Truth is personal to me. In my mid-twenties, I went on a journey seeking answers to the paramount questions, “What is truth and where can I find it?” My search took me on a logic-based study of various religions, spiritual beliefs, and systems of thought . . . and eventually led me to Jesus. In him I found the answers that nothing else in the world could provide.
“What is truth?” is the foundational question for Christian faith, apologetics, and preaching. It’s especially important in today’s cultural climate in which the question has morphed to “Is there really any such thing as truth?” or “Why is your truth any better than my truth?”
The truth is, defining truth is a bit tricky. The term throughout the Bible is used in a number of different senses. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia begins with this recognition and then spends 2,500 words explaining the different biblical aspects and standards of truth. And if you want to find a clear secular definition of truth, you’ll find more questions and confusion than answers. (See for yourself on Wikipedia at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth.)
Jesus tells us plainly, however, that we can and indeed will know the truth, and by that he meant much more than its definition. But how? Jesus told us that, too: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8:31-32, emphasis added). We can know the truth by following Jesus, obeying everything he taught. Jesus is the key that unlocks the treasure chest of truth.
It is our firm belief as believers in Jesus that we know the truth, and we affirm that not out of pride or arrogance, but in humility and with great awe. Our conviction points not just to a proposition, but, more accurately, to a Person. Lewis Foster wrote in The True Life, published by Standard in 1978, “The truth is the gospel, and the gospel centers in Christ. As He is the living water who brings and sustains life, He is also the living truth that provides the way and shows the way to true life.”
This word truth as Christ followers know it is different than the “truth” as the world knows it. The apostle Paul warned that in the last days, people would be “always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-7). He continued, “the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, . . . they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (4:3-4). It seems we’ve come to that time.
Jesus embodied truth, then indwelled his followers with the Spirit of truth (John 14:17), and then sent us into the world with that same truth.
As Foster put it, “In the New Testament, truth is something to be done as well as believed.”
God’s Word teaches us how to come to a knowledge of truth and live out the truth through our lives.
- We are to seek the truth (Jeremiah 5:1) . . . and speak the truth (Psalm 15:2; Proverbs 22:21; Zechariah 8:16).
- We can know the truth (John 8:32) . . . and lead others to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:25).
- We are to love truth (Zechariah 8:19) . . . and speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
- We belong to the truth (1 John 3:19) . . . and are sent in God’s truth (Jeremiah 26:15).
- We are to be guided by God’s truth (Psalm 25:5; John 16:13) . . . and we call people who have wandered from the truth back to it (James 5:19).
- We give attention to God’s truth (Daniel 9:13) and walk in the truth (2 John 1:4) . . . and we correctly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) and teach the way of God in accordance with the truth (Matthew 22:16).
- We are sanctified by the truth (John 17:17), purify ourselves by obeying the truth (1 Peter 1:22), worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24), rejoice with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6) . . . and we work together for the truth (3 John 1:8).
So, how do we actively live out the truth, especially in today’s world where truth is questioned? This month, our writers tackle that important topic, focusing on the significance of truth and tone in an age of fake news, how to balance truth and love, how to better understand truth, how to preach the truth with biblical authority, how to incorporate truth in how you lead, and more.
God’s truth has set us free from sin and death. It still does as we seek it and are guided by it each day. I pray all of us will be lovers of the truth, committed to teaching it plainly and leading others to both believe it and do it.