March 17, 2013
Wayland Community Church
Lenten Service – Sunday Evening
Fifth Sunday in Lent
What Is Truth?
Last week, Pastor Tim taught us through the story of Peter’s denial of Jesus, that lies can have great consequences on our life. How often do we sometimes deny our Christian faith even in white lies? How many times do we flog and crucify our Savior over again through our denial of God’s truths that convict us. Pastor Tim talked about lies in the course of our Christian journey. Tonight, we will talk about truth.
You see, truth is sometimes what we want it to be. That is our problem as a human race. We many times think our truth is just as valid as your truth or your truth or your truth. But many times our truth is not always what we mean.
For example, the other day I found the book, “The Men’s Thesaurus.” Here are some treasures I found. Remember, truth is not always what we mean. When a man says, “It’s a guy thing,” what he really means is “There is no rational thought pattern connected with this and you have no chance at all of making it logical.” Or when a man says, “Can I help with dinner,” what he really means is “Why isn’t dinner already on the table?”
Or when a man says, “Take a break, honey, you are working too hard,” what he really means is “I can’t hear the game over the vacuum cleaner.” Or when a man says, “I’m not lost, I know exactly where we are,” what he really means is “No one will ever see us alive again.” And finally, when a man says, “Uh huh, sure honey,” or “Yes, dear,” that means absolutely nothing, it’s a conditioned response. We don’t always say what we mean.
So much of our lives are lived around relative truth. Relative truth is the theory that something may be true for one person, but not for all people. Or, it may be true at one time, but not at another.
I have been in educational courses before where we were basically told, “No one is really wrong, and everyone is right, and the important thing is that we have unity and all get along.” What was being described, if it had actually been lived out, would not have been unity, but chaos.
If you and I live in a world where no one is really wrong and everyone is right, then the sniper out on the east coast is as right as the police who are pursuing him. If everyone is right, and no one is wrong, then the morals of the serial rapist on a college campus are on equal par with the ethics of Mother Teresa, who selflessly and sacrificially ministered to the lepers of Calcutta. At some point in our belief system, there has to be some absolute truths on which we can depend.
Absolute truth says that what is true for one person is true for all persons, times, and places. Absolute truth is discovered, as in the Bible, not invented. Absolute truth is the same across different cultures. Absolute truth is unchanging; it is the same across time. Absolute truth is true despite the beliefs of a person or how sincere they are. Absolute truth is grounded in a source that is personal, unchanging, and sovereign over all creation. In our scripture story today, Pilate comes face to face with truth. More about that in a moment, but first, would you pray with me?
As we move into our scripture story today, Jesus has been arrested and taken to Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest, for questioning. After Annas was through with him, Caiaphas, the high priest, questioned him. It was while Jesus was being questioned that Peter, his disciple, denied knowing him. Once Caiaphas was through with him, Jesus was led in the early morning hours to the palace of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate.
The Jews wanted Jesus dead, something they could not carry out under Roman law. Pilate was only trying to follow proper legal procedure when he asked the question, “What charges are you bringing against this man?” When the Jewish leaders knew they had no specifics that would stand up in a court of law, they called Jesus a criminal and a revolutionary. They wanted Pilate to do their dirty work for them. Only Pilate, a Roman authority, could invoke the death penalty for a non-Roman citizen, crucifixion. But Pilate was reluctant.
Then comes the one on one encounter with Jesus as Pilate asks, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus answer is interesting. “Is that your own idea or did others talk to you about me?” Jesus’ answer was not what Pilate expected. Jesus is probing Pilate’s conscience, calling on him to think this through for himself. In other words, Jesus is asking, “Are you just parroting what others have said or are you sincerely asking the question?”
How Pilate answered that question, would determine if Jesus would reply from a political perspective as a revolutionary or from a spiritual perspective as the Messiah of a kingdom not of this world. Jesus chooses the latter. “My kingdom is not of this world. I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” And then comes the rhetorical question to which Pilate did not really want an answer, “What is truth?”
Truth was standing right in front of Pilate and Pilate did not recognize him. When we do not want to see the truth, it is impossible to recognize it, even when it is staring us in the face. And so this begs the question, “What is truth?”
First, truth is a person. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Jesus Christ was the revealed truth of God which came to us in the form of a person. Truth finds its source in God who is personal and moral. God did not send the world abstract ideas, he sent us a person. Jesus did not say that he came to tell us the truth, or show us the way; he said he was the truth. Being one with God, Jesus is the embodiment of truth and we began to understand that as he lived and taught among us during his time on earth.
Second, truth is real. Truth is tangible. It is not subjective or something that is decided by majority opinion. Rev. Rodney Buchanan, a retire Methodist Pastor once wrote that “water is wet, rocks are hard, and grass is green. We could take a vote and agree that rocks are wet, water is dry, and grass is red, but that would not change the nature of rocks, water, and grass. Truth is not only real, it is knowable.” The Bible says that, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). So we can know the truth, and when we know it, it brings freedom into our lives.
It is important to know that truth is real, because without it we cannot live in the real world. If truth is not real then the world is not real, and we find ourselves living in a world of illusion where we delude ourselves and each other.
Abraham Lincoln had a favorite riddle he used to put to his colleagues. It went like this: “If a man were to call the tail of a dog a leg, how many legs would the dog have?” “Five,” was the usual reply.
“Wrong,” Lincoln would say with a homely smile. “The dog still has four legs. Calling the tail a leg doesn’t make it one.” How many times do we delude ourselves or do the media create an illusion by repeating something over and over again as if it were the truth? Just because we say it’s so, doesn’t make it real or the truth.
Buchanan continues, “We have a real God who sent a real Savior, into a real world, to save real sinners, from real sin, that they might experience real forgiveness, in order to live real life, and inherit a real heaven. No other religion except Christianity makes exactly these same claims. That is why one religion is right and the others are wrong. They cannot all be right, because they contradict each other. If there is a real God, he wants us to know the real truth. If he wants us to know the real truth, he must have provided a way for us to know the truth.” And he did. He gave us a book. He came in person.
Third, truth is eternal. Truth is as absolute as God himself. Truth did not originate in man. Truth originates in God. Truth existed before the world began. It is transcendent and unchangeable. God does not just tell us truth or reveal truth, but God is truth. God is love. God is holy. God is righteous. An understanding of all these things comes with an understanding of God.
So why is it then that people have so much trouble understanding the truth? In 2 Corinthians 4: 3 – 6, Paul explains it with these words: 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age [this word “god” has a small “g.” Paul is speaking of Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 
Satan has blinded the minds of people who do not want to know the truth, in order to keep them from seeing and understanding truth. Pilate was blinded to the truth. Remember what Jesus said about the devil, “there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
But as Paul says, for those who seek the truth, God shines his light in the darkness and gives them the ability to see and understand the truth. But you have to want to know. You have to believe there is truth. You have to ask before you are answered, seek before you find, and knock before the door is opened. Herschel Hobbs, writing in his book My Favorite Illustrations, said this: “Persons often speak of defending truth. Well and good, but truth is not so weak that it cannot defend itself. What is needed most is to declare the truth in love. If let loose in the arena of ideas, truth will defend itself. Truth is of God; falsehood is of Satan.
And lastly, truth is transforming if obeyed. First Peter 1:22 says this, 22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.  Results don’t just come from hearing truth. They come from obeying the truth. Pilate was hearing truth from Jesus. In fact, he was standing face to face with Truth incarnate. Yet Pilate was making the wrong decisions.
“Now that you have purified yourselves…” How? “…by obeying the truth.” Truth is an essential element in the solution to the problems we face in life. When we have a problem we want God to fix, he normally does it through a process that involves truth. God brings truth to bear on the problem, and as we walk in that truth, we enter into liberty and victory in that area of our lives. God operates in the realm of truth and he teaches us that we have to operate in that realm ourselves.
Winston Churchill once said, “[People] occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.” You and I need to encounter the truth. We need to obey the truth, and when we do, life transformation takes place.
I was standing in line at WalMart the other day, and a woman and her young son were ahead of me. The child was unhappy because he saw something he wanted and his mother was not allowing him to get it. His disappointment began to get louder, and she suddenly blurted out, “What can I tell you, Billie? Life sucks, and then you die.”
Imagine having that as a truth on which you operate your life! The kind of truths we tell ourselves and our children are molding us and the future generation. The truth is that God created a good world, and life is good, when we live it for God and base our lives on his Word.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, what is truth? Truth is a person. Truth is real. Truth is eternal. Truth is transforming. When you really think about it, all truth is absolute. There really are no relative truths. If something is really true, then it is really true for everyone, everywhere, and for all time. All other so called relative truths are just a smoke screen of the evil one.
The absolute truth is this. 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
 The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 2 Co 4:3–6.
 The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 1 Pe 1:22–23.
 The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), Jn 3:16–17.