A very fine study, written some years back, can't remember the
year. Forgotten I had it until I was going through my old files.
There are still some church organizations in existance, and people
in them, who need to take special note of this study - Keith Hunt
Speaking the TRUTH or Keeping SILENT - WHICH?
by Arlene Carmean
Do you agree with every teaching of the church organization
where you attend? Are you tired of being told you can't openly
discuss doctrinal differences? What do the Scriptures tell us to
If a church organization believes that its members should
only discuss the Bible in a way that confirms official church
doctrines, is that allowing the congregation to speak the truth?
The organization would say yes. Those in charge of the
organization believe this is applying Paul's admonition of
"speaking the same thing" in I Corinthians 1:10. They believe
they are keeping unity and preventing division within the church
Church leaders believe that anyone finding an error in a
doctrine being taught by that church organization should remain
silent, in order to protect the brethren from being "confused."
Their main concern is apparently not that someone believes
something different than the official church doctrines, but that
they will speak about it. Keeping your opinions to yourself is
the approved way to deal with doctrinal differences. The leaders
tend to believe that anyone who sees an error in a doctrine may
have a motive of gaining a following, which in turn would draw
members out of the organization, either (1) into error, (2) away
from the group.
BUT AREN'T WE TO PROVE ALL THINGS?
Some church organizations believe the proper procedure for
exposing error in their doctrine is to write a paper, which is
then submitted to the ministry for evaluation. There are several
steps in this procedure, which could take as long as two to three
years to be completed. In the meantime, anyone who questions
doctrinal truth must remain silent to others in the spirit of
"speaking the same thing" and keeping unity.
Is the organization correct in this belief? When anything is
taught to us by an organization of men regarding God's truth, the
thing we all must do is to prove it! As Paul admonishes in
1 Thessalonians 5:21: "But test and prove all things [until you
can recognize] what is good, [to that] hold fast" (Amplified
Bible throughout unless otherwise notes)).
If we are to prove what we are being taught by a church
organization, where should we start this proving process? We must
begin by examining why we are attending with a particular
organization. A few reasons are: We may like the people. We may
like what it teaches. We may believe it is the "right place to
be." We may believe it is doing "the Work." Whatever the reason,
we must examine it by asking ourselves: Is our reason for being
there our own or God's?
We must also ask ourselves, if we are worshipping God within
a church organization, do we worship according to the rules of
that organization (this is not referring to administrative
details such as the time of services, the place, etc), or do we
worship God according to His Standard? The answer is found in
John 4:24: "God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who
worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality)."
In our proving process, we have established that the
standard for worshipping within an organization is worshipping in
spirit and truth. But whose spirit and whose truth - the
organization's or God's? God's, of course. "Then Peter and the
apostles replied, We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
Even though the organization believes it is teaching God's
truth, it must be proven against what is in the Bible, and the
truth of the Bible must always prevail.
THE MEANING OF "TRUTH"
To obtain a clearer picture of what the Bible means by the
word "truth" is John 4:24, we must look at its meaning in Greek.
The Greek word for "truth" in John 4:24 is "aletheia."
Vine's s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words states this
noun "is used (a) objectively, signifying 'the reality lying at
the basis of an appearance; the manifested, veritable essence of
a matter' (Cremer), e.g., Rom.9:1; 2 Cor.11:10; especially of
Christian doctrine, e.g., Gal.2:5, where 'the truth of the
Gospel' denotes the true teaching of the Gospel, in contrast to
perversions of it; Rom.1:25, where 'the truth of God' may
be 'the truth concerning God' or 'God whose existence is a
verity,' but in Rom.15:8 'the truth of God' is indicative of His
faithfulness in the fulfilment of His promises as exhibited in
Christ; the word has an absolute force in John 14:6; 17:17;
18:37,38; in Eph.4:21, where the RV., 'even as truth is in
Jesus,' gives the correct rendering, the meaning is not merely
ethical truth, but truth in all its fullness and scope, a
embodied in Him; He was the perfect expression of the truth; this
is virtually equivalent to His statement in John 14:6; (b)
subjectively, truthfulness, truth, not merely verbal, but
sincerity and integrity of character, John 8:44; 3 John 3, RV."
It is interesting to note that, in the Greek, "truth" can be
either objective or subjective.
To receive more understanding from Vine's definition of the usage
of the word for "truth" (aletheia), we must clarify the meaning
of the words objective, reality, subjective, sincerity, integrity
and character as they relate to the subject of this article.
(1) Objective: having real, substantial existence external to an
(2) Reality: the state or quality of being real or of existing in
(3) Subjective: seen from the point of view of the thinking
subject and conditioned by his personal characteristics.
(4) Sincerity: utterly honest and genuine.
(5) Integrity: moral soundness.
(6) Character: the total quality of a person's behavior, as
revealed in his habits of thought and expression, his attitudes
and interests, his actions, and his personal philosophy of life.
(New Webster's Dictionary and Thesaurus of the English Language,
With these definitions in mind, let's look at Vine's
definition of "truth" (aletheia) again. In the objective usage,
Vine's states that Christ embodied truth or personified it. In
fact, He is all truth, real, actual. But if we let Christ remain
in the objective personified form only, we lose part of the total
picture. It was the subjective part of Christ that manifested the
truth for others to see, to hear, to experience, and to know.
Christ not only embodied the knowledge of the truth but was
the knowledge in action It is what we are thinking that becomes
our actions. It is our sincerity and integrity of character that
shows others how we live the truth of the Bible.
Worshipping God in spirit and truth is not only teaching,
preaching and believing the true doctrines of the Bible, but is
expressing, through God's Spirit within us, these truths with
sincerity and integrity of character.
David H. Stern writes in the Jewish New Testament Commentary
page 168, regarding John 4:24, "The Torah opposes legalism and
the mere performance of acts and routines without true spiritual
This being the case, we must not only prove whether or not
the organization's official doctrines and beliefs are based on
the truth, but also if the organisation's sincerity and integrity
of character are based on the truth as well.
WAS THE CHURCH DIVIDED?
To be continued
Entered on this Website October 2007