I am the Truth

July 15, 2012

6 years ago Al Gore was celebrated for his quasi-documentary
“An Inconvenient Truth”  Almost fifty
years after the event people are still looking for the truth surrounding the
assassination of John Kennedy and the suicide of Marilyn Munroe, there are
those who are convinced that we have never been told the truth about 9/11 and
don’t even get me started on the Moon Landing.
When I talk to people about the bible and Jesus they will
sometimes ask “How do you know it’s true?” 
Often it seems that the cry of the people over and over again seems to
be “What is truth?”  And that isn’t a bad
question, it’s good to know what is true and what isn’t true. Especially if you
are betting your eternity on it. 
But the question isn’t all that original.  It was asked 2000 years ago on the day that
Jesus was crucified. 
 It was a tough spot
to be in, especially for a career politician who had based his entire career on
compromise.  On one hand he had the crowd
to please and in the other hand he held the life of an innocent man.   The story is a familiar one, Jesus has been
arrested and hauled before Pontius Pilate the Roman Governor of Palestine, and Pilate
wasn’t sure what to do with this itinerant preacher from Galilee. 
It wasn’t that he was unused to conflict, in fact if you
looked at his record he would appear to have thrived on it, and when it wasn’t
there he created it. He had been sent there by Rome because Palestine was a
political hot potato, it is funny how some things never change.  There was the constant threat of rebellion
and terrorism and the Emperor needed someone who wouldn’t be pushed around, and
Pilate fit the bill to the t. But this was different, oh sure it was the week
of the Passover celebrations and there was bound to be a little trouble.  The zealots liked to point out that God had
delivered the Jewish people from slavery once and it wouldn’t be too much to
expect Him to do it again.  And then
simply because of the nature of the celebrations there would have to be extra
troops around Jerusalem,
just to keep the peace.
But he never expected anything like this.  The high priests who normally viewed Pilate
as the Devil personified arrived at his door demanding a favour; this could be
interesting and profitable.  Having the
Jewish religious leaders in his debt certainly had possibilities.  And it really wasn’t a difficult request; all
he had to do was to order the execution of this man Jesus.  There were several already slated for public
crucifixion, one more cross wouldn’t be difficult to come up and besides, every
once in a while he ought to look like the good guy.
And it should have been easy, interview the prisoner, grant
the high priest’s request and take the rest of the weekend off.  Nothing to it.  Except it wasn’t that easy.  First there was the prisoner, he was like
no-one Pilate had ever met before, there was a presence, a power that Jesus
had.  He didn’t appear to pose a threat
to Rome; Pilate
could find no logical reason to have him crucified.  He hadn’t called for rebellion, or political
overthrow of the government, the guy even told people to pay their taxes.  You gotta love that.  And then there was the dream.  Right in the middle of everything Pilate gets
a message from his wife saying, “Leave that innocent
man alone.”  So now he has an
angry mob, an innocent man and an upset wife.
And Jesus wouldn’t defend
himself, just kept smiling and talking about knowing the truth, what was it he said
in John 18:37 Pilate
said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I
was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the
truth recognize that what I say is true.”
Truth, truth, Pilate couldn’t
contain himself anymore and looked at Jesus and demanded, “What is truth?”  That’s
the question isn’t it?  What is
truth? 
And for those of you who are
familiar with the story of Jesus, you know that question had already been
answered by Jesus himself.  In John 14:6 Jesus told him,
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except
through me.   Two weeks ago we
looked at how Jesus was “The Way”.  He
didn’t say that he came to show us the way, or point to the way he said “I am
the way”  And he didn’t say he was one
way, or a way, he said very clearly “I am the way.  No one can come to the Father except through
me.” 
And as part of that statement
Jesus also said he was “The Truth” not “A Truth” or “One Truth” but “The
Truth.”  And while that might seem a
little dogmatic we have to realize that by definition truth has to be dogmatic.  If you can’t be dogmatic about it then you
don’t really believe it is the truth. 
And Jesus said he was it, and that there was no other way to the Father
except through him.  He didn’t say “I am
one truth and Mohammed will be another truth and Krishna is another truth, and
Buddha is yet another truth.”  He said I
am the truth. 
I prayed the closing prayer at
the CPA high school graduation a couple of weeks ago and another pastor prayed
the opening prayer, and it was a very elegant and well crafted prayer.  But in an effort to be inclusive and
political correct he invoked the name of Jesus, Mohammed and Krishna.  But in trying to please everyone he would
have alienated followers of all three. 
Because they can’t all be true. 
So what is truth?
The dictionary defines truth this way:
truth (trth) noun
1.         Conformity to fact or
actuality.
2.         A statement
proven to be or accepted as true.
3.         Sincerity;
integrity.
4.         Fidelity to
an original or a standard.
5.         Reality; actuality.
But there must be more to it than that.  What is truth?  Would we even recognize it if we found
it?  Winston
Churchill said “Men
occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and
hurry off as if nothing happened.”
And how would we recognize it?  What does it look like? Owen C. Middelton
made this statement “Truth is not beautiful, neither
is it ugly, Why should it be either? Truth is Truth.”  Which kind of adds credence to what Lily
Tomlin meant when she said “If truth is beauty, then
how come no one has their hair done in a library?”

John seems to be very fond of the concept of truth because
of all the times the word truth is used in the bible almost 20% of them are
found in the book of John.  Which is
really incredible when you consider that John only makes up 2% of the entire
bible.

The question is as real today as it was when Pilate
asked it 2000 years ago:  What is the
truth?
1) There is the Word of
Truth
In the New Testament letter 2 Timothy Paul writes to a young preacher
to encourage him and to instruct him.  A
good portion of the New Testament is made up of these books that are called
epistles, which is just a fancy name for letters.  And in fact these books of the Bible were
originally letters written to very specific people.  And so when I pull up 2 Timothy 2:15 for you we are actually reading
someone else’s mail, and this is what it says:
2 Timothy
2:15
Work hard so you can present yourself
to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be
ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.
Did you catch that last part of the sentence, correctly explains the word of truth.  What is the word of truth?  It the Bible, the word of God, the
scriptures.  And this contains what we
need to live our Christian life.  And yes
I’ll be the first to admit that there is certainly areas of the bible that are
open to interpretation, and we can argue and nitpick over some of that stuff
until the cows come home but the basics are pretty simple.  Let’s go back to a quote that I’ve used
before,  it was Mark Twain who said  “It ain’t those parts
of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do
understand.”  
God didn’t set us down on this earth without an
instruction manual, he didn’t expect us to figure out how we were supposed to
live by chance, he isn’t going to judge us based on a bunch of unwritten
rules.  Instead he gave us his word, and
his word is the truth.  If you focus on
doing the things you understand, on obeying what you understand you won’t have
time to waste on what you don’t understand.
God has given us this book for a reason and his rules are
for a reason.  And that is because he
loves us and cares for us.  When he says
a certain behaviour is sin he is trying to protect us from the consequences of
that sin.  And so when God says the act
of sexual intimacy is reserved for marriage it isn’t because he’s a spoil sport
it’s because he is protecting us.  And if
you don’t believe that then talk to the woman who ends up pregnant and deserted
or to the person who contracts aids because they were sexually active outside
marriage or worse because their spouse had cheated on them.
When God says do not hate understand he’s protecting us
from what hate will do to us not just to the person we hate.  We’ve been down this path before, we don’t
forgive for the person who has done us wrong, in many cases they couldn’t care
less if we forgave them or not, we forgive for ourselves, because forgiveness
sets us free from past hurts.
But this is only relevant to your
life if you read it.  If it sits on a
bookshelf or the living room coffee table and just collects dust it’s not doing
you or anyone else any good.  The truth
is in here.  
And as we read the Gospels we
discover that Jesus was the fulfilment of that the word of truth, all of the
Old Testament points to his coming and much of the New Testament points to his
return.  When Jesus said “I am the truth”
he was saying that he was the truth that had already been revealed to the
people of Israel, the truth that had been promised in the word of God, which is
why we are told in John 1:1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with
God, and the Word was God.  Which
leads to our next point. 
2) There is the Person of
Truth 
And it became apparent that
mankind was not interested in reading the truth or hearing the truth.  And so it became evident that people were
choosing to exercise their free will and to ignore the truth.  And because of that decision and because God
loved us so much, he made the ultimate sacrifice and that was to send his Son, John 3:16 “For God loved
the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who
believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
What’s that got to do with truth?  Well Jesus said  John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No
one can come to the Father except through me.” 
Jesus said he was “The Truth” 
not “A Truth” not one truth.  And
I know it sounds dogmatic but it is a characteristic of truth to be
dogmatic.  We know if we drop things they
will fall, why?  Because gravity’s not
just a good idea it is the law.  It is a
truth and we can be dogmatic about it. 
And does it make Jesus the truth simply because Jesus said
he was the truth?  After all when Richard
Nixon accepted the nomination for President he said “Let
us begin by committing ourselves to the truth—to see it like it is, and tell it
like it is—to find the truth, to speak the truth, and to live the truth.”  And that didn’t mean anything.
CS Lewis a
Christian writer from the last century said that because of Jesus’ claims to be
God that he could only be viewed one of three ways: As a liar, as a lunatic or as Lord.
And so if Jesus said
he was God and he wasn’t and he knew he wasn’t then he was a liar.  And not only was he a liar but he was willing
to die for his lies.  Worse than that he
would have been demonic because he claimed to be the only way to heaven and if
he wasn’t then he has lead countless generations of people away from God with
his lies.  But there is nothing in the
scriptures that would lead us to believe that he was a liar. There is nothing
in his life, his actions or his teachings that would make us doubt his word. 
Or maybe Jesus said
he was God and he wasn’t but he thought he was. In which case he would be a
lunatic.   Kind of like the guy who
finished up with his psychiatrist and the Dr. said, “You’re cured, how do you
feel?” to which the patient responded “Terrible, when I came here I was
Napoleon Bonaparte the emperor of France, now I am a nobody.”  CS Lewis says that making the statement that
you were God in a society as fiercely monotheistic as the Jews were would be
the same as claiming you were a poached egg. 
And again there doesn’t appear to be any evidence in Jesus life or
teachings that he was a lunatic.  No
other delusions, he doesn’t behave like a mad man.
Sherlock
Holmes said “When you have
eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the
truth.”  And so if Jesus Christ
isn’t a liar and he isn’t a lunatic than the only other answer is that he is
exactly who he claimed to be and that is Lord, the way the truth and the
life.  And if that is who he is, then we
need to examine what that means in our lives. CS Lewis
said “You can shut Him up for a fool or you can
fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any
patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left
that open to us.”
What place does the person of truth occupy in your life?  Jesus said “I am the truth” but that is
irrelevant to you unless he is the truth in your life.
3) There is a Spirit of Truth  I think this is one of the great promises of
the Bible, because not only does God give us the word of truth, not only did he
come himself as the person of truth but he’s still with us.  People say, “Denn I can’t live the Christian
life, I can’t follow the truth as laid down in the word of GodIt
would be so much easier if Jesus was right here with me, and when I needed to
have help doing what I know I should do he would be there for me.”
I know, and that’s alright to
feel that way because the apostles felt the same way.  When Jesus told the apostles that he would
have to leave them they panicked, but he reassured them in John 15:26 “But I will
send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth”
And in the very next chapter
Jesus defined what the spirit would do when he arrived, John 16:13 “When the
Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.”  And that promise is as real as it was
2000 years ago.  We don’t have to do it
alone.  He didn’t just say “Hey, this is
what I expect of you, you are on your own let me know how it turns out.”  We live like that but that isn’t how it’s
supposed to be.  He didn’t leave us
without direction.
So as Christians when we ask “What is truth” we have a threefold
test for truth, the Word of God, the Son of God and the Spirit of God, and
there will never be a conflict between the three after all truth does not
contradict truth.
The truth is out
there, but the question this morning is this Is the truth in here?  And how does that happen?  John wrote in
John 1:12-13 But to all who
believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or
plan—this rebirth comes from God.
But it’s more than
simply head knowledge; it has to be heart knowledge as well.