Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 12, 1961
NUMBER 35, PAGE 1,12a

The "Old Path" Of Truth

Brooks C. Webb, Indianapolis, Indiana

Truth! A sublime word! A transcendent thought! How great is the need this day for truth. What problems could be solved, what hearts could be comforted, what divisions could be healed if only men would come to know and practice the truth. In the long ago the thundering voice of the mighty prophet sounded loud and clear, "Thus saith Jehovah, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls; but they said, We will not walk therein." (Jer. 6:16) Israel had wandered from the "old paths" of God's will and worship. The great prophet was by inspiration striving to turn them again unto the law of Jehovah. Now, more than nineteen centuries past the death of the Messiah, men have again wandered afar from the "narrow way," hence, they need once again to consider the voice of Jeremiah, to "ask for the old paths.... and walk therein."

In every century, in every apostasy, the first "old path" which the people of God leave is that of truth and a love for it. Once this is done there is no stopping place. So far have the children of men digressed from the ancient order that they stand before God as Pilate stood before Jesus, confused, and ask, "what is truth?" Hence, religious people, their leaders in particular, are "ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Tim. 3 /) Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32) But in studying this subject we must define that about which we speak.

Truth is defined as, "The state of being true, genuine, exactness, correctness. That which is true, that which conforms to fact or reality." In this we do not speak of "scientific truth," or "sociological truth," though the New Testament is scientifically and sociologically true. Sociologically speaking, truth is relative. What is true today, in this city, may not be true in another locale, at another given period. We now speak of absolute truth, that which never changes. When the Lord said, "ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," He spoke of a perfect, complete and total truth. This truth, Jesus said, is the word of God. (John 17:17) We are given the infallible promise that this truth "shall never pass away," but "endureth forever."

By telling us that we "shall know the truth," the Lord implied that truth is somewhere within the grasp of man, It is accessible to him who desires it. But the question is, "Where?" This is answered in divers ways, all but one of which are in complete error. Millions look to the Vatican City for their authority, and for their "truth." If some particular doctrine is not taught by the church or in the "Fathers," or if the Pope does not give it sanction, then it is rejected by them and considered to be error. Multitudes look to the councils, synods and conventions of men. What is passed upon by the majority is readily accepted by many as truth. Still others look only to their own wisdom and conscience for authority. These standards are fallible and entirely unsatisfactory. In them truth is not found. The disciples of these doctrines are walking by the wrong rule, they have the wrong guide. In the final analysis it is simply the "blind leading the blind."

Our standard of authority must be the word of God. In religion anything else is wrong and is not the doctrine of Christ. The New Testament contains everything the sinful sons of men need in order to be saved, and be made free. John wrote, "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." (John 20:30-31) To have life is to be free from the consequences and guilt of sin. Thus everything one needs to be made free is written down in the New Testament. In speaking of Jesus, Peter wrote, "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and Godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue." (2 Peter 1:3) Anything not revealed in the New Covenant is not needed for either life or godliness. Religiously speaking, Truth is God's revealed will and everything that man needs is found in the Bible. That which is not found therein is forbidden. (2 John 9) Therefore to walk in the "Old Path" of truth is to "speak where the Bible speaks; and remain silent where the Bible is silent: to do Bible things in Bible ways: and call Bible things by Bible names."

The return to the "Old Path" of truth depends upon our attitude toward it. He who seeks to do the bidding of Jehovah only to the extent that the Lord's will does not conflict with his own will can never expect to walk in the path of truth. He is guilty of the "doctrine of Balaam," and does not really want truth. This principle is lucidly stated by Christ himself, (John 7:17), "If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself." (ASV) With such a disposition there is little hope that he will even accidentally stumble upon the truth, for Paul declares, "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be savd. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie." (2 Thess. 2:10-11) The apostle then hastens on in the next verse to point out the tragedy of those individuals who do not love the truth, and the inescapable destiny which awaits them truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." A further evil effect of a failure to love and accept the truth is demonstrated in the lives of the Gentiles who Paul said "having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart." (Eph. 4:18)

Our attitude therefore should be one of love for, reception of and submission to truth, putting God's word and His will above our own, and uttering with the Master, "not our will, but thine be done." We must be willing to purchase the truth at any price, and once truth is obtained, refuse to part with it regardless of the price offered for it. (Prow. 23:23; Matt. 13:44, 45) When in possession of such a disposition, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

The question of desirability of the truth arises in the mind of some, and they ask, "why should I desire the truth?" The answer is simple: "The truth shall make you free." It is truth alone which is able to translate one from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear son. It is truth alone that is able to break the shackles and bondage of sin and to relieve one of the awful consequences of having committed sin. It is truth alone that is able to place one in that glorious state of liberty which is available only to the disciples of the Lord. Paul said that the gospel is "God's power unto salvation." (Rom. 1:16) And James further shows the desirability of truth when he instructed us to put "away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls." (James 1:21) If we are ever forgiven of our transgressions, and saved eternally, it will be because we loved the truth, accepted it, lived by and proclaimed it publicly and from house to house while in this tabernacle of clay. To be sure, truth is desirable above all in this earth, for Jesus taught, "what it a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Matt. 26:16)

We plead for sincere souls to throw off the fetters of denominationalism, reject the doctrines of men, and "ask for the old paths (of truth), where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." For your own sake, do not be among those who say with the erring of Jeremiah's day, "We will not walk therein," but rather take your place with those on the Lord's side who humbly implore, "speak Lord, thy servant heareth, command and I will obey."