Pilate, the Roman governor in Roman-occupied Israel in the first century, posed a monumental question to Jesus Christ that has echoed down through the halls of time in every corridor of the earth: “What is truth?”
Truth is generally defined as “that which is in accordance with reality or fact”. But this definition is essentially circular, for one may simply respond by asking: “Reality and fact… according to who?” Hence, people have been debating truth since time immemorial, and the discussions continue to go on. And on and on.
To really understand the concept of truth, we have to go beyond a reference to what “is”. We have to retrace all the way to the One who made reality itself. Once we look at truth this way, we can define it as thus:
Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God.
Truth is reality and facts, yes, but reality and facts as defined, and given meaning, by God Himself. Viewed this way, it is easy to see why most of the world is in such disarray and confusion over the idea. I mean, how can you fully understand anything if you don’t go all the way back to the source? So, if you don’t believe in the source, then you are left with endless varying viewpoints and perspectives and opinions. Going down this road is ultimately destructive, and at the end of the day, truth has completely lost its meaning. Which means there is no truth. Which is why people continue to ask: “What is truth?”
And on the discussion goes, ad nauseam.
But, if we agree that God is the standard of truth, things begin to make sense. Here we realize truth is theological, which says truth is ultimately from God, about God, to God, and through God. God is the only way, the ONLY WAY, which brings us to understand this otherwise elusive and mysterious concept.
The Old Testament of the Bible refers to Jehovah as the “God of truth”. The New Testament goes further and defines Christ as truth. In fact, one of the best-known quotes of Christ declares this in the Gospel of John:
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'” John 14:6
Since Christ was God the Father’s expression of Himself to mankind, as it says in Colossians 1:15, Christ was and is, truth itself. He is all that God is, in every perfection.
The Holy Spirit is likewise truth. Scripture affirms in John 15:26: “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.” Understanding the triune nature of God, that He is three persons in one essence, we see God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, all in perfect unity, define truth in its preeminent, transcendent core.
And how can we know all this to be? God has given us His Word in the Bible. God’s Word is truth. Jesus is titled the Word of Life, and all that God wrote in Scripture is in perfect synthesis with the Father, who is in perfect synthesis with Jesus, who is in perfect synthesis with the Spirit, and all being expressed in unmarred unity throughout Scripture.
Therefore, God and His Word become the touchstone by which all else is measured. All truth must be explained and defined by God Himself and the Scripture He gave to us, for He alone is eternal and self existent, and dependent upon no one.
One may ask how all of this affects his or her life. In other words, what is the point? Even if we can agree all truth is ultimately defined by who God is, how have we gotten any further in our quest for meaning?
The primary motivation people have for seeking to explain truth is moral. It’s not scientific, or economic, or any other branch of knowledge. For example, who can argue with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics? Do you hear of people claiming the scientific law makes no sense because to them “It just isn’t true for me. I have my own reality.” Or consider the law of gravity. Is anyone having issue with the law of gravity because “That might be true for someone else, but not for me. I don’t believe it.”
Of course not. Anyone talking like this will likely need some medical help, and soon. Surely no one would listen to him, or put any weight on what he said.
Usher in morality. Now, the truth issue explodes. Now it is suddenly okay for someone to say they have their own truth, while another has theirs. And somehow, unlike the scientific laws, two claims or views can be diametrically opposed and yet totally acceptable to the average person. In other words, when speaking of morality, the law of non-contradiction can be broken, but the same law is indestructible when speaking of science.
The fastest way to understanding peoples’ claims is to discover the motives of those making claims. It doesn’t take long to uncover the motives of those who say contradiction in moral issues is fine while contradiction in other subjects is unacceptable. Moral issues affect us at the very core of our being. Morality becomes a judgment on who we are as people. If God is the definition of ultimate truth and His laws become the standard which declare whether I am a good or evil person, I now have a motivation to diss that standard and declare I have my own… logic to the wind.
This is precisely why most of the world rejects the truth of Jesus Christ, as He announced to his accusers that infamous day He was crucified: “Jesus answered, ‘You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’” John 18:37
The obvious implication here is that whoever does not hear Jesus’ (God’s) voice is not of the truth. Again, what did Governor Pilate ask? “What is truth?” He was not of the truth so he had to ask what it was. He had no idea.
Romans chapter 1 says mankind rejects God’s truth on multiple levels by choice. It’s not because they can’t find it. It’s not because they see discrepancies.
It’s because they want to reject it.
People have no need for something to make logical sense for them to accept or reject an idea. Which is so ironic, for the world claims to be using “reason” and “logic” and “rationality” when rejecting the truth of God. It is the truth of God which makes the most sense out of all the various options!
Read the writings of agnostic and atheistic philosophers for the last few thousand years. Follow the ideas, the arguments, the propositions. Notice how each one, in his own limited thinking, feebly attempts to explain the ethereal idea of what is truly true, but arrives no closer than anyone before or after him. You will find it is an ongoing quest to reach a horizon that forever recedes further into the distance.
All attempts to explain truth outside of God ultimately fail. Every attempt is debunked by the next attempt. In fact, man’s laborious work in trying to explain truth only further cements the truth that man cannot understand any truth apart from God.
Each person must decide whether to accept truth as God defined truth – or reject it. It is a simple matter of one of two choices. There is no explanation forthcoming from some person who finally has it figured out on his or her own, apart from God. God not only defined truth and all its implications in detail in His Word, He also embedded the awareness of that truth in our very own hearts (Romans 1:19, Ecclesiastes 3:11).
The ramifications of the decision to accept God’s truth is more than important; it is colossal on the most massive scale imaginable, for there is no greater issue. How one chooses is a question of life or death, but not only physical life or death. It’s eternal life…. or death.
The choice to reject God’s revealed truth will usher in confusion and hopelessness in this life on earth, and ultimately despair and darkness and agony in the life hereafter. Conversely, the choice to accept God’s perfect truth, as laid out in His Word, will bring peace, comfort, goodwill, and ultimately, glory and joy in limitless perfection.
What is truth? Your choice.