What is truth? by Pastor Steve Feralio
Truth in our society is thought of by many as lying at the end of a circle.
William Butler Yeats, Poet and Nobel Prize winner for Literature expressed:
“Wine comes in at the mouth,
And love comes in at the eye,
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.” 1
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:
“Truth is such a fly-away . . . that it is as bad to catch as light.” 2
Bob Dylan conveyed, in one of his songs:
“Mama, Mama, take this badge off of me.
I can’t use it anymore. It’s getting dark, too dark to see.”
A badge represents authority and truth. (The truth once perceived behind the badge was lost. Everything was moving into the gray areas.)
“Feel like I’m knocking on heaven’s door.” 3
He feels like his concept of justice is wiped out. Looking for truth was over.
Truth is something we have a difficult time pinning down. Just when we think we have settled the matter of truth, our world around us changes, leaving us with an ambivalent attitude about truth. We gather knowledge, ponder it, and just as we resolve truth, it seems to elude us. Our friends seem to be changing the way they think about truth. What was true yesterday in our thinking may not be true today, and what is true at present may not be true tomorrow. This way of thinking is rapidly growing in our culture today.
Are there absolutes?
One of the questions that we wrestle with is, are their absolutes? Trying to identify truth, we listen to our parents, teachers, religion, government, media, or voices from history, but walk away many times with the feelings of Pilate when he said to Jesus, “What is truth?4 Not only do we struggle with the views of others, we struggle with our own beliefs and ourselves as well. Some have, in all honesty, given up on the reality of truth and declared that there are no absolutes. Truth is truth if it is true for you. Truth is relative. These are very bold statements, statements easier said than lived out. However, everyday those who make such allegations violate their system of beliefs, living with constant tension in their lives. They say there are no absolutes but live as though there are. In order to be relieved of this tension, they must be completely convinced there are no absolutes. This is a very difficult conclusion to reach. For instance, if someone came to your house and set it on fire, you would not only regard it to be wrong, you would be very angry and demand justice. If this were wrong, then the opposite position would be right. To say there are no absolutes is to say there is no right or wrong. You could not presume this act of burning your house down as wrong.
If there are no absolutes, anything goes!
Tension builds when we try to hold on to our belief that truth is relative, or there are no absolutes. This thinking makes lying, stealing, murder, rape, incest, bestiality, etc. neither right nor wrong. If there is no truth, anything goes. If there are no absolutes, we could not say we were violated if we were raped or forced into an incestuous act. I know we live in a confused world where truth is hard to grasp, but to say there are no absolutes causes even greater confusion.
Could it be the answers we are searching for in life are not found in the absence of truth, but in absolute truth? If we are honest, we will admit that there are some moral standards, rights and wrongs, in our beliefs. That is why we shout “Injustice!” when we are violated. Is it possible we live in a world that has been created by a holy, righteous God? Could it be He has given us His standard for our good and His glory and, if His words are not followed true guilt results?5
Is guilt imagined?
When we violate God’s holy standard for the human race, we feel the effects. As we begin to feel guilt, we must not take the advice of some and believe it is imagined. Yes, man can impose false guilt, but every person has experienced true guilt. This is something we cannot deny. Suppress, yes. Deny, no. We need to acknowledge the fact that we stand guilty before our Creator. If God created us, gave us a conscience and we experience guilt, then we must conclude that guilt has a purpose. God wants us to see that we have violated His law and are dead in our sins. We are helpless and hopeless, and live in a world that is meaningless without Him.
What is truth?
Jesus Christ made some very encouraging statements about truth. He declared, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”6 He also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”7 You must examine the claims of Jesus in the Bible and see that Jesus Christ, was, as Isaiah the prophet declared, Immanuel, God with us.8 The Creator is an infinite, personal God and He dwelt among men in the person of Jesus Christ.9
The claims of Christ do not stand on His words only. Anyone can claim anything. But Jesus’ life gives credence to His statements. He healed the sick, controlled nature, fed the multitudes, raised the dead, and after His crucifixion and burial, rose from the grave.10 He had victory over death. The Bible as well as historians of His time speak of His unparalleled life and resurrection.11 Jesus Christ not only talked about truth, He passed through death, conquered it, and revealed the truth about eternal life.
We are people who are guilty in the presence of our Creator. We have violated, by our actions, the standards of this holy God; thus, we experience true moral guilt. In order for our human dilemma and the tension within our souls to be truly satisfied and to have true God-given forgiveness, we must believe that Jesus died, rose again, and took upon Himself our sin and guilt.12 He paid for our sin and bore the punishment of hell, which we all deserve. John’s gospel states, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”13
There are absolutes. It is only God that can make sense out of our dilemma and release us from the real tension created by our actions and our conscience. Nearly 2,000 years ago Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” and Jesus claimed to be truth. He claimed to be Absolute. Absolute truth is found in Jesus Christ. Will you, by faith alone, trust Christ as your Savior and Lord? Will you look to Him in faith and receive God’s forgiveness and the free gift of eternal life? 14
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1. A Drinking Song
2. Literary Ethics Nature; Addresses and Lectures
3. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
4. John 18:38
5. Romans Chapters 1-3
6. John 8:32
7. John 14:6
8. Isaiah 7:14
9. John 1:1-4; Colossians 2:9
10. Matthew chapters 27-28
11. Cornelius Tacitus; Annal XV.44. Josephus – Antiquities of the Jews Book 18, chapter 3.3
12. Romans chapter 5
13. John 3:16 14. Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5 14. Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5