What is Truth?
“Pilate said to Him, ‘What is Truth?’” John 18:38
“Your Word is Truth.” (Jesus speaking to the Father) John 17:17
Possibly the most important question that you will answer in your life is this one, “What is Truth?” Perhaps a better phrasing of the question would be, “How do you determine and establish the truths that will guide your life?” It is vitally important that you correctly discern the truth from the lies that are propagated in this world. What you see as truth is the foundation of your world view and the core of your philosophy of life that guides your actions and decisions.
The significance of this problem has been magnified by the recent discussion in the mainstream media about what they are calling “Fake News.” Here again we see the problem of determining what is true or what is fake from the myriad of information that we are exposed to daily from news, TV shows and commercials, movies, internet articles and videos, etc. We are exposed to more information than any other generation in the history of mankind. This steady bombardment of information has a huge impact on our world view, which in turn impacts our thoughts and actions.
Some of the false information that we are exposed to comes from sincere people who are simply mistaken or have been deceived themselves, but we must also realize that there are con men who are purposely attempting to deceive us for their personal gain. Our natural tendency is to trust people and believe that they are sincere and knowledgeable about what they are saying. It may not be too harmful for us if we end up buying some lame product for $19.99, but the real danger is the con man who is selling a lie that directly impacts our world view. The Bible warns us about this:
“Take heed that no man deceive you. For many will come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many…..And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many……For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told [warned] you before.” Matthew 24: 4,5,11,24,25
Jesus was discussing here in Matthew 24 the signs that would indicate the nearness of His return. We can be assured that there will be an all out attack on our Christian world view as we get closer and closer to His return. Jesus is warning us so that we are mentally prepared to discern and reject the lies and deception. So now we come to the real question, how do we protect ourselves from these lies and deceptive ploys? How do we prepare ourselves for the inevitable exposure to the lies that will attempt to deceive us, causing eternal damage that will be coming from crafty false prophets with the power to do signs and wonders fueled by demonic forces?
We must have the foundation of our Christian faith in place, with no cracks or soft spots. It needs to be firm in all areas – solid throughout. This is the goal of this blog, to firm up the foundation that will be needed as the day approaches and the deception increases. My hope is that all readers have found this to be true of each blog post that has been written for this blog. I try to add as much Scripture reference as plausible and also suggest that the blog reader go back and read the full context of the Scriptures for themselves and seek God for clarity – that’s the only way that spiritual maturity will be advanced in the reader.
In fact, I would remind you that the proper role of the leadership of the church is to expose and correct the false teachings that arise from these false prophets and teachers, and to strengthen the people of God in their spiritual relationship with God through direct communication with Him and the reading of His revelation to us, the Bible. Included in the strengthening of their relationship with God is their own ability to discern truth. If the people of God have a strong, direct relationship with God and are spiritually mature and have knowledge of His Word, they will be able to detect the false deception for themselves.
A good comparison is the work of parents towards their children where the best parents prepare their children to be independent and self sufficient in life, while selfish or misguided parents will purposely cause their children to be dependent on them and unable to make it out in the world on their own. Unfortunately, too many churches and their leaders create a situation where the people of God are focused on the organization rather than on God. They become dependent on the pastor and the leadership rather than on their own direct relationship with God. Preachers and pastors should NOT be saying, “Here is the answer for you, listen to me and my message and you’ll be alright!” but rather they should be saying, “I don’t have the answer. I’m only human and don’t know everything about you and your circumstances, but God does. Go to Him and He will show you the answer!” They too should be teaching directly from the Scriptures and strongly encouraging their listeners to go back to the Bible to confirm what was said, prayerfully seeking God and the Holy Spirit for guidance. All preaching and prophecy should be done with this attitude. Everything that is done by the church organization and the leadership of the organization should be done to support and complement each of the church member’s personal, direct relationship with God, causing them to advance spiritually into a mature person of God.
As Christians, we determine truth by the Word of God. His revelation in the Bible, what is essentially the revelation of His Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, this is the ABSOLUTE truth. The truths of the Bible are repeated throughout its books and are clear to all that are “of the truth”.
“Then Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am king. For this cause I was born and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.’” John 18: 37
“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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16
God can speak through a prophet, but the word of the prophet will never contradict the Scripture, nor will it be out of alignment, but will align perfectly with the Scriptural revelation. We must be familiar with the Scriptural revelation so that we can determine when the prophecy is out of line.
Each of us, as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, are responsible for our own understanding of the truth. We must study ourselves approved, rightly dividing the Word of Truth, the Scriptures. In a practical way, we need to put aside some time in our life to read God’s Word, absorb it, and be able to use it to test the truths that we hear. We can’t be lazy and depend on some other “scholars” or “elite Christian leaders” to make the determination for us. That’s how the world functions, but not the Body of Christ.
“The sheep that are My own hear My voice and listen to Me; I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:27 (AMP)
Let’s step back at this point and look at the bigger picture of the Christian’s view of truth. Initially, a Christian had to have come to a point in their life that they were convinced that this world was created by a Divine Creator, and did not come about by chance. This determination of truth came from honestly and intelligently observing the creation, and upon recognizing its complexity and the fact that there must be a higher intelligence that has planned and designed this world and its inhabitance, logically concluding that there is a Superior Being or God who is the Creator of our world.
The analogy would be a person in a remote region (e.g. in a desert or cave) who finds a book, and upon inspection sees that it is filled with writings and images or illustrations. The logical conclusion would be that there is person who is the author of the book, that it didn’t just come into existence by chance or by some non-intelligent, impersonal force. The books complexity and purposed design found in the writing and images would suggest an intelligent author; so too, the complexity and design of the world around us suggests a Creator who is an intelligent personal, superior being.
Following this determination of truth about the existence of a Creator, it became reasonable and logical to the Christian that the Creator must have communicated some form of directions or instructions for His Creation, and has not abandoned us. With this in mind and possibly seeking the Creator to direct them to this communication or revelation, the Christian then discovered (or was led by God to discover) the revelation of God through His Scriptures and the Gospel message of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. This revelation, the Bible, was then recognized as absolute truth, since it came from an all knowing Creator God who knows the beginning and the end.
The Bible stands out as the true revelation from God due to its abundance of supporting historical evidence (i.e. thousands of manuscripts in the original Greek or Hebrew text, archaeological findings, and other historical support), the content of the message itself, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the way it is presented (e.g., in contrast to most other claimed revelations, the record of the Messiah is written entirely by people who observed the life and working of Jesus Christ and who were involved in the aftermath of His resurrection and ascension into heaven; no Scripture was written by the Lord Jesus himself), and the fact that the main message, to love God with all your heart and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself, aligns with our conscience. There is much more to be said here to support the validity of the Biblical revelation, but if you are of the truth, than your honest research into the content of the Scriptures will result in a confirmation that the Bible is in fact a divinely inspired revelation from our Creator and that it represents absolute truth.
Additionally, the Christian realizes that direct communication, in the form of prayer, can be conducted with the Creator God and the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Christians are able to make requests to God as well as get instruction and guidance from Him through prayer.
My apologies to many readers who will see this as stating the obvious, but my goal is to establish and solidify the foundation upon which we recognize the truth. We must not only know the history of our source of truth but it needs to be clearly established in our minds as we function in our day to day activities.
Remember that all of this is inconceivable to the man who is without faith, who does not even acknowledge the existence of a Creator. Also, for many who believe in a Creator, but have formulated their own version of who the creator is, or have believed in a false god as Creator, the Christian viewpoint is foolish and/or erroneous.
There are many who have rejected the idea of a Divine, intelligent Creator God who has revealed Himself and His plan for mankind in the Biblical record of the nation of Israel and the coming of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. They must now place their full faith and trust in the teachings of other men and in their own intellectual capacity to retain information and gather facts to establish truth. Thus we see the exaggerated importance of education and increasing academic capacity and skills as it has become a prerequisite to understanding the “truth” of human centered, manmade philosophies and world views.
Throughout the years, as I have gotten into discussions with various people, co-workers or acquaintances, inevitably the conversation enters into an area where it becomes clear that the differences in opinion are a result of a difference in how truth is determined. My truth is based on the Word of God, and the non-Christian will base their truth on their own observations, studies, education, experiences, etc.
It is wise for us to recognize this underlying difference in determining truth to avoid senseless arguments. Someone who doesn’t believe in a Creator will have absolutely no interest or openness to receive the Bible as a source of absolute truth. So there is no sense attempting to resolve the difference in opinion. You must just agree to disagree and move on or end the discussion altogether.
It would also be wise, if we determine that the person you are in a discussion with has already established their belief in a Creator God and is possibly open to accepting the authority of the Bible, that you get directly to the root difference, that is, to the fact that you source of determining the truth is the Word of God.
Each person is different and each situation may call for different approaches when attempting to convince someone that the Bible is the authoritative Word and revelation of the Creator God. We must rely on the direction of the Holy Spirit to know how to proceed in this work of convincing someone of this viewpoint. Most times it will take a long time and maybe only “small seeds” can be “planted” that will need to be further “watered” by others in the future.
In summary, as Christians, be warned that there will be deceivers and false prophets that will appear legitimate and sent by God, displaying signs and wonders and speaking words that may be hard to determine as lies since they are usually mixed in with truths. We must not be naive and gullible, but rather we should use the Word of God, specifically the Bible, as a standard or authority against which we can measure the validity of these proposed teachings and messages.
Be wary of any preacher or teacher who does not direct you to the Word of God or to hearing from God yourself, personally and directly.
Take the time to study the Bible and to communicate with God. You are responsible for your adherence to the truth, so don’t depend on another man, no matter how intelligent or anointed they may seem to be. We should spend more time reading the Bible than reading the teachings and opinions of men, even if the teachings are about the Bible. There is no substitute for direct Bible study.
Our source of truth is very different than the source of truth that is used by non-Christians. Recognize this as the root source of differences in opinions in many areas and be careful how you approach them when resolving your differences of opinion. In most cases it will become clear that the only way to reconcile differences is for the non-Christian to embrace the Bible as a source of truth, which, again, is unlikely, but could be possible if the Lord is leading you in your approach to convincing them otherwise.
In short, the Gospel message of the Bible states that the Messiah has come in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and that everyone (even those who are not descendants of Abraham, Issac or Jacob) who put their trust in Him and believe in Him will not be put to shame, but will be saved from the judgment to come. The judgment is coming due to the rebellion of our first parents, Adam and Eve, causing this world to become cursed and under God’s judgment due to the continued sin and disrespect towards God by all humans, therefore, all are in need of this Messiah. As the Messiah, Jesus became the innocent sacrificial lamb who paid the price for our past sins. As Messiah King, Jesus became the first born from the dead when He was resurrected (as was firmly established by witnesses as per the Biblical record), and He then was seated at the right hand of God the Father as King and Lord of all. We who believe in Him now live as children of God and as citizens of the kingdom of God where He is Lord and King, so He becomes our Lord and King. We anxiously await His return to establish the earthly kingdom of God after destroying the current world system. We must also note that a person’s acceptance into the kingdom of God and the family of God is only by faith, that is, trusting and believing in the Messiah and the promises that are offered by Him (i.e., forgiveness of sins, eternal life with a resurrected body, and a place in Heaven). A person cannot earn or pay for these promises since they are a gift from God, showing His mercy and grace towards us.
“…because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” Romans 10: 9-13
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’ John 11: 25-27
This Gospel message establishes our view of the world and the approach we take towards our life and the circumstances that we encounter. We now consider ourselves dead to this world and the things it has to offer. Our hope and focus are now on the future hope we have in heaven. We are aliens and strangers passing through this world until we depart.
To be clear, the truth that I am referring to here is the truth that is related to our world view and philosophy of life. We often run into these truths as we discuss politics, justice, world cultures, history and many other topics. I hope that this discussion has prepared you for your future and encouraged you to know the Word of God for yourself.
I leave you with this advice from the Apostle Paul to Timothy:
“Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 2 Timothy 2: 14-19
“Teach and urge these duties. If any one teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6: 2-10