The Challenge of Knowing the Truth

Do you want to know the truth?  Not always.  I heard a noise coming from under the hood of my car.  I told myself that it was probably nothing that serious. Cars make noise.  I did not take the time to look under the hood. I didn’t really want to know the truth at the time. Why?  Because I recognized that the truth was most likely going to cost me both money and time. It was more convenient to live in ignorance. What is likely to be the result of such “willful ignorance”?  Does my unwillingness to know the truth change it?

Our studies of the gospel of John and the epistles of John have intersected at several common points.  Recently we have noticed the emphasis on the concept and nature of truth.

1)   When Jesus appeared before Pilate, He told something about Himself, His mission, and His people. “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. (John 18:37).  Truth was at the center of Jesus’ identity, His work, and those who would serve Him.

a.   “What is truth”? (v. 38)  Pilate’s response may have been a reflection of his subjective pagan perspective; We come to realize that Pilate was unwilling pass judgment according to the truth. He precipitated an enormous miscarriage of justice in sentencing Jesus to death, and completely ignored the evident truth that Jesus was innocent.

I.  God’s commitment to the truth.  He is the One who came to bear witness to the truth.  This constitutes a personal mission statement by Jesus. He did not come to erect a political or military power. He did not come head up a social revolution. He came to reveal the truth.

  • Albert Barnes comments…”By this [Jesus words in John 18:37] he showed what was the nature of his kingdom. It was not to assert power; not to collect armies; not to subdue nations in battle. It was simply to present truth to men, and to exercise dominion only by the truth. Hence, the only power put forth in restraining the wicked, in convincing the sinner, in converting the heart, in guiding and leading his people, and in sanctifying them, is that which is produced by applying truth to the mind… We see here the importance which Jesus attached to truth. It was his sole business in coming into the world. He had no other end than to establish it. We therefore should value it, and seek for it as for hid treasures, (from Barnes’ Notes)

A.  Jesus (as God)I s absolutely committed to the revelation of what is true. The Psalmist describes God as He “who keeps truth forever” (Ps 146:6) and states unequivocally that  “The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.” (Ps 119:160)

  • Paul described himself to Titus as an apostle of Jesus Christ .. “according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, 3 but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;” (Titus 1:1-3)

1.  Jesus (as God) bore witness to the truth through revelation and confirmation.

a.  He made known that which could not be discovered or apprehended apart from God’s voice.  Heb 1:1-2 – God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; The words of Jesus, and of His Holy Spirit led apostles constitute absolute and irrefutable truth. Jesus called Himself, “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

b.  God confirmed the validity of His words of truth by signs and wonders. Heb 2:3-4 – how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?

2.  The truth that Jesus revealed is the foundation of His authority. When asked if he was a King Jesus spoke about His relationship to the truth.  Matthew Henry says that “when He said, I am the truth, he said, in effect, I am a king. He conquers by the convincing evidence of truth; he rules by the commanding power of truth, and in his majesty rides prosperously, because of truth, (from Matthew Henry’s Commentary).  He accomplishes His purposes through the power of truth.   Ps 96:1313 For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with His truth.

II.  The Christian’s Commitment to Truth: What does this have to do with me? What is at stake? Does the truth matter? The Christian’s whole life is defined by the presence of truth. The truth is so connected to our spiritual relationship to God that the apostles describes those who belong to God as being “of the truth” (1 John 3:19), and those who reject God as those who “exchanged the truth of God for a lie” (Romans 1:25) and Satan as the Father of lies (John 8)

A.  “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). Jesus’ words characterize true Christians as those who gladly welcome and accept the words of Jesus.  They not only hear the voice of Jesus, but desire to follow Him wherever He leads. (John 10 – Good Shepherd and his sheep)

1.  God’s people hunger and thirst for righteousness. They treasure the truth and will pay the price to find it and will not sell it. It is not easy.  2 Timothy 2:1515 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2.  In his third epistle the apostle John wanted to know that those Christians he had converted and nourished in the faith would continue walking in the truth. “For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 3-4)  So, the Christian not only wants to know the truth, but seeks to walk, or live consistently, according the truth.

B.  Our present position before God is based upon the truth of the historical events revealed in scripture.  1 Cor 15:1-4 – Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.. Paul says everything is bound up in the truthfulness of these events. If Christ is not risen we are still in our sins and those before us have perished in their sins. (v. 16-18). If I accept any doubt of the truthfulness of these revealed events, I abandon my hope. My commitment to the truth is essential. There can be no life w/o truth.

III.  The Challenge of the Truth: As we mentioned earlier, sometimes we find the truth difficult to know. We may draw back from accepting it because we recognize its implications. Why is this challenge to us?

  • John 3:19-21And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

A.  Jesus said, “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority” (John 7:17). The truth is not illusive or mystic. If one desires to know the truth, he can know.  In fact, Jesus says if one desire to know, “he shall know”.

1.  So from the standpoint of the pure-hearted man, the truth is not hard to seek and find.

  • Spiritual truth is discernable only to a pure heart, not to a keen intellect. It is not aquestion of profundity of intellect, but of purity of heart.. – Oswald Chambers
  • God has given us a revelation that can be understood (Ephesians 5:17 – 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.) Truth becomes “hard” to find when one’s real desire lies elsewhere.

B. Luke 10 describes Jesus’ encounter with an intelligent and studious man who was challenged by the implications of the truth. Luke tells us that his motives were not pure. His inquiry was not to know or follow the truth, but rather to test Jesus and defend his sect.   Luke 10:25 – 25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus pointed him to the truth of the law. (v. 26)

1.  This man could even quote the first and most prominent law – Luke 10:27‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.'”

a.  Jesus wanted him to see the both the validity and power of God’s truth revealed in this law.  Luke 10:28And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

b.  notice this lawyer’s response…But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”” (Luke 10:29) How was it possible that this knowledgeable lawyer was “unable” to understand the definition of an easily defined word in a passage that by his own admission was the key to eternal life?  Was this a difficult command or were the implications of the truth (that could be easily understood) too difficult for him to accept.

c.  The only “truth” that he wanted was that which agreed with his current practice and that of the religious sect he was loyal to. He, as a likely member of the Pharisees, did not want to admit that a Samaritan could be his neighbor or impose upon himself the obligation to exhibit love to an outsider.

d.   After Jesus told him the parable of the Good Samaritan, this lawyer grudgingly admitted the truth about who his neighbor was (Luke 10:30-37). Jesus then challenged him with a command that likely was unbearable to this lawyer: “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).

C.  The truth will call you out of sectarianism. It will not allow you to pick and choose just that which supports your feelings, emotions, or current practice. There are many today who readily reject what the Bible teaches simply because it indicts the belief and practice of their religious heritage.

1.  Does the truth matterRom 3:4Let God be true but every man a liar. Even if every person refuses to accept the truth contained in scripture, the truth remains true.

2.   When Jesus faced possibly the most difficult time in His public ministry He refused to accommodate the message even though many were following Him for the wrong reasons or were refusing to accept His teaching. He told those who refused to believe that they would die in their sins (8:24)   And to those who did believe He said If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Conclusion: Truth matters. God is committed to revealing truth.  God’s people are committed to walking in the truth. Truth itself, as challenging as it is, is the only way to be free.