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Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!

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Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What Is Truth? - Lent Midweek Six - March 25, 2015 - Text: John 18:37-38

Our text is John 18:37-38: “37Then 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.” 38Pilate 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.” This is our text.
 
A child at Vacation Bible School once asked, “How do we know the Bible is true?” My first thought was that this is the same question that Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” And as we will hear and as we well know, the answer to Pilate’s question of “What is truth?” was sitting right in front of him. Indeed Jesus is truth. And the “truth” is that apart from Jesus there is and can be no truth.
 
Sociologist attempt to put history into some bit of sociological categories in order to help us better understanding people of particular eras of history. We hear about the baby boomers, the gen-xers, the millennials, we hear about the modern world, the post-modern world as well as the post-Christian world. All of these categories tend to be spoken of in certain generalities which are meant to help us understand the way people live and move and have their being, the way people act at various times in history. I say these are spoken of in generalities, which is a nice way of saying profiling, or as we said in days gone by, stereotyping.
    For a while it was said that we were living in a post-modern world and I have to admit, I am not sure what is the category we are supposed to be in today. Anyway, in this post-modern world and yet even today it is said that one generality is that truth is relative. It is said that what may be true for you may not be true for me and what may be true for me may not be true for you. Of course, those of us who believe there are certain truths which are undeniable, have a difficult time with those who refuse to acknowledge such truths as it were.
 
Again, today in our post-modern or beyond world, we are told there are no absolutes, and as some have declared, and I would say tongue in cheek, there are absolutely no absolutes. Of course that sounds a lot like someone saying “I cannot tolerate intolerant people.”  Unfortunately, the person who declares there are no absolutes does so either realizing or not that if there are no absolutes then there also is or can be no morality nor ethics.
 
And once again in our post-modern and beyond world and even in our world today, for many people it is their feelings that for them determines fact, in other words, if I feel it, then it must be true, at least for me. All this information means is that truth becomes subjective and in essence, I become my own god determining what is true or not, at least in my own little world.
 
I would suppose that it may not have been much different in Jesus’ day, and I say that simply from the fact of Pilate’s statement when confronted with the ultimate truth, Jesus Himself. Pilate had a hard time with what was true, especially concerning Jesus. Pilate had a hard enough time distinguishing between Roman rule and Jewish customs, let alone attempting to understand Jesus, true God in human flesh.
    Also Pilate did not understand Jesus, a king, living as a servant. Why would Jesus allow this to happen to Himself if He was a king, even a god? For Pilate none of the accusations, none of the hype and hoopla made any sense. And so Pilate did not understand truth, especially not as he was hearing it.
 
So, what is truth? What was truth for Pilate and what is truth for us even today? For Pilate, truth was what the Roman government said was truth. For too many people today, truth is what they feel to be truth, thus it is often neither rational nor logical for the simple reason that feelings can be deceptive and one cannot depend on their own feelings at any given time. To paraphrase and modernize Scrooge’s words in the Christmas Carol, one bit of bad food can make one feel all kinds of bad things.
 
As Christians we understand that apart from Jesus and faith in Jesus there truly can be no truth. As you have heard me say time and again, when it comes to the witness of man, when it comes to the writings and sayings of fallible human beings versus the witness of God’s Word, I am going to side with God’s Word every time. Human beings get it wrong. God never gets it wrong. Jesus is true God in human flesh, thus He always gets it right. God’s Word has never and never will change. What God speaks in His Word is faithful and true.
 
Again, apart from Jesus and faith in Jesus there is and can be no truth. Jesus is truth because He is God, Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier. Jesus is truth because He was there at the creation of the world bringing truth into this world. Jesus is truth because He is the one who has traded the truth of His perfection for the lie of our sins and imperfections. Jesus is truth because He sends His Holy Spirit to work through the truth of His Word to give the gifts He has to give, faith, forgiveness, life and salvation.
 
Thus, Jesus alone is and gives truth. Even as He says Himself, He is the way, the truth and the life and apart from Jesus there is no salvation. Jesus is the one and only one way to eternal life in heaven. Jesus is the one and only truth. Jesus is the one and only one way to eternal life. When challenged by the Pharisees we have Jesus response: “13So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 14Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father  who sent me. 17In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” 19They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also” (John 8:13-19).
 
Jesus is truth and God’s Word is truth. Again I will say it, fallible human beings get it wrong, God never gets it wrong.
 
What does this mean? Our world will continue to have a problem with truth and even more so as Jesus is shoved further and further out. As the church, even the seeming so called Christian church succumbs to the temptations of the world and accommodates the beliefs of the culture, more and more giving up the faith of Holy Scripture, the more and more there will be the question of what is truth as truth will simply be nothing more than my own idea of what is mete, right and salutary for me at any given moment, because what is right for me now may not be right for me later and so my truth is fluid, this is truth now, something else is truth later.
 
When and only when we as a Christian church and congregation adopt God’s plan as His children moved into the promised land, not that we are to wipe out the people of our world, but when and only when we stand up and defend the truth of the Word of God, will true truth abound. God’s Word is truth and we know His Word is truth. We have and know the truth because Jesus is the truth, He is the way, the truth and the life.
 
Finally, the truth is that by grace, through faith, we are saved. Just as grace and salvation points outside of oneself, so truth must point outside oneself, it must point to Jesus alone. I get it wrong, Jesus gets it right. My feelings change, God’s Word is always the same. I cannot depend on myself, but I can always depend on Jesus.
 
“What is truth?” is the question that is often asked today, perhaps not directly, but indirectly. Sometimes it is asked as in “Did God really say or mean what He said?” We answer with a resounding God is truth, Jesus is truth and only by faith in Jesus do we know the truth and with the truth we have life and salvation. Thanks be to God for His truth, Jesus. To Him be the glory. Amen.

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