Monday, January 6, 2014

Barriers to truth...

Week 2:

John 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Last week we looked at grace and truth.  Jesus lived and practiced both grace and truth.  For us as Christians to be affective in reaching people with the Gospel, it takes a gracious relationship mixed with Biblical truth.  They both work together.  To understand deeper how to reach others with God’s truth, we must understand the barriers to truth.

While I was High School Senior Bible teacher, I was blessed with teaching an Apologetics class.  This is basically a class to teach students how to defend their faith.  One of the themes throughout the semester is the concept of grace and truth through relationship.  We as teachers tried to avoid debate only, “bumper sticker” Christianity.  One of the early building blocks of the class is the teaching over the four barriers to truth.  We introduce the concepts, point out some ways to recognize the barriers, and give some methods on how to handle these barriers.  The four basic barriers to truth are the willful barrier, the barrier of ignorance, the barrier of blindness, and the emotional barrier.  As I noted last week, when dealing with others around grace and truth; there are many who have trouble with truth.  Some of this is due to our relationship.  However, much of this deals around one of these barriers.

The willful barrier: No matter how God is presented; no matter what is presented, the person does not believe.  I can have all the evidence in the world and even have a great relationship with the individual and yet he/she will not believe.  Whatever the reason may be; pride, stubbornness, anger, etc., he/she refuses to believe.  This is a willful barrier to truth.  Using the Bible will not help.  Not for this individual.  The two approaches needed in order to reach someone in this state are:  Love and prayer.  I have to continue to love this person no matter where he/she stands in life.  I cannot give up on love.  Hand in hand with that has to be prayer for the person.  Only God, through His Spirit, can break down this barrier. 

The barrier of ignorance: I have heard it said, and find it a more true statement the older I become, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”  This may be a person who has never been exposed to the truth about God, Jesus, and the kingdom.  In more, detail, he/she may recognize the names of God and Jesus but have not reference point in his/her life to make a connection.  I see this sometimes as I deal with another person around an issue and I use a Biblical story to illustrate what’s going on.  I have to stop and give the whole story in order for it all to make sense and connect.  The two best approaches here are love and teaching.  Continue the loving relationship and teach where ever possible.  Get a Bible in his/her hand and begin mentoring and disciple.

The barrier of blindness:  The one receiving the message is blinded by something.  Jesus referenced the phrase, “Eyes but cannot see…” in different scenarios.  Something is blocking the hearer from seeing the truth.  It could be an idol, a distraction, a search in the wrong direction, etc.  Whatever it is, he/she is blind.  Two approaches to this barrier are love and information (Are you seeing a reoccurring theme here? L-O-V-E).  I must continue to love.  Out of that love I need to have a strong argument based on Biblical authority.  If I go in to this scenario to only win an argument, then I have missed.  My information must be based on Biblical authority. 

The emotional barrier:  This barrier is based on emotional occurrences in a person’s life.  He/she has usually been wounded by Christians or some Biblical misuse around an occurrence in his/her life.  There is a wound that carries strong emotions for this person.  Pointing out truth may deepen the wound and further shame for him/her.  For example; I knew a man who would not set foot in a Church.  What was his reason?  When his wife was pregnant, they began to attend a local Church.  One day an elder and his wife were visiting the couple.  The elder’s wife did the math and discovered that the baby the couple were having had been conceived out of wedlock.  During the visit, she proceeded to point that out in a condescending and judgmental way.  Yet, when the baby was born, she was one of the first to make a big deal out of the child at Church.  This came across as hypocrisy to the husband.  She may have pointed out truth and the sin that came with that truth, but her timing and lack of relationship was damaging.  The two approaches to this barrier are a loving understanding and the practice of mercy and grace.  Empathy is a huge key here.  First seek to understand before being understood.

With these four barriers in mind, I must continue to understand those who do not see the truth.  The fact of the matter is, I have experienced each of these barriers personally when truth different than I have understood has been presented to me.  When I am faced with these barriers in the future, it would be good for me to keep in mind how I felt or reacted when I did not believe a truth at the outset. 


1.      Which of the four barriers have you been faced with lately when speaking truth?

2.      In your own words, explain why it is so important to have a loving relationship with one you are speaking truth.

3.      Describe the difficulty you have had speaking truth when encountering one of these barriers? 

4.      Does knowledge of these barriers open your eyes to some new avenues?  How?

5.      This week, pay attention to where any of these four barriers shows up.  Ask God to give you strength, boldness, understanding, and wisdom as you encounter one or all of these barriers to truth.
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