Every consistent Christian is passionate about the truth. We know this because 2 Thessalonians 2:10 tells us that those who are not Christians ‘perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved’. I have never met a Christian who does not believe that we ought to be passionate about prayer, passionate about the gospel, and passionate about Jesus―even if we have to admit that often our lives don’t reflect what we say we believe, but I’ve met lots of Christians who regard those who are passionate about the truth with some suspicion, as if they’re not really sure whether it’s right to be passionate about the truth at all. So what evidence do we have from the Bible that tells us that every Christian must be a lover of the truth?
1) If you do not love the truth, you cannot truly love the Saviour
To put it another way, every Christian who loves the Saviour, loves the truth. John’s gospel tells us that Jesus is ‘full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14,17). He is ‘the way, and the truth and the life’ (14:6). His one purpose is ‘to bear witness to the truth” (18:37). Jesus Christ embodies truth. Therefore a consistent Christian cannot be half-hearted about the truth because then he would be half-hearted about his Saviour. You cannot love the Saviour without loving everything that the Saviour stands for.
2) If you do not love the truth, you cannot truly be filled with the Spirit
It is not just Jesus who exemplifies truth. Three times Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit is ‘the Spirit of truth’ (John 14:17, 15:26, 16:13). These words of Jesus remind us that a vital ministry of the Holy Spirit is to guide the followers of Jesus Christ ‘into all truth’. Jesus’ words apply in a special way to the Twelve, but they also apply to every Christian (e.g. John 6:45, 1 Corinthians 2:12‑13, 1 John 2:27). And almost every time a Christian is described as being filled with the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, it is in fulfilment of these promises of Jesus―we are filled with the Spirit in order that we might testify to Jesus Christ (Acts 2:4, 4:8, 4:31, 7:55, 13:9, Ephesians 5:18‑21). A Spirit-filled Christian is a Christian who loves the truth so much, that he must give immediate, verbal, Christ-centred testimony to the truth. You cannot be Spirit-filled unless you love all that to which the Spirit of truth bears witness.
3) If you do not love the truth, you cannot truly worship God the Father
Jesus tells the woman in Samaria, ‘True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth’, and, ‘Those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:23‑24). In other words, it is not possible to worship God unless you worship Him in truth. I sometimes worry that the more people find out about me, the less that they will like me. I have no such worries about God! His character is such that I am absolutely convinced that the more I discover about God, the more I will love Him. If you love the truth you will want to discover more of the truth, and discovering more of the truth will lead you to discover more about God. This will inevitably and gloriously lead to more fervent worship in spirit and in truth. You cannot truly worship God unless you love the truth about Him.
4) If you do not love the truth, you cannot live a holy life
In John 17, Jesus prays for all believers. An important part of His prayer is that all believers would live holy lives. In verses 17 and 19 Jesus prays, ‘Sanctify them in the truth’. So truth is one of the most important means by which God makes us holy. Truth is not simply to be admired, it is to be obeyed (Gal. 5:7, 1 Pet. 1:22). And as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:6, the opposite of truth is not simply lies, but wrong-doing. You cannot truly live a holy life unless you love the truth and therefore desire to honour and obey that truth in the way that you live.
What does this mean for us?
Loving the truth is definitely not an optional extra for any Christian. Loving the truth is not less important, nor less ‘spiritual’ than loving the gospel, living a holy life, or even loving our Saviour. Indeed, it is impossible to separate loving the truth from those things. We cannot do them unless we love the truth.
Yet there are many Christians who show by their lives that they do not really love the truth at all. They may believe the truth, and possibly even admire the truth. They may defend the truth, and perhaps even preach the truth. But they do not love the truth. They are not passionate about the truth. Some Christians have a worldly attitude which shows itself in immorality. Some have a worldly attitude which shows itself in materialism. And some Christians have a worldly attitude which shows itself in that they do not really love the truth. Perhaps you are one of them. I fear that sometimes I am one too.
The Bible does tell us that we must all have the same attitude, but it doesn’t tell us that we should all act in the same ways. God has designed every one of us differently, and given each of us different gifts. For example, every one of us should love the gospel. As a result, some will settle in a remote country, risking their lives to take the gospel where it has never been. Others will become full-time pastors and teachers. Some will become itinerant evangelists. Others will forsake additional household income, and dedicate their lives to teaching the things of Christ to their children and others in the neighbourhood. Some will serve Christ sacrificially and consistently in their own churches in their ‘free-time’, almost without anyone noticing they have given their lives for the sake of the gospel. But all are passionate about the gospel.
So we must not think that everyone who loves the truth will act in the same way. Because they love the truth, some will complete doctorates in theology. Some will write books. But most won’t, and most shouldn’t. But there are at least four things that will characterize every Christian who loves the truth: you will stand for the truth, you will study the truth, you will safeguard the truth and you will share the truth.
You will stand for the truth, because anything you are passionate about will show itself in the way that you live. So everything about your life will show that you love the truth. For example, if you love the truth you will be truthful. It is hard to think of a greater hypocrisy that a man who says he loves the truth yet tells his customer that the parcel that is still on his desk must have been mislaid by the Royal Mail.
You will study the truth because you always have an increasing desire for those things that you are passionate about. That means primarily that you will be a student of God’s Word. You will read books that explain the Bible, you will listen regularly to sermons that clearly explain and apply the Bible, but most of all you will study the Bible. As the Psalmist says, ‘Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.’ (Psalm 119:97). Many Christians do not do this. They are content to read the Bible, sometimes content even merely to read about the Bible, but they never study it, they never meditate on it. If you rarely or never study the Bible, then start now! If you don’t know how to start, then find a friend and together work through a book like Grasping God’s Word by Duval and Hays, or Search the Scriptures. Or perhaps you could ask your pastor to start a study group or adult Sunday School. You might even contact a good theological college and enquire about foundational correspondence courses for laymen. But in a variety of ways, the Christian who loves the truth will never merely be content to read the Bible, he will want to study it!
You will safeguard the truth because it is too precious to risk losing. You will therefore particularly pray for and support seminaries and theological colleges. You will praise God for those who defend the truth in the media and in the academy. Your church will occasionally invite young men to preach―not because they are already the best preachers in the district, but because they must hone their gifts somewhere and you want to support the next generation of Bible-teachers. No-one exemplified this desire to safeguard the truth for future generations better than the apostle Paul. He told Timothy, ‘what you have heard from me . . . entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also’. Paul’s concern is not just that the truth would be safeguarded in his own generation, but he was concerned to see it grow in Timothy, so that Timothy would pass it on to faithful men, so that they would pass it on to yet others! Such is the far-reaching vision of those who love and want to safeguard the truth.
You will share the truth because it is too exciting and too important to keep to yourself. You will want to tell your Christian friends about the things you have discovered in the Bible, and so be an encouragement to them. But equally, you will regularly share the fundamentals of the gospel with those who are not yet saved. You will not be content with your friends merely knowing that you attend church, and live differently from them. You will want them to know the truth about the gospel. And because you are passionate about the truth, and passionate about your neighbour, then you will tell them the gospel―because if you don’t then probably no-one else will and they will perish. Men and women and boys and girls can afford to go through their whole lives never knowing that two plus two equals four, but they cannot afford to live and die without ever hearing the truth about Jesus Christ.
Do you love the truth as you ought? If so, then thank God for His grace and pray that He would help you to continue. If not, pray for forgiveness, keep asking God to develop this passion in you, and remember the means by which He will do it―it will be a work of the Spirit of truth, drawing you nearer to Jesus and deeper into God’s Word.