"Whatsoever things are true...." Philippians 4:8
The words cited above were written by the Apostle Paul and, along with other virtues listed in that verse, are part and parcel of a Christian's makeup. And, he further adds in verse 9 that "these things," (those spoken of in verse 8) are not just to be talked about. They are "things" that Christians are to "do." And, when we "do" those things, when they are embedded in our lives, then "God is with us."
Having said that brings us to our little lesson for today. We're going to talk about what is "true," in respect to the definition of true as being what is "authentic," or what is "real." I'm going to use a couple of illustrations to make my point here and I hope to do so in a manner that is understandable to all. Okay, here we go.
My illustrations are designed to take us towards a study of something Christ said in John 8:32. Something that we've all heard many times over in various lesson forms. He says there: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." The part I'm going to concentrate on today is "knowing the truth."
There's an old adage that I've used many times in my classes and it's appropriate here again today. It goes like this: "If you don't know the truth, you'll believe a lie." And I personally believe that this accounts for so many people caught up in the many "religious-sounding entities" prevalent in today's world. They simply don't know the truth, therefore they believe whatever sounds good to them.
As most of you know, I'm a "collector." People ask me what I collect and my stock answer is "anything that calls my name." But mostly, I've been involved in collecting antiques and guns just about all of my adult life. But it matters not what you collect, or in what area your collecting interest lies, there is a phrase related to collecting that goes as follows: you have to have a "Point of Reference."
In other words, you have to know what a "real" or "authentic" object looks like in order to know a fake when it's presented to you. And, as I just mentioned to you, it doesn't matter what you collect, if it's valuable, there will be fakes available to be purchased. Only they don't always call them "fakes," they refer to them as "reproductions." However, there are probably as many unscrupulous sellers of these items as there are "reproductions." They won't tell you that the item is not "real" or "original," they'll just let you find out the hard way after you've bought it.
Do you see what I'm saying about having a "Point of Reference?" You have to know what a "real" one is in order to identify a fake. And, our "Point of Reference" is the knowledge of what is "real." How do we gain that knowledge, that "Point of Reference?" Very simply - by studying the "real," the "true" or genuine article. Here's another illustration for you to consider. Since not all of us are collectors, let's use something that all of us are familiar with - money. That's right, "legal tender." And, since money is a valuable commodity, to some more than others, guess what? There are a lot of crooks out there counterfeiting money. Now mostly they only counterfeit the larger bills, say $20 to $100. What they make is not "legal tender" because, to be legitimate, it has to be "real."
Do you know how they train government agents to recognize counterfeit money? They spend months just handling "real" bills. Studying the texture and feel of the paper. Studying the ink and engraving of the bills. This is how they establish a "Point of Reference" for our national currency. How they establish their knowledge of the "authentic" article. They know a legitimate bill so well that they are able to spot a phony immediately. What I'm saying here is, they do not study the phoneys, they study the "real," the "true."
Well, after those illustrations, I doubt if anyone reading this has any problem connecting them to the gist of our lesson today. When the Apostle Paul told Timothy in 2Tim. 2:15 to "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." he was telling him to establish his "Point of Reference."
And this is the very same reason that we study together in our various formats and venues. We want to know all that we can about what the "word of truth" says so that we can establish our own "Point of Reference." By doing so, we can avoid "believing a lie" because we can see where it differs from the "true."
Earlier I mentioned there being many "unscrupulous" dealers or purveyors of fake or phony items in the world and again, I don't see it hard to connect that statement with the world of religion. Simply said, there are many, many purveyors of "religions" out there available to be "bought," so to speak, by unsuspecting people who have no "Point of Reference."
They don't know the truth because they've never studied it enough to "be approved" (accepted or authoritative) and therefore, they will believe what someone tells them. Do you think it possible that a "purveyor" of false doctrine might be able to sell them a lie? As my grandkids say, "Duh?" My closing comment is another reference to something I said earlier: the "word of truth" says that they will find out "the hard way" that they "bought" a fake because they don't know what the "true" doctrine is. They have never established a "Point of Reference."