This is a four week series of articles on “The Cosmic Quest for Truth.” Do you realize most people don’t have a clue what is truth and what is a lie? The question, “What is true,” is the most important question in history. Through the ages people have sought for truth, which can be as allusive as a “dust bunny” in the sunlight shining through a window.
As we embark upon this series on “The Cosmic Quest for Truth” we must be aware of some of the pitfalls. According to “The Barna Update” for February, 2, 2002 Americans are most likely to base truth on feelings. We know that feelings and emotions dominate our thinking; therefore our quest for truth must examine the facts about what truth really is. Barna’s report found that by 3 to 1 adults said truth is always relative to a person’s situation. This perspective was even higher in teenagers. People will most often make their moral and ethical decisions on “what feels right” or “comfortable” in any given situation. That is called “Situational Ethics.” That is to say, the situation or circumstance can change the “truth” to something else other than the truth. Herbert Agar said, “The truth that sets men free is for the most part truth which men prefer not to hear.”
Why don’t people want to hear the truth? First, truth can sometimes make us uncomfortable or make us realize we are not a magnificent as we might think ourselves to be. We see truth and reality in the prophet Isaiah. In Isaiah 6:1-8 the prophet comes into the presence of the living God. Isaiah says, “Woe to me, I am ruined. For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” What happens to Isaiah is a glimpse into what will be happening to you in this sermon series. An encounter with the living God, first, exposes us as to whom we really are. That is to say, “Woe is me.” We should get a realistic look at ourselves.
Secondly, an encounter with the living God exposes our culture for what it really is. That is to say, our culture claims a plethora of “truths” and has no foundation for their “truth claims.” Culture’s only logic is the fact that they want it to be true. God’s truth is rejected by “postmodern” culture and the more they hear God’s truth the more their hearts are calloused to the truth, as in Isaiah 6:9-10, “…Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving. Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes; hear with their ears, understand with their hearts; and turn and be healed.” The truth is that God will reject those who refuse the truth. Think not? See Genesis 6:5, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”
The question is, “Why did Jesus come into the world and why was he born?” Anybody care to tell me why Jesus came into the world? Yes, he came to save, but no. Yes, he came to redeem, but no. Yes he came to bind up the broken hearted, but no.
Jesus answered this question near the end of his trial before Pontius Pilate. He was before Pilate in the palace. It was the King of the universe standing before a ruler in this world. We read in John 18:33-38 that Jesus came for a specific purpose. He came and was born to testify to the truth. If I said I must go to testify tomorrow where would I be going? Yes, I would be going to court. What would be happening? A trial would be going on and I think that is exactly what Jesus meant. What was on trial before Pilate was the truth. Jesus said,
Is truth important? Jesus said, “I tell you the truth,” 75 times in the Gospel of John. Jesus used the double emphatic, “Truly, truly,” 25 times in John. “Truly”, means “Amen”. What was on trial? The truth was on trial. Jesus was in a court room and when Jesus told Pilate, “In fact, for this reason I was born and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Pilate responds with, “What is truth?” Then Pilate walks away without waiting for Jesus to respond to his question. Paul takes up this scene of Jesus before Pilate in I Timothy 6:11-13. He tells Timothy to fight the good fight as did Jesus before Pilate.
In John 18:36-38a, “Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place. Pilate said, “You are a king then.” Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. I fact, for this reason I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” Pilate asked. This this he went out again to the Jews…” Notice, Pilate asked a question and immediately left. He did not want to hear the truth for fear he might believe.
Early Christian writings say Pilate’s wife became a devout Christian later. Her name was Claudia or Procula and she was a Roman Citizen. She has been given sainthood by the Greek Orthodox Church and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. He message to Pilate, while he was sitting on the judge’s seat was, “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” (Matthew 27:19) She is mentioned in the apocryphal writing, “Gospel of Nicodemus.”
Why is this significant? Pilate later says in Matthew 27:24, “…I am innocent of this man’s blood it is your responsibility.” At this point nobody wanted to hear the truth, including the disciples. Truth is powerful and people who are truth tellers make others around them uncomfortable.
Jesus prays to his Heavenly Father in the previous chapter, John 17:15-19 and asks the Father to give us the truth and to sanctify, make us holy, by the truth. And how are we to worship God? John 4:24-24 tells us plainly that we are to worship in spirit and truth. In John 8:32 Jesus says what and who is the truth. He says in Acts 4:12, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The OT is full of truth claims. Isaiah 59:14-15 tells us the people of the OT did not recognize truth. Zechariah 8:3 reveals God’s desire for truth. In Jeremiah 7:28 God reveals again, his quest for truth in God’s people. In I Kings 17:24 the widow at Zarephath told Elijah she knew he was a man of truth. The Psalmist says in Psalm
15:1-2 says God desires men of truth. Proverbs 16:13 also says, “Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth.”
Our culture is “postmodern.” That means after the “modern era” which lasted from about 1900 to 1980. “Postmodern” minds, those in most universities, media, and most of the people in our culture, believe there are no boundaries; they live by the slogan, “It is all about me;” whatever they want to believe is their truth. See, if everyone lives by their own truth, then there is no truth. Next week we will take a look at how postmodern culture has led our nation down the path of lies.