Parts 4A through 4D show that Bible study teaches a person how to discern between spiritual truth and spiritual error. The ability to possess spiritual discernment is especially critical in the 21st Century because of the proliferation of theological error whether intentional or not.
Part 4A considers what truth is and what is in error.
The truth is that which corresponds to or adequately expresses what is real. See Evans, C. S. (2002). In Pocket dictionary of apologetics & philosophy of religion (pp. 118–119). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. One dictionary definition of “real” reads, “… actually existing or present as a state or quality of things having a foundation in fact; actually occurring or happening”. See The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, (1991) Clarendon Press, Oxford, England at p. 1519.
Old and New Testament words corresponding to “truth” are consistent with the dictionary definitions. The Hebrew word denotes faithfulness in the sense of fidelity and trustworthiness as well as absolute reliability and complete integrity. See Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, (2006), Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530 at pp. 747, 234. The Greek word refers to something accurate. See Mounce supra at p. 749. Along this same line, it is that which is in accord with historical facts that correspond to a temporal reality. In another sphere, it is something that corresponds to an eternal reality. See Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
One dictionary defines “error” to be the contradiction of truth or an instance of false belief. See Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, supra at p. 530 defines error to be, “… the condition of erring in opinion; the holding of mistaken notions or beliefs; an instance of this, a mistaken notion or belief …”. The New Testament Greek word for error [planē] means that something that has wandered from its path. See Mounce supra at p. 217. This Greek word also refers to the content of that which misleads or deceives—‘misleading belief, deceptive belief, error, mistaken view. See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 366). New York: United Bible Societies. The Apostle Peter used this word when he wrote 2 Peter 2:18 (ESV) :
18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error [planē].
In 2 Peter 3:17 (ESV), Peter wrote:
17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error [planē] of lawless people and lose your own stability.
The apostle Paul appealed for people to attain spiritual maturity so they would not suffer the extreme consequences of being deceived by error. For example, in Ephesians 4:11–14 (ESV) he wrote:
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful [planē] schemes.
While it sounds quite simplistic, Peter and Paul both counsel to avoid error. Truth is right. Error is wrong. It thus makes sense that we want to be able to discern between truth and error. Avoiding error is very relevant to 21st Century American society that characterizes wrong as “right” and right as “wrong.” One cannot downplay the importance of Bible study in the life of a 21st Century Christian.
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