Sunday, April 07, 2019

Parts of Speech

“The Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is truth.”

“The Spirit of truth … proceeds from the Father.”

It is correct to say that the triune God reliably tells the truth [Gk: alētheuō] and that he always speaks truly [alēthōs]. He is both accurate and ingenuous.

And yet despite their aptness, these statements are not sufficient. They fall short. Scripture makes such claims repeatedly, but that is not all it says.

The doctrine of God’s veracity and reliability does not turn on verbs and adverbs.

Accurate, But Insufficient

Nor will mere adjectives get the job done. It is accurate but still insufficient to acknowledge that God is true [alēthinos] or truthful [alēthēs]. Genuineness and trustworthiness are great things, but if we stop there, we have missed the boat.

God is all that, of course, but that is not all he is.

No, whether we are reading our Bibles in the original languages or in English, to accurately sum up what the Bible teaches about God, we need a noun. God is not merely truthful, trustworthy or true ... God is truth itself. This is what the Bible really teaches about him. No such statement is ever made in scripture about an ordinary human being, not even the very best of us.

The fact that God is truth [alētheia] is the grand starting point for every other statement we may make about him. Jesus said, “I am truth.” The apostle John testifies that the Spirit is truth. And if the Spirit of truth proceeds from the Father, then of course the Father is truth too. It could hardly be otherwise.

Images and Metaphors

This reality is taught in plain language, as we read in the quotes above, but it is also supported by the imagery and metaphors used of God in his word. These word pictures provide convincing supporting testimony that truth is not just something God tells but something God is.

Thus, when God is described as “light”, what follows is not, “and from him proceeds no darkness at all,” but rather “in him is no darkness at all.” It is his very nature that is being described, not just the way he deals with men.

Equally, to say that God is one’s “rock”, is not merely to say that he is eternal, or that he is a good defense, or a great foundation to build on, though all these statements are perfectly true. Rather, calling God “the Rock” reflects on the essential veracity of his being:
“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice.
A God of truth and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”
Morality, Original and Derived

All our natural questions about what God could and couldn’t do resolve themselves if we understand this. All doubts about the morality of God’s actions throughout human history vanish when we start to realize that our own ideas of morality are wholly derived. They did not originate with us, and it is sheer presumption to attempt to apply them to their own Eternal Source.

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