Today we’ll uncover a second answer Jesus gave regarding truth that will help us to fully understand and apply truth in our lives. Find out how to stay in the center of His will and not be pulled off into deception of any kind.
It’s good to be with you again, as we continue with our theme for this week: What Is Truth?
You’ll remember that this was the question that Pilate asked as Jesus stood before him to be examined concerning the charges brought against him.
In my previous talks this week I pointed out that secular philosophy never has come up with a satisfactory answer to this question: What Is Truth?
On the other hand, although Pilate did not know it, Jesus had actually provided His own answer a little while previously in a private conversation with His disciples. It’s recorded in John 14 verse 6:
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.’” (NASB)
Jesus presented Himself as the total all sufficient answer. You want to know where to go—“I am the way.” You want to know what to believe—“I am the truth.” You want to know how to live—“I am the life.”
We’re focusing particularly on that aspect of the answer of Jesus—I am the truth! I pointed out in my talk yesterday that God’s answer to the question—What is truth?—is not an abstraction, it’s not a definition. It’s a person. That’s so marvelous. I’m sure a few people can appreciate that as I do because having been a professional philosopher and having tried to find truth in abstractions and in definitions and having been so frustrated for so many years, when I discovered truth in the person of Jesus it made my heart sing. It was a release. It was a liberation. So let me say that again. Anything less than a person cannot contain the totality of truth, because personality is a major part of what we encounter in the universe. And anything less than a person cannot satisfy human longings.
Well, today I’m going to share with you another way in which Jesus provided an answer to this question—What is truth? And this second answer that Jesus gives is not inconsistent with the first, but it’s necessary in order to enable us, really, to understand fully and apply the first answer.
This second answer of Jesus concerning truth is found in a prayer that He prayed that’s recorded in John chapter 17 and it’s in verse 17. He’s praying to the Father for His disciples and prays this very simple prayer:
“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (NIV)
So Jesus speaking to God the Father says, “Your word is truth.” That is the Word of God is truth. Now we need to be very clear as to how Jesus understood the Word of God. And again we can go to His own words. In John chapter 10, verse 35, He’s quoting a statement from the book of Psalms in which it says, “I said you are gods...” commenting on that He says this in John 10:35:
“If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken—” (NIV)
Now I’m not going into the background of all that, I want to point out only that for Jesus, the Word of God is identical with the Scripture. He called them, “...’gods’ to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken.” That tells us two very important things; God’s Word is the Scripture and second, the Scripture, or God’s Word, cannot be broken. It is absolutely authoritative.
So we find, putting these two statements of Jesus together, that Jesus is the truth but God’s Word is also the truth—that is the Scripture. Now there’s no problem here. But what we need to understand, what is vitally important for us, is that these two always agree. Jesus and the Scripture are always in perfect harmony one with another. In fact, one of the great titles of Jesus is “The Word” or “The Word of God.” For example, this is how John’s gospel begins, speaking about Jesus in John chapter 1, verses 1 and 2:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (NASB)
Three times in that opening verse of John’s gospel, Jesus is called the Word. And then in the same chapter of John, John chapter 1 verse 14, speaking again of Jesus:
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (NASB)
So Jesus is the Word. And then right at the end of the New Testament—in the last book—Revelation chapter 19, we have a preview of the appearance of Jesus returning in glory and power at the close of this age. This is how John describes it. Revelation 19, verses 11–13:
“And I saw heaven opened; and beheld, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; [this is Jesus] and in righteousness He judges and wages war. And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself. And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God.” (NASB)
So there He is—The Word of God! The Scripture is the Word of God, Jesus is the Word of God. It’s interesting that it says there that no one knows His name except Himself. In other words, there’s another truth that only Jesus fully understands the Word of God. He and the Scripture are in total harmony and total agreement. He is the interpretation, He is the fulfillment, He is the answer. The two always agree.
Let me point out just one other interesting thing. Almost every one of these Scriptures that I’ve used in answering the question, What is truth?, including the scripture that asked the question are taken from the writings of one man, the Apostle John. It’s quite astonishing when you begin to investigate this particular theme of truth, how almost without exception you’ll be directed to the writings of John. This was one of John’s great themes. And again I feel so close to him in this respect because this was for many years my quest—what is truth? And oh what a joy it is to find a man who shared the same quest and found the same answer in the Apostle John.
We’ve been looking at two answers to the question: What is truth? Both of them given in the Bible. The first answer is Jesus is the Truth. The second answer is the Word of God, the Scripture is the Truth. Now I want to show you a very important implication of this double answer to the question. I want to show you how it will protect us against deception. I’d like to read a passage in the writings of Paul, 2 Corinthians chapter 11, verses 3 and 4. He’s writing to the Christians at Corinth and he says:
“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.” (NIV)
Paul was very concerned that the Christians at Corinth would not be deceived. He was warning them against deception and he said in essence there are three different but related ways in which you could be deceived. You could begin to believe in another Jesus. You could receive a different spirit than the one you’ve received. Or you could accept a different gospel. So there’s these three possibilities of deceptions—another Jesus, a different spirit, or a different gospel.
How can we be protected against these deceptions? The answer is—by the Scripture. We have to bear in mind that the true portrait of Jesus is given in the Scripture. And if we accept the Scripture’s portrait of Jesus we will not be deceived. But I want to warn you that there are many, many people today who are being enticed into believing in another Jesus. Someone that’s supposed to be Jesus of Nazareth, but he doesn’t answer to the description given in Scripture. So we have to set these two statements side by side. Jesus is the truth, but the Scripture is the truth.
What kind of “other Jesus” are other people being enticed to believe in today. Let me give you very briefly three deceptive presentations of Jesus. The first one is a “sentimental Jesus”—all love and no judgment. God loves you and that’s all right and everything goes. That’s not what Jesus said at all. In fact, Jesus so strongly believed in the judgment of God that He died to save us from the judgment of God. So that’s a false Jesus.
A second false Jesus is a kind of Jesus with one foot in the occult and the metaphysical—a kind of “super-Guru” whose got a lot of mystical answers. Jesus was very practical, very down-to-earth, and He set a very definite standard of practical righteousness, purity and holiness. So this occult version is an another Jesus. It’s the Scripture that will keep us from being deceived.
And then the third picture of Jesus that’s come today as a “Marxist revolutionary”—someone who is going to storm the citadels of the strong and the wealthy and distribute their wealth to the poor. Now the Bible cares a lot about the poor, but Jesus was not a Marxist. The truth centers in Jesus, but it’s in Jesus as attested by Scripture. Can you get that together? Somebody said about that Marxist version of Jesus, “It’s not a violent revolution we need, but a loving revelation.”
Alright, so Jesus is the truth, the Scripture is the truth. They always agree.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow we’ll be looking at yet another way of answering our question: What Is Truth?