The Moment of Truth: Its Reality
During the trial of Jesus, Pontius Pilate asked a question that has resounded through the ages: “What is truth?” That is the key question for today, when the idea of absolute truth is increasingly and soundly rejected in our culture. To help us understand what’s at stake, we’re examining the conversation between Jesus and Pilate in John 18. In the first post, we looked at the rejection of God’s truth as that which lies behind all sorts of evil in society today. This post will look at the reality of truth. Let us look at our passage again:
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” (John 18:36–38a)
Jesus says, “For this I have been born and for this I have come into the world.” Here, in part, is the reason for the incarnation. Ultimately, the reason for the incarnation is the cross upon which Christ died. But He also came to bear witness to the truth, to testify, to teach, to declare, to assert, to affirm the truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). In that statement, Jesus claims to have a monopoly on the truth. He is the truth. There is no truth outside of the Lord Jesus Christ. And there is no way to be on the way except to believe the truth, and there is no way to have the life except to receive the truth. What is truth? In one word, truth is reality. Truth is the way things really are. Truth is not how things may appear to be. Truth is not what we want things to be. Truth is not what popular opinion polls say things are. Truth is the way things really are. So let us look at a few characteristics that help distinguish and define the truth.
Truth Is Divine
Truth does not come from this world. It does not arise from society and culture. Rather, truth comes down from above. It comes from God, who is truth and who reveals His truth to us. Truth is the self-disclosure of God’s own being and God’s own nature. God is the author of all truth because God is the truth. All things are measured by God Himself—by Himself—to determine what is in conformity with truth and what is non-truth. God is the final judge of all truth. Romans 3:4 says, “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.”
Truth Is Absolute
Truth is sovereign. Truth reigns over all. Truth is the definitive standard by which everything is measured. Truth is never relative. It is never arbitrary. It is never conditional. Everything outside the truth is a lie. Jesus said of the religious leaders of that day and those who followed them: “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44). Ultimately, there are only two fathers and two families in the world. There is God the Father, and all those who are of God are in His family, and they hear the truth. And there are those who are of their father the devil, and they hear the lies of Satan.
Truth Is Objective
Truth is propositional. Truth is conveyed in clearly defined words—and words that have a definite meaning. Truth is black and white. Truth is narrowly defined by God’s Word. Truth is rational. Truth is not subjective. Truth is fact; it is not feeling. Truth is contained in the written Word of God. Psalm 119:160 says, “Your word is truth.” Jesus said the same thing in John 17:17. Truth is found in specific words with specific meaning in the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of the living God.
Truth Is Singular
As Jesus represents the truth here in John 18, He speaks of the truth. When He says “the truth,” not only is He stating that it is objective and authoritative, but He is saying that it is singular. All truth from the mind of God fits perfectly together, and there is never any contradiction. What God says to one generation is true for every generation. The Bible speaks with one voice. It sets forth one plan of salvation, makes one diagnosis of the problem of the human condition, presents one history of redemption, and offers one Savior. All of the sixty-six books of the Bible hang together. If you pull a thread in Genesis, your Bible will crinkle in Revelation. Though there are forty-plus authors, writing over a period of sixteen hundred years, there is one primary Author who used secondary authors to record what is in this book—it is the infallible truth of God.
Truth Is Immutable
Truth never changes. What was true in the Garden of Eden is true throughout the Old Testament, is true in the times of Christ, is true in the expansion of the church, is true down through the centuries, and it is true today because God never changes. He is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). It is this eternal, immutable, unchanging God who speaks truth, and when God speaks truth, it flows from his own nature and what God says never changes. His Word “is settled in the heavens” (Ps. 119:89), and the “the word of our God will stand forever” (Isa. 40:8). The truth is always the same from generation to generation. Society may try to redefine morality, culture may try to reclassify right and wrong, but truth never changes.
Truth Is Authoritative
When the truth speaks, God speaks. John Calvin used to say, quoting Augustine, that when the Bible speaks, God speaks. His written Word is authoritative. It makes demands upon our lives. Truth is never just interesting. Truth is never intended to merely provoke our curiosity. No, truth is assertive. Truth has the right to make demands upon our lives because it is the truth of God. Truth possesses the right to rule our lives.
Truth Is Powerful
Truth alone convicts. The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, able to pierce the division of soul and spirit and to expose the innermost thoughts of man. Every other statement just lies on the surface. Only truth can bore down and penetrate into the very heart of a person, exposing their hearts before God and allowing them to see themselves as God sees them. Truth saves. There is in truth the very germ of life. And when that seed of truth is received into the heart by faith, it germinates by sovereign regeneration, and there is life. We have been “born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). Truth sanctifies. It conforms us into the image of Christ. Truth encourages. Truth comforts.
Truth Is Determinative
Your eternal destiny is determined by the truth. Your relationship to the truth will determine where you will spend all eternity. Your relationship to the truth will determine whether you are in heaven or in hell forever. Your relationship to the truth will chart the course of your life in this world. Your relationship to the truth will define your family. It will direct your business. It will be a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path. Your entire life is marked by the truth. Everything that does not measure with the truth is a façade. Only once the truth has spoken may we understand what true reality is.
This is the reality of the truth. In our next blog post, we will consider the reception of the truth.