Steven J. Lawson
This cynical question raised by Pilate, when Jesus Christ stood trial before him, exposed his own secular worldview. He lived in a world in which absolute truth does not exist. Pilate’s dismissive voice spoke with disdain. He sneered in mockery, angry that Christ dared to speak with truth. Though he looked straight into the face of the Incarnate Truth, he could not discern it. Pilate was like so many today, a postmodernist living in premodern times.
What is truth? It is defined as that which conforms with fact. It is genuineness, veracity, or actuality. In a word, truth is reality. It is how things actually are. Theologically, truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. Truth is the self-disclosure of God Himself. It is what it is because God declares it so and made it so. All truth must be defined in terms of God, whose very nature is truth.
God the Father is “the God of truth” (Ps 31:5; Isa 65:16). Jesus Christ is “full of truth” (John 1:14). In fact, He is “the truth” (John 14:6). The Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). Paul calls the Scripture “the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). Jesus prayed “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Everything about God is truth. Whatever He speaks, He says forthrightly and frankly. God always tells it like it is.
How valuable is the truth? Its worth is more “than gold, yes, than much fine gold” (Ps 19:10). John Calvin says, “Nothing is deemed more precious by God than truth.” No one can be saved without the truth. Nor can anyone be sanctified or strengthened without it.
The issue in our day is whether there is absolute truth for everyone, no matter who they are, where they live, or what they do. Many people say truth is whatever they want it to be. They claim that what you believe is ‘true for you,’ and what I believe is ‘true for me,’ even when the two are worlds apart. Something cannot be both true and not true. In such a worldview of self-deception, truth is no longer objective.
All truth is universally true. There is no place where truth is true in one place, but not in another. It is comprehensive, total, complete. Francis Schaeffer maintains, “Biblical Christianity is Truth concerning total reality.” That is, it exists without any exceptions. Truth is absolute because it is derived from the one God. Absolute truth depends on God and therefore preachers who are committed to God much proclaim the unadulterated truth of Scripture without reservation.
It is necessary for expositors to examine the culture around them and measure it by the truth. But never vice versa, where the culture determines the truth. Every preacher must hold fast to the truth. A postmodern day is upon us in which each person is his own source of truth. Remember, divine truth has the final word in all matters. It tells us how to worship and how to walk. It tells us how to follow Christ. It is the final Arbitrator on any subject. It is the final Judge of every life. All people are measured by the truth. Every life is weighed in the balances by the truth. Every destiny is marked by the truth. The truth will have the final say in every life.
As originally published in the Expositor, Issue 04, March/April 2015.