As we gather together this Sunday for corporate worship, our Scripture lesson will come from John 18. The historical narrative takes place early Friday morning on the day Jesus is crucified. Jesus has already been illegally tried by the Jewish authorities and unjustly found guilty of the crime of blasphemy. He claimed to be the Son of God, and he was.
At the end of the chapter, we read that Jesus is brought to Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. He asked Jesus if he was a king, and 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” (John 18:37).
Then Pilate asked another question. “What is truth?” (John 18:38) If Pilate had been with Jesus and his disciples a few hours earlier, he would have heard Jesus pray, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
And this isn’t the only time we learn about truth. John also wrote in his prologue: “[T]he 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” (John 1:14). Then elsewhere, we read Jesus say to a Samaritan woman, [T]he hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).
And if that were not enough, in John 14:6 Jesus defines truth in his well-known statement of self-disclosure, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” God’s Word is truth and Jesus (the eternal, incarnate Word of God) is the embodiment of truth. Jesus is truth personified meaning he is the source of all truth and, therefore, the reference point for evaluating all truth-claims. Truth, then, is not what I determine it to be. It is not something that shifts with each person’s perspective. Truth is not based on what makes people feel good. In fact, some truth can be very arduous and difficult.
Truth is also not democratically determined – that is, it’s not by everyone getting together to decide. And truth is not determined by sincerity or, “if you believe it, it must be true.” Our postmodern and pluralistic culture laughs at the possibility of absolute truth. But the Bible claims that truth is revealed and can be known – in Scripture, which was written under the inspiration of the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17), and in the person of Jesus Christ. Truth corresponds with reality. It reveals things as they really are. And genuine truth is rooted in the eternal God who is all-powerful and unchangeable. So, what God has revealed to us through the perfect revelation of His Son and his Word must be the final authority on all matters of Truth.
In 2 Peter 1:16-18 we read: “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.”
What is the Apostle talking about? He is recalling for us his experience with James and John as they witnessed the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ. His intrinsic glory was so radiant that there was a glow more brilliant than any one had ever seen. Then in verse 19 Peter says, “And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”
Did you catch that? “We have something more sure”, firm, and stable. What, Peter? You were an eyewitness? You saw it with your own eyes? Make no mistake, what Peter saw was certainly true and reliable. But here’s the principle he is teaching us. The truth found in Holy Scripture trumps experience. Why? Because experiences can be deceptive and manipulated while God’s Word is trustworthy. Why is it so important to understand and embrace the reality of absolute truth found only in God? Put simply, because there are consequences for being wrong. Giving someone the wrong amount of medication can kill them; investing money in the wrong places can bankrupt a family. As Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias puts it, “The fact is, the truth matters – especially when you’re on the receiving end of a lie.”
Theologically, this is true as well. This is the reason why I have publicly spoken out against the book and movie The Shack. The nature of God and his attributes, character, will, and works are revealed to us in Holy Scripture. And The Shack is completely at odds with Scripture. In fact, The Shack so contradicts the teachings of Scripture that it promotes a false god and a false gospel. Just because Paul Young uses the name Jesus Christ and employs the theological term “Trinity” does not mean his description of God is orthodox. If you want further details, I encourage you to read the following book reviews: “The Shack – The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment”, “What Does ‘The Shack’ Say About Your Pain?”, and “The Shack Review”.
Family, there is no greater blessing than to know Truth, not simply intellectually but also relationally. Relish, enjoy, and delight in God by reading His Word. Read of his holiness, love, and grace. And be transformed by gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ that saved you and has the power to sanctify you until the day of his return.