According to Jesus, truth is available to all who seek it. He said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31, 32). This is a clear statement. Those who abide in His word are His disciples and they will know the truth and be set free by it. The question then must be asked, “Why is truth such an illusive thing among American Christians?” Why are we divided up into a myriad of denominations and church expressions each with its own rendition of truth? If we who call ourselves Christians are truly abiding in His word, why are we not experiencing the freedom truth brings?
I believe that truth escapes us precisely because we do not fulfill the first condition of this promise—we are not abiding in His word and therefore many are not true disciples of Jesus. We have adopted a top-down approach to discovering truth characterized by passive church members receiving their version of truth from their favorite elite biblical experts.
We do not have in place a market place of ideas that allows for a genuine spiritual quest for truth. We get our truth from the experts instead of following the advice of Jesus to abide in His word as individuals desiring to follow Him. Our churches have become platforms for one person to expound instead of a forum for the discovery of truth.
John was concerned with this when he wrote, “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him” (1 John 2:27). No doubt John was seeing many Christians of his day relying solely on the teachers instead of trusting in the abiding presence of Christ and His word. When he says, “you have no need that anyone should teach you,” he was not disparaging teachers and their importance but was trying to help his readers see that they must individually seek truth instead of receiving it second-hand from teachers.
Each Individual Must Seek Truth
The word emphasizes individual responsibility to discover and live in truth. Nowhere does scripture tell us to merely accept without question what our leaders are telling us. It is the individual believer who is told to “test everything; hold fast what is good’ (1 Thess. 5:21). It is individual believers who are advised to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). Each saint in the church gathering is directed to “weigh what is said” (1 Cor. 14:29).
Ephesians 4:14 speaks of how we remain children “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” We are tossed around by winds of doctrine because we are guided by the human cunning and craftiness of the pastors, denominational leaders, speakers and other recognized experts instead to accepting our God-ordained responsibility to seek truth for ourselves.
The next verse says, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (4:15). The verse should read, “Experiencing truth in love...” The meaning is that we are to seek truth and hold fast to the truth we discover in our truth quest. We must be surrounded by truth and an attitude of truth seeking. In that context, governed by love, we will grow up into Christ, becoming more like Him every day.
Of course there are times when teachers should help believers to understand the word, but in these days of top-down church experience it is important for Christians to learn how to rightly divide God’s word for themselves. They will benefit much more from their teachers when they have learned the truth quest process. Mature believers will submit even what their leaders say to the test of God’s word.
Few Christians Know how to pursue truth
I am amazed at how few Christians know how to pursue truth and then commit to it in their lives when it is found. Instead, so many are tossed around like feathers in the wind because they are not rooted and grounded in the One who is Truth (Col. 2:7). Seminars that presume to teach people how to do this are often tainted by an institutional doctrine agenda instead of being guided by a frank, straightforward attempt to discover truth directly from God and His word in fellowship with other Christians.
I have been praying for months on this matter. I believe that the Lord is urging me to help establish a context in which seeking believers can come together in a “truth quest” environment without agenda-driven leaders. The Lord has made it clear to me that I would be doing this in the near future. I am before Him about how and when this will be set up.
There are several principles that He has placed on my heart that will guide this truth quest. First, it is to be a participatory fellowship in which all participants are encouraged to take part. It will be based on the scriptural understanding that the individual believer has a responsibility to seek and walk in discovered truth. This will not be a forum for a church leader to expound so much as a context in which all have permission to participate in exploring truth. The leader of the quest will merely facilitate this participation by all.
Secondly, the truth quest will require that believers set aside agendas as they come together in a joint commitment to pursue truth. We are not asked to abandon what we believe but simply to set it on the table of fellowship to let it undergo the truth quest process. Even the most cherished sacred cows must be placed on this table. The basic principle is that anything that is true will be verified in the spiritual market place of ideas guided by the Holy Spirit through the word.
The Leaders will be Facilitators
Thirdly, there will be leaders but they will merely facilitate the process of joint participation. The participants will learn that in order to discover truth they must open up to the process of individual involvement. Gifted teachers no doubt will be present in a non-dominating way and will be encouraged to participate jointly with all others.
Fourthly, there will be a commitment from the beginning of the process that truth must be lived out in our lives before it is of any value. Truth must be more than doctrine to be understood. It must be seen as the foundation for the lives we live. If we cannot commit to live in discovered truth we are deceiving ourselves. Jesus said of Himself, “I am the way, and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Truth is manifest as the Person, Christ, living in our hearts. When we reject truth we are rejecting Christ.
Too often Christians participate in Bible studies that are simply sources of doctrine rather than life principles. Their goal is to fill our brains with knowledge rather than fill our lives with Christ. Paul told us that scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Our approach to scripture should lead us to being trained and equipped for our life under His Lordship.
It is more than a Bible Study
The truth quest is not a simple Bible Study but rather a purposeful attempt to place everything we believe and practice under the Lordship of Christ as He reveals Himself in His word. If we enter into a quest for truth but refuse to place our institutional sacred cows on the table of fellowship we are saying that what man says trumps what God is saying in His word.
All doctrines must be submitted to the quest for truth. We do not abandon what we believe until so led by the Spirit, but we must submit everything to the truth-gaining process. The Person of Christ, heaven and hell, sin, salvation, the nature of the church, fellowship, God’s eternal purpose, church leadership, giving/tithing, the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit, divine healing, eternal security, the rapture and any other doctrinal issue can be submitted to the truth quest process.
The study approach would be topical but the depth of study depends on the topic and the preparation of the participants. The basic principles of hermeneutics (interpretation method) would be covered and stand in the background of the truth quest. Peter said, “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). We cannot just interpret scripture to suit ourselves and our pet ideas but must realize that the Holy Spirit is the Bible’s author and must submit to His interpretation.
God is stirring His people in these days. He is forming a new expression of His church and returning us to simpler ways of worship and fellowship. With these changes the enemy likewise is attempting to introduce his ideas and practices. He is deceiving many who hunger for life but do not know how to find truth for their spiritual journey. The “Truth Quest” is an answer to this dilemma. It will allow believers the way to come aside from controlling leaders with an agenda, set aside preconceived notions and approach God’s word with a fresh new zeal for truth.
If you or your group has a desire to enter into a quest for truth, please contact us and we would be happy to guide you in the process.