“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
What is truth? Do your eyes glaze over in disinterest when you read that? What is the truth? Have you been duped into thinking no one can really know the truth about anything? Have you bought into the worlds’ propaganda that truth is relative; what’s true for one person is not necessarily true for another? Try applying that to everyday living and you won’t get past the first traffic intersection. But what about truth, is “truth” something we should be interested in knowing? Is it something we can know?
The passion of the cross and resurrection of Jesus is the culmination of a plan of God that existed from the foundation of the world (cf. Matthew 25:34; Hebrews 4:3; Revelation 13:8; 17:8). In John 18 Jesus is taken into custody, brought before the high priest, and then brought before Pilate. When Jesus is brought before Pilate He makes a statement about the cause or reason He came into the world. At this critical moment what did Jesus say was the cause for which He came? Jesus came as a physician to treat the spiritually sick and dying (Matthew 9:12; Mark 2:17: Luke 5:31). Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus came to give His life a ransom for our sin (Mark 10:45). Jesus came to show and provide us with abundant life (John 10:10). But when it came down to this pivotal point in the inspired revelation of God what was it God in Christ through the Holy Spirit expressed as the cause for which Christ came?
Teaching, healing, saving, and serving are all things Jesus did because of who He was and is. Jesus is God incarnate. At the heart and root of what Jesus came to do is what Jesus came to be. Being precedes doing. There is a principle revealed in this: What you are determines what you will do. When Jesus stood before Pilate He was asked about who He was; whether or not He was a King. Jesus acknowledged He was a King, but not of any earthly kingdom (at least not yet – cf. the Second Coming and Millennium – Rev. 20). Jesus went on to add to His answer something that is very revealing. Jesus told Pilate, “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). The cause of Christ, the reason Jesus came, was to “bear witness to the truth.” What does that mean? Evidently “truth” is (according to Jesus) something we should know and care about.
Pilate asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). He seems to have been much like the skeptics of history and our day. He didn’t have much time for the truth; he had a riot to squelch and people to appease. Maybe you’re asking the same question? “Who cares about the truth? I have a life to live, problems that need solving.” Maybe you feel a bit like Colonel Nathan R. Jessup in the movie A Few Good Men .Maybe you feel like saying, “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!” Maybe you feel like you can’t handle or get a handle on the truth. Maybe you’ve been avoiding the truth; excusing or rationalizing it away. Ignorance is bliss. And really, is the truth of any practical use? Let’s look at the truth about truth.
Before we go any further we need to say something about testing or how we gather evidence to determine the truth. There is truth determined by scientific analysis and there is truth based on the testimony of witnesses in history. Scientific truth can be determined by reproducing circumstances and combinations of data in a laboratory. Truth in a lab is something that can be quantified mathematically: 1 + 1 = 2. Scientifically we can repeat the sequences of events such as in repeating the splitting of an atom to cause a repeatable chain reaction. Atomic bombs and the like are true to their formulas.
When we speak of truth based in history we are speaking of events in history that can’t be reproduced. You can’t repeat the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., or Robert F. Kennedy. You can’t repeat the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War. How therefore do we determine the truth about such historical events? The truth about these historic events is based on eye witness accounts. The truth about historic events is based on weighing the evidence of eyewitnesses and determining probability. In a court of law jurors are asked to weigh the evidence in the case and make a determination based on “reasonable doubt” or probability.
Historic truth may sound like a lower or lesser degree of dependability but it really isn’t. It’s just a different way of measuring the truth. For instance, what if you found a notarized letter from your dear old departed aunt Bessie that said, “Dear Aloysius T. Xavier, I leave you the entire contents of my _ank account serial number 777056 in the Bank of New York safety _eposit box” and was signed in her own handwriting? Now mathematically there is a possibility that the blank letters smudged out of her document for the words “_ank” and “_eposit” don’t really mean “bank” and “deposit.” But there is a very high probability that those actually are the words; beyond a reasonable doubt. Plus you have the testimony of a notary witness. When we weigh the rest of the verifying evidence such as if Bessie had such a bank account, how many other Aloysius T. Xaviers there are, the notaries testimony, etc., we can increase the probability all the more. In the end we can through weighing evidence come to a very reliable high probability for the truth as it relates to historic circumstances. We can take it to the bank.
Where is “truth” found? The Bible contains scientifically relevant truth about the creation of the universe, the sphere of the earth, astronomy, and natural cataclysmic events etc. But the Bible is not a science book. God’s truth touches on many different physical topics: healing; marriage; family; society; government; etc. But the Bible is primarily aimed at revealing metaphysical truth about God, humanity and our existence. God’s word gives concrete truth about those things we ponder as human beings, e.g. What is life all about? What happens after we die? Is there a “God”? Is God personal or impersonal? etc. The truth about our existence is found in God’s word (Psalm 119:142-160; John 17:17, 19). Jesus said, “Thy word is truth.”
What we as humans need to know is revealed by God’s sovereign determination in His Holy word: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). God has not only provided a tangible word for us to absorb and live by, He has come in the Person of the Holy Spirit to help us learn His truth (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13). The Holy Spirit will indwell the person who through faith accepts Jesus as their Savior (John 3; Romans 8:9-11). God has provided easy access to His truth. There is no excuse to not know His truth. You have to reject and rebel against God and His truth to not know His truth.
Despite perpetual attempts to denigrate and destroy the Bible, God’s word has stood the test of time and attacks of critics. God’s word contains the most important truth; truth about our existence and eternal destiny. The Bible provides truth about existence, reality, humanity, the material as well as the spiritual world. When we weigh the internal and external evidence; the manuscript, archeological, prophetic and statistical analysis of Biblical contents we arrive at an incredible, even miraculous probability that God’s word is true and the truth about our existence. God’s word is reliable, trustworthy, and true. When you read your Bible you are reading a love letter and manual for life from God.
The word “truth” occurs 962 times in 904 verses of the Bible. It’s an important word of God. In the New Testament the word “truth” (Greek aletheia) means that which is in accordance with fact, that which is dependable, or that which is disclosed and not hidden. Someone has said, “What you see is what you get.” Or, “It is what it is.” These are common expressions that something is true (even though we may not like it.) But we know from life that what you see is not always what you get. The “truth” about what something or someone actually is, is often quite different from what is presented. That is because in reality truth is often hidden or misrepresented.
God’s truth about eternal life is bound up in the Gospel (Galatians 2:5, 14). The Gospel tells us the truth about humanities sinful state and its need for a Savior. Jesus described himself as “the truth” (John 14:6). He described the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17). Jesus is the culminating truth about how we can receive spiritual life and spend eternity with God. The Spirit of truth reveals such truth to us.
Jesus taught that His truth frees us (John 8:31-32). He taught that the truth is found in God’s word and sanctifies us or makes us suited for God’s use (John 17:17-19). Since, according to God’s truth, we exist for God’s pleasure (Ephesians 1:5; Revelation 4:11 KJV), when we live by the truth of God’s word we discover and experience our true meaning and purpose of our existence. That’s fulfilling and satisfying. That’s good. Peter would later write that the truth purifies us (1 Peter 1:22). Paul would later write that the truth establishes us or puts us on steady stable ground (Ephesians 4:15).
It’s important that we respond to God’s truth in the right way. It’s wrong to try and alter God’s truth and make it into a lie (Romans 1:25). Instead we need to come to the truth of God and accept it (2 Timothy 3:7). Sinfulness is disobedience to the truth of God (Romans 2:8). It’s sinful to walk contrary to God’s truth (Galatians 2:14). We ought to believe and love God’s truth; when we don’t it is sin (2 Thessalonians 2:10, 12). To live without God’s truth makes us destitute (1 Timothy 6:5). Some resist God’s truth to their own harm (2 Timothy 3:8). Some turn from the truth trusting in their own ideas (2 Timothy 4:4). When that happens people die spiritually.
How should we respond to God’s truth? Jesus said we should worship God in truth (John 4:23-24). When we look further into the New Testament we see we are called to come to the truth of God (1 Timothy 2:4) and believe and know it (1 Timothy 4:3). We need to handle it accurately (2 Timothy 2:15). We need to obey God’s truth (1 Peter 1:22) and base our lives on it (2 Peter 1:12). We should take it to heart and speak it to others (Ephesians 4:25). We should declare God’s truth openly (Acts 26:25). We should walk in and live by the truth of God (3 John 3-4).
Something that is not true is false. Deception is presenting something as truthful when it is really something else. Lies are speaking falsehoods. No one likes to be fooled by false truth. Relationships are based on truth. When someone lies to us it betrays our trust in them and it causes emotional and relational fracturing.
Relativism is not true. We are living in a time when the prevalent world view is relativism. Relativism is “the doctrine that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context, and are not absolute.” Relativism is not true because it does not hold up to testing. “If what is true for me is that relativism is false, then is it true that relativism is false? If you say ‘no,’ then what is true for me is not true and relativism is false. But if you say ‘yes,’ then relativism is false. Relativism seems to defy the very nature of truth; namely, that truth is not self-contradictory.”  Got it? Confused? Confusion is the consequence of relativism.
Relativism leads to instability and uncertainty because “truth” is constantly changing with the whims of humanity. Relativism is akin to the way people lived during the time of the Judges; the low point of God’s people in history. During the time of the Judges it was said, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 21:25). The time of the Judges was a very unstable and chaotic time. That is exactly what we see in the world today. The truth be told, relativism is simply a means to ignore truth and do what you want when what you want to do goes against the truth.
Society would fall apart without absolute truths. Truth is absolute. Truth, if it means anything, is absolute. If truth changes from day to day or societies whims then it breeds instability and chaos. We need to be able to depend on the truth. For instance, if a red light didn’t always mean “stop” and a green light didn’t always mean “go,” then we literally wouldn’t know if we were coming or going. If “right” and “left” meant different things to different people we’d literally be running into each other. Truth can be pretty practical.
If there were not standards of being truthful nothing could be trusted. Without standards of being truthful when promoting products people would be unfairly taken advantage of (some say this does happen too often already). Ever heard the expression, “If something seems too good to be true it probably is?” Sales people frequently sell you things based on false presentations. Advertisements usually focus on the best quality of a product while distracting you from the truth about it. “’It is good for nothing,’ cries the buyer; but when he has gone his way, then he boasts” (Proverbs 20:14). As our society has adopted a more relativistic worldview we see such a view expressed in everyday life through lax standards of truth and lax enforcement of what standards of truth are left. It’s getting harder and harder to depend on what you see and hear. That’s unsettling.
A legal system is based on people telling truth. It’s a crime to lie under oath in a courtroom. A witness who lies under oath is guilty of perjury. The truthfulness of witnesses is important so that the guilty are punished and the innocent are not. Truth is necessary for justice to occur.
To break the law is a kind of breaking truth. People use lies and deception to break the law. When the law is broken it leads to unrest. Laws based on lies are detrimental to the peace of the people they govern. That is why in the resolution of conflicts in court those who testify are required to swear an oath to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” (and they used to add, “so help me God”). As more people operate under relativism more people are presenting “truth” in manipulative ways to promote their personal agendas. That is a dead end street as far as the truth is concerned.
It’s important that media communications be based on truth. The media is (or should be) taken to task when it does not report events in a truthful way. Media reporting that is not truthful degenerates into propaganda and can’t be trusted. Media today, regardless of network, is becoming more a presentation of opinion than objective sharing of news. That’s dangerous and deceptive.
A political system requires truth to last. God has offered to provide order for government. Governments relying on human resources alone degenerate. Government based on God’s truth lasts and flourishes. America used to be a nation flourishing because of its connection to God and His word. As we have moved further away from our holy roots, our nation has degenerated into something much less than she could have been (cf. Romans 13).
When leaders lie to their constituency they are removed because trust in leadership is very important. Populous needs to know the truth about where resources are being used and how they are being used. We need to know who is contributing to our politicians and whether or not such contributions are payoffs to influence politicians in some way.
People feel betrayed by politicians who promise the world during their campaigns for election only to deliver little to nothing once elected. The confidence in government is undermined when politicians manipulate, ignore, and bend the truth for their own purposes. In extreme cases the failure of the government to adhere to truth leads to revolution.
Betrayal is breaking truth in a relationship. History is filled with those who betray people and nations by betraying the truth. In a time of war truth is essential. Those who lie to their compatriots are usually determined to be traitors. Judas betrayed Jesus trust and truth and was entered by the devil. Benedict Arnold betrayed the truth and the trust General George Washington placed in him. Arnold almost stifled the American Revolution. During World War Two Tokyo Rose used lies and deceit to try and demoralize American soldiers. The Cambridge Five were spies for the Russians during the Cold War. Falsehood is a weapon in warfare.
Lies are used to deceive and manipulate people. “The lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:11), the first lie, was used by the serpent to deceive Eve and Adam into disobeying God. The consequence of that first lie was devastating; it led to the contamination of the entire human race with sin (Genesis 3). The serpent Satan used untrue false statements in order to bring Adam and Eve and humanity under his control. When untruth and lies are used to deceive and bring persons under the liar’s control in some way, Satan, the father of lies, and his demons are in some way involved.
We can deceive ourselves. Jeremiah was inspired to write, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9-10). The apostle John wrote, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Do you know the truth about yourself? Are you self-deceived?
To deny God’s truth is to call Him a liar. When we say and accept things as true that are really contrary to God’s word we in effect accuse God of being a liar - “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). “He who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son” (1 John 5:10b). Are you calling God a liar by contradicting or denying His word of truth in some way?
People use lies to deceive and get an advantage over others. People use untruths or false impressions in order to use people for their own devices. In the Old Testament Delilah lured Samson to his demise using love in a deceptive way (Judges 13-16). Amnon, son of King David, lured his half sister Tamar into a compromising position and then raped her all by way of deception (2 Samuel 13). Judas betrayed Jesus with lies. Falsehoods destroy relationships. Relationships are built on truth.
Hypocrites present themselves as something that in truth, they are not. Our sinful nature is inclined to hide the truth about who we are. Ananias and Sapphira presented themselves as benevolent givers when in fact they were using their giving to manipulate the church. The Holy Spirit would have none of that and disciplined these two hypocrites with the cost of their lives. The Spirit sent a message to the fledgling church from the start; hypocrisy is not acceptable; live in truth (Acts 5). We all want to put our best foot forward but we cross the line when we say we are something that, if truth be told, we really are not. The truth is important. Falsehood breaks trust and makes building relationships impossible. Truth brings us together. Falsehoods separate us.
A heresy is a half-truth. Cults deal in partial truths. They lure their victims in with partial truth and then hold them in a web of falsehoods. Many people are deceived and devote their entire lives and all they own to cults based on half-truths and outright falsehoods. The truth is important. Truth directs us to the way to eternal life. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Jesus. The truth you need to know is bound up in God’s Holy Word. If you want to be safe from spiritual deception, you need to know the truth of God’s word.
Satan is the father of falsehoods, untruth and lies (John 8:44). Whenever we lie or are deceived we can be sure that Satan and his demons are in some way involved. Our mandate as believers is to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). “The entirety of Your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160). Jesus said, “Your word [God’s word] is truth” (John 17:17). We need to be people of God’s word who stick close to and live within the truth-full parameters of His word. Truth without love is harsh. Love without truth is weak sentimentality. Truth shared in love is powerful.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus was and is the embodiment of truth. Everything about Jesus is truthful; full of truth. Jesus reveals truth and wherever He is the truth, or lack thereof, is exposed. The Gospel of John is a revelation about the truth of Jesus: He is God; He is the solution to humanities sin problem; He is the way to live, the truth about God, and the Source of eternal life, abundant life. If you want to know the truth about anything you have to look to Jesus.
In John’s gospel we see Jesus reveal many truths. Some of these truths are:
- Jesus is the Word made flesh; God – John 1:1-2 and 14
- Jesus is the Creator of the universe – John 1:3
- Jesus is the source of life – John 1:4
- Jesus came to His own but His own rejected Him – John 1:10-12
- Those who received Jesus by faith are children of God - John 1:12
- Jesus came to take away the sins of the world – John 1:29
- Jesus said a person must be spiritually born (“born again”) in order to experience eternal life and spend eternity with Him in heaven – John 3
- Jesus gives us the water of everlasting life – John 4:13-14
- Jesus said we must worship God in spirit and truth – John 4:23-24
- Jesus has power to heal – John 4:46-54; 5:1-15; etc.
- Faith in Jesus results in everlasting life not judgment – John 5:24
- Everyone will be resurrected, some to eternal life, others to eternal damnation – John 5:29
- Jesus can defy nature; walk on water – John 6:15-21
- Jesus can provide for our needs, e.g. feeding thousands of people with morsels of food – John 6
- Jesus’ teachings are rejected by some – John 6:60
- Jesus will give the Holy Spirit to those who come to Him – John 7:37-39
- Jesus has the truth that can free us from our sins – John 8:31-36
- Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life to save the sheep – John 10
- Jesus came to give us an abundant life – John 10:10
- Jesus can raise the dead to life – John 11
- Jesus is worthy of worship – John 12
- Jesus was a servant – John 13
- Jesus gave us an example of love to follow – John 13:34-35
- Jesus would send the Helper; the Holy Spirit to help us live for Him – John 14-16
- Jesus prayed and we should too – John 17
- Jesus came to testify to the truth – John 18
That is only a short summary of the truth Jesus conveyed in John’s gospel. These are life changing destiny altering truths. Are you living by such God revealed truth?
The abundant life of Jesus is true; you can depend on it. The abundant life Jesus spoke of is one based on truth, births truth and breeds more truths about life and our existence. The more you live the truthful abundant life of Jesus, the more truth you learn and experience. That an abundant life is described and offered to those who believe and follow Jesus is an abundant truth. The abundant life is based on truth, filled with truth, and leads to more truth. The abundant life of God’s truth is the life God intended for His creation from the beginning. Tell the truth, are you living the abundant life of Christ? Has Christ’s cause impacted you? Are you true to Him and His word? Really, truly, where are you in relation to God’s truth?