Titles of the Father – The Truth

Titles of the Father – The Truth

Titles of the Father – The Truth.

“Into your hand I commit my spirit. You have redeemed me, O Lord Yahweh, God of truth (emet)” (Ps. 31:5); “But Yahweh is the true (emet) God; He is the living God and the everlasting King.” (Jer. 10:10). These phrases with the Hebrew word “emet” have been translated: True God; God of truth; faithful God; the God who is Truth; the faithful God of truth). 

Then Manoah, father of Samson, asked the Angel of Yahweh, ‘What is your name, so that we may honor you when your words come true?’ The Angel of Yahweh replied, ‘Why do you ask my name? It is a name of wonder. It is unknowable, and too wonderful for you to understand!’” (Judges 13:18).

Trying to determine a list of God’s titles in the Hebrew Bible can be a tricky business, a daunting task. For one thing, the differences between a name and a title are unclear and they often overlap. There are times, too, when one is tempted to consider a common noun or adjective or metaphor to be a title if it happens to reference God. And there are plenty of times when we read of a character description of God, or a unique ability of God, and we find ourselves turning them into titles. So the titles of the Father that I will highlight in this series is a list, not the list. For all I know, there may not even be a definitive list of God’s titles. I aim to provide varied glimpses of God the Father in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament… who He is, what He can do, what He represents, what He has done. Most importantly, I pray the readers of these titles are able to maintain the Jewish tradition of using God’s titles as ways of addressing the Almighty. As we address God in prayer and worship, may we feel free to put a capital letter at the beginning of each title, making the title an aspect of His identity. In that way each title could be another way to honor God and recognize His greatness.

Emet = a Hebrew word meaning primarily either truth or faithfulness. Emet has also been translated secondarily as stability, certainty, trustworthiness, constancy. The root word for emet is amen, which is a more familiar term for us, also translated as truth. Amen is a positive assent, as we know, a confirmation of a truthful statement or prayer. Amen can thus also be translated in a variety of ways: Yes! I agree! So be it! This is absolutely trustworthy! I approve! I believe that, so let it be true! Truly, truly! It’s interesting that Jesus puts this all together in Revelation 3:14 when He told John, “I am the Amen, the faithful and true Witness!”

God is Truth – the One who created Reality and established it on the earth; the universal Fact that founded the world; the divine Reference Point for all that is true; the one fundamental essence of trueness.

God is Faithfulness – the One who is perfectly loyal to His righteous nature; the Being who is purely committed to His trustworthiness; He who is permanently, unfailingly true to His promises.

“What is truth?” (John 13:38).

Pilate asked the wrong question of Jesus, didn’t he? Instead of What, he should have asked Who. He didn’t realize that he was staring at the answer to his question, standing right there in front of him. Little did he know that truth is a Person, not an abstract concept. It’s hard to blame Pilate though, because we don’t normally think of a concept as being a flesh and blood person. When an abstraction becomes an actual person, so much so that the concept is the person’s identity, that’s difficult to digest. Is it even possible for a human being to be so saturated with something, so in union with and in synch with it, that the person can be identified as that concept? We can understand a divine being containing all the truth in the universe, more or less, but becoming that truth? When an established fact like a mathematical concept is understood, that’s one thing. But when that concept becomes somehow real, takes on flesh? Tough to swallow. As it turns out, Truth has a pulse… God’s pulse. He is so joined with truth, truth is so invested in Him, that God is actually Truth itself.

The more we think about it, the more we can see that God loves to turn the abstract into something tangible, something personal. Word became flesh (John 1:14). Wisdom is embodied in the Person of Christ (1 Cor. 1:24); Spirit becomes personal (John 14-16). Love is an abstract principle until it is fleshed out, put into practice, experienced personally (1 Cor. 13). Creation itself was just an idea in the Creator’s until He made the material world out of nothing (Genesis 1-2). So for truth to become a Person, for God to be Truth itself, maybe this isn’t so foreign an idea. And it follows that if the Trinitarian Godhead is Truth itself, that means that the Father is Truth, the Son is Truth, and the Spirit is Truth.

God the Father as Truth. (Please refer to the passages at the top of the article referring to God as Truth). When Moses yearned to be assured of God’s divine nature and glorious Presence, Yahweh Lord promised Moses that He would make all His “goodness” pass in front of him. Shortly thereafter, while on the holy mountain, the Lord kept His promise to Moses and passed before him, declaring His Name and revealing His true nature, His sacred attributes: “And the Lord Yahweh descended in the cloud and stood with Moses, and pronounced the Name of the Lord; and Yahweh passed in front of Moses and called out, ‘Yahweh! Yahweh! A God of tender mercy and gracious compassion, slow to anger, abundant in lovingkindness and truth (or faithfulness, emet), maintaining His mercy for a thousand generations, forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin, yet not excusing the guilty or ignoring sin.” (Exodus 34:5-7). God chore to reveal His true essence, the fixed qualities of His character that are constant, will never change, are eternally true. This is what the Lord wanted Moses to remember about Himself above all else. Did God choose to reveal His almighty power? His overwhelming majesty? No, the Lord chose to reveal Himself as a trustworthy God of love and faithfulness, mercy and truth. As the psalmist celebrates… “I shall sing about the Lord’s faithful love forever, with my mouth proclaim your faithfulness to all generations; because I have said, Mercy is built to last forever; in the heavens themselves you established your faithfulness. Lord God of the Angel Armies, who is as mighty as You? Your faithfulness surrounds You!” (Ps. 89:1-2, 8). The true faithfulness of God’s character even extends to His creation, a universe that is unchangeable, perpetual, constant. God has His faithfulness surrounding Him, circling Him in truth, so that from any angle, He remains certain, an immovable Rock. No matter how you look at God, His word is His bond. Keeping His promises from one generation to the next till the end of time. God is Emet without any doubts.

God the Son as Truth. “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  (John 14:6).  By giving Himself the title of Truth, Jesus is declaring that, not only is He full of truth (John 1:14), and that He came into the world to testify to the Truth (John 18:37), but also that He is in fact the Truth, Truth incarnate, Truth in the flesh. He is the most certain fact of Reality in the world. He is the living fulfillment of God’s true purpose and will, the tangible fulfillment of Yahweh as the God of Truth. Jesus is the great Amen to all the truthful statements ever made. He is the essential truth in God’s Reality. When thinking of truth, Christ is everything God has to say in the matter. Christ is the essential thought of all the truth in God’s mind. Because He is the Alpha and Omega, Jesus is the world’s only complete sentence of truth. He completely spells out God’s Being in the vocabulary of heaven translated to the language of humanity. Jesus is the starting point and ending point of all divine knowledge, all earthly knowledge, the origin and destiny of every true word ever spoken. Christ conveys God’s ultimate thoughts. As Father Reardon once said, “God’s word abbreviated, in the sense that all that God has to say, is summed up in Christ” (Christ in the Psalms). All God’s truth is summed up in Jesus. He contains all the eternal truths of God’s knowledge, from the first letter of His first word, to the last letter of his last words, from Creation to Restoration. Truth is the revelation of established fact, and Jesus represents the indisputable fact of God’s existence in the world. Truth is a part of Christ’s DNA. Truth and Jesus are indivisible, joined together and intertwined. So when He taught, He told others the absolute divine truth. When He healed, He is expressing the Father’s true desire for wholeness in humanity. When He cast out demons, He is demonstrating the truth of God’s power over Satan. Jesus contains truth the way water contains oxygen. Jesus came into the world from the Father to reveal what Truth looked like. An interesting thought from Eugene Peterson: “The Jesus way wedded to the Jesus truth brings about the Jesus life. We cannot skip the way of Jesus in our hurry to get to the truth of Jesus. The way of Jesus is actually how we come to understand the truth of Jesus.” 

God the Holy Spirit as Truth. “When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own authority but will tell you whatever He hears from the Father. He will honor and glorify me,” says Jesus. (John 16:13-14); “But when the Helper comes (the Paraclete), who I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, who comes from the Father, will testify regarding me.” (John 15:26). “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Paraclete) that He may remain with you forever, the Spirit of Truth. You know and recognize Him, because He lives constantly with you and will dwell in you.” (John 14:16-17).  The Spirit of Truth was one of the sacred names given to the Holy Spirit during His Farewell Address to the disciples. In John 13:31-16:33, He is engaged in His longest conversation in the Gospels. During this all-important final message and set of instructions, Jesus called His Spirit the Spirit of Truth three different times. He certainly wanted the disciples to remember this important aspect of following Him after He is gone. Jesus points directly to the Holy Spirit’s helping style when He called the Spirit “paraclete” in the Gospel of John. Paraclete is a Greek term meaning “called to come alongside of.” It is one of those rich biblical terms that cannot be described in one or two words. It means many things, and is a full suitcase that needs to be unpacked. Translations vary in describing what a paraclete actually does. The truth is that the paraclete is called alongside each believer to do many things, to fulfill numerous roles. For the sake of accuracy, it’s helpful to look at paraclete in its many contexts to flesh out the Spirit’s helping style. Remember, Jesus is the one who pointedly and purposefully called His Spirit paraclete. Let’s unpack paraclete this way:

P     Points to Jesus and glorifies Him (John 16:13-14).

A     Advises and Counsels (John 14:26).

R     Reminds so as to promote understanding (John 14:26).

A     Advocates for and defends (1 John 2:1).

C     Comforts and brings peace (John 14:27).

L     Listens and communicates (John 16:13).

E     Exhorts and cheerleads (Romans 12:8).

T     Teaches and guides into truth (John 14:26 and 16:13).

E     Encourages and inspires (Romans 1:12; Acts 4:36; Colossians 2:2-4).

As you can see, the Holy Spirit, the paraclete, has a helping style all His own. The Spirit is called to come alongside us in order to point us to Jesus, advise and counsel us, remind us in order to understand, advocate for us, comfort us, listen to us, exhort us, teach us, and encourage us. That is the style, the method of influence that is intended for the benefit of every person being empowered by the Spirit. If you’re looking for the biblical qualities of ministry and influence, there you are.

Our personal truth-giving Spirit was called the “Eternal Teacher” by the early church, because the Spirit’s role included being our very own private tutor on living the Christian life and being transformed into the image of Christ, the Truth. The Spirit shared by the Father and the Son is sent to each of us to represent Jesus and act on His behalf. Thís Spirit will teach us all things, and will remind us of everything God has ever said in His Word, as long as we are indeed reading the Word (John 14:26). It’s good news for us, isn’t it, that we don’t have to figure out this spiritual life on our own. The fact is we can only understand spiritual truths when we are able to discern them through the Spirit of Truth. St. Paul talked about this in 1 Corinthians 2:7-13: “The wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God previously hidden. It was to us God revealed these things by His Spirit. For the Holy Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given to us. We do not use words that came from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.” 

Interesting Thoughts on Truth:

(1.) “One word of truth outweighs the world.” (Alexandre Solzhenitsyn, Russian author, early 20th century);

(2.)  “Love rejoices in the truth. It shows great delight in truth; and finds great joy when truth prevails. Love joyfully sides with the truth, and is exhilarated with gladness when truth wins out.” (1 Cor. 13:6);

(3.)  “Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.” (Blaise Pascal, French scientist, mid-17th century);

(4.)  “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Paraclete), who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth.” (John 14:16). 

(5.)  “Lost people will be fooled by the Adversary’s evil deeds. They could be saved, but they will refuse to love the truth and accept it.” (2 Thess. 2:10