“What is truth?” Pilate asked the Lord Jesus just prior to confessing that he could find no fault in Christ and then yielding to the pressure from the Jewish crowd to crucify Him. The Lord’s prior declaration, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (John 18:37), had prompted Pilate’s cynical question. Pilate was probably unaware of the Lord’s earlier revelation on this matter stating that “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). Volumes might well be written about the truth contained in these two verses. But we will confine ourselves to two brief points that explain how spiritual truth is apprehended.
1. Man apprehends spiritual truth through divine revelation. The Lord stated this fact in the first reference above when He explained to Pilate that “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” Christ differentiated between a person who acquires an intellectual comprehension of facts about Christ, the gospel, and the doctrines of the Word and a person who savingly embraces the gospel by faith and lives in accord with its strictures. Anyone of sound mind can comprehend many of the facts taught in the Bible about Jesus Christ and the demands of God. But getting beyond a mere intellectual apprehension requires that a person be “of the truth,” a phrase describing the supernatural intervention of God through the enlightening work of the Holy Spirit. A blind person may gain some very good intellectual comprehension of color. For example, the color yellow is warm like the sun, invigorating like the taste and smell of a lemon, and bright like the sound of a trumpet. But he will still be unable to experience yellow without the faculty of sight. In a similar but much more profound way, natural men may gain some comprehension of the truth of the Word, but apart from the direct intervention of the Spirit of God, they lack the faculty necessary to recognize truth for what it is. The Spirit of God must open a man’s eyes in order for him really to apprehend and comprehend the truth. Apart from God’s direct, personal intervention, even the smartest and most earnest seeker would remain blind and unable to understand the truth of the Word. God must intervene to provide him with the spiritual eyes necessary to see and rightly believe the truth.
2. Man apprehends spiritual truth through faith/obedience. The second reference above explains that the only means given men to ascertain the truth of Scripture is that of submission. Neither God’s authority nor His veracity is on the line. He does not subject Himself to the foolish doubts of His creatures. Obey and know is the divine order. Yes, the facts of the gospel must be presented as the substance upon which faith takes hold. But confirmation of the truth follows bowing and believing, and not the other way around. No man is saved because he comes to an intellectual conviction of the truth of the Bible. Rather, he is saved when he believes and obeys, at which point the truth is confirmed in his mind and heart. No matter how firmly a man believes that a steak will nourish him, he gains nothing unless he ingests it. Faith and obedience are to truth what chewing and swallowing are to a steak. Concerning this verse G. Campbell Morgan remarked, “Thus Christ said that the only way in which we can test His teaching is by obeying it; not by our own intellectual cleverness can we ever test the truth of his teaching; not by any philosophy or wit or wisdom of our own; but if we will do what He says, in doing, we shall come to certainty as to whether or not the thing spoken was speech from God.”
The mind is not disengaged when apprehending truth, but God first must impart to the heart and mind spiritual understanding and man then must believe and obey in order to apprehend it.
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