We live in a world where absolute truth that governs all men equally is considered an impossibility. What is absolute truth for me, might not be absolute truth for you. And in a world where personal freedoms and political correctness are almost a sacred right, my absolutes cannot be allowed to infringe on yours, and vice versa. We might expect that from a world that doesn't believe, but are we to expect it from the world that claims to believe?
Paul, in his parting message to the church leaders in Ephesus, had this to say: "Guard yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made your overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock, Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears" (Acts 20:27-31).
How prophetic was that message!
In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his declaration of truth onto the door of the church in Wittenberg. Four hundred years later, it would seem that someone needs to repeat the process on the doors of so many churches where truth has become a matter of personal choice, and absolute truth a matter of personal opinion.
The wolves have deceived their flocks and continue to do so, just as Paul warned the Ephesians leaders they would do.
But the sheep are often easily led. Paul commended the Bereans for embracing truth but for testing it as well. Luke writes in Acts 17:11, "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
Paul's warning to the leaders of the early church was much needed. While it is the responsibility of the shepherd to teach the "whole truth and nothing but the truth," it is also the responsibility of the flock to be students of the Word of the God and check for themselves, as the Bereans did, to make sure that truth is being taught to them.
It is not a matter of suspicion, of doubt, of questioning every nuance of a leader's message. It is a matter of being sure that the absolute truth of God's Word is not distorted, deviated from, or diluted.
The only way we can truly worship God is in "truth" (John 4:23). It is only the "truth" that will set men free (John 8:32). It is only Jesus who is THE Truth (John 14:6). It is the Word of God that tells us what the truth is (John 17:17).
Knowing that truth, preserving that truth, defending that truth, is a call that goes out to all of us as believers in that absolute Truth.