This means that God’s words are true, he is faithful, his character is trustworthy, and his promises will be fulfilled.
This attribute or perfection of God is communicable or “shareable” or “transferrable” to us because we are made in the image of God and can have a certain measure of truth and trustworthiness and faithfulness, as God gives us grace to have them.
Let’s start off with definitions.
What do theologians say?
Don’t feel frustrated if you have to read this section several times before it “clicks.”
Let’s appeal to Reformed theologian, Louis Berkhof, who writes:
The Scripture uses several words to express the veracity of God. In the Old Testament ‘emeth, ‘amunah, and ‘amen, and in the New Testament alethes (aletheia), alethinos, and pistis. This already points to the fact that it includes several ideas, such as truth, truthfulness, and faithfulness. (p. 69)
Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck says that the Hebrew and Greek words are translated, as follows:
English translations, accordingly, have “true,” “faithful,” and “faithfulness.” That is why the trustworthiness of God is an attribute of the will as well as of the intellect. Veracity and truth, trustworthiness and faithfulness, are so closely associated that they cannot be split apart (Reformed, p. 202)
Norman Geisler defines it more straightforwardly:
The Hebrew word for truth (emet) means “firm,” “stable,” “faithful,” “reliable,” “correct.” The Greek word for truth (aletheia) means “truthful,” “dependable,” “upright,” “real.” In brief, the term truth, as used in Scripture, means “that which, because it corresponds to reality (the facts, the original), is reliable, faithful, and stable. Used of words, truth is telling it like it is. True statements are those that correspond to reality and, hence, are dependable. (p. 581, emphasis original).
Millard Erickson boils biblical truth to these synonyms, with integrity as the bigger category and these terms fitting under it: Genuineness, veracity, and faithfulness (pp. 260-62).
Finally, Renewal theologian J. Rodman Williams uses these synonyms: Jesus is the truth; truth is complete integrity; no deceit, hypocrisy, no dissimulation; complete dependability; sureness of promises; faithfulness (vol. 1, pp. 68-70).
This attribute or perfection of God means that he is stable, dependable, faithful, integrous, honest, accurate and completely veracious.
Let’s dig into Scripture to find out why these theologians define truth with those synonyms.
What do the Scriptures say?
I use the NIV here. If you would like to see the following verses in many translations and in their contexts, please go to biblegateway.com.
Jeremiah proclaims that God is true:
But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. (Jer. 10:10)
Jesus makes truth personal. Here it means both himself in his person and his teaching:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
In that verse, above, it was remarkable for a man in human flesh to claim such a thing. No one but God incarnate would do it.
The Spirit of God is the truth, too:
When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. (John 15:26)
So in the above three verses we see the Trinity sharing the same attribute.
In the next verse, God is living and true—the truth stops with him.
They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thess. 1:9)
A reminder that the opposite of truth is a lie. God can’t do it.
It is impossible for God to lie (Heb. 6:18)
Eternal life is not about what you know, but who you know:
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)
Next, John repeats the same idea in his epistle—truth in the Bible is relational and built on God, not our own goodness and faithfulness, which changes one minute to the next:
We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)
Sometimes we get confused when we listen to competing voices and gurus of truth and teachers in eastern religions. John teaches us how not to fall into the trap. It’s the God of the Bible and the Bible-teaching Christian community.
We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. (1 John 4:6)
The next verse is full of insight and rich concepts. God does not lie or change his deep purposes and thoughts, as if he is in development. He promises and fulfills it.
God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Num. 23:19)
Recall that truth and faithfulness come from the same root word:
I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. 2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself. (Ps. 89:1-2)
David prayed, reminding us that truth and trustworthiness also come from the same root word in Hebrew:
Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. (2 Sam. 7:28)
And this psalm repeats the reality of God’s trustworthiness and faithful promise keeping:
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. (Ps. 145:13)
Finally, this verse in Revelation, talking about Jesus, links faithfulness and truth:
I saw heaven standing open and before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. (19:11)
So how does this help me know God better?
That was a very rich and full Bible study. God’s character has been unfolded before our eyes and minds. When we meditate on those verses, our minds become renewed.
Let’s get more personal.
Next, all truth is God’s truth. God created the universe and the human within it. He gave humankind a good brain that can figure out how to live on earth and even send vessels and satellites into space. No Renewalists or Charismatic of any background should fear logic and science and education. It is discouraging when to this day fiery preachers denounce education or lightly dismiss it. Shortsighted. Rather, all of us should be the best we can, in our fields to which God has called us.
Next, let’s look at the ethical side of things. When we follow the God of all truth, we are truthful—or must be truthful.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. (Eph. 4:25)
Who may dwell with God in his house? This person:
The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart. (Ps. 15:2)
Now let’s turn to worship, where Renewalists of all stripes feel most comfortable and excel. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth (John 4:24). We must worship God in the Holy Spirit and in truth. Recall that truth not only means abstract truth, but God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness. It is also his revelation or propositional truth, like the verse we just quoted. But we must go deeper than just theological truths. We must experience God, the truth in his being and reality. He initiates, we respond to his character as seen in all these attributes. We worship him in return.
Finally, let’s turn to the foundation of all that we do and our character development: Jesus. He began it all and he will finish it. We can trust his faithfulness to carry us through.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. (Heb. 12:2-3, Message Bible, emphasis original)
Jesus started this marathon of new life in him, and he will be faithful and trustworthy to ensure that we cross the finish line, even if he has to carry us all the way there.
ARTICLES IN THE SERIES “DO I REALLY KNOW GOD?”
Do I Really Know God? He Is Truth