Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 11, 1958

Buy The Truth, And Sell It Not

Jerry F. Bassett, Willits, California

The title above is not original with this article. On the contrary, it is a direct quotation taken from the Bible and found in Proverbs 23:23. Solomon's statement is simple, direct, and imperative. Yet, in these few words is summarized man's responsibility toward the truth, that is, when he finds truth he is to accept it and not surrender it under any circumstances. Of course, the phrase "buy the truth" does not teach that truth can be literally purchased with money. Rather, it illustrates the function and attitude of a purchaser, who finding an obtainable item of great value would not lose the opportunity to possess it. Neither will one who seeks after truth refuse to accept it having found it through honest investigation and study of God's word.

Man's responsibility to accept and hold to the truth is further illustrated by a parable of Jesus. In Matthew 13:45-46, Jesus is recorded as saying, "Again, the kingdom of heaven is as a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." In other words, when a man learns the truth concerning the kingdom of heaven, and his salvation therein, the nature of that kingdom demands that he accept the truth to he exclusion, if necessary, of everything else in the world.

Understand that the word truth is used here in a very specific sense. It refers specifically and exclusively to God's plan of salvation as revealed in His son, Jesus Christ. God's word is truth (John 17:17) and he has delivered that word to us through Christ. (Hebrews 1:1-2.) The Apostle John wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit saying that Christ being in the flesh was full of grace and truth (John 1:14), and that grace and truth, therefore, came by Him. (1:17.) John also records the promise of Jesus that "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (8:32.) Since truth concerning salvation is revealed in Christ it follows that one must be a follower of Christ to be saved. Hence, Christ's statement, "... I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man can come unto the Father but by me." (John 14:6.).

Christ's statement that men would know the truth, and that the truth would make them free, also makes the design and purpose of the truth specific as well. When men sin they become "servants" or "bondmen" to sin, and therefore to death since the wages of sin is death. (John 8:34, Romans 6:16, Romans 6:23.) Therefore, if men are to obtain eternal life with God they must be released from bondage to sin. The securing of this release is the design and purpose of the truth in Christ.

Obey The Truth

God has delivered the freedom giving truth through the words of Christ and His apostles as recorded in the New Testament. This means that the way of salvation is extended to all men. (John 3:16, Mark 16:15-16, I Tim. 2:3-4.) Therefore, God having extended salvation to man the responsibility for accepting it rests squarely upon the shoulders of those who learn of it.

In Romans, chapter 6 and verse 16, Paul set forth the principle referred to earlier in this article that those who yield to sin are servants of sin. He continued in verses 17-18 saying that these Roman Christians had been made free from sin by obedience to the delivered form of doctrine. Hear Paul, "But God be thanked, that ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." (Romans 6:17-18.) Notice that the thing Paul said had made those people free from sin was obedience to "that form of doctrine." But Christ said, "the truth shall make you free." Therefore, "that form of doctrine" and "the truth" must refer to the same thing. It follows then, that if we learn what doctrine the Romans obeyed we will know what the truth is. In Romans 6:3 Paul said the Romans were baptized into Christ's death. In verse 4 he teaches that being raised from the watery grave of baptism is the likeness of Christ's resurrection from the dead, and that being so raised up they were to walk in newness of life. In verses 5-6 he further reasons that those who had been baptized into Christ's death and raised up to walk in newness of life were to serve sin no longer. In verse 7 he states the reason underlying this fact: "For he that is dead is freed from sin." They were dead to sin, and therefore free from it because they had been baptized into Christ's death! This conclusion is inescapable!

Thus Paul dramatically illustrates the truth which Christ promised would make man free. The truth, the doctrine, the gospel all refer to the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ who is the son of the living God. (Luke 24:46-47, Romans 6:1-6, 17-18, I Corinthians 15:1-4.) Men partake of the same by believing in Christ, John 3:16, Mark 16:15-16; repenting of their sins, Luke 13:3, Acts 17:30; confessing the name of Christ before men, Matthew 10:32, Acts 8:37, Romans 10:9-10; and being baptized into Christ, Acts 238, 8:38, Romans 6:3-4, Galatians 3:26-27.

Man's responsibility (obedience), the result of obedience (salvation), and the object of obedience (the truth), is aptly summarized in words of inspiration spoken by the Apostle Peter, "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently." (I Peter 1:22.) While the hope of heaven is yet obtainable, while mercy lingers, "buy the truth, and sell it not."