2015-1-04 “WHAT IS TRUTH?”

JOHN 18:28-40                                                                                JANUARY 4, 2015


I have always found this episode in the life of Jesus, with a discussion on truth, to be intriguing. Was Pilate truly curious about the meaning of truth or was he being cynical? At times I have had sympathy for Pilate who seemed to want to do what was right but was caught in a web of political maneuvering. These words of Jesus are crucial in understanding how we as Christians are to develop a Christian world view.

John 18:37 (NIV) 37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Jesus came to reveal Himself as the Son of God. Pilate was not interested in this truth. It is always important to watch a person’s actions to determine what a person’s words mean. Pilate turned Jesus over to the religious authorities to be crucified as he did not care about Jesus, as he cared only in preserving his power.  Pilate rejected the truth of Jesus. So he turned Jesus over to be executed and thus he is guilty of the death of Jesus.

What is truth? Hear the words of Paul in Colossians 1:15-20 (NIV) 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Nothing is more important than knowing Jesus Christ. He is the One who holds all things together. The truth is that God, through Jesus Christ, created this world and he created us. We ignore our Creator at our peril. Jesus is the foundation of truth. Jesus is truth!

The vast majority of people ignore this basic truth.  “Only 34 percent of adults believe that there is any absolute truth. If you ask where this truth can be found, only ten percent of American adults believe there is absolute moral truth and that it is found in the Bible.” (From polling by the Barna Institute- U-Turn)  “Less than three out of ten adults say that when they make a moral choice they are striving to be consistent with biblical standards.” Four out of ten adults make moral choices based on “if it feels right”. Twenty-five percent of adults don’t consider making moral choices but do the best they can. (U-Turn by George Barna & David Barton)

Among current college students, less than half believe that God exists; three-quarters accept evolution and Darwinism rather than creationism and intelligent design; just one in five believe the Bible is a perfect guide to morality and is relevant to today’s world; and less than half believe that prayer is effective. The reason these statistics are important is that when what is true is separated from moral absolutes anything goes. When you no longer believe that actions can be wrong then there are no restraints to our behavior. We know that morals are on the decline and the reason is that most people no longer accept the teaching of scripture. Look at the changes in what is acceptable in our society from fifty years ago. The following behaviors are now accepted as normal: homosexuality, abortion, sex outside of marriage, divorce, having children outside of marriage, wide spread use of profanity including using God’s name in a disrespectful manner, pornography, gambling, etc…

The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and in New York have revealed that even the definitions of words have been changed to reflect a different philosophical, world view. I listened to two black religious leaders who believe that to determine what is just; one must first look at the historical treatment of their race instead of judging a person by their individual actions.  This is just one example of our changing culture.

I want to read a passage from the late Charles Colson’s book, The Faith. “When the God of the Bible is rejected, people choose a new god. The postmodern age has anointed secular tolerance as its god. Tolerance once meant listening respectfully to all points of view, freely discussed in our common search for the truth. But the creed for the new god of tolerance is that knowing truth is impossible. So everyone is free to think and act as he likes, with one exception: those who have the audacity to believe that they know the truth. Particularly if they think God has revealed it to them, are not tolerated. The result is that those who crowned the new god of tolerance have become the absolute arbiters (judges) of culture. The new god of tolerance becomes, in the guise of liberalism, an absolute tyrant. (Page 68)

When people reject the notion of absolute truth by rejecting God then the government must take the place of God by seeking to legislate our behavior. It is no coincidence that our law codes are so overwhelming that seeking to keep up with the changing laws, regulations, and codes is impossible. “According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the current administration has on January 1, 2015 initiated 2,375 new rules on American businesses without first giving Congress an up or down vote. From the time our current president took office 468,500 pages of new rules and regulations have been added to the federal register. (The prior administration also had added thousands of new rules as well. Both parties are to blame for the increased federal regulations.) Who would have ever thought that a city government would try to legislate the size of soft drinks and that people in one Florida City are arrested for feeding the homeless because there was no access to a restroom.

What is most troubling is the slide in biblical truth among our churches and among our members.  We know first- hand the problems that led this church to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) because of the rejection of scriptural truth. Even now we must not relax because we are a part of the EPC, which upholds the biblical standard.  A few years ago the session of this church realized that we did not have an adequate knowledge of what we believe and so we chose to remedy the problem.

It is not enough to know we are saved but we must know the essentials of the faith so we will not be misled into wrong teaching. We must also be diligent in leading our lives according to the commands of scripture. Are we indulging in sinful behavior that the bible condemns and not doing anything about it? Have we grown so accustomed to our sinful behavior that we have developed a hardened heart and are not convicted of our secret sins?

Listen to the warning from the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:1-7 (NIV) 1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.”

What must we do as Christians? We must continue to study the Word of God and know what we believe and then practice it. May we confess our secret sins and ask for the Holy Spirit to help us change our behavior. Rejection of truth is leading to chaos in our country and in our personal lives.  This irresponsible behavior will lead us down the path of suffering and judgment if we ignore the truth of God’s word by not applying it.

Let us pray.

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