It is difficult to know whom or what to trust, or whom or what to believe. As humans, we are finite and have limited knowledge. The ideas, people, and experiences that we grow up with significantly affect our understanding. We lack the objectivity and knowledge to make consistently accurate judgments. On top of this, we are flawed, not always living up to even our own values. Whether you call this flaw ‘sin’ or look to another cause, each of us does things that are inconsistent with our values. So whether a person is looking for truth, or hoping to share truth, we all face serious limitations.
God is the Creator
Christians believe that God is the Creator of all that has ever existed or ever will exist. He is perfect in His knowledge of His creation. He doesn’t face the limitations of knowledge and experience that we finite creatures do. And He is also good and always acts consistent with His character. His understanding is not affected by sin, as ours is.
But if God is so different from us – infinite, holy, eternal, uncreated – how can we learn truth from Him? (Isaiah 55:8-9; Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 50:21; 147:5; Hosea 11:9; Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29). Picture our known world as a circle, which includes the earth and all the experiences of mankind over time. If we want to know more than what has happened within this imaginary circle, or even understand the meaning of what has gone on, someone with that knowledge will have to break into our finite circle with knowledge that we can understand.
Self-revelation of God
Christians believe that God loves His creation, and wants everyone to know Him (Exodus 7:5; 1 Kings 8: 59-60; Joel 2:27; Ezekiel 28:33; Jeremiah 31:34). He has in fact brought trustworthy knowledge to us in a variety of ways. The record of this self-revelation of God is found in the Bible.
The Bible tells of four different ways in which God has revealed truth to us.
- The first type of revelation is that which can be learned about God from His creation (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:20; Acts 17:24-29). By looking at what God has made, we can learn some things about the One who created it. This type of revelation has been available to everyone, throughout all history.
- A second type of revelation comes to us when God speaks through humans (Numbers 12:6; Deuteronomy 18:18-19; Isaiah 51:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Hebrews 1:1-2). The Bible is filled with the words of all kinds of people – patriarchs, prophets, leaders, kings, widows, fishermen. Even the words of those who disobeyed God are preserved so that they can be contrasted with God’s truth.
- Another important type of revelation is found in the acts of God. At times God has broken into our limited experience with specific acts that reveal truth – the flood in the time of Noah, the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, the birth of the Messiah Jesus. All these events appear to be supernatural, clearly from outside our normal experience. Each of these acts is accompanied by an interpretation (God explaining the meaning and significance of these events), so that those who saw the events would understand what God was doing and teaching.
- The final and most complete revelation came in the person of Jesus, God’s son (John 1:14-18; 14:9; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:1-2).
Speaking and acting in agreement with the Bible
Christians believe that reliable, trustworthy truth is found in the Bible, because it is provided by the God who wants His creation to know Him. He is the One with perfect knowledge, and who always speaks truth. The Bible makes this claim of truthfulness for itself (Psalm 19:7-11; Psalm 119; Luke 1:1-4; Galatians 1:11-12; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; 2 Peter 1:16; 1 John 1:1-3).
In the world we encounter many different opinions and ideas. This is what we should expect from finite, flawed humans. When someone speaks or we read something, we can compare what they say to what God has said in the Bible. If what someone says disagrees with the Bible, we are either misunderstanding them, or it is false. If what someone says agrees with the Bible, but their actions are consistently contrary to what the Bible teaches, we would be wise to seek counsel from someone who both speaks and acts in agreement with the Bible.