The Spirit Gives You a Desire to Seek the Truth

Bob But when he, the Spirit of Truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. (John 16:13, NIV)

Introduction I was trained as a physicist. Excellence in my profession depends upon the ability to deal objectively with facts. This is not as easy as it sounds, because objective thinking is contrary to our prideful human nature. We tend to accept only those facts that conform to our pre-conceived notions, while rejecting those that don't. This tendency is called observational selection. For example, to support a (ridiculous) belief that all people are redheads, I might photograph 100 redheaded people. That's a lot of evidence! But it is not objective because I failed to photograph the blondes and brunettes. All I did was validate my own ignorance. The situation in the real world is more subtle, but the principle is the same. Good scientists have the humility to consider all the facts objectively and the willingness to embrace the truth, even if it involves changing long-held opinions. Indeed, history proves that most of the progress and discoveries in science come from "uncomfortable" facts that don't fit the conventional wisdom.

Wake-Up Call - By age 32, I had attained everything I wanted in life. I had a lovely wife, children, a Ph. D. in physics, a house, and a good-paying job. But one Saturday morning while doing yard work, it occurred to me that every one of these things was temporary. Up to that moment I had been confident that I knew what life was all about. But softly, ever so softly, I heard in my heart,

What if you're wrong?

I wasn't saved at the time, so I didn't recognize these words as coming from the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Truth. But I knew they weren't from me. As these words sank into my being, I was give a clear understanding of three things regarding the Truth.

1) I Had to Find It Myself - When it comes to things of eternal importance, my beliefs cannot be based upon second-hand information. I have to find the Truth for myself, firsthand. I cannot not rely upon the opinion of any person, no matter how educated or well-intentioned, because people are fallible. Nor can I rely upon the opinion of any church, pastor, or religious organization. They can't even agree among themselves.

2) I Need to Be Absolutely Certain - Considering the magnitude of what is at stake, 99% certain is not good enough. I have to be absolutely 100% certain of the Truth. I cannot take chances or tolerate risks, no matter how small.

3) I Have a Responsibility to My Family - It is essential that I find the Truth not only for myself, but also for my beloved wife and children. Whether or not they choose to follow the Truth is a matter of their own free will. But I must know the Truth and do my best to reflect it to them.

If I couldn't go to any person or religious organization to find the truth, what did that leave? The only thing I could think of was the Bible. So more for the sake of my wife and children than for myself, I went back the Bible and began reading it as never before, applying the rules of objective thinking that I had learned as a scientist. In particular, I took great pains to avoid the fallacy of "cherry picking" through the Bible (a.k.a. observational selection). If a person sets himself above God, accepting some parts of the Bible while rejecting others, then all he will do is validate his own ignorance. That kind of person will never learn the truth. So at every point of disagreement or unbelief (which were many!), I inwardly said, "I am not going to lie. I honestly disagree with what this says. My opinon on this matter makes more sense to me than Your opinion. But I'm willing to be corrected. Please show me why I am wrong." Needless to say, God wins every argument.

I did not know it at the time, but this is how God wants us to read His Word. God did not give us the Bible to entertain us, but to change us . . . because all of us desperately need change. The flashing red warning lights alerting us to areas where we need to change are precisely those parts of the Bible that we find most difficult to accept. Instead of avoiding these difficult passages, we should confront them head-on. People say that change is painful, but I disagree. When the Holy Spirit makes your desire for the Truth greater than your desire for comfort, change becomes a pleasure. Years later, I am still allowing God's Word to change me. All the credit and all the glory are His!