Truth - Part 2
Last time we looked at truth, and how the Bible reveals it as the beginning, middle, and end of a matter. Today we want to ask, “Where can we find this truth?”. And I think this is a pertinent question today, because we’re seeing two sets of facts for everything, and legislation is passed on the concept of an alternate reality. How, then, shall we go forward? Upon what do we place our trust?
The Bible tells us in Isaiah 65:16 that the answer is the God of the Scriptures. Why? – Twice there He is called the “God of truth”, and the book of James tells us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change”. Romans 1:25 even draws a distinction between sinful man and perfect God when it says, “they exchanged the truth about God for a lie”. It’s because of this that John Calvin wrote, “Nothing is deemed more precious by God than truth”.
Indeed, remember that word “emet”, which means “truth”? – It is also translated as “faithfulness”, meaning when you read of the steadfast love of the Lord or the faithfulness of the Lord – as frequently found in the Psalms – it’s saying that truth is at the core of who God is.
But where can we find the revelation of this truth? – In the self-disclosure of God’s Word, both written and living.
We’re told in Psalm 12:6, “The words of the Lord are pure words”, and 2 Timothy 3 and Hebrews 4 state that the Bible is useful for growing, teaching, rebuking and changing – not just our behaviors, but our very motives and thoughts, because the Lord is actively speaking to us as we engage with it. 2 Timothy 3:15 even calls the Bible “the Word of truth”, and Jesus says, “[God’s] word is truth” (John 17:17). It may not – as I brought up last time – prove that vanilla is the best flavor of ice cream, but it will define and shape our worldview and our being around what is objectively true.
But notice also that the Scriptures are not bearing witness to themselves but their true author: God. When we read the Word, we must do so using it to interpret itself lest we try to twist the truth to define our own reality, as Adam and Eve once again did at the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God’s Word is His truth revealed, and so it must shape how we feel and think and act. And if it does, the Lord promises that He “will make straight our paths” (Proverbs 3:6). It’s why elsewhere, the Psalmist proclaims, “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). That path is always leading somewhere, and that somewhere is back to the living word: Jesus. The Scriptures declare him “the Word” (John 1:1), and the “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) in whom “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19). He is truth incarnate.
What’s happens when we reject him, then, is that we stumble through life without ever knowing our created purpose, and those who do so will always run the opposite way. As an example, let’s go back to Jesus standing before Pilate, and witness the ironic and tragic scene. As he stands trial, Jesus says, “I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth”. What amazing words! Everything we desire, everything God wants us to know this side of glory, bound up and found in Jesus. Yet Pilate sneers back, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38). In the next chapter he then says, “Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?”, and Jesus responds by saying, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:10-11).
Now, there we have the powers of the world standing against the powers of God. And what’s the fundamental difference?
– The powers of the world are willing to assume that they have ultimate authority – even over God – and yet they can’t even define truth. By contrast, less than 24 hours earlier than that interchange, in the upper room discourse, our gracious Redeemer sat with the disciples and said to them, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). It is simply jaw-dropping to see Pilate reveal that he doesn’t know what truth is, and yet wield his authority like a drunk man with a sword. His staggered swings land upon truth itself.
Pilate, as the most powerful earthly man in the room, admitted he had nothing upon which to base his decisions, and so he sentenced the very source of truth to death. When we do not make Jesus our center, it always leads to the death of what is true.
By contrast, Jesus is truth personified. This is why, when the Bible calls us to embrace truth, it means to embrace Jesus. Of him, John 1:14 says he is “full of grace and truth”. Colossians 2:3 also professes that in him “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”. As such, he promises in John 8:32 that if we come to him, “the truth will set you free”, because his atoning death has brought our sinful natures to the grave and raised us to new life in the Spirit.
The true and ancient wisdom of this world (see Proverbs 8) is real, available, personal, holding out his hand. Belief in Jesus sets us free from the lies and cruelty of this realm. Satan may be called the father of lies (John 8:44), but Jesus has defeated both him and the whole order of this world, and in Revelation 21:5, he comes proclaiming that he will renew all things, destroying falsehoods, evils, and all manner of vile things.
So, in a day and age where truth is under assault, we must continually hide ourselves in the refuge of truth itself: Jesus, our Lord. Don’t be fooled: if even the highest authority in the land rejects Jesus, they have rejected truth. Cling to him, learn his Word, and as he once again promises, “the truth will set you free”.
Next time, we’ll look, then, at how we bring this truth to others.
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My name is Bryan Lanting. I am a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary, and I am presently serving Mt View CRC as their pastor. I am married to a wonderful wife named Sydney, and both of us are loving life, loving Lynden, and loving the Lord!