Sunday, May 19 2024 - 8:01 AM

Sharing Scripture — April 27, 2024

Standing for the Truth

 

For use: April 21 – 27, 2024
Texts: Daniel 7:23-25; Revelation 2:10; 12:6, 14; Jude 3-4; Acts 5:28-32; Psalm 19:7-11; 1 John 5:11-13

Perhaps you’ve seen the Artificial Intelligence-generated images of Donald Trump and Joe Biden palling around like best friends. We recognize instantly, of course, that these images are bogus because of the context of the gentlemen portrayed. Other AI images, however, may be harder to distinguish between the true and the counterfeit. Researchers at the University of Waterloo demonstrated just how challenging that is becoming.

They showed 20 unlabeled images to 260 individuals—ten were photographs of real people, and ten were generated by AI programs. Only 61 percent of the participants accurately distinguished the true from the false. The researchers expected an accuracy rate of at least 85 percent. “People are not as adept at making the distinction as they think they are,” remarked Andreea Pocol, the study’s lead author.

To further muddle the situation, sophisticated AI software is developing faster than our ability to discern the fake images. AI-generated images are much more lifelike today than they were when the study was conducted in late 2022. They pose a genuine threat to society with their ability to create damaging images of politicians or other public figures.

“Disinformation isn’t new,” Pocol warns, “but the tools of disinformation have been constantly shifting and evolving.” The ability to distort the truth has never been easier for anyone with a laptop and AI software, and it’s never been potentially more destructive.

How does one stand for the truth, when error appears so convincing? Even more challenging is the task of presenting the truth to those who are entrenched in deceptive dogmas. How do you even hold on to what you believe is genuine, when your very eyes tell you a decidedly different story?

For Christians, it begins by determining the basis of our truth. Many sources claim to teach Christian truth—church tradition, the evidence for God in nature, personal experience and opinion—and each one can hold an element of truth that’s beneficial for us. The one foundation, though, that can provide a universal source of truth for Christians is the revelation of God and the plan of salvation found in Scripture. Rightly understood, Scripture provides a unifying teaching that binds all Christians into one body.

The unfortunate reality, however, is that the Bible is not always rightly understood. History shows us that some of the most vicious persecutions of Christians came from others who also professed the authority of Scripture.

It’s imperative that anyone who claims the name of Christ is absolutely certain of their source of truth, their understanding of truth, and their connection to the God who can empower them to stand for that truth.

 

For Reflection

 

Connecting: Are you confident that you could spot a counterfeit $20 bill? What details would you look for?

Sharing: Thanks to modern religious freedom, we’re rarely challenged today to take a strong stand for our beliefs. When that day of persecution finally does come, what is the best way to prepare to obey God rather than man?

  1. When persecution does ramp up, God ramps up our ability to resist it (see Luke 21:12-19)
  2. We should hit people now with the hard truths of Scripture, whether they are ready to hear them or not; if they respond negatively, all the better—we can hasten Christ’s return by provoking the time of trouble
  3. We can be called on at any time to give a reason for our faith, so we should always be prepared to share our testimony when appropriate (see 1 Peter 3:15)
  4. Even though we know that religious oppression is coming, we should do everything in our power to extend religious freedom for as long as possible
  5. We should move to the rural country now and learn how to be self-sufficient
  6. Other:

Applying: Some say we should only examine God’s truth so we can discern truth from error. Others say we should look into false teachings just enough to be able to identify them when we see them. What say you?

Valuing: Do you see yourself as a discerning person? Are you typically skeptical by nature? How can you maintain a healthy dose of skepticism without becoming paranoid of everything around you? This is a good time to pray for the ability to be “wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.”

~ Chuck Burkeen


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