Trust, But Verify

Ramon Arias | April 20, 2015

“Trust, but verify,” is a phrase made famous by President Ronald Reagan in his dealings with the Soviet Union. Reagan was quoting a Russian proverb “doveryai, no proveryai”  (Доверяй, но проверяй). Interestingly enough, it was highly used by the skillful politician and founder of the Russian Communist Party, leader of the Bolshevik revolution and mastermind and first head of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin.

For thousands of years, humans have trusted others to lead them to a better life even if it means conquering other people and subjugating them into slavery, which is manifested in many ways but always deprives people of their liberty. History also reveals the positive side of trust when it is based upon the solid foundation of truth. This last level of trust is required in human relations and dealings for the good of all.

It is very important to trust and we do it on a daily basis; we trust in others and we trust in things. But we also know how devastating it is when that trust is broken. We are all guilty of this because most of the time we do not verify. 

We are constantly hearing many voices pointing us in many contradicting directions, who is right and who’s wrong? Most importantly, who decides? The answer to this last question is very simple, you and I are individually responsible to verify if the source of the information we are receiving is reliable. Most of the time this verification requires in-depth research to know if what we are being presented can be trusted as the truth or if the facts are accurate.

The original American dream was not one of divisions. It did not consist of racial divides, sexual preferences, conservatives, neoconservatives, liberals/progressives, or by economic status, social status, academic degrees, by being Democrat, Republican or any other ideological party platform. In 1776, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson proposed a national motto, “E Pluribus Unum” to be representative of the new experimental government. This is a Latin phrase meaning “Out of many, One.” This was the vision that led them to win the War of Independence from Britain, and it came with the hope that this new Christian nation, America, would be an example and a beacon of light to the world. I ask you, what is this present generation’s vision for the future of America? What is your vision for our national future and what are you contributing to fulfill it?

Who can be trusted? Are the pulpits of America trustworthy? What can we say about the halls of government and power at all levels? Are people truly receiving genuine education from our academic institutions? Can the foundation of our economics be trusted and are they based upon solid morality as revealed in Scripture and historically proven to be the only source of financial prosperity? Who can be trusted to teach the truth? By this I mean, no use of revisionism of our history beginning with the Pilgrims to the present. I could continue to enumerate all the areas where trust has a profound deficit, but it is up to us individually to verify what we hear and see regardless of the source, because ignorance destroys!

Thomas Jefferson wrote to his nephew, “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.” If we don’t read Jefferson’s complete letter to his nephew, it is easy to misread what he stated and label him a Deist.

I agree with Jefferson’s statement. We must question with boldness even the very existence of God but not with a closed mind, rather with an open one, that we may compare what our instincts dictate to us by the general revelation found on our planet Earth, through nature and the observable universe. If we pursue this verification, it will lead us to the special revelation of God’s Word that answers all of our questions about life’s meaning, purpose, and also about the after life. Jefferson also said, “The relations which exists between man and his Maker, and the duties resulting from those relations, are the most interesting and important to every human being, and the most incumbent on his study and investigation.”

In the Gospel written by Dr. Luke, he describes the early days of the unfolding of the Great Commission given by Christ to the early disciples. He tells us of a very interesting incident that took place in Berea as Paul and Silas visited the Jewish synagogue and taught the people that Jesus was God’s Messiah and that He fulfilled what the law and the prophets wrote about Him. This is clear evidence that God’s means of salvation for the human race was not just about the soul but also about the cultures of the world. Jesus was now the King of kings and Lord of lords, and that God’s kingdom had arrived and was now moving forward until God’s will is done on earth has it is in heaven.

Luke described the reaction of the Jews and Greeks that were present at the synagogue: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men” Acts 17:11-12.

No one should be offended when we want to verify his or her information. On the contrary they should be glad that there is a further witness that what they are saying is true.  But if per chance they do get offended, let us not forget that we are accountable to our Creator. Therefore we must study and investigate all the facts pertaining to the Word of God, the Constitution and our history as it is applied today. Christians in America have no excuse, God Almighty has given much to us and much is what He requires from His people. Two thousand years ago, the Bereans left us a great example to trust, but verify.

“… Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, ‘That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.’” Romans 3:4

Defending God’s truth at all cost may make us seem like fools to the world, and this is acceptable, but being fools of and by men is never acceptable! Let us be mindful that there is a price to pay to expose foolishness that leads to destruction, but we must do it to fulfill God’s good pleasure and to do right by future generations.