“With confident soul he stood, hour after hour,
Thy return never doubting to see;
No sneers of tyrant, that faith could o’erpower,
Or shake his assurance in thee!”
– William Peter, “Damon and Pythias”
Earlier, I saw a picture with the caption: “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.” My immediate reaction was: “Have a knowledge of the truth and your voice won’t shake.” As I thought about it, I became even more convinced that this is true. Knowledge yields the fruit of confidence, boldness, and decisiveness. When we truly know something, not merely think it or believe it, we stand unshaken before the scoffing, antagonism, and threats of the bewildered world.
When the Lord Jesus Christ stood before the enraged Jewish rulers who wanted to murder Him for His teachings, He stood His ground and stated:
“[N]ow ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God. . . .
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
“And because I tell you the truth, ye believe it not” (John 8:40, 44-45).
The Lord stood with boldness before the homicidal political rulers of His day because He knew the truth. He didn’t merely believe or hope that what He was saying was accurate. His knowledge was of God. His knowledge made Him unshakable and unruffled in every situation.
We sometimes forget that though He was the very Son of God, Jesus still had to learn obedience, suffer temptation, and grow from grace to grace as any other person. He was not born perfect, He was “made perfect” (Hebrews 5:8-9). Because of His perfect fidelity and honor, He grew more rapidly than normal people and came into possession of all truth and knowledge, leaving Him firm and steadfast and in a unique position in the human race.
It was this Son made perfect who shared His knowledge and helped all around Him rise to a greater stature one step at a time. Integral in this process of ascending to Heaven is truth. The Lord proclaimed: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). He could say this with perfect surety because He was and is the truth: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
All those who come to Jesus and learn of Him – that is, who learn the truth – become unshaken and immovable. Our voice won’t shake when we proclaim the truth, because we know it in every fiber of our being and feel it in the marrow of our bones. The Apostle Paul, who heard the resurrected Lord and talked with Him face to face and knew that He lived and stood supreme over death and hell, boldly stood before judges, jailers, kings, and mobs, proclaiming the truth he had received from the Lord of all truth. This supreme confidence is reflected in numerous passages of Paul’s writings, such as the following:
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. . . .
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair. . . .
“We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
“Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus. . . .
“For which cause we faint not” (2 Corinthians 4:6, 8, 13-14, 16).
Because Paul had his own personal experience, ratified repeatedly by the Holy Spirit which impresses truth on our hearts, he was able to promptly teach truth and commend others to the Redeemer. I particularly love this encouragement found in his epistle to his fellow Hebrews:
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
The children of God were never intended to fearfully cower before their Savior, nor were they supposed to kowtow with their eyes averted when they approached their Lord. Rather, we’re meant to “come boldly” to our Savior. But this boldness is much more difficult to come by if we don’t have a firm knowledge of the One we’re approaching.
Truth is a knowledge of things as they really are. Possessing truth, then, is to have knowledge. When we have knowledge, we can’t simultaneously have doubt. Knowledge and doubt are incompatible. If we truly know a thing, we can have full confidence in it at all times and in all situations. And if we have knowledge and confidence, we can’t fear or quake in speaking what we know.
To deny or fearfully stay silent on what we know is to deny ourselves, because truth, when acquired spiritually, becomes part of us – woven into our very sinews. Boldly telling the truth when we have a sincere knowledge is easy because it’s who we are. Our voice should never shake when speaking truth because it’s a mere expression of our inner selves.
To know something is true but to shrink from saying it is cowardly and shameful. I excuse the telling of sacred manifestations or higher truth because sometimes it’s not wise to cast your pearls before swine. But in a general sense, when it’s time to tell the truth, we either do it or we blot our soul, stifle our spiritual growth, and mark ourselves as liars and hypocrites.
When we have firsthand, personal knowledge of the truth – a witness born of the Spirit – we can stand before the world like Peter and boldly proclaim: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). To so stand may earn us the displeasure of the mob, the hatred of our community, the abandonment of friends and kin, bodily harm, or even the sacrifice of our life, but what else can we do except stand if we’re filled with the knowledge of truth?
When people turn against us for doing and saying what’s right, regardless of peer pressure and the prevailing attitude of society, we should remember that the very Son of God was hated, persecuted, hunted, and slaughtered in a public spectacle for telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth. His apostles were likewise driven, exiled, and hunted. Paul once lamented: “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16). Telling the truth comes with a price; but it also comes with eternal rewards that liars and cowards will never receive.
We should be so filled with conviction and the fire of truth that we can enthusiastically repeat the words of the hymn:
“Oh say, what is truth? ‘Tis the fairest gem,
That the riches of worlds can produce. . . .
“Yes, say, what is truth? ‘Tis the brightest prize
To which mortals or Gods can aspire. . . .
“Then say, what is truth? ‘Tis the last and the first,
For the limits of time it steps o’er.
Tho the heavens depart and the earth’s fountains burst,
Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,
Eternal, unchanged, evermore” (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hymn No. 272).
Let’s tether ourselves to truth. Let’s boldly speak of things as they really are and never quiver when opposed by offended, ignorant, or violent individuals, mobs, or governments. Their protests mean nothing in the eternal scheme of things. But our fidelity to the truth which has been imprinted on our soul by the caresses of the Holy Spirit produces rewards that last forever. Or, as Paul said: “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward” (Hebrews 10:35).
The scripture tells us that “the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1). The Holy Book also tells us that Jesus is the “Lion of the tribe of Juda” (Revelation 5:5). Let’s be righteous. Let’s be like our King, the Lion of righteousness! Let’s proclaim the truth – His eternal truth – with no hint of wavering or doubt in our voices. Fear is for the faithless; those filled with truth can speak with calm certainty because they know. So, let’s faithfully stand like Peter, like Paul, and like our beloved Messiah, and log our names in the book of life.
March 21, 2021