What is truth? It is reality. The New Testament declares that God’s word is truth (John 17:17; Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:5-6). God’s word declares spiritual reality. This is what the New Testament declares.
According to the New Testament, each accountable person, living in this age, must do the following things to be saved and make it heaven. One must: (1) Hear God’s word (Mark 16:15-16 cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Acts 18:8; Romans 10:17). (2) Believe the message (John 8:23-24; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 18:8). (3) Repent of sins (Luke 24:46-47; Acts 2:36-38; 3:19). (4) Confess belief in Jesus (Acts 8:36-38; Romans 10:9-10). (5) Be baptized for the remission of sins (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38 cf. 3:19; 22:16). (6) Live faithfully (Romans 8:5-6; Galatians 6:7-9; Colossians 1:21-23; 1 John 1:7-9; Revelation 2:10). This is what I believe that the New Testament teaches. It is either propositionally true or false. The New Testament either teaches these points or it does not. There is no middle ground. “To hold that the Bible is ‘propositional’ is to say that the explicit statements of the Bible affirm that something either is or is not the case. The reality of this contention is self-evident. One need only open the Bible and point to any statement to see that this is the case. If the Bible does not consist of propositional truth, then it says nothing to anyone at all” (Dave Miller, Piloting the Strait, p. 131).
No Firm Stand
Some among us seem to have an aversion to taking a firm stand on these issues. Here are some possible reasons. (1) Sometimes it may be that they want to be “politically correct” and not offend (John 12:42-43 cf. Galatians 4:16; Galatians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4). One might say, “This is what I believe for my life. You follow what you think is best for your life. Who can be sure?” This mindset thwarts evangelism.
(2) Sometimes it may be that they feel inadequate to defend their position. One might reason, “If I take a firm stand, then I may be called on to defend my position. Therefore, I will openly take no firm stand.” Few people want controversy. However, in matters of salvation, “Is there not a cause?” (1 Samuel 17:29). One needs to prepare himself to defend the truth (Jude 3; 1 Peter 3:15; Philippians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 9:16; 2 Corinthians 5:11; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15). If one does not know how to defend the truth, then one should recruit another to help him. The body of Christ should work together (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:14-30; 1 Corinthians 3:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; Exodus 17:8-13).
(3) Sometimes it may be that they feel intimidated by scholarship and important men. One might reason, “Man A teaches X. Man B teaches not X. Man A and Man B are both intelligent, well studied men. Therefore, how can I decide?” Our salvation deserves greater mental effort than this. The Bible instructs, “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Thomas Warren commented on this verse saying, “This means in regard to religious doctrine which one encounters, one is under the solemn obligation to put the doctrine to the appropriate test. The appropriate test for religious doctrine is to determine whether it is taught by the Bible” (Warren, Logic and the Bible, p. 87). “One must study the Bible for himself (Acts 17:11). One must correctly handle the evidence which he gathers by drawing only such conclusions as are logically warranted by the evidence which is relevant to the matter” (Warren, p. 126).
(4) Sometimes it may be that they do not believe that enough information has been given to draw a conclusion. This may be true for somethings [e.g. Did Lot journey to Egypt at the same time as Abram? (Genesis 12:4-5, 10; 13:1). Likely, he did; but such cannot be known with certainty from the text. Did Joseph, husband of Mary, die before Jesus’ ministry began? He is not seen in scripture after Jesus was a youth (Luke 2:42-52). Moreover, Jesus, on the cross, seems to entrust the care of his mother to John (John 19:26-27). However, we do not know from scripture exactly when Joseph died]. However, salvation issues are another matter (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:2-4; Acts 20:32). Do you think God left us without sufficient information to know what to do to be saved?
(5) Sometimes it may be that they do not want to believe that so many of their neighbors, coworkers, colleagues, friends and family are lost. But, wishful thinking does not change things. The Bible warns that few will be saved (Matthew 7:13-14; Luke 13:23-24 cf. 1 Peter 3:20-21; 1 Corinthians 10:1-12). Moreover, there is a law in logic known as The Law of Excluded Middle. It states, “Every precisely stated proposition is either true or false” (Warren, p. 44). The Bible either teaches that the six earlier mentioned points are necessary for salvation or it does not. There is no middle ground. Instead of refusing to believe what the Bible teaches, let us busy ourselves in an effort to save souls (Acts 8:4; Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 2:9).
(6) Sometimes it may be that they misunderstand God’s relationship to His word. Some have offered hope to family members, upon the death of one outside of Christ. They might say, “I know what the Bible says, but who knows if God might extend clemency in the end” (See Mac Deaver, Faith and Knowledge, p. 21). This implies that one cannot fully trust what the word of God says. Mac Deaver has written, “God is above law in the sense that (1) he can change the law or cancel law when the doing of such does not causes God to in any way incriminate himself (he took the law of Moses out of the way, Colossians 2:14), but God is not above his own law in the sense that (2) he can fail to uphold the integrity of that law (Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2 cf. 2 Timothy 2:13). If God’s law says that a certain group of people will be lost, nothing can prevent that from occurring… I do not claim to know how much this notion of special clemency has affected the church over the years, but the sad fact is that it has been taught for quite some time and no doubt has contributed to a weakened position on the part of some regarding their attitude toward those who die in sin” (Deaver, p. 22).
Is it arrogant to claim that this is God’s plan of salvation as revealed in the Bible? Absolutely not. First, one cannot obey this plan of salvation without acknowledging that he is in sin and lost. It requires humility. Second, anyone can obey this plan of salvation (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47; Romans 1:16; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). All men stand on level ground at the foot of the cross. There is no place for arrogance (Galatians 6:14; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Timothy 1:15-16).