The Cost of Truth
In many ways and in many circles, America today does not have much appreciation for truth. Many have been brainwashed into believing that truth is simply relative or that truth consists only in shades of gray. We have now reached the point that believing there are absolute truths upon which we can rely is considered uneducated. To apply these established truths is labeled as "intolerance" which is absolutely considered one of the most objectionable acts possible.
While America may be in the process of rejecting truth, the word of God continues to plainly teach the value, essentiality, and attainability of truth. According to God's word, we are to choose the truth, learn it, and love it (Ps. 119: 30; Jn. 8: 32; 2 Thes. 2: 10-12). The truth is such that we are to walk in it, speak it, rightly divide it, and obey it from the heart (Ps. 26: 3; I Tim. 2: 7; 2 Tim. 2: 15; Rom. 6: 17, 18). Peter wrote thus regarding the importance of the truth and his efforts to see that the truth remained accessible:
"12: Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. 13: Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; 14: Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. 15: Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. 16: For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Pet. 1).
Precious matters have not come without great cost and sacrifice. This is especially the case regarding the truths of God's word. Let us now briefly examine some of the cost of truth.
The truth cost the apostles a beating. Beginning with the Day of Pentecost following Jesus' triumphant resurrection from the grave, the apostles were fixed on presenting the truths of God to all men, as Jesus had commanded them (Mk. 16: 15, 16). They were teaching the truth in Jerusalem to the point that it was said, " ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine " (Acts 5: 28). The truth of God's word is not inclusive, but rather based on its essential nature, the truth is exclusive (there is only one truth or faith, Eph. 4: 5, cp. 2 Jn. 9-11). The Jewish authorities seeing that the truth being taught exposed their errors, required the apostles to cease teaching the truth. However, the apostles bravely continued (Acts 5: 28, 29). As a result, the apostles suffered a beating inflicted by the Sanhedrin (Acts 5: 40-42). In fact, according to secular history, most of the apostles eventually lost their lives because of the truth that they fearlessly presented (cp. 2 Tim. 4: 6-8).
The truth cost the blind man his social acceptance. Truth has always cost something and this is seen in the case of the blind man whom Jesus healed. The healed man was taken to the Pharisees for interrogation regarding his healing by Jesus (Jn. 9: 13). They asked about his healing and immediately began to accuse Jesus (Jn. 9: 16). Notwithstanding the pressures to yield, the man upon whom the miracle had been wrought remained steadfast in the truth of the miracle that produced his sight (Jn. 9: 24, 25ff.). In view of the healed man not consenting to lie, he was "cast out" (vs. 34). To be "cast out" was to be religiously and socially rejected. However, the man had the wonderful opportunity to "believe" and to "worship him" who performed this great miracle (vs. 38). Alas, the parents of this man were not willing to pay the price for the truth (vs. 21-23).
The truth cost Stephen his life. Stephen is presented in the scriptures as a righteous man (Acts 6: 5-8). Stephen was a great and powerful debater for the truth (Acts 6: 9, 10). Those whom Stephen defeated in debate hated him and brought false charges against him (vs. 11-15). Nevertheless, Stephen undauntedly preached the truth to these Jews (Acts 7). He charged them with disobeying the Law and with "murdering the Just One" (Acts 7: 52). Their response was, "When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth" (Acts 7: 54). They "cast him out of the city, and stoned him," we are told (vs. 58). Stephen died calling on the Lord not to "lay this sin to their charge" (vs. 59, 60).
The truth cost many of the early Christians their freedom. When the gospel was first presented in its fullness, about three thousand obeyed it (Acts 2: 41). By the time of Acts 8, there were many Christians in Jerusalem (cp. Acts 4: 4, 5: 14). In view of the phenomenal growth of Christianity, a great persecution was launched against the cause of Christ. This persecution resulted in many of the Christians forfeiting their civil freedoms and being driven away from their homes. We read:
" and at this time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles" (Acts 8: 1).
What caused many to hate Christians? I suggest it was the truth that they preached and lived! Many of these Christians were beaten, imprisoned, and even put to death because of the truths that they had embraced and staunchly taught (cp. Acts 8: 3, 22: 4, 26: 10, 11). These surviving Christians were not intimidated. The truths that they held were too important not to continue being taught. Hence, we later read of them: "Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only" (Acts 11: 19).
The truth cost John the Baptist his head. John possessed truth and had consequent conviction. His knowledge and conviction are seen in his preaching to Herod the tetrarch (Matt. 14: 1-12). John was imprisoned because, "For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias sake, his brother Philip's wife. For John said unto him, it is not lawful for thee to have her" (Matt. 14: 3, 4). Not a few today are living in unscriptural marriages and need to be told, "it is not lawful for thee to have her" (see Matt. 5: 32, 19: 9). There was a certain applicable truth involved in the case of the marriage of Herod and Herodias and John fearlessly applied this truth. As a result of truth, John was horribly murdered and his head was presented to the daughter of Herodias (vs. 6-12).
The truth cost Jesus his life. In the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate and in response to Pilate's question about Jesus being a King, Jesus said, " 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" (Jn. 18: 37). Pilate, as so many today, attempted to weaken Jesus' statement about the truth by saying, " what is truth?" (vs. 38). By the time of Jesus' arrest by the Romans, the Jews were worked up to a fervor in their bitter hatred of Jesus. We read, "But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him " (Jn. 19: 15). Why did they so hate Jesus? Jesus explained, "But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God " (Jn. 8: 40, see 45, 47).
Jesus was subjected to the mock trials of the Romans and the Jews, spit upon, and beaten. They placed a scarlet robe on him, positioned a crown of thorns upon his head, and mocked him, again spitting upon him and with a rod, "smote him on the head." They then subjected the sinless Son of God to one of the most ignominious forms of death ever known to man, death by crucifixion (Matt. 26, 27). Jesus was thus treated because he told them the truth.
Peter succeeded in having the inspired truths that he and others taught come down to us today. In fact, we are promised, "But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (I Pet. 1: 25). As mentioned earlier, the value of a matter can be determined by the required attendant cost. No greater cost can be seen than the death of the Son of God (Jn. 3: 16, 2 Cor. 5: 21). The question is, are we availing ourselves of the truth of God as revealed in God's Book, the Bible? I am referring to the truth about Jesus, his church, the plan of salvation, and what is entailed in living a life of holiness. Let us remember what this truth cost and ever seek to "know the truth" because the "truth shall make you free" (Jn. 8: 32).