Why does the Church of Christ contend for the Truth and why try to bind your interpretations?
Well, what is Truth? We ought all agree that Truth is knowable. For Jesus said, “. . . to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:31-32).
However, not only is Truth knowable, Truth has been revealed. David said, “Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.” (Psa. 86:11) Jesus prayed to the Father to, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (Jn. 17:17) Plus, we are reminded by Paul to, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (2 Tim. 2:15, 25-26) So, Truth is knowable and if truth is from God, then Christians should scour God’s Word in their quest for the truth which it possesses.
Yet, Truth is also absolute. There are several ways that the Bible proves that it is absolute. For example: The Bible teaches that it is possible to distinguish between truth and error making Truth absolute and attainable (1 Jn. 4:1-6). The Bible teaches that men must not preach any message other than the truth making Truth absolute and attainable (Gal. 1:6-9). The Bible teaches that men must both believe and obey the Truth making Truth absolute and attainable (1 Pet. 1:22). The Bible teaches that men can learn the Truth (Jn. 8:32). It teaches that men can walk in the Truth (3 Jn. 4). It teaches that men may learn the Truth, live by it for a time and then desert it (Heb. 3:12). So, if Truth is absolute and it is, then there are two necessary implications: First, Truth is not subjective meaning that it is not based or modified within the minds of mankind. Second, Truth is unchanging. So, if Truth is knowable, absolute and attainable, it must also be exclusive.
It is said by Atheism and skeptics of the secular world as well as the division of the religious world, that we all cannot have the Truth. But, if all cannot have Truth, then all do not have Truth. So, if all do not have Truth, it must be exclusive. Thus, since it is exclusive, it is also necessarily condemning.
When reading our Bibles, we see that Noah was given a simple task by God which was to build an ark (Gen. 6). We see by this story that 8 were saved, because there were many who would not heed to the Truth that a flood was coming from God to destroy mankind. Yet, notice that in Heb. 11:7, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Thus, we contend for the Truth because it is the Truth that God gave man.
Now, we come to the second part of this question: WHY DO YOU TRY TO BIND YOUR INTERPRETATION ON EVERYONE ELSE? The thing is: Only Truth can be bound, but who has the authority to bind?
First of all: God, is the authority (Period)! The Father who is in Heaven is the author of Truth and therefore, he has ultimate authority over it. Even Jesus himself said, “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” (Jn. 12:49-50) So not only did Jesus speak the Father’s will, the Holy Spirit took the very words through which the Father wanted to pass on the Truth and inspired men to write, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Pet. 1:20-21) Therefore, since all Truth is by the Father, it is natural that the Bible claims that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) So, the flow of authority flows out from God the Father, to Jesus and/or to the Holy Spirit through inspired men who penned the Bible which was given to uninspired men (mankind). Therefore, what uninspired men receive today is the same that God gave in the beginning: The Truth.
Second, men are subordinates meaning that they are to assist in the subject of authority and Truth. The apostles were told by Jesus that he would give unto them, “. . . the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:19) Now one might ask the question, “If the apostles could bind, and thereby set forth truth, would that not remove God from being the source of all Truth? Well, the thought of the original languages answers this question well, for they were responsible to bind on earth or loose on earth that which had already been bound, or loosed, in heaven. They were not given free reign to do as they wanted. Second, in matters of authority, elders are given the authority to rule which excludes everyone else (1 Tim. 5:17). Billy Joe Bob is not the ruler or spokesperson for any congregation. If there is one man or two who are seen as rulers or leaders of the congregation and have not the role of eldership, they are dictators and controllers of that which God says they have no control over. Elders are to rule and they are to do things that are expedient toward the growth of the kingdom, but even they cannot enact laws that supercede God’s law. Third, Christians are also given the allowance or ruling in their own lives as far as matters of conscience is concerned. However, they too are not given a ruling thumb in any areas where God has already set forth definite rules. Thus, the understanding concerning the binding of Truth is this: God has given it, and men, all men are subordinate to it or they are in contempt of God’s will.
Now, how do we approach that which is bound in heaven? First of all, we live it ourselves. We do not deny what is bound, we do not argue with what is bound, we do not change what is bound and we do not forsake what is bound. We accept it for what it is: Truth! Solomon penned, “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.” (Prov. 23:23) When we try to write our own rules, we undermine Truth and thereby tell God that his way is not as good as my way. We are to give our hearts, time and efforts to learn Truth. We are to obey the Truth regardless of what biases may have been planted in our pasts that might prejudice us against it; we adapt to it rather than adapt it to us. We must love it for what it can provide: salvation.
Second, we must proclaim it to others. What do we preach? As preachers of the restoration movement were fond of saying, “We speak where the Bible speak and are silent where the Bible is silent.” When we learn Truth, and know it, then we have the responsibility to preach it and only it. But, notice what we do not preach: We do not preach any doctrines that are of human origin. We do not preach anything that is fallible. And, we do not preach our own opinions. Paul said, “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” (2 Tim. 2:16) And the thing is: Truth is intolerant and exclusive. Prejudice is Truth’s greatest enemy. “One man said, the way of truth is like a great road. It is not difficult to know it. The evil is only that men will not seek it.”
In the Lord’s Church, the Church of Christ, there is only one brand of truth: God’s Truth. This Truth is not by any wisdom of men, but rather, by God himself who is the author of it!