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 is at stake, we are 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, and in the second post, we looked at the reality of truth. This post will look at the reception of truth. Let us review our passage:
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)
The question of the reception of the truth has to do with understanding what is necessary for someone to receive the truth of God. After all, we have a natural aversion to the truth, as the Scriptures testify:
The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jer. 17:9)
All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way. (Isa. 53:6)
There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God. (Rom. 3:10–11)
Since we all have an aversion against the truth, what is necessary for us to receive the truth? Why does everyone who hears the truth not receive the truth? Why do some people reject it, and why do others receive it? Is it a matter of intelligence? Jesus tells us in John 18:37: "Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." Only those who are of the truth can receive the truth, which is the voice of God.
What is it to be "of the truth"? To be of the truth is to be birthed by the truth. It is to be born again by the truth. To be of the truth means to be sovereignly regenerated by the Spirit, and to be illumined by the Holy Spirit of God. He lights up our understanding and allows us to see the truth, where we were previously in darkness. God gives us eyes to see the truth. He gives us a new mind to understand the truth. He puts his resident truth Teacher—the Holy Spirit— inside of us to guide us into all truth.
"Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." This speaks of the effectual call of God. It speaks of the sovereign drawing and calling of God the Holy Spirit, by which the truth comes storming into our minds and our hearts. In a moment, we see that to which we were previously blind. It is the work of God the Holy Spirit in the heart that enables one to hear the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said:
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:27–30)
It is the sheep who hear the voice of the Good Shepherd speaking the truth. The goats remain deaf to truth. We are entirely dependent upon the Giver of all truth to teach all truth.
Are you of the truth? Have you been born from above? Have you been born of God? Have you come to believe upon Christ? Have you come to believe the truth of what He says—that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; that the wages of sin is death; that on Calvary's cross, Jesus died in the place of sinners?
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf" (2 Cor. 5:21)—that is the truth. For us who believe upon Christ, His righteousness is given to us, and we are clothed from the top of our head to the bottom of our feet with the perfect obedience of Christ—that is the truth. If you will call upon His name, if you will commit your life to Him, if you will deny yourself and take up your cross and become a true follower of Christ, He will lead you all the way to His Father's house. And one day you will be before the throne of God, singing the praises of Him who is the Author of all truth, who is the Revealer of all truth, and you and I will come to understand in even fuller and greater measure, the truth that is in Jesus Christ.
As we live in this world of lies and falsehoods, and as people are saying, "What is truth?" we who are of the truth know that Jesus came into this world to testify to the truth. "And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." Apart from the truth, you will always be bound by sin and Satan. Only the truth is so powerful as to unlock those chains and to set the prisoners free.
- The Moment of Truth: Its Rejection
- The Moment of Truth: Its Reality
- The Moment of Truth: Its Reception
Learn more in Dr. Lawson's new book, The Moment of Truth.