Half-truths are lies of the worst kind. Because they teach the hearer to choose between two equally valid and important truths. Telling half-truths can be done intentionally or unintentionally. It is often done as a result of: a lack of education, an overemphasis of one aspect of the truth, the complete neglect of other true aspects, or in the worst case scenario a denying of other truths that inform the topic. Here are some common examples I have seen:
1. Does God love sinners or hate sinners?
What the Bible says
The Bible teaches that God is longsuffering, slow to anger, patient, generous, and merciful to all people (repentant and unrepentant). The rain falls on the just and the unjust. And at the same time it also teaches that God hates the evildoer and is angry with the wicked all day.
The Right Question and Answer
The question is not “does God love the sinner or hate the sinner?” The question should be, “how does God relate to sinner and what does he feel and think towards the sinner?” And the answer is, God is both loving, kind, and patient and calls all people to repentance and faith in His Son! And He is at the same time angry with us and our sin and if we persist in this way He will in no way excuse our rebellion but will punish us with a fierce anger and wrath!
2. Do we reap what we sow or do we reap what God ordains for us to reap?
What the Bible says
We see that Scripture teaches the principle that we reap what we sow regularly. Both in the physical and spiritually terms. If we sow the Word of God sparingly, so also our harvest will reap sparingly. And yet, the Bible also teaches that it is God that causes the growth, opens the eyes, and raises the spiritual dead. The Bible teaches that no one can believe unless they hear the Word of Christ. The Bible also teaches that Christ will (certainly) build His Church and not one sheep be lost but the Father will draw them all to His Son.
The Right Question and Answer
God is absolutely sovereign over all things! He has ordained everything that will happen down to the smallest details. God is so involved that He even ordains the way things will happen and what will cause them. Many scholars have said it like this, “God ordains not only the ends, but the means to the ends as well.” In other words, God not only ordains that the farmer will have a good harvest this fall, but He also ordains that the farmer will plow the field, sow the seed, and bring the rains and sun to bring about a great harvest. We error when we relegate the means as unimportant or unnecessary because God has ordained that just as much as the results. And we error when we make our failures and limitations God’s limitation for the results or ends to come about.
The only way we will know what results God ordained for our labor to bring is to labour and see. But just like the Apostle Paul calls the children in Ephesus to obey their parents with the promise that if they do God will grant it to go well with you long in the land. So also God calls us to be faithful and sow and labor with the promise that we will reap what we sow. Promises and Sovereignty do not negate responsibility and purpose to our actions. Just the opposite, God’s promises and sovereignty assign purpose and liability for us to act with hope!
So the question is not, “do we reap what we sow or do we reap what God ordains for us to sow?” But rather, “what does God teach us about how His sovereignty relates to our responsibility?” And the answer is, God is so sovereign that He has ordained all that will take place and how those things will come about. And God has called us to obey Him in all areas of life trusting that He will use our obedience to bring those things about.
I could give more and more examples but I believe it would be unnecesary. In my experience and conversations with brothers and sisters in Christ many errors are made when rather than seeking to understand the full counsel of God we think or resolve to pick and choose what aspects are true. I am not saying Arminians and Calvinist are both right or both wrong. Nor am I saying we cannot come to clear conclusion. On the contrary I am writing this as a means for us to know how we can come to real true conclusions. And not ackowledging all of Scripture is hardly the right way to come to the right conclusion.
We are not asked to pick what passages are true. Nor are we to believe one to be more true than the other. Instead we affirm both from God’s mouth. Thus both are equally true, and we must seek to understand how both relate to eachother without altering either statement. In my study of Church History over the years what I consistently see in all of the major false teachers is they failed to do this very thing. Pelagius refused to believe that we could be slaves to sin and still be responsible. Arius refused to believe that Jesus could be God and the Father could be God and the Holy Spirit be God and there still be only One true God. The list goes on and on. But the point is, false teachers fail to acknowledge the whole counsel of the Word of God and in exchange elevate half-truths. Let us not make the same error brothers and sister! We do not have to pick and choose which passages we will believe. The two truths (such as, God love sinners and hate sinners) are not mutually exclusive, and what we ought to do is seek to demonstrate how we can believe and live out both.