I. "The" Truth, not "A" Truth.
If the subject be examined we shall come to but one conclusion on it, namely, that truth is presented in the Word of God now as a whole. We read of "truth," of "the truth," and of "all truth," but we do not read, anywhere that I can find, of "a truth," as though many existed. If truth is in the mind of God one complete whole, then, however much anyone has learned of it, or however long through grace he has been walking in it, there is that for him yet to learn and yet to walk in, beyond anything that he has yet attained to.
When we speak of "a truth" (and it is a common but, I think, wrong way of speaking, as though we had grasped a something independent in itself) the tendency is to puff us up. This is not the case when we view what we know as only a part of one great whole, which exists for us in the mind of God. To attempt to pass the little we know of as all, and to feel superior to others on account of it, is folly and assumption. "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part."
God, who dwells in us, must necessarily be beyond us; and in the truth, which he knows, no man knows all, so as to be independent of the whole, or of what the others have. God dwells in all believers alike by His Spirit, but the Spirit does not ignore the condition of soul of any believer, and no man can really go in present enjoyment beyond the truth which the Holy Spirit makes good to him in his own soul, nor say that in the truth which he knows, he knows all. In God he has the source of all, of course.
II. What is truth?
God is called "the God of truth," and also "the true God."
If I may be allowed to suggest a thought, it is this: There are two vast systems of things working actively all around us. The one is, in the smallest detail of it, founded upon "A LIE"; the other is, in all its parts, founded upon "THE TRUTH." The first took its rise in sin in the garden of Eden, where the first man is seen as its victim, with Satan as the seducing spirit - all this goes on today - and ends with "believing a lie," and the judgment of God. (2 Thess. 2:11, 12.) The second takes its origin from God's thoughts and purposes regarding the second Man, with the Holy Spirit on earth now to effect those purposes in so far as they concern us, and to build up the whole system of "the truth," whether for heaven or earth, in connection with Him, who is both its Centre and its Head. (Col. 1:16, 17, 18.) The result is seen in glory, and a new heaven and a new earth. The following passages indicate the two systems: "No lie is of the truth. "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." "As the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him." The truth, as I understand it, is all that system of things which God will have for the glory of Christ; the opposite of that which exists now, and which is based on Satan's lie.
III. What is the Relation of the Holy Spirit and the Truth?
We cannot, I think, separate the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, and the truth. The Spirit is called "the Spirit of truth," and "the Spirit is the truth." (1 John 5:6.) Whatever there is of truth in any of us, is of the Spirit; and whatever is of the Spirit in any of us, is the truth. The Spirit is the truth. He is the embodiment of that which is only made known to us in parts. In Him we have all. So the Lord says to the disciples, "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself: but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come"; and John says, "Ye know all things." (1 John 2:20.)
IV. The Truth versus Assumption.
The ship Allendale (Sunderland) ran aground in a fog. Judgment given respecting her in the Board of Trade enquiry was, that J. W., the master, "had not used the lead, but had shown too much confidence, having gone the voyage so often before." This was assumption. There is peculiar danger, lest in the ministry of the Word we assume (because the Lord ministers through us known truth) that we are abreast of Him in the truth thus ministered. It may be taken as the only safe sign of spiritual health, that we seek ourselves to be under the present power of the truth ministered through us. We must, so to speak, "use the lead," or take soundings. As we think of possessing a truth, we are in this very danger; as we think of "the truth" we are humbled.
In old time the ministers sought the meaning as to themselves, of what "the Spirit of Christ, which was in them, did signify." (1 Peter 1:11, 12.) The principle herein was a right one. The servant of God now, in whose ministry there is power, will be found similarly exercised. There were teachers in our Lord's day, as also there are now. They occupied the place of authority, they sat "in Moses' seat." Many things (speaking thence) they bade the people to "observe and do," yet they themselves did them not! The Lord pronounces a solemn "woe" upon them in Matt. 23. But even the people detected the hollowness of it. Why? It lacked authority. There was not power with it. How different the Lord's ministry! "He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." There was no assumption. He was what He ministered. "Altogether that which I also say to you." (See N.T., John 8:25.) May all those who minister the truth know more of the life of Him, the true Servant. H. C. Anstey.