FOR GOD SO LOVED…WHO?
THE TRUTH CONCERNING THE MOST MISUNDERSTOOD, MISREPRESENTED AND MISUSED SCRIPTURE IN ALL OF GOD’S HOLY WORD
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
It is, without a doubt, the most familiar, most oft-quoted Scripture verse in history. People from every denomination, every religion, and even non-religious people know of, or have heard about, John 3:16. The verse is advertised everywhere, and is often seen written on signs, and held up at sporting events around the globe. It appears on posters, printed on T-shirts, and stamped on number plate frames. Some people even have it painted on their faces, or tattooed on their skin. John 3:16 is also printed on coffee mugs, men’s ties, watches, bumper stickers, guitar picks, and sunglasses, as well as iPhone covers, greeting cards, baseball caps, pin-back buttons, fridge magnets, cufflinks, key rings, pendants, rings, tote bags, cushions, pillow cases, flags, dog tags, water bottles, mouse pads, even baby dummies, pacifiers and bibs. It is the ‘go-to’ Scripture verse for all who believe the cunningly devised fable that God loves everyone, and gave His Son to die for the sins of everyone without exception. All ‘church’ attendees, from 8 to 80, are especially familiar with the words of John 3:16, and effortlessly quote them at will. Pastors preach it, and people believe it as if it is the only verse in the entire Bible of which they can be sure they have comprehended its meaning perfectly. However, despite the commonplace familiarity with the words of John 3:16, the true meaning of this popular verse remains completely foreign to most who call themselves Christian. The repetitious, incessant quoting of John 3:16 along with the pulpit-pounding, unhinged, and unabated, preaching of the false interpretation of John 3:16, has forged the largest body of people ever to be deceived by a single God-dishonoring lie. The longer and louder a lie is taught, the quicker it becomes a virulent tradition which more and more people will, not only believe, but unquestioningly believe.
Most traditions are born out of sheer ignorance, but others have a more sinister origin having been purposely set in motion in order to deceive, corrupt and steer people in the wrong direction. The tradition of unwittingly accepting a fallacious meaning attached to a verse of Scripture rather than honouring the Author’s intention, by acknowledging His one and only ‘interpretation’, is the foundational strength behind the false interpretation of John 3:16. Popular thinking, tradition and that which is merely superficially obvious has become the rule, the norm, for most who reside on this planet. That which immediately presents itself as truth, and appears to be nothing but truth, is not always truth. “The ‘obvious’ is not necessarily true. For example, if you have a prejudice then you unconsciously remember all the evidence in favour of it and forget all the evidence against it, thereby making the prejudice ‘obviously true’.” Untested, unchallenged beliefs are unscathed by truth, for the truth is so often not recognized as truth, but as untruth, and is, therefore, not factored into the equation. Myopic tradition, both cultural and religious, often sees truth as a lie, and a lie as the truth. Sadly, the tradition of ignorance has become a veritable culture in itself. So much of society, its cultures and religions, is bound by tradition. Significantly, ignorance has never stopped man from voicing an opinion. The limitations, and misconceptions it brings, along with the harmful consequences which the tyranny of ignorance commands, has never stopped man from, not only voicing his opinions, but in considering, or judging, those opinions as truth. Those who claim to teach truth have no right to ignorance. Ignorance has also spawned a sub-culture of not wanting to know, a wilful ignorance of certain facts which one consciously chooses to ignore. An overwhelming tide of willingness not to know has washed over, and carried away, the lives of many by its strong undercurrent. “A tradition is a belief or behaviour passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past….Traditions can persist and evolve for thousands of years—the word ‘tradition’ itself derives from the Latin ‘tradere’ or ‘traderer’ literally meaning to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping. While it is commonly assumed that traditions have ancient history, many traditions have been invented on purpose, whether that be political or cultural, over short periods of time.” Simply because a tradition has existed over a long period of time is no evidence that it is even remotely aligned with truth, let alone the truth of God.
Erroneous religious traditions are merely lies, many of which continue trending to this day. Rather than being a vehicle for upholding truth, various traditions and cultures often come at the expense of truth. Generally speaking, when it comes to the things of God, in particular the Word of God, the religions of the world—including the false Christianity, which permeates the minds of billions who believe themselves to be Christians—have it all upside down and back to front. A total inversion of truth. When you start with a mind to which the Gospel of God is hid, and which is blinded by the god of this world, coupled with a far from intimate relationship with the truth according to what God says it is, when you exist without Christ, without God and without hope in this world, and are dead in sins, it is little wonder that man, even religious man, is so very unfamiliar with the truth he so stubbornly claims is what he loves and adheres to. Acclimatized to man’s erroneous views, and Satan’s lies, rather than God’s truth, the resultant familiarity has rubber stamped its approval on many a false interpretation of God’s Word wrongly labelling it as categorical truth. From the church pew to Bible colleges, from the man on the street to the pastor in the pulpit, the “depths of the shallowness” of man’s understanding has given birth to many a tradition which has provided only an illusion of intimacy with truth, whilst obscuring the reality of natural man’s proclivity toward, and love affair with, untruth. This is all a far cry from the status of the true believer who is sanctified by the truth of God and believes it. The Lord Jesus prayed: “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth….And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth” (Jn. 17:17,19 cf. Psa. 119:142,160). Man’s certitude, “his certainty and conviction that something is the case”, is compounded by his ignorance of what the genuine truth really is. “The essence of idolatry is wrong thoughts about God.” Man even has a sense of ownership when it comes to the truth, when in reality all he has is a lease on lies (see Isa. 28:15).
One of man’s greatest problems is that he is often prone to the fatal error of confusing familiarity with the belief that he has a detailed, accurate, understanding of what in reality he is only casually acquainted with. Familiarity with a subject often provides a person with only an “illusion of understanding.” “Most people have a tendency to believe that they’re knowledgeable about a topic simply because they’re familiar with it. They may have years of experience in a field, but still lack the detailed information required to accurately explain it.” Man’s biases and predilections often lead him to believe what he prefers to believe the truth to be, rather than what the truth actually is. Man’s heart is deceitful above all things, and so desperately wicked (see Jer. 17:9; Eccl. 9:3), that he is often the prime victim of his own natural propensity and susceptibility to deceive and be deceived. Man often believes what he wants to believe whilst convincing himself that he believes it only because he believes it to be true. The subtlety of deception which is encased in every man’s wicked heart, often hides a man’s underlying motives, bias and prejudice toward that which he wants the truth to be, and against what he refuses to accept as truth. As one has wisely stated, “Some people only listen to, and believe what they want to hear, the truth, to them, is irrelevant”. Another has commented “Many will defend their prejudice in the face of all known facts”. The sad fact is that so often, and for a myriad of reasons, people will simply not listen to truth. Some are afraid of it, and what it will mean for their lives, whilst others choose to ignore it replacing it with their own version. Man has usurped the rightful place of truth in this world with himself, placing himself beyond the reach of truth, and his idea of what is true above what the Lord has declared His truth to be. “Biases are learned implicitly within cultural (and religious) contexts.” To be biased is to be “unreasonably, and illogically inclined toward, or against something, or someone”. One is always biased toward that which one believes will be—but does not always prove to be—of the greatest benefit to oneself. “A self-serving bias is any cognitive or perceptual process that is distorted by the need to maintain and enhance self esteem. When individuals reject the validity of negative feedback, they focus on their strengths and achievements but overlook their faults and failures, thus protecting the ego from threat and injury. These cognitive and perceptual tendencies perpetuate illusions and error, but they also serve the self’s need for esteem. One of the most significant biases is the self-serving bias–the tendency we have to gather information, process information, and even remember information in such a manner as to advance our self-interest and support our pre-existing views. Because of this bias, even when people try their hardest to be fair and impartial, their judgments are inevitably shaded by their own self-interest, often in ways that seem indefensible to others.”
One must be extremely careful in accepting something as truth merely because most believe it to be truth, or because one has frequently heard the alleged truth over many years, or because a certain person, or persons, says it is truth. Simply because a thing is accepted as truth by the majority does not mean it is truth, and certainly should not exempt it from undergoing a thorough examination. One needs to be constantly aware of the influences that pervade one’s life, and the reasons why one holds a certain belief to be true. Most people seldom challenge themselves, and are even less liable to be challenged by others, concerning what they believe, and the reason they believe it. In this increasingly politically, and religiously, correct world, few there be who dare risk offending anyone by questioning their beliefs, by asserting that what a person believes is wrong, or by telling them their faith is in a false god. Most view those who do question other’s beliefs, who will tell them they are wrong, and that their faith is in a false god, as unloving, and not maximizing the ‘Christian spirit’. Many believe they are right, but have no idea why, and no real defense, or substantive evidence, that can adequately support their claims. Familiarity, often precludes a person from conducting an honest, thorough, examination of what it is they have associated with truth, and have over time become accustomed to. Thus, they are satisfied and content with the headlines, and seldom bother with the details. People hold to their beliefs about God and His Word because it’s just what they believe, or what their family believes, or what their church believes and has believed for years, as if the fact that a person’s believing something, or how long they have believed it, is some unchallengeable, infallible and automatic proof that grades what a person believes as truth. Many people believe a thing because it’s what their family believes, or it’s what their ‘pastor’, or favourite preacher, or author teaches. Many deny a truth simply because it is not what they have been taught, or because they have never heard it before. Convenience is quite often the underlying, or hidden, motivation behind belief. People believe there is no God, so as to enable them to live, and justify, the ‘free’ lifestyle they have chosen, and hide behind fanciful, ideological beliefs, so as to not have God in their thoughts. Others have favourite lines of thought which to their minds proves the non-existence of God, or denies the Bible as the infallible Word of God, etc. Others believe certain things about God’s truth simply because it’s what their social circle, or nepotistic church clique, believes, and so in order to fit in they simply go with the flow of what others believe, or seek out those that are like-minded, thereby, further strengthening their truthless traditions. Truth, in both cases, is not what is important, but only what is perceived to be truth, only that which conveniently conforms to one’s circumstances, situation, ambitions, and desires. Many people would not so much as dream of breaking with their treasured, and trusted, traditions, even if it meant believing the truth. Truth is so often measured in these last days by how comfortable a person is with a particular teaching, coupled with a head-in-the-sand attitude toward everything they do not agree with.
Curiously, in this technologically advanced, and Internet-driven, age where knowledge has increased to levels never before seen, wisdom is at its lowest (see Dan. 12:4). “(Notional and speculative)” “…Knowledge puffeth up…” (1 Cor. 8:1), thus the conceit of knowledge has usurped the place of wisdom in many a heart. “There is no proof of ignorance more common than conceit of knowledge. Much may be known, when nothing is known to good purpose. And those who think they know anything, and grow vain thereon, are the least likely to make good use of their knowledge.” The greatest victim of conceit of knowledge is wisdom. Most believe what they believe according to their particular wisdomless knowledge that has formed a mindset so narrow that a tunnel vision is created. For reasons which range from convenience to downright ignorance, mistaking a cursory familiarity for accurate understanding, many are simply convinced that what they believe is impenetrable truth regardless of countless warnings, and Scriptural evidence to the contrary. “A mindset is a particular perspective and is simply the way of viewing the world based on what we believe. However, a mindset implies something a little more rigid than just having a perspective. In a mind set the thinking is essentially cast in concrete. It is fixed and rigid and not free to change. The term mindset is used to mean a fixed, rather frozen, particular way of thinking and/or viewing how reality works based on what we believe. That is, we are not open to change and/or seeing things differently. We have a set view.” Natural man likes to protect the status quo of his religious beliefs, for he fears, and therefore, hates change, and yet change is the only road that will ever take him from religious tradition to truth. To change is to repent of a lie, and embrace the truth of God. To believe the truth of God, and to reject all else which presents itself as God’s truth is to live at the summit of wisdom and knowledge. However, when one adopts a mindset which is not in line with the truth of God, one has plumbed the depths of an existence which is not according to right knowledge, not according to the reality of God’s truth. The lies of Satan have formed the mindset of the masses (see Eph. 2:3), and left multitudes in a miry pit of spiritual blindness. Many people have an attitude of ‘I know best, end of story’, whilst seeing the truth as anything but truth.
While many hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of people the world over know of John 3:16, and can even quote it from memory, they have been duped into attaching to it, or accepting, a meaning which is utterly untenable, and which cannot stand when exposed to proper Biblical scrutiny. Very few people understand this Scripture to mean what its Author intended it to mean, but have instead run off clutching a meaning which readily appeals to them, for it seems to be the only possible one, but stands in contradiction with, and, therefore, opposition, to the very Gospel of God itself, and the principle of salvation by grace alone. Rather than being the golden text, the very gospel in one verse which defends the universal love of God and death of Christ, it is claimed to be, John 3:16 has been so twisted and misrepresented as to have been rendered completely unrecognizable, and distanced, from what its true meaning is. Most people have accepted the standardised Arminian teaching that John 3:16 is indisputably referring to God’s loving everyone in the world, without exception, and that He gave His Son, Jesus, to die as a sacrifice for everyone in the world without exception. The reality of the situation is that John 3:16 has been hijacked by the enemies of truth, and made to mean something which it was never intended to convey, by surgically altering its very appearance in order to convey the impression that it is saying something it clearly does not.
The mind of man can be a wonderful thing if it is made proper use of. Recklessly used, the mind of man can steer him into all sorts of fantasies and imaginations none of which have any relation to truth. The Word of God states that a man can become so deceived, so convinced, of error, that: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12). Man’s mind was created by God to be used in a logical, rational, manner. The beliefs of many who are spiritually inclined, yet carnally minded, have little or nothing to do with the logic of Biblical rationale. For a growing number of people, perception is what dictates reality, therefore, reality has become something which is relative to each individual’s perception of it. Both moral relativism and doctrinal relativism suggest “...that there is no objective right or wrong; rather, each individual makes up his own set of ‘moral, or doctrinal standards’ which are not really standards at all, just a personal preference as to what’s ‘right or wrong’.” A popularly accepted axiom is “Your perception is your reality”, which strongly suggests that reality is nothing more than that which is subservient to an individual’s perception of it, thus reducing it to, and making it subject to, man’s mere opinion of what it is. The notion that absolute reality is but an illusion is touted and championed by eastern religions such as Buddhism, and even by accepted ‘geniuses’ as Albert Einstein, who once said “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”. Illusion, however, is present only when a false reality is entertained. Some say that pain and suffering are nothing but illusion. If you are cut while using an electric saw, that is not illusion, nor is it merely your reality, but it is an undeniable, and absolute, reality that has occurred, and to refer to it as only an illusion is downright foolishness.
Life is about what is real. One can perceive all kinds of ‘truths’, but the truth, the nature of truth, is an absolute reality which no man’s imagination can alter or affect. The absolute can never become obsolete. Imagine what you will, believe what you will, support it with conviction and experiences, build religious empires and establish stringent traditions, nothing changes truth, and nothing can change that which is false into truth except in the minds of the deluded. Only those who perceive unreality as reality are deceived. The vast array of conflicting spiritual beliefs in this age of theological relativism has so confounded people’s minds that many have fallen for the simple, yet enormously flawed, idea that reality somehow differs depending on who you speak to, listen to, or read. The plethora of opinions and views expressed by philosophical and spiritual theorists on just what reality actually is, has led many to conclude that there is no ultimate, absolute reality, except what a person perceives in their own mind. As reality is said to be relative to each individual’s perception of it, so too, truth is said to be just as relative, and just as much a matter of perception, and, therefore, opinion. Contrary to thought and popular culture the truth of God is not obsolete, nor is it irrelevant, but forever remains what it can only ever be: absolute. Contrary to the mad theorems, which are nothing but the result, of sinful man’s illogical thinking, everything, and everyone, revolves around reality. The point which is missed in all this palaver concerning reality and truth, is the pointed question ‘What is Truth?’ A person may be convinced something is truth, but if it is not reality then it is only an imagined truth, a prefabricated truth, a truth which is designed by the deceptive creativity of man to suit his own delusions. Former American president John F. Kennedy once stated: “The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie—deliberate, contrived and dishonest—but the myth—persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought”. For those who know the absolute truth, everything else has become obsolete. People can live their whole lives believing something to be true, but if it is not actual, absolute, truth then they are victims of a lie. You see, no matter how real something seems to be, no matter how true something appears to be, if one does not hold to reality, one is in the grip of the tentacles of unreality. Reality is “the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them”. For instance, however much a person believes that 2 + 2 = 5, however real it may seem to them, however convinced they are, whether it be mathematically and/or experientially, their conviction, their perceived reality is nothing but an illusory, empty notion. Perception must always be challenged, or one runs the risk of becoming yet another statistic, another victim of deception.
For most who call themselves Christian, ‘Jesus’ dying for all without exception is reality, but is it reality to the true Jesus? Is that what the true Christ recalls doing? Is this what Christ actually did, or is it merely something which has been falsely attributed to Him? Is this a different ‘truth’, and, therefore, a completely different jesus which is presented to the unsuspecting? God’s truth is reality! The ONLY reality! God’s truth is absolute, for it is perfect and never changes. What people think the truth is, or whatever they believe it to be, has no bearing on the fact that truth is truth no matter who believes it, how many believe it, or how few believe it. Whatever people’s view of Jesus is—Who He is and what He has done—can never change the reality of the truth concerning Him. Those who believe in lies about the true Messiah, who have entertained false doctrines unawares, have welcomed another jesus into their hearts, and not the true. They are false witnesses of the true Christ, for their doctrinal beliefs portray another christ. No amount of sincere conviction can change a lie into truth, and a false christ into the real Saviour. People are so preoccupied with their own, as well as others’, ideas of truth, and that somehow it is man who is the ultimate judge who has the final say on what truth is, that they have overlooked the fact that truth is only what Almighty God says it is, and not what a man, however sincerely, thinks, or believes it, to be. Man takes himself, and what he believes, so seriously, he believes that personal, individual, conviction is all the evidence one needs to be certain that what is believed could be nothing but truth. That conviction and sincerity are assuring, reliable, signs of substance. However, no amount of conviction can ever change error into truth. Just as the pilot and co-pilot can only speculate as to the level of safety in landing, the air traffic controller sees the whole picture, and is the only one that should be relied on.
Most are unaware of just how vulnerable man is to deception. Though there are many who dispute the truth, and believe it to be this rather than that, man’s insensitivity to the truth of God cannot do away with the eternal truth that GOD IS TRUTH, and what God says is truth is the reality that none can ever escape, and which all must conform to (see Jn. 14:6). “Genuine truth is a perception which matches reality.” And, that reality is God’s reality not man’s idea of reality. Again, people may interpret something to be reality such as a phantom pregnancy, seeing things that aren’t there, or anything which is only imagined, but the reality is that a phantom pregnancy is not a real pregnancy, though it is sometimes accompanied by morning sickness, and other real symptoms, which are according to absolute reality; seeing things may convince a person those things are really there and are really happening, but reality assures that they are not; and things like feeling the sensation of a missing limb which exists only in one’s imagination cannot be rightly considered to be part of reality even when one reaches out to scratch the limb which is felt, but which is no longer there. Even though the physical sensation of itchiness is very real, it is in no way a sign that the missing limb has somehow been restored. No one is denying that an individual’s reality is most certainly real to them, only that it is not necessarily an absolute reality. Yes, even that which seems convincingly real, may not be real at all. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12 cf. Prov. 12:15; Matt. 7:13,14). Many perceive a thing to be right, or true, only to be disappointed by reality. Many a person high on drugs has imagined all sorts of things like fully expecting to stop a speeding train by extending their arm towards it, or being fully convinced they can fly, jump off a skyscraper. These things seemed totally real to them, but they existed only in the realm of their imagination, and not in the real world of reality. They were under the influence of something which convinced them of that which did not even exist. Malevolent spiritual influences, as well as man’s own deceptive heart, are just as real, and just as powerful in their leading man into a world of deception whilst convincing them they are in a veritable promised land of truth.
Spiritual truth is only that which matches the reality of the true God and His Holy Word. People have varying perceptions of what the truth is, but if those perceptions come from a fallible, or flawed, perspective then at best all they have is an undependable concept of truth that is limited in its scope, and a blurred clarity caused by the misconceptions, or lack of facts, which they have been presented with and ignorantly accepted. Logical thinking is based fundamentally on facts. Again, I hear some people argue, ‘Yes, but what is fact?’. Many resort to personal perception as the key to one’s reality, and so reason that facts must also be subject to an individual’s perception of them. In an effort to become wise man has shown himself up as a fool. A true fact, and not a theoretical one, is undeniable, and, therefore, absolute truth. If I state a fact such as Jesus Christ is God, and no one believes that fact, does it in any way change the reality of it being fact? Of course not. A man may well be just as convinced that Jesus the Lord is not God, as I am that He is God, but since when has personal conviction been the authority, the judge, over what is true, or what is false? How does personal opinion override God’s declaration, and how can personal belief change the status of fact, or make the truth any truer than what it already is, has always, and will always be? How can there be any absolute, reliable, truth, when everyone gauges truth according to their personal perception of it? Only those who comply with, and conform their thinking to, the truth are the ones dealing with absolute reality. Those who do not, those who resist the truth by perceiving it to be something completely different from what it truly is are dealing in nothing but fantasy. Such people have nothing by which to gauge the truth other than their own ever vacillating subject-to-change opinions.
Philosophers the world over argue endlessly about what truth is, and what a fact is, etc., when the answer is all quite simple if one deals with reality. Those who insist on debating and arguing over what reality really is, need to take a good hard look at themselves, and begin questioning their cynicism toward reality and truth, and turn the spotlight on their own claims. Are they honestly seeking the truth, or have they become trapped within a world that has become fixated with debate, and dominated only by conjecture, and theory. Has debate, conjecture and theory displaced the knowledge of absolute truth as the sign of sapience and wisdom. Many take refuge in such a truthless existence, making it their life’s work to happily question and doubt everything, except what they themselves believe. Their fatal mistake is never doubting their own conclusions. Simply because some may spend copious amounts of time seriously pondering over the well known philosophical thought experiment of whether a tree which falls in the forest with no human within earshot, actually makes a noise, or not, none can deny the undeniable law of physics which leaves us with nothing to conclude but: OF COURSE IT MAKES A NOISE!! Merely because I was not in the Amazon forest when the tree fell, does not for one moment suggest it did not, thereby implying that it could not, make a sound. But why only reserve one’s doubts to that which is audible? Why not go a step further and doubt the visible. Because I was not in the Amazon forest when the tree fell, and therefore, I did not see the tree fall, does this mean the tree did not fall at all, or that it does not even exist? Moreover, could we not then rightly bring into question the existence of any tree, or even anything, or anyone, because I did not see it? To label all this as madness in its most extreme form would be a gross understatement.
Simply because there are many who have opposing views to what the actual truth is, cannot alter the fact that truth is truth except in the minds of those who cannot see it, or who are heavily biased against it preferring the truth to be something other than what it is. Alternate views are not always legitimate, particularly when they contradict the truth. They are simply wrong views. Anything not in line with truth cannot be true. Simply because one has a thought, and has expressed that thought by way of a perfectly constructed sentence, does not automatically, let alone legitimately, mean it is of any value other than to the one whose thinking produced it. The apostle Paul did not declare those to whom the Gospel of God was hidden, correct in their contradictory beliefs, and, therefore, saved, but promptly pronounced all such people as lost who did not believe the truth, whose thoughts were not conformed to the reality of God’s Word: “But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (2 Cor. 4:3). Now, of course, the lost do not believe themselves to be lost, for they believe what they believe to be truth. But, has what they sincerely, and wholeheartedly, believe become truth simply because they believe it? Does what they believe reflect some degree of legitimacy based on the fact they believe it? Certainly not. Do those who believe in error believe it because it is wrong? Not at all, for if they knew it was wrong they would no longer believe it. Nevertheless, reality, and the consequences of not conforming to it, remains as inflexible as ever. If there is truth, then there is right and wrong. If there is a true Gospel, if God has a Gospel, then one is either right or wrong in what they believe it to be. Those who do not believe the truth are not right, but wrong. Those who will not accept reality, and conform their lives to it, are not right, but wrong. Whilst they are not necessarily bad people, they are, according to reality, very, very wrong. Truth, and the fact that it is truth, remains unaffected by those who do not believe it. Truth cannot be perverted except in the minds of those who do not believe it. Man can have his perverted ideas of truth, but none can ever change truth by causing it to become something other than what it is.
People perceive that one food is healthy, and another is not, yet reality often dictates the opposite as true. Reality, facts, and truth remain so despite those who philosophise over their veracity. The intellectualization of truth and reality leads only to the hypotheses, and subsequent conclusions, of mad men. What may seem undeniable, logical and completely reasonable to one person is considered total rubbish by another, and vice versa. It’s all based on where, or from whom, you get your information, and whether that information is based on truth, or error. If one starts a journey in the wrong direction one can hardly be expected to arrive at one’s intended destination. And there lies the problem with those who have distorted, erroneous understandings, of the Word of God. They begin with error, a false premise, and though that error may be slight at first, like the snowball, it’s own momentum will invariably lead one into gross error, and, consequently, to that which is simply not what the Word of God is saying at all. “The logical validity of an argument is a function of its internal consistency, not the truth value of its premises. A logical value is a value indicating the relation of a proposition to truth.” Like the traveller who starts his journey in the wrong direction, a person who does not begin with truth will no doubt arrive at a conclusion/destination, but it will not be the right conclusion, or destination, they’d hoped to reach. The road one chooses to travel in order to arrive at an intended destination has no relation to the proposition, it has no logical value, if it is the wrong road. No matter if there is a lifetime spent believing and supporting error, perceiving it to be truth, nothing can give any legitimate worth to something which is worthless to begin with. No one will gain access to Heaven who has spent a lifetime believing in that which is not the truth of God, no matter how sincerely they have believed it. Nothing can be gained by believing error. Sadly, there are many who do see worth and gain in a lifetime spent believing something which is not true. They conclude that time spent believing a thing actually lends credence to that which is believed. This is nothing but the logic of madness. Man sees value in something regardless of its unrealisticness. The limitless deceptiveness of a man’s heart leads him to believe there is value in something simply because he believes it to be real and true, and remains faithful to it. Error is simply an unreal truth. Veracity and worth can never be properly attributed to something which is unreal to begin with. Man seems to attribute value to a thought simply because he has it. While the actual act of having a thought is not wrong, this does not make the thought itself a correct one, or a sinless one. It is what a person is thinking, or believing, that is either right or wrong. Many are not so concerned with the truth of a matter as they are with the comfort and inspiration their erroneous views concerning it provide.
Some things are believed in for years, even decades, based merely on one’s initial understanding, before some people stop long enough to actually take a closer look at what they have been told, or led to believe in. Oftentimes, what appears on the surface as readily apparent, particularly in contemporary English, turns out to be something quite different to that which first impressions may imply. For example, take the phrase, suffer little children. This Biblical phrase which is often used by the world in reference to the maltreatment of children, etc., has in reality nothing in the world to do with suffering, as we understand the word today. The Lord Jesus said: “…Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto Me…” (Matt. 19:14). The word suffer as used in that particular phrase from the Bible used in Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:14 and Luke 18:16 is an old English word which simply means let pass or permit. Let, or, permit, the children to come unto Me, is all the Lord Jesus was saying. The phrase has nothing whatsoever to do with children suffering etc., but simply being permitted to come unto the Lord Jesus. Ask people on the street what is meant by the phrase suffer little children, or suffer the children, and one will be inundated with answers concerning the suffering, or maltreatment, of children. People have been so subjected to this totally incorrect interpretation of the word suffer, that a completely fallacious meaning has been attributed to an entire verse of Scripture. Because of this, something which has no relation to the truth whatsoever has been unjustly allocated to the Lord Who used the phrase. Another example of a word in Scripture having a completely different meaning to how it is used in our day, is the word peculiar. This word is usually taken to mean strange, or odd in contemporary English, but in 1 Peter 2:9 it is meant to signify a special people rather than a strange people (see also Ex. 19:5). “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people…” Peculiar, here, means “that which is one’s own, belonging to one’s possessions”, a purchased people, a purchased possession (see Eph. 1:14; cf. Ex. 19:5; Acts 20:28). “God's elect are a peculiar people, to whom He bears a peculiar love; they are chosen by Him to be a special people above all others, and have peculiar blessings bestowed on them, and peculiar care is taken of them; they are the Lord's, (hlgo), His treasure, His jewels, His portion and inheritance, and therefore He will preserve and save them; they are a people for acquisition, purchase, and possession, as the words may be rendered; whom God has obtained, procured, and purchased for Himself, with the precious blood of His Son…” Again, a simple cursory reading of this Scripture would leave one thinking that God’s people are a strange people, or an odd collection of misfits, rather than correctly understanding that they are an extremely special people unto God, made so by Him.
However, right, people may think they are, their conviction can never do away with, or compensate for, the consequences of the error they have unwittingly embraced. Right knowledge is the key to awareness, and conformity to the truth of God (see Rom. 10:2). To be a Christian is to be one who has been brought to a saving knowledge of God’s truth. “…the new man…is renewed in knowledge…” (Col. 3:10). “Until a man becomes a new creature, he neither knows, nor is he capable of knowing, the things of the Spirit of God; so that this new man, or principle of grace, begins with spiritual knowledge, and is formed in order to it, and its increase lies in it.” We have seen the undeniably true meanings of the phrase suffer the children, and the word peculiar, as used in the Scriptures, but when it comes to a much more familiar term such as world, it is much more difficult to break out of a contemporary understanding of the word and acknowledge its Biblical connotations, and not simply believe it to always be referring to everyone without exception. Part of the process of learning the truth is to unlearn and evict the lies we have allowed to reside ‘rent free’ in our minds. The lesson learnt from all this is, what may seem absurdly obvious and clear can, in reality, be something completely different to that which one has perceived. How many times have we all been stopped in our tracks, and had our settled beliefs rudely interrupted by facts we were unaware of, or had simply discounted as anything but true. A man can only know what he knows, but so often it is what he does not know which, once made known, will cause the man to see what he does know in a completely different light. “He only errs who thinks he knows what he does not know.” “…if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Cor. 8:2).