Why We Should Know God’s Truth

 

A recent article from the Religion News Service looks at the mainstream – including both Christians and non-Christians – American view of Mormons, and concludes, “Americans (are) intrigued but wary still of Mormon beliefs.”

Cathy Grossman, the article’s author, makes an interesting observation: Mormons are significantly more likely than Roman Catholics or Protestants to be knowledgeable about their beliefs (a claim that is debatable, as we’ll see in a future post), and they are far more likely than other groups to be deeply committed to their group’s orthodoxy. To illustrate this point, Grossman refers to a 2010 Pew study which “asked 32 questions on the Bible, major religious figures and core beliefs and practices, the average score was 16 correct. Just 19 percent of Protestants knew the basic tenet that salvation is through faith alone, not actions as well.”

The study also found that 45 percent of respondents believed the Golden Rule is one of the Ten Commandments, and 65 percent could not name all four Gospel books. Sadly, the Pew study found that even atheists tend to have a deeper knowledge of biblical teaching than do Protestants

The general lack of knowledge among Protestants demonstrates several significant issues.

First, the fact that many know little about their ostensible faith demonstrates a lack of appreciation for God’s truth. Jesus gives us in just a few words the essence of the Bible when he prays, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). In a world in which many question whether absolute truth exists, the Bible tells us quite plainly that this truth can be found in Scripture – and it can be found there because God himself is “The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6). When we refuse to learn God’s truth, we show a lack of concern for this truth – and thus a lack of concern for God himself.

This lack of concern for God and his truth is the central and primary problem, of course, but people who refuse to learn about God are also missing out on the great privilege of this learning and knowledge. The psalmist tells us a true worshipper of God can be identified by the fact that “his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2; emphasis added). Later in the psalms we read, “I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word” (119:14-16; emphases added).

It is impossible to over-emphasize this point: being known by God, and learning more about him and his work for and in us, is the source of the greatest joy; indeed, “the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). As we grow in our relationship with God, and our knowledge of him, we can say, “My soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation” (Psalm 35:9). Furthermore, experiencing and demonstrating this joy will not only enrich our lives – it is also a powerful testimony to others of the glory of God (see Jeremiah 33:9).

That last point leads to the final two issues tied up in failing to know God’s truth: we lack guidance in life when we do not know God’s truth, and we fail to demonstrate to others God’s glory. Even beyond doctrinal and moral drift in the church and larger culture, we too often see people whose lives are simply aimless and without purpose. Faithful Christians have such guidance, however, because “(God’s) word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). This is because, Paul tells us, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

When we are knowledgeable in God’s truth, and are guided by his truth, we are also able to share this truth with others. As Peter says, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (1 Peter 3:15-16). Knowing God’s truth, and being able to share it with others, enables us to be used by God to clear up doctrinal misunderstandings among Christians that are frequently exploited by new and alternative religions, and to reach people are who involved in such groups.

Grossman’s article is a much-needed reminder to Christians: we need to learn more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints“…and we also need to learn more about our own faith.