|Douglas Frank Photo|
Words mean a lot. They can be spoken in anger, love, gently, harshly, deceptively, warmly, powerfully, silently and in or out of the Spirit. Etymology is the history of the study of words. It is about origin. The Greeks studied ancient texts for meaning and so has all civilization down through the ages. Words have meaning and communicate. But there are many nations and tongues and none of us speak or write them all. In fact Americans are least versatile in foreign languages. I’ll take myself for an example. I speak English with a Midwest accent. I took four years of Latin, Spanish, French and a little Greek and Hebrew. Winnie Ille Pu is the only book I read in Latin, but it helped me with many complex medical words that I see daily in my work as a hospital chaplain. I did however, take six years of French and learned almost nothing practical on speaking or communicating with anyone until I worked in France. Very quickly my language skills moved from “you speak like a baby,” to “Oh, a French Canadian, bonjour!” This was a great relief, particularly since DE Galle had just kicked all “Ugly Americans” out of France. Soon as a bank teller at “a Caisse d’Epargne I would learn not to lose the bank money dealing with converting Ancient to Nouveau Francs. In contrast our foreign exchange student from Germany spoke nine languages fluently. So why the long introit to words?
Humans are social and made to commune and communicate in order to function in an increasingly complex society. Words or images found on cave petroglyphs have morphed into 1000s of written and spoken languages. Only one Word however, has not changed through the last 2000 plus years and actually forever, the Word of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” (John 1:1). God’s Word has existed since before time. God spoke the world into existence as Genesis details. “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling place among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). God spoke out some of His word to Moses onto rock tablets as the 10 Commandments and they have been broken by all of us. Slowly over 1,500 years some 40 scribes took down what is known as the Holy Bible through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Yes, God and His Word are “Truth.” It is designed to show us the light in the darkness of our world, ruined by sin and disobedience of mankind, even though we were made in God’s image and likeness.
In an era when humans are trying to change even the documents of the founding of our nation to meet their own sinful and selfish desires, the Word of God stands. Even though it has been taken out of schools and disregarded by the Supreme Court of the land, it is still the truth. Now that is both a frightening and reassuring fact depending upon your worldview. I have a biblical worldview, meaning that the Bible is my anchor and compass for life. Most in our society have an increasingly humanistic worldview, or one determined by humans to meet their changing needs. But the Bible, like God, does not change and yet continues to meet all of our needs, no matter what those who disregard it think. You see it is the Creator and we are the created, so we do not have power over it. There are consequences to trying to lead by human intelligence and guile, and we are seeing the divisions and wars for control increasing in spite of the unchanging truth.
We were founded as a Judeo-Christian nation and our founding documents reflect it. We have wonderful rights, and they are based on the Bible. God meant for us to continue to trust in His Word for guidance. I am amazed that God even spoke His word to me audibly, making clear His desire for me to dedicate my life to full-time ministry at age 50+. Like the disobedient Hebrews, I too was not on His course, so He said, “This is the way; walk in it.” The phrase before told me to listen to His voice and word for direction. So I have dived into study of God’s Word daily ever since to guide me in His true North to find the forest through the trees.
“What is truth,”Pilate asked Jesus? Jesus had already said to him, “I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:17). In Matthew 22:16 the disciples asked Jesus, “Teacher we know that you are true, teach us the way of truth.” He told them in John 8:31, “‘If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Throughout Scripture “God is truth.” Prophets, King David and all the followers of God in Christ through the ages have sought the truth. Sadly we read in Isaiah the prophet writen 700 years before Christ’s incarnation, “Nowhere truth can be found.” And the Lord was and is still not pleased.
Revival in this country will not happen unless each person humbles themselves, repents and turns from their wicked ways, we will not hear from heaven and our land will not be healed (2 Chronicles 7:14). Psalmists have bemoaned and exalted the Word of God. So why do I love the Word? Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” The whole psalm lifts up the Word as blessed and pure and hidden in the writer’s heart. “I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws…Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens…Your laws endure to this day…I have put my hope in your word…how sweet are your words to my mouth, sweeter than honey” (Psalm 119:30,90,103,114). Now that is worthy of loyal following and staying power. The word has power, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
I don’t know where you find your truth? I know that I have spent many years on college campuses that spewed forth broken philosophies and untruths slanted away from God and His Word. I did finally find truth at Bethel Seminary where God’s word is taught and lived out. Founded on Scripture its doctrine is based on:
- The reliability of the Scriptures as the authority for Christian living and church order
- The depravity of humanity, making divine redemption necessary through personal regeneration
- The virgin-born Christ as the incarnate Redeemer
- The vicariously atoning death of Jesus Christ
- The historicity of the resurrection
- The certainty of the return of Christ
Now that may be difficult for you to digest, but I suggest that the Truth will set you free! Now here’s the thing, freedom is great for those who know the way forward. For those who are lost, freedom can be very scary. I work with a chaplain who was a prison director. He tells me that many inmates when set free are frightened because of the lack of structure and want back in, so they commit a crime to do so. That’s seems insane. Well, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Now that’s scary. So which way is up? The way of the Word of God will lead you up. Choose it!