The Only Source of Truth - I

by J. D. Watson

Considering Ephesians 1:13 once again-"In whom ye also trusted, after ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation"-we have considered the Meaning of Truth and Inadequate Sources of Truth.

This bring us to a third consideration, the Only Source of Truth. What is true? What is factual? What is absolutely reliable, totally secure, and unchanging? We are left with only one answer: God and His Word.  There are two emphases in the Apostle Paul's statement: The Immediate Truth and the Broader Truth. First:

The Immediate Truth

Paul speaks of "the word of truth," which is best stated and understood as "the gospel of your salvation." In other words, it is the gospel which is the only Truth that brings salvation. The real Truth, which in turn forms the foundation of all other Truth and is the source from which all other Truth flows, is the gospel.

"Word" (lgos) means to speak intelligently, to articulate a message, to give a discourse. "Truth," of course, denotes a thing as it really is. So the phrase "the word of truth" declares that there is one message that is real and unconcealed, not falsified or changing-the message of the gospel.

In a day when it is considered intolerant and divisive to say that there is only one true religion, that statement invites violent criticism. To call one group a cult or false religion, or call Islam "an evil religion," as did evangelical leader Franklin Graham after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, brings a storm of protest. But such dissent does not alter the fact that God says that only His Word is Truth. 

The word "gospel" has an interesting etymology. The Greek is euaggélion: eu, good; agéllo\, to proclaim, tell. But the English is even more fascinating. It comes from the Old English godspel (god, good; spel, tale). To "spellbind," is to speak in such a way as to hold people's attention. To spell a word means to name or write the letters of the word. So the gospel is, indeed, the good spell, the good tale, the good story, the good message, the good news.

Even more significant, the gospel is the only good tale. In the Greek, the verse literally reads: "The message of the Truth, the good news of your salvation." Paul wants to make it clear that there is only one good news. As he declared in Galatians 1:6,7: "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ." He makes it clear that a perverted gospel is not a gospel (a good news, a good story) at all.

It is for that reason that he writes the very pointed, narrow command in the next two verses: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."

"Accursed" (anthema) refers to that which is devoted to destruction. We are not to be tolerant of false teaching or to excuse it; rather we are to consider such teaching and teachers as under God's judgment. God simply will not tolerate a perversion of the gospel. Why? Because it is the only Truth. The Apostle Paul preached the only gospel there is.

In contrast, in our day the gospel is being retold as a new tale, a new story. It's a story of God's universal fatherhood, Jesus' life as a good moral example, and a salvation without repentance, lordship, or even acknowledgment of sin. One today can define the gospel in whatever terms make him feel good. But that type of gospel, which is no gospel at all, must be cursed for what it is-a lie. The only gospel, as described in the Ephesians 1 context, is trust in Jesus' blood as the only redemption from sin.

To be continued

The complete study ("The Truth About the Truth") on which these installments are based, is available online at www.TheScriptureAlone.com.
A 36-page booklet is also available free of charge (Sola Scriptura Ministries; PO Box 235; Meeker, CO; 81641). The booklet includes the plan of salvation and can be used as a witnessing tool ($1.00 per copy in quantities).

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