Editor's note: We are continually seeking the truth in God's word. All content has suggestive conclusions. We recommend that all readers of this website search the scriptures for themselves and pray for understanding to prove or disprove all content.
What is Truth?
At John 18:37, 38 we find this interchange of words between Jesus and Pontius Pilate (which started when Jesus was on trial):
(Pilate) ‘You aren't a king, are you?'
(Jesus) ‘You are saying that I'm a king. This is why I was born and why I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is on the side of truth listens to my voice.'
(Pilate) ‘What is truth?'
Pilate's cynical and sullen question certainly seems appropriate in the world that we're living in today, because truth - real, absolute truth - is very difficult to find. And what people accept as truth is usually shaded by propaganda, news sources, what they were taught in school, what they were taught in church, and by accepting the word of ‘authorities.' However, only the most ignorant will accept everything they are told unflinchingly and unquestioningly... but this is what most religions expect of us.
The fact is; if we're really searching for the truth, we must question everything we've been taught, and then change our thinking to wherever that leads us. For a wise person once said, ‘Our minds don't control our beliefs, our beliefs control our minds.'
Now, the things that Jesus said were truly unvarnished, absolute truth, for if you read his words in the book of John (do a word search) you'll find that he spoke of telling the truth dozens of times there. Why, as he said; the reason why he came to the earth was in fact to ‘testify to the truth.' And so, Christians should place a highest priority on telling and on searching for the truth, especially when it comes to truth from the Bible. However, like Pilate, many have simply become too cynical in their disgust for religion and have concluded that knowing the truth really doesn't matter, so they've given up in their search. Please don't do that, because it can be found.
The Problem With Religion
When it comes to religion, there are many obstacles to finding and teaching the truth. And the worst of them are those individuals who have set themselves up (or have been held up by others) as unquestionable (infallible) sources of Bible truth. You can easily identify them by the way they teach. Rather than humbly indicating that the things they teach could be true, they usually speak very forcefully about their teachings, predictions, creeds, doctrines, and opinions (every religion has theirs).
Now, the foremost obstacles to finding religious truth are the creeds, doctrines, and rules that such people create.
Creeds are lists of fundamental ‘Church' doctrines that are written and memorized by its members, which religions claim should never be questioned by the ‘faithful.' And although these creeds may have been created by the misunderstanding of people who lived as much as a thousand years ago, the religions that teach them as truth are virtually locked into them, and they usually aren't truth.
Doctrines are the individual basic beliefs that define a Church and distinguish it from other religions. And again, doctrines are never to be questioned or researched. But when religious debate is no longer allowed, people stop searching for answers, and that's where spirituality ends. In other words: They stop thinking and learning. The religious song Old Time Religion (for example) encourages this, by telling people to unthinkingly adopt the beliefs of earlier family members.
What is spirituality? It is an inner thing that comes from God; it's what started you searching and brought you here. A few have it, but most don't.
They Want Us to Stop Searching!
Over the centuries since the Christian Congregation was formed, first through the Catholic (or Universal) Church, and then through Protestant religions, innumerable creeds and doctrines have been formed and have gone unquestioned by people who were usually (through threats or the unavailability of the Bible) denied any opportunity to check the validity of what they were being taught. So, religion is usually the primary obstacle to truth. They all state, ‘To become one of us, you must believe this: ...' And so, people unquestioningly start believing things without doing the necessary Bible research to find out if what they are being taught really is the truth.
Is this the Christian way? No, for remember what was said of those at the synagogue at Berea (at Acts 17:11), ‘Now, these people were nobler than those who were in Thessalonica, because they eagerly welcomed the Word, and they examined the Scriptures every day to make sure the things [they were being told] were true.'
Indeed, why should anyone examine the scriptures when someone has already determined for us what they mean? And this is why most people no longer care to ‘examine the Scriptures,' because someone has already provided them all the answers. And then church members are discouraged from doing deep Bible research, because they're told that reading the Bible will only ‘confuse' or ‘mislead' them. However, true Christianity still invites questions, research, and the right to come to a different conclusion. It also encourages a deep study of the Bible, because this is what creates spirituality and a deep personal relationship with God.
What is true Christianity? It is when we are trying to become like Jesus and always speak the truth of God's Word. However, we must first search for it and find it in the source of all truth, the Bible.
Truth is Important
Jesus placed a high priority on the need for his followers to find the truth. Notice what he said about this, from the following scriptures:
John 4:23, 24, ‘But the time is coming - and it's now - when true worshipers will worship the Father with [God's] Breath and with truth, because the Father is searching for people like this to worship Him. God is an unseen force, so those who worship Him must worship him in truth and with [His] Breath.'
John 8:32, ‘You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.'
John 14:6, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. Nobody comes to the Father unless [he comes] through me.
John 14:16, 17, ‘I'm going to ask the Father and He will give you another helper that will be with you through the age, the Spirit of truth.'
Notice that he never said, ‘Worship at the church or synagogue of your choice.'
So, how do we worship God in truth and with His Breath? As Jesus said (at John 17:17), ‘Your Word is the truth.' And then Paul wrote at 2 Timothy 3:16, ‘All the Scriptures are inspired (Breathed) by God.' So, we learn the truth and receive God's Breath by searching the Scriptures diligently and regularly.
(Editor's note: See bottom of document for an explanation of the term "God's Breath")
‘The Truth Will Set You Free'
Then what did Jesus mean when he said (at John 8:32), ‘The truth will set you free? If you look up that Bible verse and read what follows, you'll notice that the people in Jerusalem who were listening to him at the time were very offended by these words and were quick to remind him that they were already a free people. Yet, as Paul later pointed out, they really weren't free. Rather, they were slaves to an old law (ritualistic laws of sacrifices for restoring their relationship with God) and to their own sins. But Jesus had come to free them from that with truth. Are there people today who also think that they are free while they're really in slavery to something? Absolutely! We are all slaves to sin and death, many of us are in slavery to fear of what will happen to us at death, and most are slaves to some sort of religious or atheist dogma and tradition. But with truth comes freedom. And if we're afraid to keep searching for the truth, we aren't - nor will we ever be - free.
However, with all the importance that Jesus and the Bible writers put on truth, is truth the thing that will save us? Well, from our Bible research to this point, we can prove that no religion is teaching 100% unvarnished truth, so if truth is required for salvation, no one will be saved. Yet, none of us can afford to become settled and unreasoning either, for if we stop searching for the truth we lose our spirituality and our relationship with God.
Times of Awakening in the Middle Ages
The ‘Dark Ages' of Europe were called that because they were recognized as a period of mental darkness that affected art, learning, and human development. And it was religion in particular which was to blame for this darkness. For these religions used the threat of being tortured in the fires of Hell if anyone disagreed, and that kept people ignorant, shaking in fear, and it made them unwilling to question the things they were being taught.
However, with the Protestant Reformation, which began in the early 1500s, came change. And although some early Bible translators (such as Huss) were literally slow-roasted over fires for their efforts, people soon started to obtain copies of the Bible in their own languages where they could find out for themselves what the Word of God actually says. And what made this period so unique in history is that people were willing to be flayed or buried alive (and thousands were) just to read the Bible. The result of this was the institution of some wonderful new religions with some amazingly better understandings of what the Bible really teaches... more truth.
But oh, how time changed all that.
Unfortunately, many of these new religions were horribly persecuted and some were literally stamped out, while others simply became lethargic because they had formed national alliances and had come into general acceptance... and they had already formed their doctrines and creeds. So, with time, and as the Bible became commonly available, most Bible reading and searching for the truth stopped for the common people in these Churches, for their minds were blinded to truth by creeds and doctrines.
Times of Awakening in the Late 19th Century
Another period of spiritual awakening happened close to the end of the Nineteenth Century. At that time, once again, the availability of new Bible translations caused people to examine the things they were being taught in their churches. Also, people started to recognize from Bible prophecies that world events seemed to indicate that the time Jesus foretold at Matthew 24 was close. So, Bible reading and research peaked as people once again started searching for the truth.
The several different religions that started to form then were referred to as ‘Adventists,' although most didn't adopt Adventist as part of their name. They were called this because they were looking for the advent (or coming) of Jesus. These Adventist groups were unique in that they rejected the doctrines and creeds of established religions and once again started searching the Bible to find truth. And some did find more truth. How? Not by accepting the views of ‘authorities,' but by sitting down together and discussing all the scriptures on a subject, then trying to find the harmonious truth that proves all the Scriptures to be true.
Notice that Adventists aren't true Protestants, because they weren't protesting the teachings of the Catholic Church, as were the earlier religions that formed, they were just looking for something new and better.
What They Accomplished
What the Protestant Reformation and the later forming of the Adventist groups accomplished was to create needed spiritual awakenings and renewed independent research of the Bible. However, this always riled the hatred of established religions, which viewed the new groups as upstarts and dangerous competitors. Why, if you search the religious pages on the Internet today, you'll find hundreds of pages that still rail against different Adventist groups, although it has been more than a hundred years since most of them were formed.
However, the interesting thing about the Protestant Reformation and the establishment of Adventist groups is that; despite all the arguments against them and their teachings by more established religions, they have definitely affected the beliefs of almost all religions since then. For such doctrines as Purgatory, Hell Fire, and the Trinity are no longer as widely accepted - at least not in the same forms as they were in the past.
What Happened to Religion?
The sad thing about the Adventist groups is that they had so much right (as did the early Protestant Churches), but they have allowed time, disillusionment, and/or the pursuit of authority to jade them... or they've held onto the past doctrines and teachings of their founders (virtually worshiping them). So, few are making much progress in their search for the truth today. Yet, almost all have grown into large religions, some of which now number in the millions. And as they grew and became more respectable, they too:
· Established doctrines
· Gained an exalted view of their authority
· Started threatening and oppressing any who would
question or dissent
So, what we really have in most religions today could be referred to as a pseudo/christ/ocracy, a rule by the false anointed and the worship of men who call themselves the anointed or saints. Does the Bible speak of such a thing happening in the last days? Yes, and in almost those very same words, for Jesus said (as recorded at Matthew 24:24), ‘Egerthesontai gar pseudochristoi kai pseudoprophetai,' or, Will/arise for false/anointed and false/prophets.'
And while many Bibles translate the word pseudochristoi as false Christs (giving the impression that they would be claiming to be Jesus), what it really says is that false anointed and false prophets would arise in the last days.
So, how would we be able to tell the true anointed from the false? Jesus said at Matthew 5:10, ‘Those who have been persecuted for doing what is right are blest, because the Kingdom of the Heavens belongs to them.'
And John wrote at Revelation 20:4, ‘Next, I saw thrones. And those who sat down on them were the ones who were executed with axes for testifying about Jesus and for telling about God, and who hadn't worshiped the wild animal or its image, and who hadn't received the mark on their foreheads and on their hands. Then they were appointed judges, and they came to life and ruled as kings with the Anointed One for a thousand years.'
Now, ask yourself: Were those who you believed to be the anointed or the saints greatly persecuted ‘for doing what is right,' and did they die violently for ‘testifying about Jesus and telling about God?' If not, then according to the Bible, they were never the anointed.
Does Research Lead to Apostasy?
Do you remember what Jesus said ‘(at Matthew 7:7, 8)? Keep on asking and it will be given to you. Keep on searching and you will find it. Keep on knocking and it will be opened to you. Because, everyone who keeps on asking will receive it, and everyone who keeps on searching will find it, and [the door] will be opened to anyone who keeps on knocking.'
Will such continuing Bible research lead you in the wrong direction (as some religions warn)? For when you doubt, doesn't that eventually lead to ‘apostasy?'
Definitely not! For, notice what Jesus went on to say, in verses 9-11, ‘After all, which man isn't this true of; when his son asks for bread, he won't hand him a stone, will he? Or if he asks for a fish, he won't hand him a snake, will he? So, if you in your wickedness know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him.'
As you can see; asking, searching, and knocking doesn't lead us astray, it leads us to God and truth. That's why Jesus urged us to keep on searching, and asking, and knocking. But when we adopt a church creed or doctrine, we stop obeying that command.
So Much More to be Learned
Does the fact that most religions have entrenched their beliefs into doctrines and creeds, or into the hands of ‘the anointed,' mean that there's nothing left in the Bible to be researched? Definitely not! Although the Bible has remained the same, we've found that there is still so much hidden truth to be found on even the most fundamental of teachings.
Although all religions claim to encourage Bible reading, the fact is, most of them really discourage Bible reading; for they only encourage such reading when it's found in their publications or when it's read from their pulpits. This is ‘directed' Bible reading, so that you aren't led ‘astray' or into ‘apostasy.' And such discouragement of independent Bible research is what is directly responsible for the lack of interest in Bible reading today.
What has happened to most people who call themselves ‘Christians,' is that they've become used to looking for quick answers... they're not searching, asking and knocking. Rather, they're trying to find packaged ‘truth' in the research, doctrines, and creeds of others. So, not many are searching the Bible to find out what's true. Rather, most people are familiar with just a few favorite scriptures in the Bible, which they use to try to prove the doctrines that their religion has taught them. And they only read new Bibles, to see if it helps to prove something they've been taught, whether it's right or wrong.
As the result, despite the fact that the Bible is the most published and translated book in the world, it has become one of the world's least read publications. It's considered by most as no longer interesting, since they've already been taught what to believe, and that reading it will only confuse them. So, not many today would be willing to be tortured and die, as were those in the early Protestant Reformation, just to read and research the Bible. And what others once literally died to read just sits there on shelves gathering dust... and this is true in all religions... yes, even yours.
Searching for the Truth
Today, all religions claim that their teachings are the truth. Why, some of them even refer to themselves as ‘the Truth.' But the question that we should all ask is: Do they still offer their members the opportunity to sit down together and discuss all the scriptures that bear on a subject in the Bible, and then try to search for the harmony? Or have they appointed ‘authorities,' which claim some special anointing by God to do all the heavy Bible research, while calling all who disagree or question their teachings ‘apostates' or ‘heritics?'
Oh yes; it's a fact that if anyone has really found the truth, we should all be following in that way unwaveringly... but never without the ability to question whether such teachings or doctrines are true, because this is how ‘the truth' is found.
The interesting thing about the truth is that it has nothing to fear and it can withstand all challenges and questions, so no one who has the truth should ever be afraid of those who ask questions or doubt. Only false teachers have something to fear from independent Bible research and the questions and doubts that will be raised, for it is these questions and doubts that lead to finding the truth.
So as you can see; religion is the great quandary. We need it to remain (or to become) spiritual people and to enjoy the association of other spiritual people; for such things are vital if we want Jesus to count us among ‘the living.' However, while religions teach us to love each other, most actually promote hatred for anyone who disagrees with their doctrines. So, if you have found a group of spiritual people among whom you can freely express differing opinions and ideas, you've truly found a gem. However, never forsake regular Bible reading (read the whole Bible over and over) for reading religious books or magazines, or for listening to sermons! Because, the Bible is the only source of truth... all else is the ideas of men.
Ancient and Modern Inquisitions
The inevitable outcome of those who think that they have the truth and that God is on their side can be seen in the documented histories of the Catholic Church. For, whenever religious leaders are considered the only source of truth from God, their rule then becomes absolute, their flocks think these leaders can do no wrong, and they can no longer be questioned when it comes to matters of faith.
And this becomes clearly visible whenever people quote the decisions a prelate, a religious body, a book, or a magazine to prove a point to each other, rather than quoting the Bible. And we see such actions everywhere... especially when it comes to the more zealous religions.
The next step, of course, is the inquisition and repression of any who would question or contradict, which is what started in the Church of the Fifteenth Century. And although laws keep religions from torturing and murdering today, many still have their means... they can shun, excommunicate, and disfellowship. And although such actions may sound quite mild, the effect is the same as killing them spiritually, for this action often results in the loss of their friends, their jobs, and their families. Because, in the eyes of their congregation or church they are then considered as dead and as having no hope of salvation.
What Happened to ‘The Faith?'
Have you ever wondered why Jesus, when he was speaking of the end of this age, asked the question (found at Luke 18:8), ‘However, when the Son of Man arrives, will he really find the faith on the earth?'
He obviously had a good reason to ask that, for he must have known that people in the last days would be following ‘the broad road' by adopting the religious ideas and doctrines of others, rather than doing their own Bible research. And they would be following the teachings of the ‘false anointed,' who claim full knowledge and inspiration by God.
If you're happy with that, what can we say? But we hope that the faith will be found on the earth... we hope that it will be found in you. However, for that to be true, you will have to search for the truth, not through the written teachings of men as found in their magazines or books, but in the Bible. For as Paul wrote at Romans 3:4, ‘Let God be proven true even if that makes every man a liar.'
God's Breath or Spirit?
The words that many Bibles translate as ‘Spirit' or ‘Ghost' are Ruach (in Hebrew) and Pneuma (in Greek), and both words mean (and should be translated as) Breath or Wind. However, the Bible also occasionally uses these words to mean a person's attitude or leaning, where the words breath and wind would make no sense in English, so in such places we have left it translated into the Latin word for Breath, Spirit (spiritu).
What is God's Breath? We simply don't know, because the Bible tells us so little about it. Yet, some have concluded that it is one of the personalities of God in part of ‘the Holy Trinity.' They have drawn this conclusion from Jesus' words at Matthew 28:19, where he told his disciples, ‘So, go and make disciples in all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and [God's] Holy Breath,' and also from the fact that that the Breath is often referred to in the Bible with the personal pronoun he.
Yet, the fact that God's Breath is mentioned so many times, and (except for this one instance in Matthew 28, which appears to be a spurious addition to the Bible) is never mentioned in conjunction with God and Jesus together, makes such a conclusion presumptuous. Also, notice what Peter said about Jesus and God's Breath at Acts 2:33, ‘He was lifted to God's right hand, where he received the Holy Breath (which the Father had promised). And he's the one who has poured out all of this that you're seeing and hearing.'
So, as Peter said, Jesus wasn't part of the personality of God's Holy Breath, it was something that he received from God and then poured it out on his Apostles during Pentecost. Therefore, God's Breath likely refers to His power. We do know, from the account in Genesis 1, that God used His Breath to create the heavens and the earth. And the ‘breath of life' that we all have from God, may be part of His breath, for notice what God said at Genesis 6:3 (when He was talking about the unrighteous people who lived before the Downpour): ‘Then the Lord God said, I won't allow them to keep My Breath (which allows them to be flesh) throughout the [rest of] the age.'
So, if God's Breath keeps us alive, and we all have it, then perhaps the breath of life is a part of His Holy Breath.
Later, we read of how God used His Breath to give special powers to many of His servants down through the ages. And although this apparently gave those individuals superhuman powers, its most important use was in creating the Bible. For, we read at 2 Timothy 3:16, 17, ‘All the Scriptures are inspired by God and are good for teaching, for correcting, for setting things straight, and for providing righteous discipline. They qualify a man of God and provide him with whatever he needs to do all sorts of good work.'
Notice that, although the Greek word pneuma (Spirit or Breath) wasn't used in the above scripture, it is found in the related word TheoPneustos, or God Breathed, which we have translated as inspired by God. Translating pneustos as inspired is particularly appropriate, since the word in/spired means breathed in. So, any time we refer to a particular work, person, or act as inspired, we are really implying that it came from the Breath of God, and most likely through or from Jesus.