When Jesus brought before the Roman governor pilot, He said that He had come into the world proclaim the truth. Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” I have heard people say that “truth is broader than your narrow concept and differs between people.” So how can we determine when a belief about God or how God relates to mankind is true?
A statement is true to the extent that it corresponds with reality. Said another way, a person’s spiritual belief about God is true when it is shown to aligned itself with the way God really is.
Michael Licona in the book, Evidence for God, helps us distinguish the difference between what is true for a person (subjective) and what is true for a person due to how it corresponds with reality (objective).
My wife, Betty, and I have been married for 21 years. Our ideas of comfort differ. She is a lot of German blood and is comfortable and cooler temperatures, while I am am more comfortable in warmer temperatures parentheses. My dad was from Doris and parentheses. If it’s 70° in the house, she’s turning on the fans, and I’m putting on a sweater! In this case, true to his boast personal, and relative: Debbie is warm, and Mike is cool. But there is a truth irrespective of our perceptions: it’s 70° in the room.
It is important for us to remember (and help others remember or consider) that my feelings about a particular subject or particular value can be “true” for me, but that does not mean that a particular feeling or value is in-and-of-itself true for everyone. I would also note that this is more than mere opinion, this is really how I feel and it is true … for me. However, using the example given above, while Betty was truly “warm” and Michael was truly “cold” the thermometer in the room measured reality. So, while both Betty and Michael certainly do “feel” warm or cold, the temperature is undisputed given that the authority for measuring the temperature says what it is. In other words, the authority on temperatue is not the feelings of either Michael or Betty, it is the thermostat. So, while there feelings at a certain level are “true,” neither have the authority to claim what is reality.
Now let’s replace the idea of the temperature of a room or a house with the spiritual beliefs of a person. While there are many things one may prefer to believe in and about when it comes to God, how do we distinguish between what I believe personally and what is true objectively? This is where the Bible comes in. In order for me to say something is true (for all people, all places, all times) it must corresponding to something that is THE authority when it comes to God. Unless our idea of who God is and what being spiritual entails according to what the Bible defines as being spiritual, a person has no right to claim to be truly spiritual. At best, they are just giving their impressions of a notion regarding what they hope to be right.
Therefore, we must make sure that the beliefs that we hold to or are believing to be true corresponds to what the Bible says is true. When we have feelings that do not correspond to what the Bible says we are to then change how we feel by informing our feelings regarding what is true. The Bible is the mechanism that should shape and mold us at the very core of our being. We can see this dynamic in the promise of Jesus that the Holy Spirit will come and guide us into “all truth.” (See John 16)
So, when my feelings, of what being spiritual is, correspond to what the Bible teaches, then I can have confidence that what I am feeling is right and good, and vice versa. The difference between what I think is “true” and what is “TRUE” makes all the difference in how I feel and in how I am to live my life.