It’s natural for teenagers to question the truths of life as their parents, pastors and teachers have taught them. This is a necessary part of growing up. At some point we all have to decide what we believe to be true, and not just because others believe them to be true.
So what is truth? Truth is that which corresponds to reality. We live in a day where it’s stylish to say, “Your truth is fine if it works for you. My truth is fine because it works for me.” In this case “truth” is defined as what “works” and by being “sincere.” It doesn’t take much thinking to realize that what seems to work may not be true. To steal money may “work” in terms of having some cash to go out, but will it continue to work? Nor does sincerity mean something is true. Certain hippies of the 1960’s, under the influence of LSD, jumped from buildings, believing they could fly. Their belief was sincere. They believed their “truth” would work for them. But tragically, their belief did not correspond to reality.
Reality is what truly exists. It doesn’t care whether I believe in it or not. It just is. My mentor, Dr. Dallas Willard, professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California, used to say, “Reality is what you run into when you are wrong.” My son used to drive an old 1989 Honda Accord. It was a high-mileage but reliable car. One day the gas gauge stopped working. Only my son didn’t know that. The gauge still showed that one-quarter tank of gas remained. My son believed the gauge. His belief, though sincere, ran up against the reality of an empty gas tank. And the car stopped.
One of the distressing things about this life is that we all will run into reality, whether we want to or not. And the reality of God is not at first obvious. But, we can find God if we sincerely seek Him. He has promised to be found by us if we’ll seek Him with all our heart.
Everything we know is derived from three sources: authority, reason and experience. When I was small, I learned that if I spoke politely to an adult, typically they would respond in kind. That was something I was taught by my mother (authority), thought through on my own (reason) and found to be true in practice (experience). Similarly, every high school student knows that the Quadratic Formula can be used to find the x values of a quadratic equation. Students know this because they were taught by a teacher (authority), learned it by their own practice on paper (reason) and saw the x-intercepts for themselves on a graphing calculator (experience).
So, how do we know that the Bible corresponds to reality? In other words, how can we know that the Bible is true? I want to suggest that neither you nor I are smart enough to know. But Jesus Christ is smart enough to know.
Jesus Christ believed every word of the Bible to be true. He is in a unique position to know. In fact He taught that everything in the Bible ultimately spoke about Him! I trust Jesus to know what He is talking about. As His disciple, I have chosen not only to adopt His lifestyle but also His point of view on reality.
I accept that the Bible corresponds to reality because Jesus says so (authority). I also believe the Bible is true because the people and stories inside it seem trustworthy, and their experiences of this life and God make sense to me (reason). I also believe the Bible is true because I personally encounter God (experience) and many things described in the Bible match up with my own experience.
Are you a follower of Christ? Do you trust Jesus? If so, you can trust Him not only with your life, not only with the forgiveness of your sins, not only with going to heaven when you die, but you can also trust His point of view on the Bible, truth and the nature of reality.