October / November 2019 - Vol.106

"mercy and truth ahve met together"
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Freedom in Truth - Unity in Love

Love and truth have lost their true meaning today.
God's word shows us their true character and unity.

by Don Schwager

The Scriptures tell us that love and truth are integral to growth, maturity, stability, and integrity in all of our relationships. The Apostle John tells us that love cannot be genuine unless it is united with the truth.

“Let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth” – 1 John 3:18.

The biblical word for truth in Hebrew, which is emeth, means fidelity, faithfulness, sureness, certainty, trustworthiness, and reliability. It describes the personal character trait of someone whose is utterly reliable and whose word is true.1

Scripture tells us that God is “faithful and sure (true)” (Isaiah 25:1). There is no lie, duplicity, or deception in God. He is utterly true and faithful to his promises and to his people.

The Lord Jesus said,

“I am the truth… I speak just as the Father has taught me. And he who sent me is with me…

If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. - John 8:28, 31-32

In the Book of Revelation the Lord Jesus is called, Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11).

The question of love and truth today
Love and truth have lost their true meaning and force today. Jesus foretold this would happen:

And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
                                                                                                 - Matthew 24:10-12

We face a daunting challenge - to get in touch with our natural desire to know the truth and to restore the proper meaning of the word "truth".  Truth has become abstract and conceptual, especially in philosophical thinking (influence of nominalism). In the sciences it has become depersonalized and constricted. And in history it has lost its moral foundation in culture, society, and political bodies. "To each his truth" is a frank admission that there is no truth in postmodern thinking and speech. 2

The suppression of truth is a clear mark of moral depravity and injustice. God is justified in his wrath against those who hold his word of truth in contempt and who flaunt his just commands. The words of the Apostle Paul could not be more direct and to the point of God's judgment on those who suppress the truth:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
- Romans 1:18-25

The suppression of truth today will not satisfy those who hunger for God and his word of truth. The Lord Jesus shows us the way forward:   

If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.      

Truth Reveals Itself to Love

Truth insists on being loved, sought, and served for its own sake, to the point of setting aside self-interest, even risking life itself if need be. Its nature is therefore disinterested; yet it interests us in the highest degree and attracts us powerfully, for there is no true good without it. Love of truth is an integral part of the human personality and assures its dignity. As persons we are beings-for-the-truth; if the spirit of lying takes possession of us, we suffer an interior wound. We are no longer free if in our hearts we do not love and seek the truth. Inevitably, we become the slaves of causes, passions, or ideas which lead us to deceitfulness. Without love of truth, we lose our last foothold, the foundation on which to build a personal life.

Love of truth goes hand in hand with a sense of objectivity. Not the cold, impersonal objectivity of the positivist sciences, but the human sense of the reality of persons and things, which opens the door of their interiority to us. Once we accept their difference from ourselves, objectivity lays the foundation for the love of friendship. Through this profound objectivity, truth reveals itself to love.

Love and truth are thus naturally linked in the most personal action and encounter each other at the heart of freedom. Education in freedom will be at the same time education in truth and love. Thus all the moral values and virtues will be illumined and penetrated by our love of truth.

- Servais Pincaers,  The Sources of Christian Ethics3



What is the true nature of God’s love?
We are commanded to love God with all of our hearts and with all of our minds. God's word reveals his true nature and character. God is holy, just, and pure.

His love reveals his both his justice (righteousness) and his mercy. Neither can be compromised since they are two unchangeable aspects of God’s divine love.
Mercy and truth have met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
And righteousness shall look down from heaven.
- Psalm 85:10-11
Scripture tells us that God's love endures forever. When God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, he revealed himself as a covenant-making God of unfailing love, faithfulness, mercy, goodness, and truth (Exodus 34).
The Lord [Moses] passed before  and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,  keeping steadfast love for thousands... [ESV translation]

And the Lord passed before [Moses] and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands... (NKJV translation)
The key biblical Hebrew word for love is hesed. It is a love that is based on covenant commitment. God desires a people who will be joined to him in a lasting bond of committed love, faithfulness, goodness, and truth. The Hebrew word hesed literally means steadfast love, unfailing love, loving-kindness. It is loyal and faithful love. It is the love that God, over and over, expressed to Israel his people.
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love (hesed) for you will not be shaken.
    - Isaiah 54:10

19 The thought of my affliction and my homelessness
     is wormwood and gall!
20 My soul continually thinks of it
     and is bowed down within me.   
21 But this I call to mind,
     and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
     his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
     great is your faithfulness.
                                                         - Lamentations 3:19-23
We see God's holiness, justice, truth and mercy perfectly united in his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who who laid down his life for us to atone for our sins and to win for us pardon, reconcilliation, and restoration of friendship and union with God through his victory on the cross and resurrection to everlasting life.

Christ has set us free to love God wholeheartedly and to love one another sincerely and to walk in the truth of his word and the fruit of his Spirit  - love, joy, peace,patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

“Let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth” – 1 John 3:18.


Notes:

1.Two helpful word studies on the biblical Hebrew word for truth, emmeth: (a) Strong's Concordance for Emmeth, and (b) Emmet: The Awesome Hebrew Word for Truth, by Matt D'Antuono.

2.Servais Pincaers(1925-2008), a noted professor of moral philosophy grounded in Scripture and the early church fathers, wrote an excellent analysis of the question of truth today in his book, The Sources of Christian Ethics, pp. 426-431
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3. ibid. p. 430-31



Don Schwager is a member of the Servants of the Word and author of the Daily Scripture Readings and Meditations website..

Top illustration of cross and starlit sky by (c) Kevin Carden at ChristianPhotoshops.com

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