“What is Truth?

August 12, 2018

 

“What is Truth?

 

Jesus before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea:  “I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true. What is truth?’ Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, ‘He is not guilty of any crime’” (John 18:37,38 NLT). Jesus said, “I am the Truth…” (John 14:6).

“In our increasingly postmodern culture, a number of voices argue there is no such thing as objective right or wrong or absolute truth of any kind. Is there such a thing as absolute truth? There are only two possible answers to this question—yes or no. There either is absolute truth, something that is true at all times and places, or there is not. To argue with certainty that there is no such thing as absolute truth is to make an absolute truth claim, and is thus self-refuting. Therefore, the only option remaining is that absolute truth does exist.” –compellingtruth.org

How many of you growing up put a tooth under your pillow fully expecting the Tooth Fairy to reward you? How many wrote a letter to Santa Clause telling him what you wanted for Christmas? How about the Easter Bunny or the Great Pumpkin? Some things we recognize immediately as myths (Hopefully you’re still not putting teeth under your pillow, or corresponding with Santa), but some myths are not as easy to recognize. It makes some people wonder if anything is really true! These childhood myths may have helped some to reject anything they cannot see or prove. Some reject the idea of absolute truth, and embrace the notion that all truth is relative. In short, what may be truth for me, may not be truth for you. In a spiritual sense, I believe the Word of God and that Christianity is true, but you may not accept it as true.

“The nature of truth is crucial to the Christian faith. Not only does Christianity claim there is absolute truth (truth for everyone, everywhere, at all times), but it insists that truth about the world (reality) is that which corresponds to the way things really are. For example, the statement “God exists” means that there really is a God outside the universe, an extra-cosmic Being. Likewise, the claim that “God raised Christ from the dead” (Acts 2:32) means that the dead corpse of Jesus of Nazareth supernaturally vacated its tomb alive three days after its burial. Christian truth claims really correspond to the state of affairs about which they claim to inform us.”  –theopedia.com

Three reasons why some reject absolute truth?

1. Some feel that absolute truth is too hard, if not impossible to find.

That’s not hard to understand, since everyone and their family pet claim to have the truth, and some people’s truth is different from other people’s truth. I was a patient in the hospital one Sunday morning, watching television church, I heard at least six different so-called truths being presented to me from Televangelists. Everything from a cut-up suit to be used for prayer clothes (they will send it to you for price, of course), to a golden altar, and if you don’t send money they will soon be off the air! Many Televangelists are on television to raise money so they can stay on television to raise money, so they can stay on television…well you get the idea! Which “truth” will we choose? The Moonies; Watchtower; Mormons; Islam; the Prosperity gospel or the true Jesus, who said, “I am the way (so there is no other way), the truth (so there is no other truth), and the life (so there is no other source of life). No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). “For there is one God (so there is no other God) and one Mediator (and only one) between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5,6).

2. There are too many charlatans. While there are many who honestly believe they have “the Truth,” or at least access to it, there are those who exploit people’s desire to find the truth, luring them to spend their hard-earned dollars for phony cure-alls to meet their spiritual need. There are far too many Elmer Gantry, charlatan phony-baloney crooks who use the Bible to pad their pockets with your money!

3. It is easier to believe in relativism because there is no accountability to a standard of belief. It is the feeling that if my lifestyle fits my personal definition of truth, then it is okay for me, even if you think it’s wrong. For example, evolutionary scientists must reject creationism as truth or they would be forced to accept the God of the Bible, and be accountable to Him, and that’s unacceptable to them..

Relativism is the philosophical position that all points of view are equally valid and that all truth is relative to the individual. This means that all moral positions, all religious systems, all art forms, all political movements, etc., are truths that are relative to the individual.

“Unfortunately, the philosophy of relativism is pervasive in our culture today. With the rejection of God and Christianity in particular, absolute truth is being abandoned. Our pluralistic society wants to avoid the idea that there really is a right and wrong…The plague of moral relativism is encouraging everyone to accept homosexuality, pornography, fornication, and a host of other ‘sins’ that were once considered wrong but are now being accepted and even promoted in society. It is becoming so pervasive that if you speak out against moral relativism and its anything goes philosophy, you're labeled as an intolerant bigot.” –Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry

Look at the implications of relativism, as it is contrasted with absolute truth:

 

•The first implication of relativism is that all truth is relative. If all truth is relative, then all religious truth is valid. That would mean that all religions and philosophies carry the same weight. Christianity is no better that Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormonism or atheism. That sounds good on the surface, because, after all shouldn’t we all just get along? Why can’t we just allow everyone to have their own faith and philosophy? After all aren’t all religions striving to get to the same place and worship the same God?

Let me answer those questions with another question: What do we do with spiritual truths that are mutually exclusive? For example, Jesus claimed to be the only way to the Father and heaven. He said in John 14:6, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” And Islam claims to be the only true religion and that Christianity is false. How can they both be true? They cannot be true for some and not for others. Jesus claimed to be the way for everyone. “For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:3,4). You can’t have it both ways, God and His Word are true, everyone else is wrong!

•The second implication of relativism is that persuasion is not allowed! Tolerance is king! Most relativists are very proud of their tolerance, and get angry when they perceive intolerance in others. Here’s the problem: If they are as tolerant as they claim, they have no right to judge my position as being invalid, even if they disagree. My exclusivistic Christianity must be accepted by them as a valid viewpoint if they are going to be consistent in their tolerance of everyone’s religion. Observation proves that their tolerance is a one-way street. They demand tolerance from me, but refuse to be tolerant of my beliefs. That’s hypocrisy! And that is what most relativists accuse Christians as being! If you claim to be tolerant, examine yourself, see how tolerant you are of those with whom you disagree.

•The Third implication of relativism is that there are no moral absolutes. The question is not whether there are any absolutes but rather which claims of truth are absolute. People will generally accept absolutes in areas of science or mathematics, but tend to question truth when it comes to matters of morality.

“Each person and culture has developed their own definition of what right or wrong is. This theory is morally unacceptable because it implies that an act can be right for someone even if it is cruel,  hateful or harmful. Culture or ones personal preference does not dictate what is right or wrong. Neither can religions,  for each area may have its own religion that came down to them from previous generations. There must be a greater standard, one that is more correct and more sure for us to live by. Otherwise we are left to invent our own opinions that will change in time because of our culture.” –letusreason.org

I have found absolutely no one, including myself, who doesn’t make moral judgments! I might judge an activity to be wrong, while you may judge it to be okay. For example, R-rated movies are perfectly okay for some, but are totally off-limits for others. While you may be able to accept someone wearing skimpy, revealing clothing, others can’t handle it. That does not necessarily mean that your judgment is wrong and mine is right, it simply means that we have different views of what may or may not be a problem by definition.

Most people would agree premeditated murder is morally wrong, yet what about a society where cannibalism is practiced? Is morality therefore simply socially conditioned, based on what works or what a given community agrees upon, or is there a standard of absolute truth or morality?

And if there are no moral absolutes, then Adolph Hitler’s crimes against humanity, Charles Manson’s murder spree, terrorists killing innocent people, racism, rape, murder, etc. are all okay, because without absolutes, you cannot condemn anyone’s actions as being wrong. But you will never find a relativist who would say murder is acceptable, or rape is allowable if it meets someone’s moral code. My guess is that no matter how tolerant and relativistic you are, when a child is molested or murdered, your gut reaction is that you are shocked and horrified, and I would be willing to bet that you would petition to see the perpetrators brought to justice. Why is that true? Because within each of us is a conscience that knows that murder, rape, and all other horrific crimes are wrong. Absolutely wrong!

 

4. If truth is absolute, then it can be found: Truth may be difficult to find but that does not mean it does not exist?

Truth must be objective (true for all people), universal (true in all places), and constant (true for all times). I came across a story about Abraham Lincoln, in which he was having a disagreement with another man. Lincoln asked the man, “how many legs does a cow have?” The man answered “four.” Then Lincoln asked, “What if we called the tail a leg, then how many legs would the cow have?”  The man answered, “Well, he’d have five legs.” To which Lincoln replied, “Now that’s where you’re wrong. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

If you are not willing to come to standards like this, then I would have to say that you do not seek truth, but rather justification for your rejection of truth. That’s not exactly being intellectually honest, is it? At least have the intestinal fortitude (guts) to admit you do not care about truth, only your opinion of truth. If you are not ready to submit that truth is objective, universal and constant, then you do not seek truth! You are not being honest with yourself!

Seeking truth and hoping to possess it someday is not arrogant, but rather an admission that you do not know everything, and that you would like to know there is absolute truth to be found. That’s not arrogance, it’s honesty, and if this is your attitude, I commend you for it! You cannot go through life saying, “There is no such thing as absolute truth,” if you have not put forth maximum effort to discover it, how will you ever know?

5. Where can absolute truth be found? My obvious answer is the Bible in its original autographs. I can tell you for certain, having personal experience with Scripture, that the Bible’s truth can change your life for the better! The Scripture is totally relevant for the twenty-first century and beyond, just as it has been for the past twenty-plus centuries. The words, “truth,” “true,” and “truly” appear 388 times in the Bible. Jesus Christ, the Messiah says, “I tell you the truth,” eighty times in the Bible, another twenty times Jesus says, “You have heard it said…but I say to you.” God is truth! God’s word is truth! All truth is God’s truth! “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Therefore the only word we have from God is the Bible, as revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth…” (John 16:13).

I have adequately shown that if you are not actively seeking for truth, you can never say, ”there’s no such thing as absolute truth!”

What is my life’s guide?

 

Theologically, educationally or Philosophically people may disagree on what is moral or ethical, yet virtually all people agree on some system of right and wrong. Therefore, the natural question arises, “Upon what do we base our moral standards?”

In the movie, “Altered States,” the actor, in his search for absolute truth, submerged himself in a flotation tank, mentally going back further and further to the very beginning of all things, he finally found absolute truth. His conclusion, “The only absolute truth is, there is no absolute truth.” How sad!

No matter if you are Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish, Atheist, or have no religious preference at all, in your search for truth you need to ask yourself some fundamental questions: “What is going to be the authority in my life?” “What is going to be the basis for my beliefs and my behavior?”  “What is going to be my guide for life?” “Do I have a life-source guidebook to rely on?” Well, when it comes down to cases, you only have two choices, man’s opinion or God’s Word!

The “Baby Boom” generation is those who were born between 1948 and 1964. During those years, seventy-three million children were born. During those years Dr. Benjamin Spock was the leading authority for raising children. The only problem about his truth was that in the 1970s, he held a press conference to say, “oops, I was wrong, that’s not the right way to raise children…never mind.” My point is that an entire generation was raised on a way of parenting that studies later proved didn’t work!

The average lifespan of a science textbook is –are you listening– eighteen months, because knowledge is rapidly increasing. So you don’t want to put your faith in something that might eventually get you to the top of the ladder, only to find that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.

God’s Word has stood the test of time, and has withstood every effort to destroy it. God’s Word has been under constant attack throughout the ages.

•The Pagan Persecutions. Roman Emperor Diocletian (244-313 AD) decreed in 303 AD that all bibles would be removed form the people. After years of killing Christians and burning bibles he erected a sign reading, “Extincto Nomene Christianorium,” “The name Christian is extinguished.” But after his death he was succeeded by Constantine the Great, who, in 312 AD declared the Roman Empire to be officially Christian.

•The Ecclesiastical Persecutions. “More believers were put to death during the dark ages than at any other period of persecution including Nazism and Communism.” –Foxes Book of Martyrs

 

•Rationalism. The Infamous atheist Voltaire (1694-1778) said, “one-hundred years from my day there will not be one Bible left on earth except one that is looked upon by the antiquarian  curiosity seeker.” One-hundred years after his death his house was being used by the British Bible Society for storing and distributing Bibles. A first edition of his work sold for 11¢, on the same day a copy of the Codex Sinaiticus, an ancient Bible manuscript sold for $500,000.00.

•Humanism. “We do not need God.”  This philosophy gave us Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, the Age of Reason and a rise in Agnosticism. The alternative to Evolution is totally unacceptable for Agnostics, why? The alternative is the Genesis account of creation, and if creation is true, then God’s Word is true, and God is real, and they must answer to Him.

 

The Word of God Stands Forever:

Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”  

Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”

1 Peter 1:25, “The word of the Lord endures forever.”

The Bible says it is impossible for God to lie (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2). So if you are serious about finding the truth, go to the source that never changes, the Word of God! Truth can be found if you are truly serous about finding it.

Since Absolute Truth exists, our commitment is to live in Truth. Hear again the words of Jesus Christ, the Lord:

John 8:31,32, “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’”

“Abide” in Greek is meno, meaning, “to stay, or remain,” once we become believers, we know the truth and it remains in us forever.

2 John 1-3 MSG, “My dear congregation, I, your pastor, love you in very truth. And I’m not alone—everyone who knows the Truth that has taken up permanent residence in us loves you. Let grace, mercy, and peace be with us in truth and love from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, Son of the Father!” 

How can truth be found? By accepting the death , burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ who is the Truth.

“How can I come into a right relationship with God?”  “How can I obtain eternal life?” “How can I have all of my sins forgiven?” God has all the answers for you! I am a living testimony that God loves you so much you can trust Him with your life. So, what do you have to lose?

Pray this prayer: Dear Lord God, I need You in my life. I acknowledge that I have sinned and I am now confessing my sin, turning from it, and asking for Your forgiveness. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I believe You are the Son of God and that You died for me, and rose from the dead and are alive today. I receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Please take control of my life from here forward and make me the kind of person you want me to be. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

 

Did you pray that prayer? Did you mean it? Do you believe God? Well God says to you, you are saved for eternity. You will go to heaven when you die! Listen and believe:  “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37 NLT). “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). In Jesus says to you, “And I give them eternal life, and they will never, ever [by any means] perish; and no one will ever snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater and mightier than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28,29).

Unless otherwise noted the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible was used, also, The New Living Translation (NLT), and The Message (MSG).

All of Dr. John’s teaching and preaching materials are free for your use, but an acknowledgement would be appreciated: pastorbigjohn@sbcglobal.net

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