Knowledge and truth are precious commodities. As a body of factual information and legitimate principles, knowledge is indispensable in human relationships. Truth, as knowledge justifiably believed, represents a fundamental reality that transcends both the provincial and the temporal. Most people are desirous of obtaining a certain amount of knowledge that they then can put to good use in their everyday lives. And, undoubtedly, most people prefer not be deceived, but instead prefer to be dealt with honestly and truthfully. One of the Ten Commandments, in fact, was based upon such a concept: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” (Exodus 20:16).
Truthfulness always has been the basis for the moral, legal, and ethical codes of nations. And, an abiding respect for truth has undergirded the legitimacy of those codes. “Buy the truth, and sell it not,” said the Proverbs writer (23:23). He who possesses correct knowledge has within him the potential to discern, and then act upon, truth. Knowledge frees from the shackles of ignorance; truth frees from the shackles of error. Indeed, knowledge and truth are precious commodities.
While almost anyone you ask will admit, in theory, that knowledge and truth are indispensable attributes of a sensible, everyday existence, in practice many people live out that daily existence as if knowledge and truth ultimately do not matter. Much of mankind lives according to an abstract, confusing, and largely inconsistent system of personal behavior. This is a bit odd, to say the least. In most matters, a man likely will insist upon complete objectivity. For example, in regard to his eating habits he might say, “I will not eat this food; it contains bacterial toxins that will kill me.” In regard to matters of civil law, he might suggest, “That action is illegal; it violates my rights.”
Yet when it comes to religion in general, and Christianity in particular, subjectivity rules the day. People can be so certain about their beliefs in the physical realm, but so nebulous about their beliefs in the spiritual realm. For example, on occasion when a person who believes in God is asked if God does, in fact, exist, he may opine: “I believe He exists,” or “I hope He exists,” or “I think He exists.” But rarely do you hear him say boldly, “I know He exists.” Or, if a Christian is asked the question, “Do you know you are saved?,” the response may go something like this: “I believe that I am,” or “I hope that I am,” or “I think that I am.” But rarely do you hear someone confidently assert, “Yes, I know that I am saved.”….
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