What is Truth?
Jesus describes two categories of men in this poor-fallen world, one camp is wise and the other is foolish. How can we distinguish the one from the other? The wise hears and applies the Word of God to his life. The foolish does not.
“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” -Jesus
In our modern age it has become quite vogue for our nation to accept without question or discernment the philosophy of relativism. Relativism is a belief system that pervades much of our culture, government, and schools. Its premise is based on the fallacy that all ideas, philosophies, and religions are of equal value. According to relativism, there is nothing that is superior in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding and nothing inferior. All ideas are of equal value and all cultures have merit. So, if some cultures teach “love thy neighbor as thyself” and some cultures practice eating their neighbors who, are we to judge the values and practices of others? After all, all roads (no matter how perverse, bloody, deceptive, and false) lead to God and heaven, right? WRONG! Dead wrong!
My friend, in this life, it is self-evident that not all belief systems are of equal value. In a sane world, people who love their neighbors and people who eat their neighbors would never be considered the same in value. One is superior and beneficial to society, while the other is indeed, inferior and should be condemned. In fact, if all ideas, philosophies, and belief systems were granted equal status, what, if anything, would be considered valuable to man? To help clarify this point, the example of precious metals may help. The concept is “rarity determines value.” In other words, if gold, silver, and precious jewels were accessible as rocks, they would lose their worth. It is the scarceness of these precious metals that adds to their luster. This proposition is also true when it comes to the Bible, the Word of God.
Many religions and so-called enlightened philosophies either claim divine inspiration or conventional wisdom in an attempt to answer man’s eternal questions; questions, such as, “Why am I here?” “Where did I come from?” “What am I to do with my life?” and the most plaguing of all “What happens to me after I die?” Most religions and philosophies of men were established to try and answer these daunting questions that torment men’s minds. Each believes its writings to be sacred, true, or one that provides reliable answers to solve man’s quest for meaning in this vain, fleeting life. But are their claims objectively true? The answer is a resounding NO!
It is self-evident that there are concepts in the human experience, such as, truth and lies, honesty and deception, time honored principles and falsehoods. The burning issue is where in this crazy, confused, and mixed-up world can we find a reliable guide to distinguish between these conflicting traits that run rampant in the human condition?
The philosophy of modernism was the underlying worldview that produced the “Enlightenment” period in history. As liberalism permeated the church, it sought to bring the traditions of the church into a closer relationship with Roman/Greco classical traditions, science, and the social, secular views of its era. It devalued the supernatural and the objective standards of God’s moral laws. Instead, modernism exalted the rationality of man.
Man, therefore, apart from divine revelation could through reason alone obtain “truth,” even divine “truth” and establish a moral code for society. This pursuit inevitably led to seeking a “utopian” world order. The promise, however, was short lived. The deadly fruit of the French Revolution shattered much of the promise of modernism. The goddess of reason replaced the self-evident truth of the Bible and heads literally rolled as the guillotine ushered in the reign of terror.
Modernism spawned other ideologies and political systems as well. All of them, without exception, have been destructive to man’s existence. Communism, Fascism, and Nazism, to name a few, all embraced aspects of modernism to justify their brutality in their pursuit of world domination and socialistic utopia.
With the abject failure of modernism, instead of humbling ourselves and returning to the God of all truth, mankind jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Because modernism could not address nor satisfy the deep needs of the human soul, it left a destructive void. The starvation of the soul and the moral bankruptcy it produced paved the way to our present era and the philosophy of post-modernism. This new philosophy rejected the claims of modernism that mankind is progressing by the use of rationality and reason. These were merely cultural biases masquerading as science. Thus, post modernism embraced pluralism, relativism, diversity, tolerance, and multi-culturalism, which characterizes much of our contemporary society. According to this worldview, there is no such thing as objective rationality, reason, or reality. These are mere myths that plague the minds of men.
Thus, post-modernism rejects any notion of a reliable, objective, or universal standard. Since there are no moral absolutes, making judgments are no longer necessary nor welcomed. Written words have no meaning other than what the reader subjectively desires them to represent. Reality is in the mind of the beholder. Opinions, no matter how absurd, carry as much value as evidence. This ineffectual mentality is known as deconstructionism.
Based upon post-modernism, modern man is left to his own devices to try and make sense of the human condition. It promotes the idea that each individual can construct their own truth system, which is no better or worse than any other, regardless, if it agrees with corresponding reality or not. Whatever floats your boat, gets you through life, and works for the individual will suffice. The mantra of the day is “I’m ok, you are ok, and everybody is ok, ok?” If this is true, where is the long awaited Nirvana? How do we account for all the suffering, misery, death, and decay that still stalk men and drive them into the abyss of despondency, despair, and destruction?
The modern world also tries to convince men that Christianity is merely one of the world’s “major” religions. Popular bumper stickers suggest that “God is too big to fit in anyone’s religion.” Some mistakenly believe that God is like the top of a mountain and there are different paths (religions) that lead to the same summit.
When Islam attacked America, the West immediately “preached” this universal message. The god of Islam, Allah, was the same God that Christian’s worshipped. It may be a different religious practice, but inevitably leads to the same universal deity.
Obviously, for anyone to compare the Triune God of the Bible to the god, Allah, suffers from major disillusionment. To think that Islam is a “religion of peace” and follows the same god that Christianity follows is patently absurd. One has to suspend all reason, logic, history, and rationality to make such an outrageous comparison. Tragically, it has become the politically and religiously correct response to the war against Islamic terror. In fact, while in office, President Bush stated, “I also condition it by saying freedom is not America’s gift to the world. It’s much greater than that, of course. And I believe we worship the same God (speaking of Muslims and Christians).”
Truth with a Capital T
Biblical Christianity claims to be the truth with a capital T. Some may reject that claim, but minimally, it is important to know that the Bible itself makes this assertion. It is not just “a” truth out of “many” truths that run to and fro throughout the earth. No, it alleges to be the only objective source of truth. Thus, any idea, philosophy, or teaching that does not originate or agree with the Bible is condemned as lies, idolatry, and deceptions that will surely lead nations to ruination and condemn the eternal souls of men.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:7-10).
It is probably this truth claim more than any other that raises the ire of our post-modern, multi-cultural, diverse, politically correct, and tolerant age that inspires rage against Christianity. Those who cling to the notion that all lifestyles, religions and worldviews have equal validity, cringe at the mere thought. According to them, the only real sin in this world is to disapprove of someone else’s view, religion, or moral choices. They honestly believe if Christianity was eradicated from the world, peace, harmony, and brotherhood would finally be achieved. One would think that the bloody twentieth century would have dispelled that notion as atheistic “isms” unleashed massive atrocities that murdered millions of innocent people.
Thus, accusations against Biblical Christians abound. Enemies of the cross love to hurl ad hominem arguments to avoid the content of the Gospel message by discrediting the messengers. Names like homophobes, born-again bigots, anti-choice zealots, and superstitious, ignorant fools proliferate as the world deludes itself into believing that “God is too big to fit in only one religion.”
In the midst of this push for religious inclusion, however, Jesus preached exclusion. He stated emphatically, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).” Today, even popular preachers tremble to admit or repeat this statement by our Lord. Knowing it will provoke a hostile response in our crooked and perverse nation.
Regardless, of the man-pleasing pursuits by some preachers, Jesus testified, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad (Matthew 12:30).” He warned, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels (Matthew 8:38).” In fact, He not only positively declared sole ownership of true salvation, but condemned all other religious competitors as thieves and robbers. With these statements and others besides, Jesus smashed all pretense at neutrality, relativism, and the idol of tolerance which America and the world bows before today.
C.S. Lewis commenting on the uniqueness of Christ in a world full of religions stated:
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher (He would not be a true prophet either). He would either be a lunatic on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg or he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.
Truth is Paramount
A good friend of mine, Rev. Flip Benham, National Director of Operation Save America, commenting on the nature of truth, penned these important words, “The truth of what one believes is far more important than how much he believes it.” This is a significant statement. Thus our beliefs, no matter how sincere, do not determine truth. It is the truth, specifically God’s Word that must determine man’s belief. For example, those who boarded the Titanic sincerely believed it wouldn’t sink. History records they were sincerely wrong.
The nineteen Muslims who crashed airplanes into our buildings and brought America to its knees, sincerely believed they were serving their god, Allah. Their belief brought many innocent people to an untimely death. If these murderers could come back from the dead, they would reveal a horror much worse than the Twin Towers collapsing. Rather than joining 72 virgins as promised by the religion of Islam, they would scream of the torments of hell. Instead of entering a paradise, they find themselves in a place of eternal damnation from which they can never escape. They can’t even commit suicide again to be released and no belief in the Koran will deliver them from the severe consequence of the lies they believed.
The Sure Basis of Truth
In the midst of these deceptions, the Word of God teaches that Jesus is truth personified (John 14:6). Jesus, in turn, acknowledged God’s Word is the truth. John 17:17 states, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. John 16:13 declares, “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.” The Church has been designated as the pillar and ground of truth. 1 Timothy 3:15 records, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
Based upon this mighty foundation of truth, Pastor Adrian Rogers admonished:
It is better to be divided by truth, than to be united in error. It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, than to speak a lie that will comfort and then kill. It is better to be hated for telling the truth, than to be loved for telling a lie. It is better to stand alone with the truth, than to be wrong with a multitude. It is better to ultimately die with the truth, than to live with a lie.
Truth is truth, whether no one believes it and a lie is a lie, no matter how many believe it. This is why the truth claims articulated in the Bible are crucial for the welfare of man, for it is truth alone that has the power to liberate. John 8:31, 32 states, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Continuing in this line of thought Jesus concluded, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed (John 8:36).” It is God’s truth contained in His inspired Word that has the authority to break the chains of sin and bondage within that are reinforced by the lies, vain philosophies, and false religions without.
The Truth of the Bible is Self-Authenticating
The Bible further teaches that all Scripture is inspired or God-breathed. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 states, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” In other words, when God exhaled, His word went forth and it is alive and full of power to transform the souls of men. It is in the time-honored truths contained in the 66 books of the Bible where God’s wisdom, knowledge, and understanding are revealed and whether we believe it or not; they are more valuable than silver, gold, and treasures of every sort.
The God who created us and the Savior who died for us chose to record His Word, Will, and Way in one book and one book alone. Again, this drives home the concept that rarity determines value. Out of all the books in the world, there is only one where God’s revelation can safely be discovered. It is in the “Indestructible Book” called the Holy Bible.
Many of the world’s hammers have been broken upon the anvil of its sacred contents. Many a tyrant, dictator, and oppressor of men have vainly tried to burn it, ban it, and destroy its holy revelation. They are all dust and God’s Word marches on as conqueror and conquering the hearts of men.
The Bible is a self-authenticating book as well. It was written over a fifteen hundred year period by forty human writers from various vocations and writing styles, in three different languages, Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, and in three different continents. Its origins, compilations, and canonization were preserved by God’s superintendence. Its divine message is self-attesting. From Genesis to Revelation God’s eternal decrees move history towards faithfully fulfilling God’s redemption plan for men and nations. The Scriptures reveal that God’s Word came by holy men of old as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:20, 21). His Word as His Person and Kingdom is not of earthly origin. It all comes from above. God, therefore, does not need man’s opinions or approval to validate His Word. The creature can never stand as judge over the Creator or His holy, inspired Word.
Unfortunately, today, many believe that we can. We are taught that what we think, our opinions, cultural trends, experiences, science, and reason can trump the authority of God’s Word. Man is thus left to construct his own brand of truth apart from the revelation of God’s objective truth contained in the Bible. As a result, God’s Word becomes mere wax to fashion and form in the hands of sinful humanity to conform to our modern day culture and practice. If one plays with fire, however, one will be burned.
As a result of this folly of becoming a law and god unto ourselves, we are hurling ourselves against the unchanging, immutable, and inerrant Word of God. The hard lesson, however, is we can’t break God’s Word and His moral law indefinitely, it eventually breaks us. Jesus warned, “And whosoever shall fall on this stone (speaking of himself) shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder (Matthew 21:44).” This accounts for much of our woes, such as, divorce, unruly children, abortion, homosexuality, pornography, governmental tyranny, unjust laws, economic anguish, and false religions that are flourishing and defiling us today.
Noah Webster, the father of American education, declared:
The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all of our civil constitutions and laws….All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.
The truth is apart from Jesus and His Word, sin, Satan, and this illegitimate world system that is in rebellion to God’s loving rule will offer mankind many “answers” and choices to determine truth for ourselves. Every single one of them, if embraced and believed, will rob us of our God-ordained destiny here on earth and damn our eternal souls.
What is Truth?
Two thousand years ago, a Roman political leader, Pontius Pilate, once asked a critical question. He asked it of a Man who claimed to be truth incarnate. He asked it of the very One whom the Bible describes as the Word of God become flesh (John 1:1-14). He asked it of Emmanuel, which is interpreted “God with us” (Matthew 1:23)!
What was this question that suddenly transformed Pontius Pilate from a civil magistrate to a philosopher when confronted with the claims of Christ? The Bible records this question as “What is truth?” This particular question came in response to Jesus’ assertion before the Roman magistrate, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice (John 18:37).”
How about you, my friend, are you seeker of truth? Do you even think truth is possible in our post-modern age? Which voice are you hearing today? Is it the voice of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, or the voice of a stranger (John 10:1-15)? One voice leads to freedom and redemption, the other to lies and damnation. Jesus declared, “Ye search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me (John 5:39).” It is in the Scriptures alone that we find the voice of the Good Shepherd to lead and guide us through the various challenges, struggles, and ordeals of life.
One final word of admonishment as it pertains to the truth of God’s Word. Jesus taught:
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:24-27).
Jesus describes two categories of men in this poor-fallen world, one camp is wise and the other is foolish. How can we distinguish the one from the other? The wise hears and applies the Word of God to his life. The foolish hear, but refuses to apply truth to his life. Both are privy to the same message, plus the same storms of life that beat upon their lives, but the outcome is radically different. The wise will stand and the foolish will fall.
Based upon this premise, I strongly recommend and encourage you to read, study, believe, and apply the word of God to your life. It is alive and full of power to transform you from the inside out. Saving faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). It has the power to not only save your soul, but guide your life, and preserve your eternal spirit unto God’s heavenly Kingdom. It is the only hope you have and the only hope you will ever need.