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What is Truth?

“Discipleship means adherence to Christ, and, because Christ is the object of that adherence, it must take the form of discipleship. An abstract Christology, a doctrinal system, a general religious knowledge on the subject of grace or on the forgiveness of sins, render discipleship superfluous, and in fact they positively exclude any idea of discipleship whatever, and are essentially inimical to the whole conception of following Christ.”

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I was recently listening to a sermon in which the speaker was quoting Pilate when he was interrogating Jesus. Pilate responded to one of Jesus statements by asking “What is truth?”… this got me thinking…

I used to think at one point that “things are getting worse all the time”… but my perspective has changed. In my lifetime… that is in the last decade things in the world have not been improving overall. There is most certainly a declining number of people that search for real truth and an increasing number of people that are convinced that truth… real objective truth does not exist.

It was thought in many cultures at one point that sacrificing children to the god molech would bring good things… this is horrific… and yet it was thought to be true. We see the incredible damage through pages of history that denying truth… or perhaps more correctly… accepting a lie without question has done.

Let’s look at Pilate and his exchange with Jesus in the gospel of John

“So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.

Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.”

The word Truth here is the Greek word ”alétheia”… this word translates to mean “truth, but not merely truth as spoken… it is truth of idea, reality, sincerity, truth in the moral sphere. It is divine truth revealed to man, it is straightforwardness.”.

This word comes from a similar word “alēthḗs” which means “true to fact”) reality.” [In ancient Greek culture, (alḗtheia) was synonymous for “reality” as the opposite of illusion, i.e. fact.]”

Jesus was saying that He bore witness to the truth… that everyone who is of the truth hears his voice…

When Pilate appeared to ask Jesus “What is Truth?”… it was a statement more than a question. He was simply saying the very same thing that culture says today… everything is shades of gray… there is no moral objective immutable truth… today when culturally cultivated individuals ask the Christ follower “what is truth?”. They do not ask this for an answer… just as Pilate was not seeking an answer… The truth is something they do not desire… or perhaps rather wish to avoid because it means they are then faced with a choice. Instead, what culture wants is an affirmation of their lie. They want to be affirmed and approved in their perceived truth… rather “illusion” …which is really a lie.

This is not limited to unbelievers either, for we see that in many church cultures throughout history . The truth was at times and in regions suppressed and dogma, or tradition was elevated… and each time great damage was inflicted on people when the church lost its way and embraced an illusion. Even the great Martin Luther, who translated the first German Bible… as he got older moved further from truth and into into significant errant teaching.

Whenever the Church lost site of the truth… darkness came over the culture… but new faith filled men and women arose each time with great moral courage to stand alone in the conviction of real truth in the face of immense persecution. These faith filled Christ Followers would point back to the truth… often to the loss of their own lives.

We are in a downward trend currently in terms of accepting objective truth… both outside and inside the Church. One can see that the church is grappling with what truth is. Many of the modern denominations and faith groups are choosing an illusion as truth… “my truth” elevated while “THE TRUTH” is set aside.

Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” - John‬ 14‬‬

In this passage Jesus was saying that He is the ONLY way, the only path to the truth. In other words… if the truth we seek is apart from Jesus, or diminishes his importance… it is an illusion. It is not truth. There are many passages that support this. Here are a few:

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth”

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

We can see in the Bible that the foundation of truth exists ONLY in Jesus Christ. When a church, or society rejects truth… it embraces an "illusion" of truth... that is to say… a lie.

One who claims to be a skeptic of one set of beliefs is actually a true believer in another set of beliefs.”

- Phillip E. Johnson

In the absence of truth the lies become perceived truth. A culture based on a lie or lies will be soaked in narcissistic gaslighting and will bow to the god of Self perception. It matters not if the lie is embraced in an institution such as a church… when the truth is ignored, sidelined, diminished in any way… the lie… and thereby the father of lies, is raised up and perceived as truth and great damage occurs.

May we all be passionate pursuers of the truth… our future depends on it.

“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.””

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