Dear members and friends of our ELS:
Is truth knowable? Juries have to deal with this. Pilate had doubts about this. The world today says it is absurd to assert having any corner on truth, especially in the religious sphere. The post-modern era has its own tenacious “truth”—namely, real truth is unknowable! Searching for truth without ever arriving is deemed a great virtue. Living in this murky milieu, even a well-versed Christian can be lured to ask: Is it right for me to make the truth claim? Is it a sign of arrogance to say, “What I here confess and believe is the absolute truth?”
The 1992 doctrinal statement of our synod contains an interesting paragraph:
We confess that it is possible both to know the truth of God’s Word and to profess it, and that God requires us to do both. Taking one’s stand on the Word in matters of doctrine, after diligent study of the Scriptures, is not an act of human pride but of humble submission to God’s authority.
Two verses from Scripture are provided for support: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32); and “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13).
The Bereans in Acts 17 were commended for studying Scripture to determine if what Paul was preaching and teaching agreed with the Old Testament. We are to do the same. It is not pride, but humble submission to Christ’s authority to study diligently both Old and New Testaments and then boldly confess the truth. Confession of the truth also means rejecting error.
When we take our stand as Luther did (e.g., his “Here I stand!” at Worms in 1521), we strive to confess in a compassionate manner. When asked to give answer to what we believe, we wish to do so with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
Believers in Jesus Christ are found within the many various Christian denominations. The Lutheran Church does not decree itself to be the one Holy Christian Church on earth. To acknowledge such, however, is never an excuse to become complacent in examining Scripture daily and rendering the confession Christ calls upon each of us to make (Luke 12:8).
Reflect on how all God’s teachings—great and small—relate either directly or indirectly to the Bible’s main message. That message is that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in the forgiveness of sins won by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
Want to be of service to others in knowing truth? We help one another by directing our focus to the Word of God in its entirety.
Rev. John A. Moldstad, ELS President