It’s time to get metaphysical.
If you read my blog, you know I like Watchman Nee. An amazing student of the Word. A man who had a deep, intimate relationship with God. A man who also, on May 30, 1972, died in a Communist prison camp for his faith in Christ.
A small scrap of paper was found by his deathbed. It read
“Christ is the Son of God Who died for the redemption of sinners and was resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe. I die because of my belief in Christ. Watchman Nee.”
“…the greatest truth in the universe.” Quite a claim. The greatest truth. What did Watchman Nee mean?
This post is part of a review of a conference recently held in the Netherlands. The title of the conference, “The Four Pillars of the Lord’s Recovery: Truth, Life, the Church, and the Gospel.”
I’m collaborating with a few other bloggers on this little project. Here are the posts to date.
- The Four Great Pillars in the Lord’s Recovery: Truth, Life, the Church, and the Gospel (ITERO 2011) (agodman.com)
- The Progressive Issue of “Holding to Truth”—Four Great Pillars (holdingtotruth.com)
- Being Sanctified by the Truth to Move Out of Ourselves for the Oneness (holdingtotruth.com)
- The Tree of Life (holdingtotruth.com)
- the God who has become experiential to us through our being in Him is the true God and eternal life (agodman.com)
The subject of this 3rd message is
What did Watchman Nee mean by “the greatest truth in the universe”?
Truth, to most of us, is the opposite of false. We teach our children to tell the truth, not lie. That is the conventional definition. Easy enough.
But I don’t think that’s what Watchman Nee meant. As a student of the Bible, he was no doubt using the word in the same way that the Bible uses it.
As Christians, when we talk about the truth, we typically mean the correct teachings of the Bible. There are false doctrines and there are true doctrines. As far as definitions go, that is a deeper denotation of the truth than just “the opposite of false.”
If we use this definition, then Watchman Nee was saying that the resurrected and redeeming Christ is the greatest correct teaching in the Bible.
Eh, perhaps. I certainly wouldn’t say that’s wrong. But it’s incomplete, isn’t it? It would still be a superficial way to understand the word “truth.”
There is an even deeper definition of “truth” contained in the Bible. I think this definition is what Watchman Nee meant when he penned his last words.
The Greek word for truth is alethia (a-LEE-thi-a). It means truth, but it also means “reality,” things that are real. Note: From here on, I’ll use the words “truth” and “reality” interchangeably.
What is real? What is true? Is Micky Mouse real? No. Easy one.
How about your body? Are you real? It seems like it. But after you die, your body is buried and decomposes. Is it still real at that point? Hard to say.
Truth, real truth, should be independent of time. If it’s true now, it should have been true in the past and should be true in the future. For those of you with a math background, read this: Truth is not a function of time.
So what is truth? What is reality? Three things.
1. God is Truth.
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” (Exodus 3:14)
One of the names for God is “I am.” It is the form of the verb “to be” in the present tense. God is “I am” and He is independent of time. He is eternal and unchanging.
The first deep definition of truth is “God.” God is uniquely eternal and immutable. When you see light, remember that God is the real light (1 John 1:5). When you love someone, remember that your love is not real. It is not true. God is the real love (1 John 4:8, 16). God is truth.
2. Christ is Truth.
I am the way, the reality, and the life. (John 14:6)
Christ is the embodiment of God. Everything that God is, Christ is. If God is truth, Christ must also be truth.
The Greek word for reality in John 14:6 above is alethia. Christ claimed that He himself is truth, reality. That is much deeper than saying that he teaches truth. He Himself IS truth.
That just blows my mind.
If you want the truth, you need Christ. When you see bread, remember that Christ is the true bread (John 6:32). When you need rest, remember that Christ is the real, genuine rest.
Watchman Nee even wrote a book entitled “Christ is All Spiritual Matters and Things.” Apart from Christ, anything you attain, know, discover, achieve, control, or possess is not real. It is false. It is a lie. It is vanity of vanities. It will go away.
3. The Spirit is Truth.
…the Spirit of reality, who proceeds from the Father, He will testify concerning Me; (John 15:26)
The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of reality three times in the gospel of John. The word reality in these verses is alethia. He is the Spirit of truth. He is the Spirit of reality.
God is reality. When God contacts us, He does so as the Spirit of reality. The Spirit of reality brings God as truth to us. Through the Spirit of reality, we contact God who is reality.
How to Find the Truth
Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth. (John 17:17)
God, Christ, and the Spirit are not separate. They are one. So the truth that we’re talking about is one truth, not separate truths.
It is my sincere belief that the Bible, of 66 books, is the word of God. This one truth is contained in the word. We call this singular truth contained in the word, “the faith.”
Why It’s Awesome
And we know that the Son of God has come… that we might know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 5:20a, emphasis added)
To know the truth, you must know God who is true. And according to the verse above, to know God who is true you must be IN the God who is true.
To really know a something, you have to be in it. A lot of my friends like music. But one of them plays guitar particularly well. He is into music.
When he talks about music, you can tell that he really knows music. He knows it personally. Its different than if I took a music theory class could tell you about the circle of fifths and the modes of the major scale. His knowledge is subjective and real-life.
To know something, you have to be in it. The goal here is to subjectively know the truth. All the theoretical truth in the world doesn’t do us much good. A real-life, useful knowledge of the truth—that is what we need.
The Triune God is the unique truth. To know the truth, we have to know God. To know God, we have to be in God.
So How Do You Get into God??
God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness. (John 4:24)
When the priests in the Old Testament worshipped God, they had to come into the temple to do it. Inside the temple is were they worshipped God.
That’s a picture. Christ is the real temple (John 2:19-20). We enter into Christ by using our human spirit to contact God. Our use of our spirit causes us to worship God.
The result? Truthfulness. By activating our spirit as we read the word, God comes in and brings truthfulness into us. This removes the falsehood, the vanity, the hypocrisy, all that stuff. It leaves God as truth in its place.
A habit of contact with the word like this is something I aspire to. Daily call on Christ. Daily come to Him. Don’t just read the Bible, but contact the living Person in the Bible. A life spent like this is a life well spent.