INTRODUCTION

Have you ever wondered which TV evangelist or minister you should believe? Have you ever heard different teachings about the same biblical subject? Have ministers ever confused you by what they say? Do you really believe what you say you believe? Can you explain to someone the truths that you think you believe? There will probably come a point in your life where you ask yourself “who should I believe?” Who is telling the truth? What is the truth? The answer to the latter question is the subject of this article.

Seekers

I once heard two prominent ministers give different teachings on the same subject while preparing for a seminar. Which one should I believe? What is the truth? I asked God this question and trusted that he would answer and he did. God simply answered my prayer by telling me to believe Him! He didn’t concern himself with distinguishing between the two ministers. I can only speculate the reason for that. I am in no way implying that these men were lying but the fact is they gave different teachings for the same topic. I also noticed that if you talk to ten different ministers from different denominations then you will get more then one teaching on any one topic. This can lead to the question of the validity of a particular denomination, i.e., “Which denomination is correct?”

Christians must believe in God. It is that simple. We are not supposed to treat ministers, preachers, and evangelists as gods. After all, they are only human and therefore fallible. How can we believe God when we put so much trust in pastors, evangelists and TV ministers? To many, God is the man upstairs or the great guy in the sky. Many Christians believe that if they push a button then God will come to save them or meet their needs. God is not thought of unless there is great trouble or great joy. God is not to be found in our everyday life because we don’t look for him there.

Furthermore, God has is meshed with the church. God is not God alone but a part of the church structure. The average churchgoer knows more about church than God. Church folk can tell you more about their denomination, the various ministries in the church, all of the anniversaries and yet they know very little about the Bible or God. I find that many Christians are so wrapped up in church doctrine, procedures, principles, and protocols that they can’t even explain the Gospel of Jesus Christ intelligently to anyone. Christians are not pursuing truth, as they should. They are not disciples as they should be. Instead, they are indoctrinated robots taking the orders and obeying the commands of men and women of the cloth.

I believe that the pursuit of God should be paramount in a Christian’s life. Pursuit implies a goal. Therefore, our goal is a growing relationship with God our heavenly Father. This article describes my thoughts on seeking truth from God our heavenly father. I believe that all Christians should know God for themselves and come to that knowledge by their own conclusions from personal Bible study. Do all Christians know the truth? Look at the following verse.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV)

We praise God for this verse too soon, still not knowing the truth or at the very least what Jesus was really saying. If we look at this verse carefully, we will see that it only tells us the result of knowing the truth. There is no indication of how to obtain that truth or even what that truth is. However, if we look at the verse preceding it, we will see the following:

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples'” (John 8:31 NIV)

This verse indicates that it is the disciple of Jesus (one who holds to his teaching; his student) that will know the truth and that it is the disciple that will be free. In other words, the seeker (one who constantly learns by seeking for the truth) will know the truth because seekers find. The truth is revealed more and more to those who seek.

CONFORMITY

We conform into what we give into and uphold. We conform to our god and god’s ways. A seeker of truth, by nature of his or her focus, will conform to God’s ways, that is, the one true God. Paul said not to conform to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (See Romans 12:2). One great attribute of true seekers is that they conform to the image of God in their everyday life. The same principle holds true for any person with any god. If your god is religion then you will conform to religion. If your god is a man-made deity then you will conform to it. The more you are deceived and seek, the more you head to death (separation from God). The deeper into religion you get, the more progress you think you have made. All of the religious baggage that so many Christians carry block the truth and in many cases the path to that truth.

Seek God the Father and conform to His WAY. Don’t be deceived and conform to something that will not uphold you. Become more and more like Christ and conform to the ways of God and not the ways of religion or man.

ASSURANCE FOR FOCUSED SEEKING

Identify what you are searching for. Are you seeking God or something else? Some are taught to seek “one with nature” or “peace” or something else. These only result in us being distracted from the real truth, namely God. So we know that we are seeking the right thing if we are seeking the God of creation whether we know anything about him or not. This God is the God who made the heavens and the earth and who revealed himself to the world by his son Jesus Christ. Seek God for God and not for something else. Desire a relationship with God because you want one and not because you want to have great success, riches, or something like that.

What is the focus in your life? Is it church, religion, or truth? Do you strive to obtain a closer relationship with Christ or do you strive to excel in your church experience and/or accomplishments? The focus in your life will determine the path that you take. If your focus is religion then your path will be a religious one apart from God the Father. If your focus is to know God then your path will take you closer and closer to Him. Focus is key to obtaining truth so focus on God and not religion.

HOW TO KNOW THE TRUTH

It is imperative that Christians know the truth. Knowing the truth will liberate those who have it. Our liberty is not a carefree anything goes liberty. It means that we are liberated from something and liberated to something. We are liberated from the oppression of Satan (ignorance) and liberated to obey God our heavenly father. We know God once we know the truth (knowing the truth is ongoing in life). You never arrive at the totality of truth as long as time and space limit us. Our finite minds cannot capture or understand all that is in God. For example, the Bible says

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9 KJV)

How can we comprehend God or the truth if God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours? The only way that we can comprehend truth is if we could comprehend God and his ways totally. This can only be manifested as a process if we are seeking God and his kingdom. For in his kingdom is the totality of his workings, thoughts, and ways. The truth, in its totality, is always before us as we seek more and more of it.

The first step to acquiring truth is to seek God and his kingdom. You must ask yourself this question. How can I get to God to comprehend him and to apprehend his ways to obtain the truth? The Bible tells us.

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'” (John 14:6 NIV)

“If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:7 NIV)

The way to God is through Jesus Christ. There is no direct path from sinful man to God. In order for us to obtain truth, we must obtain Jesus Christ. We must be built up in truth so that we can acquire more truth on account of what we already have. Therefore, Jesus said

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 NIV)

Knowing the truth involves learning from Jesus Christ. When we learn from Christ then we approach more of the truth. The more knowledge and wisdom that we acquire from Jesus Christ, thus from God himself, the more we arrive at the truth. So the first step to acquiring the truth is to learn from God, that is, be a seeker. If you want to acquire something then why not approach the something to get it. If we want to acquire the truth then why not go to where the truth is. Jesus said that he is the truth so learn from him. If you’ve seen Jesus then you’ve seen the Father. If you know Jesus you know God and therefore the truth. How many Christians know Jesus? How many Christians seek God? Christians are too busy going to church and doing the “churchy” or religious things. Many professing Christians may hear these words at the end:

(Mat 7:23 KJV) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

I must add here that personal Bible study is the most important tool that you have for learning from Jesus Christ. Personal Bible study provides a way for you to acquire knowledge and develop an active relationship with God. So personal Bible study is very important to knowing the truth. Don’t worry about how to study the Bible. God will teach you. Don’t worry about what you will need for effective Bible study. God will meet all of your needs. However, keep in mind that your motive for Bible study should be to move closer to God and not to become a Bible scholar.

THE MINISTER AND TRUTH

How much trust do you put in the men and women of God? How much do you trust the words of the minister? Some people trust them fully and others not at all. Of course there are always those in between. I have found that the most valuable asset to a Christian is to learn how to receive directly from the Holy Spirit. After all, where do you think the ministers get what they tell you? They purportedly receive from God via the Holy Spirit. Is God a respecter of persons? Does God show favoritism? Will he tell someone something and not tell you (in the absolute sense)? The Bible says,

“For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.” (Deuteronomy 10:17 NIV)

“Then Peter began to speak: I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism” (Acts 10:34 NIV)

Therefore, the same God that speaks to ministers who in turn speak to you can likewise speak to you directly. I believe that the primary role of the minister is to preach the gospel to those who are lost and show Christians how to get to God personally. They also present the truths of the Bible. You don’t need a man to teach you exclusively. Jesus told us that the anointing (the Christ) is our teacher (See Matthew 23:10). The Bible also says,

“But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” (1 John 2:27 KJV)

Now if the Bible plainly tells us that the Holy Spirit teaches us, why do we rely exclusively on people to teach us? You may argue that the Holy Spirit teaches us through other people. This is true. However, consider the basis of the argument. It is the Holy Spirit that teachers and other people are the medium for this instruction. So if the revelation originates from the Holy Spirit then why not go directly to him since you are a person too?

The Pastor and Truth

The people in church congregations look up to Pastors (bishops, elders, etc.) in the wrong way. They have placed them in the clouds with God and believe that the only way to God is through the pastor. The Bible teaches us otherwise. The Bible says,

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” (John 14:6 NIV)

What most people have done is to apply this scripture to the pastor as though the pastor is the truth and the life and the only way to God. Jesus was born so that man could be saved, that is, reconciled to God the Father. Pastors are the shepherds of the sheep (we are the sheep). See Jeremiah 23:1,2 and John?10:11.

The main point is this. The pastor is not your pathway to the truth. The pastor can be thought of as a path to the path to truth. The pastor, or any person for that matter, can only lead you to the way. That way leads you to God. Who is the way? Jesus Christ is the way. It is very important that all Christians maintain the proper focus. The Pastor is a shepherd responsible to get you to see the way to God. The pastor reveals the word of God to you so that you will eventually be saved. The pastor preaches the word of God so that the Christian will live a fulfilled Christian life.

WHO DO YOU TRUST?

Many people hear many words from many different people. Many Christians hear preaching from many different ministers and evangelists. Who do you believe? Who do you trust? How do you know that you are indeed getting the word of truth? How would you know if you were receiving the truth from the word of God? Many people trust ministers more than they trust the Holy Spirit who resides in them. Many people trust preachers more then they trust God. God could tell them something but if a minister says otherwise then they will negate what God said to take hold of what the minister says.

I believe that it is impossible to truly seek truth to apprehend it and at the same time you don’t trust God. How can you obtain truth when you trust man more than Christ? Instead of getting closer to the truth, you will get closer to the understanding of men. Of course, the Bible warns us against leaning to our own understanding (See Proverbs 3:5-6)

THE DISGUISE CALLED RELIGION

Religion binds people and keeps people away from the truth by disguising itself as the truth. As we said earlier, if someone thinks they have found the truth then they will stop looking. Man’s religion is just a lie packaged in a form of godliness. Religion involves rules and regulations that promote pride. Religion hinders people from acquiring the truth.

Today’s religion is simply a set of rules and regulations that are imposed on its followers to get them to the desired end. The desired end is deceivingly quoted as God. However, we know from our Bible study that no rules and regulations can get us to God or a revelation of him. Rules and regulations only focus our attention on sin. Religion tells its followers that in order to be a good person or to be godly you have to stop this and do that. What happens in this situation? We don’t focus on God. We focus on the do’s and don’ts.

FOCUS

Your destination is determined by what you focus on. We approach God by focusing on him. This is what the true seeker does. With Religion, we approach darkness because we focus on the sins and not the salvation from God. For example, suppose you are told that a true Christian does not smoke, drink, go to movies, watch TV, listen to secular radio stations, etc. This sounds like it could be the truth. What do you do then? You focus on the sins and not God. Since your focus is on sin then sin and the results of such is where you will go. The funny thing is that the harder you try to be a good Christian approved by God, according to these rules, the more you will see your deficiencies since your focus is sin and not God.

Focus your very life on God. Do all that you can to walk according to his purpose for your life. Don’t worry about the problems and sins that you have. God is much more powerful then they. Just go closer to God. Satan cannot prevail against God. The Bible says,

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)

Therefore, how can your sins overcome the love of God? It can’t. If you are truly a seeker then you are first born again and secondly the Spirit of God dwells in you. Therefore, your nature is not of a sinner but one of God. The bottom line is not to focus on your sins rather focus on God. Seek God and not sins. Even if you could stop sinning completely you still would be no closer to God. Why? Your intent was not to get closer to God but to get closer to not sinning. The best way to stop habitual sinning is simply to be more habitually godly. The power of God will overcome the sin that is in you.

Theology

Every Christian should be familiar with some form of theology. We should know something about God and how he relates to the entire universe. This doesn’t mean that all Christians should be theological scholars. It does mean that we should have a basic working knowledge of God and things pertaining to him. Many Christians are content to simply listen to the pastor, take notes, and continue on their merry way. This is fine for a person whose Christian life only consists of going to church and communicating with other members of their church. That is also a good start for the new Christian. However, knowledge of God becomes more significant as we venture out of the barriers of our home church, denomination, or religious group.

It is impossible to say that you are seeking God if you don’t consider theology, that is, knowledge of God. The more we seek God the more we will learn about him and things pertaining to him.

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BELIEVING A LIE

Why do we believe a lie? How is it possible to believe a lie? We believe a lie because we think it is the truth. We believe a lie because we don’t know the truth. A seeker will recognize or at least suspect a lie. A non-seeker will not have a clue. The rules and regulations of religion do nothing to reveal the truth of God to you. The rules and regulations hide the truth from you by persuading you to focus on it, thus sin, instead of God.

Some people believe many things taught to them by religion because they never took the time to learn the truth for themselves. The only way to not believe a lie is to know the truth and hold it. We are destroyed because of our ignorance (See Hosea 4:6).

CHURCH AND TRUTH

First, let me define church. I am defining church to mean the religious organizations as opposed to the body of Christ-the true church. You would think that the best place to find the truth is in church. Here again, we see the possibility of becoming miss-focused. Remember that it is always you and God, not you and someone or something else and God. There are many churches that are traditional, religiously oriented, and binding. Many churches perpetuate religion and the form of godliness instead of God himself. Too often I speak to people who are very fed up with church but don’t know where else to go to worship God. They were never told that they could worship God themselves anywhere. They were never told that they could be healed without the pastor laying hands on them. They were never told that they could pray for things themselves and expect God to answer their prayers. They didn’t know that they could seek and know God themselves. Church doctrine has told them that they must get to God through the pastor or some type of elder or authority in the church organization. Unfortunately, they believed it and never got to know God.

THE TRUTH SEEN THROUGH THE CHURCH

Church is not your source for truth. The truth does not come from the church but can be revealed by the Church. The church can reveal the truth because the church can give the people a glimpse of God in many ways. The foremost way of revealing God is to meet the needs of people. That is, love the people in the Spirit of Christ. The only way that people can see the love of God is if they see that love flowing through us, the Church, that is the body of Christ.

People need the Lord. People need the truth. People want the truth and people are looking for the truth. People seek the thing that would make them fulfilled or complete. People seek the thing that they feel is missing in their life. What they want, though they might not know it specifically, is God – The truth. The Bible says,

(Romans 10:14-15 KJV) “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? {15}And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”

We see the need for a preacher and we see the need for the preacher to be sent by God. God ordains things according to his purpose and not ours. The Bible says,

(Proverbs 19:21 NIV) “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Always remember that the truth does not come from the preacher (from man) but through the preacher. The preacher is not the originator of the truth. God is the originator of the truth and is the truth. If someone tells you that he or she is the truth or the way to life then you know he or she is a liar or at least deceived. Do not follow these people. Remember above all that Jesus Christ is the way. The truth does not come from the church but through the church. You don’t go to church to get the truth as if the church was the source of that truth. You go to church to see the truth revealed, that is, you go to learn the way to truth, namely Jesus Christ. The church does not have the truth – any church. The church only knows the way to get to the truth. The church is not the source of truth so don’t treat it that way.

The Truth Of God’s Word

We know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (see John 14:6). God is the ultimate truth. He is the ultimate standard and source of all things. However, I want to take this time out to reconcile God with the various teachings of the church. I will speak in general terms since this topic is very intensive.

I have found that there is a difference between what is preached and taught in many churches and what the truth in God’s word is. There are many things that are taught that are not supported by the scriptures. Here are some things that I have learned to look out for.

Blanket statements: These are statements such as “God wants you to __________.” Popular ministers make these statements and the weight or validity of such statements rests in the minister’s popularity or standing in the Christian community. A godly theologian could make a statement on national television and get very little response but a popular TV evangelist could make a statement that is contrary to the Bible’s teaching and get many “amens.” Christians tend to honor popularity instead of truth. Christians tend to rely on the accuracy of the TV evangelist and the like instead of verifying statements using the word of God-the scriptures.

Unsubstantiated statements: These statements usually follow a scripture reading. A minister may make a statement such as “This scripture is telling us __________” but have no scripture to really back what he or she says. However, many Christians will not compare the scripture or scripture reference with the statement. These ministers rely on the words of the scriptures instead of the message of the scripture.

Statements that assume a presupposition: These are statements that are based on your assumption of overall church doctrine, popular teaching, or dogma. The level of dogma in these types of statements is very high since scripture usually don’t support them. For example, there are statements such as “Just believe you receive.” It is assumed that you understand the popular but inaccurate teaching of Mark 11:23-24.

Statements founded on one scripture reference: This is very similar to the unsubstantiated statements in that the Bible does not support these statements. However, the primary difference is that a person will take one scripture and develop an entire belief system or theology on it. For example, to use the reference given above, Mark 11:23-24. An entire “name it and claim it” teaching has arisen from this one scripture reference. However, the teaching is inaccurate because it does not include the knowledge and instruction gained from other scriptures that deal with the same issue of prosperity and prayer. Furthermore, I have never heard the greatly significant verse 22 included in this teaching.

There are other things to look for when listening to ministers, especially popular ones. The primary protection we have is knowledge of the truth in God’s word. We are susceptible to believe the false teachings, inaccurate doctrines, and lies of ministers and other Christians alike if we aren’t seeking truth and don’t know what the Bible really says.

Pursuing the Truth

What is your goal? Your ultimate goal is fulfillment in life. However, true fulfillment can only come if we live according to the word of God and therefore do what he says. We can only know our purpose and God’s WAY by knowing Him and His Kingdom. The Bible says, “Seek first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).

I have learned that diligence is very important because you will be bombarded with many philosophies, dogma, traditions, teachings, and the like. You will have to be determined to stick to your plan of doing what you can to learn as much as possible about God and His Ways. You may find yourself toe to toe with your church, pastor, favorite TV evangelist, family, friends, or people that are close to you. Not everyone will share your enthusiasm for learning the truth and pursuing God for yourself. Many Christians and non-Christians are content to practice Churchianity instead of pursuing true Christianity. So beware that you may find yourself alone at first.

After a while, you will discover others with the same zeal that you have to know the truth. They will be few but they will be a joy to you and prove to be a great resource to you. Yes, you may have some ideas wrong but other seekers are always available to correct you by the Holy Spirit. So be encouraged that the path of the seeker is not a smooth path but it is a very fulfilling path. Seek God and Seek the Truth. Know Jesus and know God and you will know the truth if you live by the things you learn in your Bible. Amen.

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In Pursuit of the Truth
Insight into the search for God our heavenly Father
Version 4.0 (1998)
Written by William R. Cunningham
1998 All rights reserved Save & Exit

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