HOW TO UNDERSTAND TRUTH
Our intent is to follow these guidelines carefully.
The Bible is like a huge storehouse of words and numbers from which a reader could assemble nearly any doctrine desired. But the Bible is also an inspired Book, profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (2Tim. 3:16). To prevent the seeker of Truth from drawing out erroneous ideas, guidelines are established for Bible study. Six are listed below.
1. CONSISTENCY: Truth does not change. Its Author is consistent (Mal 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not). A truth may have a fulfillment, as in a prophecy, but it never becomes falsehood.
2. INTEGRATION: Because all Truth has the same Author, Truth will mesh with other Truth. If a Truth appears to contradict, God leaves a “paper-trail” so we can discover, through diligence, its connection to the “contradictory” Truth.
Example: Gravity keeps rocks from floating in the air, but we see a rock floating! Are we to discredit the Law of Gravity by the fact of personal observation? Upon closer examination we notice the rock is attached, by a nearly invisible thread, to a helium-filled balloon. As we understand the law of displacement and other natural laws we understand why the rock is floating and what effect it has on the balloon. By careful observation and study, all the laws are harmonized.
Until the “paper-trail” confirms the relationship of the Truth under question to other Truths, we are not justified to promote our hypothesis as doctrine.
3. VERIFIABLE: A matter is established in the mouth of two or three witnesses (Deu. 19:15; Matt. 18:16). Each true witness has its own perspective separate from the others, yet helps define a stronger and broader platform for the Truth.
Example: A point in Geometry has no dimension or direction. It only determines location. To determine line (from which direction could be ascertained) a minimum of two dissimilar points are necessary. To determine a plane (a flat area) a third point not on the line is required. To determine a three-dimensional space, at least a fourth point separate from the plane is needed. Each new point is unique from the others in its perspective, yet adds a new dimension to the object under consideration. These criteria aptly define the uniqueness of a “witness”.
The Bible is the PRIMARY WITNESS (Isa. 8:20). All truth must bear witness to it for it has the stamp of inspiration (2Timothy 3:16-17). However, its testimony is strengthened by other TRUE witnesses, those that also have the same Author. The Bible underwrites Nature as a strong witness (Rom. 1:20; John 3:12). Giving a personal testimony or experience is another (John 3:11; Rev. 12:11). Providences of God is a third (Mark 4:41; Deu. 5:15). Though each speaks in a different language they all can witness to the same great truths. Jesus drew from all of these freely in His illustrations and sermons.
4. ORDER: Because God is a God of order (1Co 14:40 Let all things be done decently and in order.), all Truth will bring us into harmony with orderliness and system—an order defined by God. This order is not inherent in fallen man and is achieved only by cooperation with and obedience to the Author of Truth (John 14:23, 1John 5:2-3)
5. AGREEMENT OF SPIRIT: If God is the Source of all Truth, then the Spirit of Truth must be in agreement with the Spirit of God. They cannot conflict, though they often operate in different domains (John 4:23-24,16:13; 1Peter 1:22; 1John 5:6). By “spirit” it means that part which gives it life, fires it up, makes it active and prosperous. The “spirit” of the Inquisition, for example, which brought death to those who dared to resist, did not agree with the Spirit that actuated Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when Peter pulled out his sword. So, even if all the other points agree, we must conclude Truth was not the defining characteristic of the Inquisition. In fact, it is often only on this point that the true character is revealed. Perhaps this is why John counseled us to “try the spirits” to see whether they are of God or not (1John 4:1)
6. DEPENDABILITY: Dependability is a characteristic of God (Deut. 7:9; Ps. 119:138; 1 Cor. 1:9). Nothing is promised that is not possible to do. And if promised it will be done as stated. Then that which comes from God must also be dependable. And if Truth is dependable, it is also predictable.
These six criteria, when applied to a doctrine in question, will help to verify the authenticity of Truth and prevent us from designing or supporting a false doctrine supposedly based on the Scriptures.
Our first study in this section is verifying that Daniel and Revelation are indeed counterparts. When we consider the high points of eschatology in these two books we see how both authors attested to the details, but expressed them in their own unique ways. There is one point, however, that many Bible students miss. The role of America in prophecy IS expressed in Daniel.