When Jesus stood before Pilate, He said, “For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice” (John 18:37, RSV). Pilate’s response is echoed today in the sentiments of many people. As if truth didn’t matter, he dismissively replied to Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Obviously, the truth must be important if Jesus came to bear witness of it.
The Postmodern philosophy rejects absolute truth. Truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder according to this way of thinking. Depending on cultural and religious beliefs, a person’s “truth” can be vastly different than the “truth” espoused by another. One of the basic tenets of postmodernism is that all truths are equally valid; truth is said to be relative. This has led to false statements such as “All religions are essentially the same and lead to the same place,” and “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.”
We have to wonder what effect this might have on the school system. Can a teacher really mark a test answer wrong? Perhaps that student is sincere and expressing an alternate, equally valid truth. Of course, that is absurd. Truth is absolute. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, “2 + 2 = 4, and 5 doesn’t cut it.” There are verifiable, consistent facts that life relies upon. For example, water freezes at a set temperature and boils at a set temperature. That is true regardless of your culture or community or religious beliefs.
So, truth does exist. When it comes to matters of truth, we need reliable sources. How can we determine what is true when some truths cannot be scientifically tested? We certainly should be respectful of others and their beliefs, but that doesn’t make all beliefs equal. In the search for truth, it may be helpful to remember the words of Solomon in Proverbs 14:15 (The Message) “The gullible believe anything they’re told; the prudent sift and weigh every word.”
In the pursuit of eternal truth, the Scriptures are the logical starting point. In John 5:39 (RSV), Jesus said, “You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to Me.” Jesus is uniquely able to bear witness to the truth because He is Truth. He said in John 14:6 (KJV), “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” Prior to His physical birth, He existed. Jesus was present and involved in the Creation of the world (John 1:1-3). While on earth, He was fully God and fully man, and He remains the full expression of all that God is (Colossians 2:9). As the Eternal Son of God, Jesus came to make the truth known.
The truth that Jesus came to present is liberating. Satan’s goal is to bring us into bondage through deception, which leads to sin. Jesus came to give us the truth so that we can be set free (John 8:32). It should be obvious why Satan and the world over which he presides are so focused on undermining the truth: his mission is threatened by the truth.
Jesus warns us in Matthew 7:15 to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. He was telling us that the danger is not always obvious. Often those who would mislead us appear to be trustworthy. On that note, Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 that since Satan can appear as an angel of light, it should not surprise us that false ministers would represent themselves as godly ministers. Peter also warned us to beware of false teachers (2 Peter 2:1-2) and said that we should expect them and be vigilant in preventing them from sneaking in false doctrine.
As we mature spiritually, we are able to get deeper into the Word. With that growth, we gain more ability to recognize good from evil (Hebrews 5:14). The Holy Spirit will help us in this area, but God has given us some responsibility as well. This discernment between good and evil is important because sometimes the lie is merely a nuance or an underlying premise which causes us to deviate from truth. Satan is subtle, and a half truth often accomplishes more for him than an outright lie. That strategy served Satan well in the Garden. He crafted his words carefully and enticed Eve with the forbidden fruit.
Just as Satan tempted Eve to ignore God’s authority and be her own god (Genesis 3:5), Satan continues to tempt us with the opportunity to live self-centered lives without consequence. He dangles before us the chance to escape the authority of God, which he portrays as being heavy-handed. He wants us to think of God as trying to deprive us of what is good and beneficial when the truth is that God is trying to protect us from the harmful consequences of sin.
The Bible is timeless and eternal truth. Skeptics have waged wars against it, but the Word of truth remains undaunted. The Bible says in 1 Peter 1:25 (NKJV), “But the word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the word which by the Gospel was preached to you.” Jesus said in Matthew 24:35 (KJV), “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.”
God has provided the Bible as the authoritative source by which we can acquaint ourselves with the truth and learn to be discerning. The Bible recommends to us the example of the Bereans who are said to be noble because “they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11, KJV). The Bereans demonstrated the diligence of the prudent that Solomon referenced in Proverbs 14:15.
Though many people read the Bible and have differing beliefs about it, the Bible is the Word of Truth (2 Corinthians 6:7; Ephesians 1:13; 2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:18). In Paul’s instructions to Timothy, he spoke of “rightly dividing” the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15). The point is that we need to correctly interpret God’s Word. The Holy Spirit will help with that if we ask Him.
Before His death, Jesus promised the arrival of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) whom He called the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). The Holy Spirit guides us to the truth and teaches us the truth. He convicts us when we do wrong and He urges us to do the right things. He aids our study and understanding of God’s Word so that, with His help, we can come to right conclusions. He dwells within each believer and is always present.
There are also many resources available to aid us in the study of the Bible. A good Bible dictionary is an excellent aid. When you come across unfamiliar terms, a dictionary can provide the meaning. Commentaries can be useful as well. They are the written studies of Bible scholars, and they can add useful insights. A concordance will assist in locating all the Biblical occurrences of a specific word. Some, like Strong’s Concordance, will also identify the meaning of the word from the original language. A Bible Atlas can be helpful with the geography and history of the Bible. Of course, many Bibles do include basic maps. You may also want to consider a study Bible; there is a variety from which you may choose. The essential thing is to find study aids that will help you correctly interpret and understand the truth.
Simply stated, truth matters. It matters to the Father, who gave us His Word. It matters to the Son who came to testify to the truth. It matters to the Spirit who seeks to guide us to the truth. And the truth should matter to us. Glory!