I get emails nearly every day from someone who is sincerely asking what a particular Scripture means. While on one hand I am appreciative that so many people are seeking to understand the truth, I am also aware of how limited I am at helping anyone understand the truth.
Truth is never known until it is experienced. Jesus said that you shall know (experience) the truth and it shall set you free. That word for “know” is an experiential knowledge, not an academic definition. Information cannot set anyone free. Truth experienced is freedom!
Understanding is a heart capacity, not an intellectual one. The intellectual mind gathers data. It leaves us with little more than an equation, or at best, a rendering. But in the end our heart “bends” that data to fit our beliefs and perceptions. When we can’t make information say what we need for it to say, according to James 3:16, we fall into confusion. Confusion is the result of selfish ambition, i.e. we already know what we want. Therefore, any opposing view is confusing.
Because understanding is a capacity of the heart, when we understand something we don’t just gather and assess information. We understand information as it applies to application. Likewise, when we believe the truth it isn’t a mental acknowledgment that it is true. When we believe the truth we believe it as if it is our own. It changes our sense of self. We see ourselves with the truth as our reality!
The primary function of the heart is to believe about ourselves. Understanding, faith, and all other factors of faith are about believing it’s true for/about us now. For instance, salvation occurs when I believe in my heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. That means I believe it as it relates to me. It’s not the belief in a historical fact; it’s the belief about something that alters who I am! Believing on Jesus isn’t the acknowledgment that Jesus lived; it’s the belief of Him and what that means to me!
The Greek word for believe is synonymous with the word obey. There is no New Testament concept of believing one thing and doing another. Obeying, congruence, and harmony are always the fruit of believing!
We tend to seek for definitions of truth hoping that our intellectual grasp will bring the empowerment to live that truth. For many who have really good intentions, life becomes an endless, frustrating pursuit of information – information that never quite works as we expect! Definitions are not reality; they are simply the closest thing we can come to explaining reality. It’s difficult to actually explain or define the eternal realities of God. There are always subtle nuances that we hit or miss. In the end, those who have a heart for truth will get it and those who don’t… well, they just don’t get it.
The question then begs to be answered,”How can I know I have a heart for truth?” It’s all about intention. Is it your intention to intellectually know the truth or do you have the intention of living the truth you know? Jesus said it like this, If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. (John 7:17, NIV) The only way to know if He was telling the truth was if you tried to make it work!
The intention of application is the supreme difference. It’s the difference between a student and a disciple. It’s the doorway to truth that can be shared but never fully explained. It’s the difference between experiencing grace and willpower. It’s the difference between reality and theory!
I don’t know how many times I’ve been struggling with something and my mind would say, “You need to read a book on this!” Then I would hear another voice from deep in my heart saying, “No, you need to put what you already know into practice.” There is an ancient proverb that says, “If you think you can learn it from a book, don’t buy the book.” There’s nothing wrong with reading and studying; in fact, it’s commendable, but in the end only the Great Teacher, the Holy Spirit, can empower us to do that which we intend to put into practice!
So, I really can’t answer anyone’s question to their complete satisfaction. And to me it’s so incredible that I can’t because by not being able to answer the question, and knowing I can’t, forces me to point others to the One who can. At best we can inspire others to “experience” the answer. Only then have we actually done them a service.
A witness is someone who has seen or experienced something first hand. A witness gives a testimony, a verbal rendering of what they have seen or experienced. The breakdown of the church has been a couple of thousand years of people who don’t have experience trying to describe and explain what was told to them by someone else who really didn’t have a personal experience. In the end, it’s all reduced to intellectualism, words without power!
Grace, which is God’s ability and power to live, be, and do what we don’t have the power to do is only experienced by those who believe with the intention to do! There’s nothing impossible to the person who believes in their heart! Faith knows. Belief is feeling and thinking. Perfect faith is believing and doing! When you want to know if something is true… believe it and put it into practice.