Archive for the ‘truth and lies’ Category

2:12-13 Apostasy Begins with the Tongue

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Richard Baxter whose friend went bad.

Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways. Proverbs 2:12-13

While residing at Ludlow Castle, Richard Baxter (who would write The Saints’ Everlasting Rest) became friends with a young man who showed genuine zeal and diligence in faith. He was the first person Baxter ever heard pray from the heart in the pulpit without reading his prayer. He was full of kindness and love, read God’s word and good books and greatly helped Baxter to grow in faith. However, this preacher was encouraged by a higher ranking clergyman to leave the Puritans and to begin speaking evil against them. Soon he debauched himself and became a complete apostate. His error began with perverse words and ended with personal ruin.

By contrast, anyone who continues in the teaching of Christ becomes his true disciple, learns truth and the truth sets him free (John 8:31-32).

12:22 Lying Lips, Truthful Speakers

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

John F. Kennedy

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight. Proverbs 12:22.

When John F. Kennedy was president, he had Ambassador Stevenson present fake photos to “prove” the Bay of Pigs was not a CIA action but the work of disaffected Cubans. The photos were quickly exposed as forgeries. Adlai Stevenson, who had been misinformed by the White House, was publicly humiliated and the United States embarrassed.

Politicians are notorious for their lies, but are by no means the only liars. Every adulterer who tries to keep his affairs secret from his wife is in the same category and so are newsmen and newswomen who fake their stories, ignore crucial details, or spin events to make them mean the opposite of what they really mean. Businesses which promise quality that is lacking in their products are liars. Moviemakers who ignore the consequences of sin also practice deception. All such falsehood is an abomination to God. It suppresses the truth.

When God showed the world through Jesus Christ how He would behave as a man, one of his chief characteristics was truth. Thus Jesus went so far as to declare, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” and asserted to Pilate, “For this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” Little wonder that God called from heaven, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased.

21:6 Gain of Lies

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Enron complex.

Getting treasures by a lying tongue is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.—Proverbs 21:6

The collapse of Enron Corporation revealed a great scandal. Through systematic fraud, it had presented a prosperous front before its bankruptcy in 2001. CEO Kenneth Lay died of a heart attack while awaiting sentencing.

Fraudulent schemes such as Enron’s are all too common. Some, in fact, are quite politically correct, such as the vast fraud at Fannie and Freddie which, under guise of concern for the poor, helped bring about the housing collapse of 2008. Carbon credits, a current favorite, is promoted by certain environmentalists supposedly to reduce carbon emissions, but actually to transfer wealth, especially to its high profile political promoters.

All such schemes are driven by greed. Inevitably little people get hurt by them. And what, in the end, do the chiselers at the top reap from their plunder? At most they will enjoy their gains a hundred years and afterwards cannot take a penny with them as they slide into eternal death.

The character of Christ is so different. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). We cannot imagine the wealth and glory that Christ left behind him in heaven to descend to earth, live as a pauper, speak truth fearlessly, and die the death of a criminal. For that self-sacrifice God has given him the name that is above all names.

The Enron image is from Eflon on Flickr. / CC BY 2.0

22:12 Truth Prevails

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Reconstructed neanderthal man.

The eyes of the LORD keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.

Proverbs 22:12.

When I see truth buried and lies ascendent, the words of this proverb are a solace. Although a lie may hold sway a long time, history shows that lies eventually succumb to facts. The difficulty is to know which example to present.

Should we select an example from biology? There we were taught that humans descended from Neanderthals. This has recently been refuted by DNA comparisons. The Bible position was that the humans were uniquely created. Or what of those who claimed different origins for the races? Mitochondria testing recently demonstrated that all humans sprang from a common female ancestor less than 100,000 years ago, which also tallies with Scripture which has all mankind springing from a common progenitor.

Perhaps our example should be from taken from history. Anti-christian scholars who seemed impressive in the 19th-century are largely ignored now. Research has overtaken them. For instance, although one still hears claims that Christianity borrowed its “mythology” from the pagans, those at the center of research know that this position has been refuted, so much so that opponents of Christian faith now resort to even more absurd attempts to derive Christianity from Gnosticism.

In astronomy, efforts to show a completely natural explanation for the origin of the universe have instead led to an understanding that it began out of nothing visible a finite time ago, and has stretched out since—the position the Bible took all along.

Such examples could be multiplied. False theories are impressive at their inception, but ultimately doomed by the facts. Where people persist in error, their self-deceit tends to entrap them and bring them down; but that is a theme for another blog.

The words of Christ’s opponents, like their names, are mostly forgotten. His words fill the earth. They prevailed with lies to crucify him. His truths triumphed when God raised him from the dead.

16:3 Established Mind

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Robert Boyle, a Christian maker of modern science, struggled with doubts early in his Christian life.

16:3 Commit your works to the Lord and your thoughts will be established.

After Robert Boyle committed his life to God at the age of sixteen, he struggled against thoughts of suicide. The reason? Much of the “science” of the seventeenth century went so contrary to the Word of God that he was torn in his mind. Both could not be true.

In the end he opted for the Word of God but determined to study the sciences to see if he could sort out the truth for himself. The results were peace of mind and new light on the sciences. He exposed the errors of alchemy, moved the world toward a more accurate understanding of chemistry, and became a charter member of the Royal Society. He proved in his own person that true science and reasonable faith are not at odds.

The legacy of his faith was of great value to national culture and to science. As his confidence grew, he shared his thoughts with contemporaries. They made bestsellers of his science object lessons. More importantly (as far as the present age is concerned) it was in refuting certain skeptical propositions of Thomas Hobbes that Boyle promulgated his law of gases which still stands. He created the scientific paper as we know it, which describes the hypothesis, tools, and conditions of an experiment.

Moving from the example of Boyle to that of Christ, it is evident that our Savior committed his ways to the Father. He did so with such fullness that he could say “I and the Father are one” (John 10). As a result his thoughts were recorded by his followers and are established as scripture throughout the entire world. So certain was Christ of the validity of his words and his unity with the Father that he could call everyone to take his yoke upon them and learn from him (Matthew 11:28-30). Now that is the ultimate example of having one’s thoughts established.

25:14 False Gifts

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Whoever boasts himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.

The Death of Ananias by Masaccio.

The Death of Ananias by Masaccio.

One of the most terrifying stories in the Bible is that of Ananias and Sapphira. This pair sold a field, and held back some of the money, but wanting a reputation as great givers, pretended they had given the whole amount. There was nothing wrong with keeping some back. The sin lay in the pretense. God slew them, saying they had lied to the Holy Spirit. They had given a hypocritical gift, but God saw through it.

A man who lived not far from me gave a false gift of another sort. He gave his church large sums he could not afford, and when he had backed himself into a financial corner, attempted to stage an “accidental” death on his wife and children so he could collect their insurance. The fruits of his hypocrisy ruined himself and destroyed his family.

Christ’s giving, by contrast, was thoroughly genuine and cost him more than we can understand with our present knowledge.

18:17 Tough Questions

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

The first to plead his case seems right until his neighbor comes and questions him.

Alfred Wegener gave geology a new paradigm.

Alfred Wegener gave geology a new paradigm.

When Alfred Wegener first presented evidence for plate tectonics early in the twentieth century, he was derided by the scientific establishment. Standard theory invoked land bridges, long since eroded or sunken, to explain similarities in flora and fauna across oceans.

Wegener continued to amass evidence, but what brought scientific consensus his way was the mapping of sea beds by submarines after World War II and the development of laser techniques which permitted precise measurement of continental drift.

That is how science progresses—by questioning earlier hypotheses and bringing new evidence to bear.

Today an intriguing new hypothesis, known as expansion tectonics, receives derision similar to that which faced Wegener—when it is not simply ignored. Will its questions (and predictions) eventually force yet another modification of geological theory?

Jesus came to an Israel which held a legalist theory of righteousness. His actions and the questions he posed to the religious leaders of his day challenged the reigning consensus. The Pharisees had seemed right until Christ became the neighbor who questioned them. Then the weakness of their presuppositions became painfully apparent.

10:11 Mouth of Peace, Mouth of Violence

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Beau Nash

Beau Nash

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.

Beau Nash was the reigning dandy at Bath in 1739. An adventurer and gamester, he paraded his materialism with gaudy displays of pomp and profligacy. When he learned John Wesley was coming in June, he promised to drag him down. Friends pleaded with Wesley not to risk preaching, but Wesley refused; he must share the word of life.

As a consequence of Nash’s boasts, the crowds were larger than usual, and many among them were the fashionable people and visitors of the town. Wesley preached in his normal style, warning people high and low that all were locked under sin and needed a savior.

Nash appeared and tried to disrupt the meeting. He asked by what authority Wesley preached. Wesley easily answered; he had been ordained by the man who was now Archbishop of Canterbury. Nash then twisted the law to claim the assembly was illegal; Wesley replied that the law referred to seditious gatherings. Nash next charged him with frightening the people, to which Wesley demonstrated that Nash was speaking from hearsay. Finally Nash demanded, “I desire to know what this people comes here for.”

An old woman shouted in reply, “You, Mr. Nash, take care of your body; we take care of our souls; and for the food of our souls we come here.” Nash retired defeated.

Anyone who has read the accounts of Christ knows that, like Nash, the Pharisees did all in their power to impede Him from speaking of true righteousness. There was violence in their speech, and ultimately violence in their deeds.

These examples remind me of something Paul Johnson wrote in Enemies of Society. He said that those who will do violence to the language [i.e.: twist facts and meanings to make a point] will do violence to people if they get the power. It has been the way of Satanic opposition from the beginning, for as Christ reminded us, Satan is a liar and a murderer, and his followers act like him.

We must make every effort to be honest with our facts, use words properly, and tell the whole story, not just the parts that support our position.

17:7 Lying Leaders, Truthful Leaders

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Charles I on the scaffold.

Charles I on the scaffold.

Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool—how much worse lying lips to a ruler.

King Charles I of England had great difficulties with Parliament and his people. Eager to accept those Bible verses which seem to promote divine right of kings, he showed little regard for verses such as Proverbs 17:7 which would have restrained his dishonesty. Most of his problems were the result of two errors: his determination to be an absolute monarch and his disregard for truth. He seemed incapable of keeping his own word, and in the end perished on a scaffold at the hand of a rebellion which would never have succeeded had he been honest in his dealings.

By contrast, Jesus, who truly had divine right, became a servant of his people and died for the truth. He introduced many of his deepest sayings with the words “Truly I tell you…” or “Truly, truly I tell you….” He even asserted that He Himself was the truth, and at his trial declared to Governor Pilate, “for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”

Both Charles and Jesus perished, but Jesus for the nobler sake of truth. Because of this and his vindication in resurrection, he still appeals to us with the words, “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”

Solomon presented to us two kinds of leaders: the first arrogant and lying, the second humble and truthful. Which are you following?