Truth and Reality
One of my goals this year is to read every Pulitzer Prize fiction award winner of the last decade. A great story has become a reprieve from my normal nonfiction reading. It allows me to get lost in a world that is not my own. Often, I find the characters compellingly familiar and the stories so close to home that reality is suspended and the line between truth and fiction blurred.
The space between truth and the reality I construct for myself easily becomes varying shades of gray. Truth becomes a slippery substance steeped in our own feelings, desires, or thoughts and not derived from the truth of God’s Word. We seek to author our own stories, live our own truth, and determine our own destinies. We fail to surrender to the truth we find in Scripture that reveals our Savior and His call to come and die.
Truth must have its roots in the One who is Truth. This truth has always been true and will continue to be true for all of eternity. And this truth is good. It brings salvation and righteousness and may be confidently stood upon for all of time. This truth is found only within Scripture.
God’s Word is Breathed Out By Him
God has revealed Himself to us in two key ways. First, through Jesus, the Word made flesh (John 1:14). Second, through His written Word. Through Scripture, we learn about God’s character and actions—past, present, and future.
In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul writes, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” The Bible is unlike any other book ever written. It originated with God; He breathed His character into it. The Holy Spirit moved in the hearts of the authors who delivered messages from God in their own writing styles and personalities. He didn’t dictate every word to the writers, but led them to choose what He intended for every single word. (This concept is called verbal plenary inspiration.)
Scripture is not simply the words of a human author shaped to display that particular author’s idea of truth. Scripture is God’s Word. His Truth. Every single word is chosen by Him and is intentional, revealing what we are to believe and how we should live. Scripture is the authority for our theology—what we believe about God and what He has done, is doing, and will do in the world.
The Truth About The Truth
We trust it is true because God is Truth. Psalm 119 tells us over and over again that God’s Word is holy and right and its instructions are good.
Now, that doesn’t mean the church has not argued about portions of Scripture over the centuries since Jesus ascended. There are some areas of Scripture that are more prone to a scribe’s error, as early manuscripts were painstakingly copied by hand. However, it is important to note that no discrepancy in God’s Word changes theological concepts or what we know to be true about God. It doesn’t contradict itself. We can rest knowing that God’s Word is true and right.
God’s Word is Our Authority
In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul listed four ways God’s Word is useful to the believer: for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. Each verse of Scripture is like a scalpel in the hands of an able surgeon, opening us up and revealing disobedience, calling us to repentance and correction, and thus restoring us to joy and obedience.
Scripture instructs us on how to live. It provides the authoritative discipline to help us course correct when we are straying. It doesn’t just point out errors, it trains us in holy living so we can be fully equipped to do the work God has called us to in Christ. Scripture is our authority, defining truth for us because God is Truth.
The authority of instruction flows from the authority of the person giving it. Whether it comes from a parent, coach, friend, boss, or stranger largely impacts how much weight it carries. Scripture has authority over every believer and every aspect of life because it is breathed out by God. Every authoritative word is valuable, without mistake, and useful.
God’s Word is Illuminated
If Scripture is to be useful, then it must be understood. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in us. The Spirit helps us understand and apply the Word rightly (John 14:26; 16:13–14). He illuminates it or turns the light on in our hearts and heads to grasp and respond to what we are reading or hearing. This doesn’t mean we will always understand perfectly. But it does mean we are not alone in our reading. The Holy Spirit is constantly at work in us.
There’s no secret code needed to unlock Scripture. This truth is unlike what we might read in a self-help book. It won’t tell us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps or to do whatever we most deeply desire. Instead, it is a call to come and die—to surrender at the feet of Jesus. We do this through the work of the Holy Spirit and the application of His Word to our hearts. God has come near to us by gifting us His Word. It’s all true. And since it’s true, it should compel us to obey and worship Him.
His Word is sharp and active (Hebrews 4:12), teaching and convicting because of His work. It is the avenue of hope (Romans 15:4), the bearer of divine revelation of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. And unlike all the earthly “truth” that is driven by our desires and feelings, God’s Word is eternal (Matthew 24:35). It never returns void (Isaiah 55:11). A minute in His Word is never wasted.
God’s Truth is Our Good
Reading fiction is a wonderful break from our daily lives, but novels cannot communicate the living, breathing Word of God to us. Pulitzer Prize winners cannot move our hearts to salvation and cannot be the litmus for our lives. God’s Truth is our good, and His ways our flourishing. This Truth is only found in His Word.
May we approach His Word expectantly, asking Him to move us to worship and obedience as the Holy Spirit illuminates the Truth in our hearts and helps us place our lives under His authority.
Your Friend, Mary
Meet the Author:
Mary Wiley is the author of Everyday Theology, an eight-week Bible study exploring essential doctrines and why they matter in our everyday lives. She holds a BA in Christian Studies and English from the University of Mobile and an MA in Theological Studies from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mary and her husband, John, have two children and live in the Nashville area. She works in publishing and hosts the Questions Kids Ask podcast. You can follow her on Instagram and connect at marycwiley.com.