WHAT IS TRUTH?
This passage records what may have been the last intimate, personal conversation that Jesus had with another individual before He was crucified. In this exchange between the Lord Jesus Christ and the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, we see two men with opposing agendas.
Pilate comes across as one who is agitated at having been placed in the middle of what he sees as a religious dispute between Jews. His sarcasm and short answers reveal his irritation. Jesus, on the other hand, uses this conversation to reveal His true identity to Pilate. When asked if He is really the King of the Jews, Jesus pulls no punches but responds in the affirmative, v. 37.
Then Jesus tells Pilate that His mission in coming to this world was that of going to the cross and dying to bear witness to the truth. At this point, Pilate asks a question born out of pure cynicism. He asks Jesus, “What is truth?” This was a rhetorical question. Pilate did not really want an answer, and he did not wait around to receive one. In essence, he was telling Jesus, “What is true for you may not be true for me! You say ‘to-may-to’, I say, ‘to-mah-toe’. Don’t talk to me about truth for truth cannot really be known!” So, Pilate threw away a glorious opportunity to come to know the truth for himself. He looked truth in the face, refused to see it and walked away, forever lost in his sins!
I would like to take Pilate’s question this evening and ponder it for a few minutes. I believe the Bible gives us enough information about the truth so that we can answer this question for ourselves. In fact, I want to take the texts I will use to examine truth from just the book of John. Of the 222 verses in the Bible that contain the word “truth”, 22 or 10% are found in the Gospel according to John. What is the truth? Let look at the book and find out!
THE PERCEPTION OF TRUTH – Pilate’s question leads me to believe that he had no grasp of the truth. Perhaps his thinking had been jaded by the empty philosophies of the day that said the truth was unknowable and unattainable. Evidently, Pilate had come to believe what many in his day believed: there is no absolute truth!
We are in the same shape in America today. We are living in a day when almost no one believes in absolute truth. In this nation, 67 percent of the adults agree that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Much worse is the fact that 52 percent of born again Christians think the truth is relative. That is, they believe that what is true for one person may not be true for another. According to another survey, over 75% of professing Christians cannot accept the idea of absolute truth. My friends those are very sad statistics! It tells us that our culture has nothing in which it can believe!
They can believe what they will, but there is such a thing as absolute truth! Jesus Himself, in this passage, stated that He came “to bear witness to the truth.” So, what is the truth? The word from which it is translated means, “That which is accurate or true in any matter under consideration. It is the opposite of that which is feigned, fictitious or false.”
For instance, suppose I tell you that there is a truth called the Law of Gravity. This law states that “whatever goes up must come down.” Now, suppose that you reject that as being just “my truth.” So, you decide to test your theory and leap from a building. It will not take you long to learn that there is such a thing as absolute truth, and that is can be known!
If I say, “Rocks are hard; water is wet, and the grass is green.” If you don’t believe in absolute truth, then you might say, “No, to me rocks are soft; water is dry, and the grass is orange.” But, just because you may believe it with all your heart, it does not make it so! Truth is something that is always true!
Abraham Lincoln once used a very clever ploy to teach some people about the truth. They had come to him with a decision that was based on suppositions rather than truth. After hearing their logic, Lincoln asked, “How many legs would a sheep have if you called its tail a leg?” They quickly answered, “Five!” The President then said, “No, it would only have four legs. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one.”)
I, for one, believe in absolute truth! I believe that black is black; white is white; up is up; down is down; left is left; right is right; in is in and out is out. I believe absolute truth can be known, learned and taught to others. In fact, I am holding a copy of absolute truth in my hand right now! I will say more about that in a minute. But, if there is truth and truth can be known, then how can we learn the truth?
Well, for those of us who are saved it is a task made easier by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Jesus tells us three times in John’s Gospel that the Spirit of God is the “Spirit of Truth”, John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13. John 16:13 is especially important, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” This verse tells us that the Holy Ghost will reveal the things of God to us, thus teaching us the truth. Therefore, believers are in a far better position to learn the truth because of the Spirit of Truth Who lives within us. The world, on the other hand, has a spirit within them which blinds them to the truth, 2 Cor. 4:4; ***1 Cor. 2:14***. This accounts for the fact that they will consistently reject the truth and choose lies instead. This also demonstrates why they live their lives the way that they do and how they attempt to justify their sins before God and man, Eph. 2:1-3.
Jesus believed in absolute truth. He believed in absolute truth so strongly that He came to this world, lived and died to bear witness to that truth. Yes, there is such a thing as truth, regardless of what society says about it. This truth can be perceived and it can be known!
THE POWER OF TRUTH – Not only does Jesus tell Pilate that there is such a thing as absolute truth. He also tells him that this truth has power. Truth, when it is perceived, touches the hearts of God’s elect and draws them to Him, John 3:21. When they come to Him and embrace the truth, they can and will experience its power in their lives. Notice the power contained in absolute truth.)
Truth Has The Power To Liberate– John 8:32 – When Jesus said this, He was telling His hearers that the truth had the power to deliver them from their bondage to sin and the Law. It would literally set them free in Jesus. When you come to know the truth, you come to know something that sets captives free; opens blinded eyes; heals broken hearts; transforms shattered and ruined lives and fills men with the love of God, the peace of God and the joy of God.
Truth Has The Power To Separate – John 17:17 –In this passage, Jesus is praying for His disciples, and for us too! As He does, He asks the Father to “sanctify them through thy truth…” The word “sanctify” means “to render something holy; to dedicate or consecrate something to God.” Jesus says that the truth of God has the power to cleanse us and make us more like our heavenly Father! I have heard it said that “sin will either keep you from this book, or this book will keep you from sin!” What truth! When you yield yourself to the truth of God’s Word and walk as the Spirit directs you, you will find your life becoming cleaner and more pleasing to God. His truth sets us apart and cleans us up, Eph. 5:6; John 15:7.
Truth Has The Power To Invigorate – John 4:24 – Here, Jesus tells the woman at the well that the truth will make you want to worship! You see, real worship is us acknowledging Him to be our everything! Real worship arises out of a heart that had been saturated with His truth. Real worship comes about when the Holy Spirit takes the truth of God and makes it clear to us. When we comprehend Who Jesus is, what He has done for us and what He is doing; it will leave us at His feet in humble, simple worship of Him! But, if we do not understand the truth about Who God is and what He has done, then our worship will be warped. Until we know the truth about Him, we cannot truly worship Him! There is nothing like the truth to put a fresh spark into your worship!
The Scripture Is Truth – John 17:17 – Everything either stands or falls right here! If the Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God as it claims, 2 Tim. 3:16, then it and it alone is the final authority and standard of living for all of life. Not the opinions of men; not the musing of great philosophers; not the teachings of great religious leaders, but the Bible is the final word in all manners of life.
However, if the Bible is wrong and cannot be believed, then our foundations are destroyed and we have no faith, no hope, and no rules, Psa. 11:3. If the Bible is a lie, then there is no absolute truth! Yet, we have raised a generation that has been taught to doubt the truth of this book! When a child sits in a classroom and hears that the earth is billions of years old and that man evolved from a single-celled organism over millions of years, the foundations have been destroyed! If God did not make man in His image then it is not wrong to kill babies through abortion. It is not wrong to rape and murder other people because we are all just animals. If man evolved, then there is no sin, there is no right and wrong, there are no absolutes. You might as well live like you want to because there is no Hell; there is no accounting to God; there is no afterlife. If the first 11 chapters of Genesis are not true, then you might as well junk the whole book! If God lied in Genesis 1-11, then He is not worthy to be trusted anywhere else in the book! If I can’t trust Him in Genesis 1:1, then I can’t trust Him in John 3:16.
When we take the Ten Commandments and say they are not relevant for today, we have undermined the foundations. When we tell society that the Bible cannot be trusted, we undermine the foundations. When we treat the Bible as a giant buffet and choose the parts we like and ignore the parts that bother us personally, then we undermine the foundations. There is a price to pay for our haughtiness, and that price is the absence of truth in America!
Do you see why being able to trust the Bible is so important? In its pages, we learn about God, the creation of man, sin, salvation, good, evil, the family, etc. If that foundation is destroyed, then there is no basis for truth and if there is no truth then everybody is right and nobody is wrong! Thank God, we can trust the Bible! It is the Word of God! It is inspired! It is the truth, without any admixture of error. Praise God, it can be believed for it is forever settled in glory, Isa. 40:8; Psa. 119:89.
The Savior Is The Truth – John 14:6 –Jesus plainly calls attention to the fact that He and He alone is the real deal! Jesus was and is the embodiment of truth, John 1:14; 17. All others would-be saviors are merely pretenders. It doesn’t matter how many followers they have or how sincere their followers are. Jesus and Jesus alone is “the way the truth and the life!” Jesus and Jesus alone is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. Jesus and Jesus alone is the truth! All other men are liars and all other methods are lies, and they all lead down the broad road of destruction. They have their terminus in the fires of Hell! Jesus alone is the door onto the narrow way that leads to life everlasting, John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 John 5:12! Our world doesn’t like that truth tonight, but it is still true, regardless of whether they like it or not!
What is the truth? It is the difference between night and day. It is the difference between in and out. It is the difference between black and white. It is the difference between saved and lost! What is the truth? The Bible is the truth! Jesus Christ is the truth! And, if you accept those as truth in your life, you have a standard for living and a reason to live. But, if you reject them as your standard, then you have no absolutes and can do as you please. However, it does not change the fact that the Bible is still the truth and Jesus is still the only way to God. So, the things of God are true whether we accept them or not! Thank God for the truth!