The Christian faith has, at its core, cognitive content.
When that reality crashed in on my understanding some 40 years ago, it changed my whole life.
How had I missed this? I had been raised in church. At the time, I was caught up in the influence of the Jesus movement, and the budding contemporary Christian music scene, and the excited anticipation of Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth apocalypticism. And though I knew some of what the Bible said, I realized that I knew next to nothing about what the Bible taught. And so, confronted with my ignorance, I started reading Scripture again with new focus. And verse after startling verse, all related to this growing awareness of the gospel’s truth content, passed before my wondering mind with new and burning clarity:
- “You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth …” (John 5:33).
- “If you abide in my word (or, continue to follow my teaching), you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32).
- “I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth …” (John 17:8).
- “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
- “… those who are perishing, … refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Th 2:10).
- “God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Th 2:13)
- “… God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:3–4).
- “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15).
- “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth …” (2 Tim 2:25).
- “… always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 3:7).
- “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth …” (James 1:18).
- There is “… the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6).
I suddenly grasped that the gospel being God’s news means that it has propositional substance. “News” is, first and fundamentally, information about important things. It’s communication of particulars about who, what, where, when, why, and how. I saw the fact that there being such a thing as “a different gospel” (Gal 1:6), “a gospel contrary to the one you received” (v. 9), means that God’s gospel is comprised of specific, recognizable, explainable truth claims and anything that deviates from that body of truth is false.
There can be no false gospel unless there is a definable true gospel.
That was the beginning of a lifelong adventure of reading, wrestling with, praying through, being rebuked and corrected and trained by, and loving more and more the Word of God.
So, I’m inviting you to walk with me some on this journey into the Truth—into the wonder of its beauty, the marvel of its wisdom, the joy of its liberty, the richness of its grace, the clarity of its light, and the glory of its fullness in the One who said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) and “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3).
Truth matters! It really does!