apostles,
as well as Justin Martyr, Polycarp, William
Tyndale, John Wycliffe, and many others.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Jim Elliot are more
recent additions to the list. Why were
so many persecuted or martyred for the
Gospel? It is because there is an evil
enemy and he hates truth; he is the deceiver.
When we become casual about truth, we become
unworthy of it, unworthy of the Lord, and of
I often go into our backyard to look at the
plants. It is surprising how unwanted
weeds or vines grow right up in a wanted
shrub. The alien plant often imitates
the desired one in the way it presents
itself. Left alone, the good plant can
be choked out by the alien deceiver. I
The apostles were sent forth with the Gospel
to plant churches in truth and tend them in
order to preserve the truth of Christ.
Lately, I have been reading the three letters
from John the apostle and the letter of Jude.
These letters give us a glimpse of how
vigilant the apostles were to preserve the
truth and how hostile they were to
deception. The Church was to be a
citadel of truth and a light in the cultures
of darkness. Jude says, “Beloved, while
I was very diligent to write to you concerning
our common salvation, I found it necessary for
you to contend earnestly for the faith which
was once and for all delivered to the saints
for certain men have crept in unnoticed who
long ago were marked out for this
condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace
of our God into lewdness and deny the only
Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 3
and 4; see also Galatians 1:1-24).
I believe John and Jude are typical of how
seriously all of the apostles took the Gospel
and truth itself. The gospel is not a
“one note piano”; it is “all that Jesus began
both to do and to teach” (see Acts 1:1).
That was how they viewed their task without
regard for their lives; they loved the truth.
We have received the greatest legacy of all
the legacies ever left to generations.
We have received the Gospel of Jesus Christ
purchased by His blood and faithfully
transmitted by martyrs. Those who
translated the Gospel were often killed.
Those who smuggled copies of the Bible were
jailed, beaten, and threatened. We have
inherited liberty from those imprisoned;
received it freely from those who found it
We need to grow some backbone. Our
culture, like others, is being destroyed by
lies that have never worked. Thorns have
grown in untended gardens, children, churches,
schools, and most institutions. But we
cannot win with truth alone, we must speak it
in love. Truth without love can only
condemn. Remember, Jesus wept over
Jerusalem. In spite of it all, He loved
and loves it. In fact, John 3:16 says,
“God so loved the world that He gave His only
begotten Son.” He came not to condemn
but save. The Cross was, and is, the
beginning of breaking down of all cultural
categories. He broke the barrier between
God and us, between us and others.
We have the truth; we have amazing tools to
tell it. The question is, what will we
do with it? Shall we embrace it with our
lives and tell it through our lives?
Shall we confront the deception that grows in
our fallen world? Will we sit passively
and soon weep for our children? That day
has arrived already for too many. I pray
that we will not put truth on trial as it
actually is trying us. Seek
it, find it, believe it, live it, tell it.
If we have failed the truth as we all
have—repent of that. We can be grateful
for amazing grace. True gratitude is to
tell someone else what truth and freedom mean
Scripture References: John
18:37-38,John 14:6; John 8:31-32, Matthew
24:14; Matthew 28:18-20, John 3:1-8; John
4:21-24, 1 Corinthians 15:6, Matthew 5:11,
Matthew 10:22; John 15:21; John 16:1-4,
Galatians 1:1-24, Acts 1:1
This article by
(c) Charles Simpson is excerpted from his Monthly
Pastoral Letters, dated April 26, 2016.
Simpson is an internationally-known author,
Bible teacher, and pastor, serving in ministry
since 1955. He is also Editor-in-Chief of
One-to-One Magazine and ministers extensively
throughout the United States and the nations.
Over the years Charles has been a frequent
guest speaker at Kairos North America
Conferences and Sword of the Sirit conferences
in the USA.
above:Christ before Pilate by Duccio di
Buoninsegna, Sienna, 14th century AD.