"WHAT IS TRUTH?"
The question that serves as a title for this article came from the mouth of Pilate, governor of Judea at the time our Lord was arrested, went through a mock trial, and was ultimately put to death. In John 18:36 Jesus made the statement, "My kingdom is not of this world..." In verse 37 we read, "Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice" Now note verse 38:"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?"
Because of the religious confusion and division in our world today, I am convinced that there are many people who, like Pilate, would like to ask, "What is truth" I have had people say to me, "How can I know what is right. Every preacher preaches something different." Some are even saying that truth is unattainable. I would like for us to look at the subject of truth and see if we cannot come to an understanding of what truth is, the value of truth, and whether or not we can know it.
Let me say, first of all, that Jesus Christ is the source of truth. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." (John 14:6). We are told that He was "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14) and that "grace and truth came by Jesus Christ " (John 1:17). Paul wrote, "If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus" (Eph. 4:21).
In contrast to Jesus (who is the source of truth), we have the devil who is the source of lies (the very opposite of truth). In speaking to some people of His day Jesus said, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44). In the very beginning, the devil changed God's statement "thou shalt surely die" to "thou shalt not surely die" (Gen. 2:17; 3:4). This was the first lie ever told--but it was believed and obeyed. The devil has been using the same tactics ever since to gain followers. Paul mentioned the fact that there are those who "changed the truth of God into a lie..." (Rom. 1:25). Man sinned by hearing a lie, believing a lie, and obeying a lie. In order to be saved, sinners must hear the truth, believe the truth, and obey the truth.
Let us briefly look at what truth can do. Truth can make one free (John 8:32); one is sanctified by the truth (John 17:17); one is purified by obeying the truth (1 Peter 1:22); and one is begotten by the truth (James 1:18). Are these things important? If so, truth is important. Do you suppose a lie can accomplish these things? Surely not!
Truth can be known (John 8:32; 2 Tim. 3:7); it can be obeyed (1 Peter 1:22; Gal 3:1; 5:7); we can do truth (John 3:21); we can walk in truth (2 John 4; 3 John 3-4). Let me say, just here, that walking in the truth does not mean that we place a number of Bibles on the floor and walk around them--it means that we live as the truth directs us to live.
We have seen the source of truth; what truth can do; what we can do with the truth, but we need also to note that truth can be: changed (Rom. 1:25; Gal. 1:6-9); it can be resisted (2 Tim. 3:8); people can turn from the truth (2 Tim. 4:4; Titus 1:14); and people can err concerning the truth (2 Tim. 2:18; James 5:19). Paul said that some do not love the truth (2 Thess. 2:10), and some do not believe the truth (2 Thess. 2:12).
How can we tell if people are not walking according to truth? Jesus said, "Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matt. 7:16). We can compare one's life and teaching by God's word. If there is a difference---if what they do and teach does not measure up to the truth---it can be seen. Paul wrote, "But when I saw that they were not walking uprightly according to the truth of the gospel..." (Gal. 2:14). In that same chapter, concerning false teachers Paul said, "To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you" (verse 5). We are commanded to "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1 Thess. 5:21); and to "try the spirits whether they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1).
How great it would be if people today were like the people of Berea, because the record says of them, that they, "searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11). Most people of our day are willing to accept anything and everything their preacher has to say, and they just swallow whatever is put before them. Truth is too valuable a commodity to take lightly. We are admonished to "Buy the truth and sell it not" (Prov. 23:23). We must have the truth regardless of the cost, and once we have it, we must not part with it for any price. Our very soul is at stake!
In order for worship to be acceptable to the Lord, it must be "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). When we replace truth with the doctrines and commandments of men, our worship is in vain (Matt. 15:9). We do not have a right to worship God in a way or ways other than what He has prescribed. I wish I knew how to impress this upon the minds of people today. They have never learned this lesson.
We are admonished to "rightly" divide "the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). This shows that it can be wrongly divided. This is the very root of the problem in the religious world. People do not "handle aright" (rightly divide) the word of truth. By the time men get through adding to and taking from God's word, it is hardly recognizable at all. All who are guilty of such will have to suffer the consequences at the day of judgment (Rev. 22:18-19).
Let us be sure that we know the truth; that we love the truth; that we live the truth; and that we teach the truth. Also, let us be sure that we "speak the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15). When we do this, God will be pleased and souls will be saved. As the commercial says, "Who could ask for anything more?"
by Virgil L. Hale
Return to the General Articles page