The Truth Will Set You Free


Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed in Him,” If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered Him,” We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can You say,’ You will become free’ ?” Jesus answered them,” Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if a son frees you, then you will truly be free.”   John 8:31-36  

We have established that truth in it’s fullness will give structure, direction, purpose and information. But in order for these to work together to establish the fullness of truth, it must be based on reality. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, one of the definitions of truth is, reality; actuality. This is what is so awesome- about God, the Bible and His Church.

God, in reality (His truth) created everything. Then through His revelation to mankind, worked through history (the Bible). And through the Church, still works through history, so that ” none may perish, but all come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9)

A partial truth then, only partially frees. Jesus did nothing partially! Jesus Christ, fully Divine; 100% God. Jesus Christ, fully Man; 100% human. Nothing partial about that.

Jesus came to free us, not only from the eternal punishment for sin in the next life, but from the power of sin in this life! (Rom. 6:14)

 This is the freedom of which Christ speaks. Total freedom found in total obedience. Jesus warns us to remain in His word, that proves us to truly be His disciple. In doing this, the truth revealed to us, sets us free.

Free from the power of sin, and free to the power of God.

Amen.

The Old Law in The New Covenant


What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Of course not! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience which leads to righteousness?  Rom. 6:15-16 

St.Paul, here states the function of the law (of the Old Covenant) with grace (of the New Covenant). He starts out by asking the ridiculous question,”Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Of course not!” Without the guidelines of the law, how would we know God’s qualifications of righteousness? God didn’t design salvation for His people to be obscure, but founded upon obedience. That is what Paul goes on to say,”if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves you are slaves of the one you obey. So that is the question. Who are we going to obey?

“According to Christian tradition, the Law is holy, spiritual, and good,(Rom. 7:12,14,16) yet still imperfect. Like a tutor(Gal 3:24) it shows what must be done, but does not of itself give the strength, the grace of the Spirit, to fulfill it. Because of sin, which it cannot remove, it remains a law of bondage. According to St.Paul, its special function is to denounce and disclose sin, which constitutes a “law of concupiscence” in the human heart.(Rom.7) However, the Law remains the first stage on the way to the kingdom. It prepares and disposes the chosen people and each Christian for conversion and faith in the Savior God. It provides a teaching which endures for ever, like the Word of God.” CCC 1963

One last thought; Paul in Ephesians 6:2, quotes one of the Ten Commandments as if it was to still be adhered to. One of those things I’ve read a thousand times, and I just came to realize.

The law is still to be followed, for it is the Word of God.

Amen.

The Truth and The Law


Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of them, it can never make perfect those who come to worship by the same sacrifices that they offer continually each year.   Heb. 10:1  

A recent discussion on how the Old Testament Law relates with the New Covenant, prompted me to present the teaching here, as part of the “What is Truth?” series.

When we look at statements about the Law, we must be careful to understand their context and their purpose.

 As God established the Mosaic Covenant (the Law) He instituted a sacrificial system. Different sins (breaking the Law) carried with them different sacrifices. The people would bring their sacrifices to the priest at the Temple, where it was offered to the Lord. On the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) the High Priest, would go into the Holy of Holies with a sacrifice for the whole nation.

In this interpretation, what we see is that,  Jesus is the “once for all sin offering”. In other words, today when I stumble and break the Law of God, I have a “perfect sacrifice” in Jesus Christ, to cleanse me of my sin. This is done in faith, through the blood of The Lamb, not by the blood of bulls and goats (Heb. 10:4).

Do not think I have come to destroy the law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.   Matt. 5:17  

What could Jesus mean by this? Exactly what He says! He is God the Father’s Law keeper. Being fully Divine, He could keep the Law. Being fully human, He suffered the temptations that you and I do, only He overcame all the temptations, we rarely do! So, not only is He the “perfect sacrifice”, He is the perfect “High Priest”!

The Law is still in effect. Jesus taught that all His life. That is what the “sermon on the mount” is, an explanation of the law and how to live it out (Matt.7:24-27). Particularly, in our day to day lives. What we try to do as human beings is, make God in our image instead of letting Him conform us to the image of His Son.

God’s standard has not changed and, will never change. I must cooperate with His grace, by faith and live a life worthy of the call of Christ.

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment in the law was He answered: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second on is like it: You must love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commands.”   Matt. 22:37-40 

Now, let us go and do likewise!

Amen.

Speak the Truth


Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members of one another.    Eph. 4:25    (NAB)

So far in our study, we have confirmed that God is truth, Jesus (being God) is truth, His Church is truth and His Word is truth. In fact, we even looked at the rules for interpreting His word to find His truth.

Now, let’s look at speaking the truth.

In God’s covenant with Israel, He gave them certain rules to live by. The most famous of these rules are The Ten Commandments. The Eighth Commandment states: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Ex. 20:16) When we, as children of God, speak or act contrary to the truth, we lie. “Since God is “true” the members of His people are called to live in truth,”(CCC 2465).

” Truth as uprightness in human action or speech is called truthfulness, sincerity or candor. Truth or truthfulness is the virtue which consists of showing oneself true in deeds and truthful in words, and guarding against duplicity, dissimulation, and hypocrisy,” (CCC 2468).

“Men could not live with one another if there were not mutual confidence that they were being truthful to one another. The virtue of truth gives another his just due. Truthfulness keeps to the just mean between what ought to be expressed and what ought to be kept secret; it entails honesty and discretion. In justice,” as a matter of honor, one man owes it to another to manifest the truth”, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sth II-II, 109,3, corp.art.” (CCC 2469).

As a follower of Christ, I am not only obligated, but commanded to be truthful with my fellow man. In my words and my actions. That is my witness. My witness reveals who my “Lord” is, who my “God” is, and it reveals who “I” am. A true believer or a hypocrite.

As it is written; If we say, ”We have fellowship with Him,” while we continue to walk in darkness we lie and do not act in truth.”   I Jn 1:6  (NAB)

Interpreting the Truth Part II: The Senses of Scripture


These things happened to them as an example and they have been written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of all ages has come.   I Cor. 10:11   (NAB)

What are the senses of Scripture?  “According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual with the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral, and anagogical.” (CCC 115)

“The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation,”( CCC 116). (see previous post, Interpreting the Truth Part I, for the “rules of sound interpretation”)

What is exegesis? It’s the critical explanation or analysis of a text. (American Heritage Dictionary)

“The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of scripture, but, also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism, (1 Cor.10:2).

2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says they were written for our instruction, (1Cor. 10:11, Heb. 3:1-4:11).

3.The anagogical sense. (Greek: anagoge,”leading”) We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us to our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem, (Rev.21:1-22:5).” (CCC 117)

 To summarize;” The Letter (literal) speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith; The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny,” Augustine of Dacia, (CCC 188)

One of the biggest misconceptions I had about the Catholic Church, as a Protestant, was  their interpretation of Scripture. I thought you had to see it their way or hit the highway, and we see clearly, that is not the case. There is still room for my personal application along side the Church’s interpretation and they should never contradict each other. If they do, then someone is wrong. But for true students of the Word, you’ll find you line up with Church teaching.

God uses rules and structure to protect His children. He wants us to be safe and secure in His love and fellowship. The way He has chosen to do this, is through the Church He established.

Interpreting the Truth Part I


The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name- He will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.   Jn.14:26  (NAB) 

After the last post, “Our Guide to All Truth”, we came to understand that the Holy Spirit reveals God’s Word as truth, Jesus as truth and the Church as truth. But the question still remains; How do we interpret the Scriptures?!

“To interpret the Scriptures correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words” (CCC 109). ” To truly discover the sacred authors intentions the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking, and narrating then current”(CCC 110).” But since Sacred Scripture is inspired there is another, and no less important principal of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. It must be read and interpreted in light of the same Spirit by whom it was written. The second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it”(CCC 111).

The first is;” Be especially attentive to the content and unity of the whole scripture. Different as the books that comprise it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God’s plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since His Passover”(CCC112).

Second; “Read the Scripture within the living Tradition of the whole Church. According to a saying of the Fathers, sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church’s heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God’s Word and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture(” according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church”, Origen, Hom. in Lev. 5,5: PG12, 454D”), (CCC113).

Thirdly; Be attentive to the analogy of faith(Rom.12:6). By “analogy of faith” we mean the coherence of the truths of the faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation” (CCC 114).

What does all this mean? Well ,what it means basically, is that there are rules to interpretation. It goes beyond just the Scripture itself, to the times and places and cultures long ago and far removed from us. We must step “back in time” as it were, to fully understand what was trying to be conveyed, and ask ourselves in the “here and now” what is God trying to show/teach me?

Next time, we will look at the senses of Scripture.

Our Guide to All Truth


But when He comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.   John 16:13  (NAB)

In our attempt to understand “What is Truth” we’ve seen that; scripture says that God’s word and His laws and commandments are truth (Jn. 17:17, Ps. 119:142, 151), that Jesus Himself is the truth (Jn. 14:6), and the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth (I Tim. 3:15) Now we will learn of the Spirit of truth.

The Holy Spirit is given to all true believers in Christ. In the brief description above, we see, one of the duties of the Holy Spirit, is to ” lead and guide us to all truth.” With so many denominations, preachers, faith- healers and teachers proclaiming ” truth” that differs from one to another, what’s one to believe?

When one only has partial truth, then truth becomes distorted. Though based on truth, it may retain some truth, but the fullness is laking. Truth has a four-fold purpose:

  1.  structure
  2.  direction
  3.  purpose
  4. information

If a truth lacks any of these four dimensions then it is most likely not to be true to the fullest extent.

Since most of us agree that Jesus and the Bible are truth, let’s look at the controversial subject of the Church as truth. What I’ve come to understand is this: The Catholic Church has been around a lot longer than the rest have, has taught the same thing from it’s beginning. Other denominations cling to the Catholic Church’s definition of the Holy Trinity and Christ being fully God and fully man (things not found in the Scripture) and denies the Eucharist and Holy Matrimony as Sacraments (things that are in the scripture!)

 What this all means is simple, and yet, complex. What we have is; Jesus as truth, revealed by the Holy Spirit. The Church as truth, lead by the Holy Spirit, and the Scripture as truth, interpreted by the Holy Spirit. These dynamics working together form  the triangle of truth. Each point is connected by the work of the Holy Spirit.

If there is only one God, then why so many different interpretations of scripture? Is it because what was established from the beginning, has been altered, ignored or worse yet, rejected?

 Take a look and study the history of the early Church, you will see that what the Church taught in years past, is what the Catholic Church still teaches today.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever.  Heb.13:8   (NAB)  

Amen.