Bobby L. Graham
"And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not" (John 8:45). "Am I therefore your enemy because I tell you the truth?" (Galatians 4:16).
In the first of the quoted passages, Jesus pinpointed the cause for the unbelief of some Jews - unbelief of the truth. These physical descendants of Abraham were the spiritual children of the devil; they believed not Christ because they did not believe the truth which He taught. In the second passage referred to, Paul's preaching of the truth is suggested as the reason for possible enmity between him and the Galatians.
In both of the passages there is evident the underlying quality of truth which often alienates men from men and men from God - its narrowness. The nature of truth is such that all views, ideas, and positions can never be included in it. Truth encompasses only those ideas, principles, views, and positions which are consistent with other parts of it. Truth is very narrow in this respect: it excludes any conflicting point of view or position.
All truth is narrow, not just religious truth. It is a matter of geographical truth that Richmond, Virginia, lies on both sides of the James River. Intense zeal and evident sincerity cannot alter this geographical truth. It is a matter of historical truth that President Nixon visited China during 1972. Opposing statements cannot invalidate this. These statements stand because truth excludes conflicting and contradictory positions. We should not, therefore, think it strange that divine truth is narrow and alienates all who disagree with it.
Another quality or feature of truth that we should consider is its consistency with itself. We do not mean, of course, that truth is consistent with all positions, ideas, and viewpoints that men espouse, regardless of their truthfulness. Whenever a principle of mathematics is established as true beyond doubt, it will harmonize with all other true principles of that discipline. When God's Word sets forth a command or a principle of life, we can be assured that it does not cross any other principle or command of divine truth. All truth runs in parallel lines. The unit of divine truth is truth in all its parts and in all kinds of truth presented - biography, geography, history, prophecy, science and doctrine (John 17:17). Men should be careful to impose no meaning on a passage which conflicts with statements, principles, or commands recorded elsewhere in the Bible. Whenever conflicting meanings are advanced, it is obvious that the meanings or explanations are false.
Let us look to some examples of the narrowness of truth. Truth is narrow in that it claims Jesus is the only guide in religious matters. In John 6:68, Simon Peter asked, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." Although Peter did not say, "Thou alone hast the words of eternal life," the question that he raised in the verse makes clear that there is no other to whom men can go for words that lead to eternal life.
In John 14:6, Jesus affirmed that He is the only way for men to go to the Father. "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father but by me." Jesus promised the apostles in John 16:13 that He would send from heaven the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth. Jesus' statement does not imply that the apostles would personally record in writing all truth, for some upon whom they laid hands wrote portions of the New Testament (for instance, Mark and Luke).
Another example of the narrowness of truth is the Bible's teaching that there is only one way to please God. This point, of course, would necessarily mean that there is only one way to become a Christian and to remain a Christian. Only through genuine faith, repentance, confession and baptism can a person become a Christian (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Romans 10:10). Only through faithful and loving devotion to God as His child can one walk in newness of life.
A final instance of the narrowness of truth is that, of all responsible people, only the faithful will be saved. In Ephesians 5:23,27 the apostle Paul indicates that when the Lord saves the body, He will present it without blemish. To do this, the spots must be removed. Blemished members of the body, just as those who never obeyed the Lord, will be lost.