Vol. 1 - No. 1
The Kingdom of The Truth
by Vaughn Shofner
The indispensable and controlling spirit of God's dealings with mankind in order to save him from sin and death is concisely declared by Christ as he stood a Hebrew prisoner before a Roman judge. He was charged and brought to the hall of judgment by the acting priest of his own people. Reluctantly, Pilate accepted the prisoner and questioned him.
"Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus answered, Do you speak for yourself, or are you speaking in agreement with what others have told of me? Pilate answered, .....Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, As thou sayest, I am a king. To this end was 1 born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate with unto him, What is truth?" (John 18:33-38)
Thus succinctly stated, the whole fabric of the religion of Christ rests on the monarchy of Christ in his church, the spiritual kingdom. Born to be a king, but born to be a ruler by the truth. Paul accepted this realm of rulership as he admonished Timothy as to his behavior "in the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15) Afar cry from the idea that the church is a non-essential adjunct, a by-product that fell into place when Christ fulfilled his real mission on earth! To teach such is utter blasphemy.
There are three conceivable ways that this monarchic rule might be characterized which oppose Christ's way. His kingdom could have been based on force, and he would have been a rival of Caesar as charged. This is evidently all that Pilate had in mind when he asked, Art thou a king? But no kingdom founded on force is destined to permanence. "All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." (Matthew 26:52) "My kingdom is not of this world." Compare the old Spanish Inquisition, Iran, and the psychological forces of the Moonies, the Krishnas, the Communes such as the People's Temple. They shall not stand.
Another basis for the characterization of Christ's monarchy in the minds of the Jews was the tradition of the fathers, the elders. The scribes and the chief priests were always ready with "it has been said," "you make void the traditions by your teaching." The Mishna and the Talmud were respected above the word of the Lord. No marvel that Christ emphasized, "it was said of them of old time, but I say unto you, You have heard that it has been said, but I say unto you." Nor are the traditions of today of any more authority than the traditions that led the people in the day when Christ was on earth.
Philosophical reasoning with its conclusions is another idea of kingly rule. One philosopher against another, and the one with the greatest persuasion is the most popular. Today the one who can most aptly color religion with the world, and play on the emotions of man with the greatest power is the most successful.
Christ's kingdom is in virtue of his being a witness to truth. "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should b e a r witness unto the truth."
"Truth," according to the ancient language, is a verity and has no successful opposition. Truth is not a relative consideration, but an absolute reality. To emphasize, contrast the difference between veracity and truth. Veracity implies a corresponding relation between words and thoughts; but truth implies a corresponding relation between thoughts and reality. If there were honest Pharisees, they were men of veracity, and they spoke words that were agreeable with their ideas, but their ideas were not true. Their words were spoken with corresponding relation to their belief, but there was no corresponding relation between their belief and eternal truth.
The oft spoken idea, "My opinion is as good as yours," is not necessarily so. An opinion may manifest veracity, having corresponding relation to what is believed by the speaker, but may not have corresponding relation to reality, truth. There is no doubt but that divine wisdom chose elders to rule the church for this reason. The man who qualifies as an elder is certainly able to express better opinions and wiser judgments than the man who has not attained to the qualifications.
When Christ was a man testifying unto truth, every thought, word and act displayed to the world absolute realities. Humanity's grand purpose is to testify to those realities. Paul said, "We all beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord. " (2 Corinthians 3:18) The perfection of humanity's purpose in life is the faithful imitation of the mind and life of Christ. Of this Christ said, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20, 21)
Jesus a man as our example bore witness to the perfection of Deity. We are to follow that example. Paul said, "Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:1) In his faithful discharge of duty toward bearing witness to the truth, bearing witness to the perfection of Deity, Christ said, "The Son of man can do nothing of himself, but that which he seeth the Father do." (John 5:19) "The words that I speak I speak not of myself, but the Father which is in me." (John 14:10) "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, ....he hath declared him." (John 1:18) Thus his kingdom has a corresponding relation to eternal reality, and thus the citizens of his kingdom testify unto eternal realities.
In consequence of this, there are laws to direct the citizens of this empire of truth. "He that is of the truth heareth my voice." "Heareth" is from a primary verb which literally means to give intelligent audience to, to listen intelligently and respond intelligibly. The citizen's relation to this kingdom is to be a learner, disciple, a devout recipient of the sacred truth. We are to listen devoutly with open ear for the truth that we shall hear, to watch intently for the realities, and to respond in corresponding relation to God's eternal truth. We have no power to do more!
Man cannot create truth. Man can only bear witness to truth. Man has no proud right to private judgment, he can only learn and report and act in corresponding relation to eternal truth. Notice the proof of this in all activities of life. The builder of the skyscraper that resists the storm must learn of and imitate the characteristics of the spreading oak which has defied the tempests of centuries. The statesman must listen to reality and produce a nation's polity on the principles of revealed truth, or else his work eventually crumbles in revolution. National revolution is simply the rejection of God stamped on social falsehood that cannot stand.
Truth is given not to be contemplated only, but to be done. Life is action, not merely a thought. That person is already false who believes truth, speculates on truth, but will not do truth. There is no real truthfulness except in the testimony borne to God by obeying his will. A Christian is a person who never believes a principle of truth that he is not prepared to act at any time--prepared at any time to risk the consequences that obeying truth demands.
Gentle reader, following the Man of Galilee, let us be witnesses to the truth! Hold the truth as Christ held it. Though enemies of truth may spit upon us, crucify us, give our bodies to the seven seas or toss our ashes to the four winds, nothing can alter the eternal truth of heaven!