What is Truth?

Scripture: John 18:37-38, Proverbs 14:12
Date: 12/01/2001 
This sermon focuses on the story of Pilate asking Jesus at His trial, "What is truth?" Is it based on popular vote or the Bible. We should seek solid truth not based on what others say, but on the Scriptures. According to the Bible, there is absolute truth.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

Morning. I want you to know that I do my best to listen to you. Periodically some of the church family will give me a tape or a book or something that stirs their hearts and that leads to our message for today: “What is Truth”. Now that phrase, that question, actually comes from the Bible. You’ll remember that before Jesus was handed over to be scourged and executed that he was interviewed by Pilate and Pilate was unnerved for a couple of reasons. One, he received a letter from his wife that says “I’ve had a dream about this man that you’re trying now. Have nothing to do with that just man.” Don’t do anything to harm him, in other words. Then he heard the Jews say, “He’s accused himself of being a king” and Pilate, one soldier to respect authority, thought, “I’d better find out if he is a king.” So he kept interviewing Jesus trying to get something out of him, but Christ knew his reasons were the wrong reasons. And they had this exchange that you’ll find in John 18, John 18 verse 37 and 38. “Pilot therefore said to him, Art thou a king? And Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end I was born, and for this cause I came into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice.” And then Pilate, he had become so exasperated with all the different sects and variations of religion in the Roman Empire and all the battles in Jerusalem between the Sagusees and the Pharisees and the Scribes about what was the truth, that he just said, “What is truth?” And he would not listen to the answer that could have come from the one person on the planet who understood truth better than anyone else. He asked the question in a rhetorical, sarcastic way and then walked away from Jesus. How tragic to be in the presence of Jesus and say, “What is Truth?” and not hear the answer. “And when he said this, he went out again and to the Jews he said, I find no fault in him.” You know, he’s an innocent man, but he should have found out what is the truth? Christ is always ready to reveal the truth to anyone that was searching in sincerity. What is the truth? That same sarcastic question, springing from exasperation, is echoed all through our culture. There are so many variations and deviations and perversions of what is the truth that we finally have come to the place that in order to coexist we need to come to the conclusion that really there is no absolute truth, that everybody has their own version of truth and we all need to respect each other’s versions of the truth. And maybe what you believe is truth for you and what I believe is truth for me. Maybe you believe something’s bad, but I believe it’s good. It’s bad for you. It’s good for me. And we all just need to love and respect each other. That mindset, that has become very prevalent, has led to some dangerous trends. I want to read a survey to you. Some of you have heard of Barna, the Christian Survey Group. They did a survey that confirms Americans are in danger of becoming a nation of relatives… relativists. That means everything is relative. The survey asks, “Is there absolute truth?” Now, before I give you their answers, let me ask you that question. Someone might even spin a camera around. I want to see what our church is going to say. Is there absolute truth? Those who think, yes, hold your hands up. Those who think, no… Okay, that’s the right answer. Thank you. The cameras intimidated you, didn’t they? But this question was asked of American’s across the board, “Is there absolute truth?” Amazingly, sixty-six percent of American adults responded they believe there is no such thing as absolute truth. Different people can define truth in conflicting ways and still be correct. The figure rises to seventy-two percent when it comes to those between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. This survey was 1992. Someone did something more recent and it’s up to 80 percent. You ask 80% of the young people in this category, “Is there absolute truth?” and they’ll say, “No. You know, if it’s true for them, it’s true for them. What’s true for me is true for me. If I believe it, it’s true! We define, we create our own truth.” Boy, that kind of reasoning, it’ll send your soul on self-destruct mode. There are absolutes. Now when we were in New York City a couple of weeks ago doing this broadcast from the Manhattan Center we saw a lot of things happening. Among the things there, we were right by 42nd St. We would go to the Olive Garden. It was a great place to eat on 42nd St. and as you walk by you would see these lines of people going up the street. And I remember one day they had a line of people because this store, I think it was Toys R Us, was getting ready to release the new Microsoft PlayStation version of their videoplates called Xbox. And they must have spent millions of dollars on the lights. They had this marquee with a countdown clock. People were lined up the block. They’d been waiting for hours and hours to get this toy, a video toy. All you have to do is wait a little bit and there’ll be an abundance of them in the stores, but they were launching it. Among the things that were being released, we were there November 18th for our broadcast, but we came a few days early, was this “Harry Potter” film. Now you know New York and Broadway is the syntax, it’s the center of media and when there’s some big promotional release, it’s there. And as you walk up and down the streets, I took a picture and they had this billboard there that was, you know, ten stories tall, of the “Harry Potter” and you could see people, finally it opened while we were there. They were lined up, all just out of sight, all around the block, to watch a movie… that would be worth two dollars in the video store in a couple of months. You wonder what the mentality is. Now I had a few members of the church approach me. They said, “Pastor Doug, are you going to say anything about ‘Harry Potter’?” I said, “Harry who? Has he transferred his membership yet?” I guess you can tell, we don’t have any Harry Potter books at home. It wasn’t that bad, I mean, but I really didn’t know much. I have to admit. And they said, “Oh, man, haven’t you heard? This is just a phenomenon. I mean it’s sweeping the country. They’re selling record books.” As a matter of fact, somebody told me that the lady, the author, what is her name? I got it here… J. K. Rawling. Is that it? She’s about to become a billionaire. She’ll be the first billionaire writer. Matter of fact, Mike, Pastor Thompson, who’s from across the ocean, he said that the richest woman in England is the queen. The second richest woman in England is the author of the Harry Potter books. And she was a struggling single parent a few years ago when the first book was published. This thing has gone into orbit. I’ve been studying it since people approached me to find out. It’s gone into orbit almost like there’s some spiritual force behind it. It’s incredible the way that it’s just taken hold of the young people. In case you don’t know, as I did not know, Harry Potter is a young boy and he has been separated from his parents and uh, he goes to this university, this special place where people are trained to activate their, their powers. And some people are born with supernatural powers and he is, he is a um, he, he’s got these dormant magical powers and this university he goes to, this college, brings them out. And everybody at the school is a witch or a wizard and they’re using these cultish ceremonies and everything from flying brooms to three headed dogs and a lot of spiritualistic occultism and spiritualism. Very blatant. And even the author of the book will tell you she gets letters from these kids all the time who say, “I am so thankful for your books. I want to be a witch when I grow up.” “I wanna be a wizard when I grow up.” They write here and they tell her, “I’d like to enroll in the University.” They think it’s real. They have trouble separating… You know, children are very impressionable. They have trouble separating fantasy from reality. Now, one of the things that’s especially disturbing is that the majority of Christian leaders think there’s nothing at all wrong with it, that it’s just fine. “Strange council from Christian leaders. Typical of our times today a recent report in “Christianity Today” seems to base its approval of Harry Potter not on the Bible, but on popular consensus among Christian leaders. “As far as I can tell,” writes author Ted Olson, “while no major Christian leader has come out to condemn J. K. Rawling’s series many have given it thumbs up.” That’s the symbol they use for the movies. “If our readers know of any major Christian leader who has actually told Christians not to read the books I’d be happy to know about it, but in my research even those Christians known for criticizing popular culture have been pretty positive about Potter.” Well, I’m not a major leader, but I want to go on the record in telling you I don’t think Christians ought to read them. I think that anything like this that is so blatantly spiritualistic. Now, people… let me tell you what’s happening though… Christians are saying, “Well, Pilgrim’s Progress” and I recommend Pilgrim’s Progress, is an allegory where the author, John Bunyan, used the old English fairy tale format, you know you got giants and lions and things like that, to try and teach about Christian’s journey. But there’s no missing it’s a Christian message couched in an allegory. The Pilgrim’s name is Christian! And people’s names are Faithful and, you know, the town of wickedness is Vanity Fair. It’s all just so very clear. And it’s a book that’s endorsed by Christian leaders. It’s the second best selling book in the world besides the Bible. Did you know that? Pilgrim’s Progress. That’s right. Then they’ll say, “Well, what about C. S. Lewis?” You know, C. S. Lewis who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia. And they say, “Well, those are some very popular books.” Now, I did read most of the Chronicles of Narnia. We read them with our kids and I’m not endorsing them. I’m not telling you to. But here’s what the difference is. C. S. Lewis was a Christian. He wrote them for the purpose, in his own words, he said, “I wanted to teach the themes of the Plan of Salvation and Christianity to the children without all the stained glass.” And as you read it you recognize Aslan is Jesus and there’s these battles and he used some of the old English Fairy Tale/Pilgrim’s Progress motif. Then they go the next step and they say, “What about ‘The Lord of the Rings’?” Another movie about to be released which was written by, how do you say his name? Toklen? Tolken? JR, is it? JL? TJ? All these Texas names. J. K., C. S. And Tolkein’s books about the hobbits, The Lord of the Rings. My mom read that when I was a kid and she wanted me to read it and I tried to read it but it was just… It had all these own languages. It was so confusing that you needed to be a doctorate to understand it all, in my opinion. But, um, movies coming out on that and they say, “Oh, this is good. It teaches the battle between good and evil. Christian themes” and “Yes, though Potter might be a wizard or witch, but he’s a good one.” That sound familiar? And they’ll make these things that have dangerous overtones, the bottom line is you want to ask this question: Do you want to use the devil’s tools to teach God’s principals? If you want the children to embrace Christ and the truth, do you have to teach it in the context of sorcery and wizards and flying brooms and witches and spells and… that stuff goes a lot further than Narnia and certainly is nothing like Pilgrim’s Progress. There’s no connection and yet this is what the Christian leaders are doing. Well, my subject is on truth and “what is truth?” and absolute truth. And this popularity of these Potter books is indicative of a culture that thinks everything is relative. And by comparing Pilgrim’s Progress with the Bible then you can zig there and you can go to Lord of the Rings and you can zig there and you can go back down to Harry Potter and the next thing you know you’ll be saying to the kids, “Let’s go to a pornographic movie to teach biology.” That’s where that reasoning ends up. It just keeps on bouncing further and further down where we need to measure the truth by the truth and not by the culture. Well, I’ve asked you the question, “Is there absolute truth?” I believe there is. Truth is not relative. The Bible says, in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man” it may seem right, “But the end thereof is the way of death.” A Jewish proverb states, “Better the ugly truth than a beautiful lie”. And some of these books and these fairy tales, they make the lies beautiful. They make them interesting and they season them with elements of truth and that’s what makes it easy to sell. If I asked you to walk to the North Pole, and you had the gear, in a straight line, do you realize that if you’re off this much when you begin your journey by the time you get to the distance towards the North Pole, if you start off that much off you’re going to be hundreds of miles off course by the time you get there. When you’re going a short distance accuracy doesn’t matter, you know. If I try to throw a baseball through a barn door if I’m ten feet in front of the barn door it’s not a problem. But if I try to throw it through a window and I’m a hundred feet away it becomes more difficult. Precision is much more important. That’s the way it is with truth. With railroad tracks. If you get two railroad tracks they’re supposed to be exactly the same distance together. If they get to where they’re a quarter of an inch off in one span… after you go twenty miles they’re a hundred yards apart. The train is not going to go down the tracks. Truth is absolute. You cannot think, “because I believe something, I’m sincere, I’m going to go to heaven.” Now this is especially true among the young people today. They are being told by a hundred voices, unfortunately some of them are in the church, that “if you believe it, it’s true!” You know if you ask some young people, “Is the Bible true?” They’ll say, “Yes, it’s true.” “Why is it true?” “Because we believe it.” Do we make the Bible true? Does our belief make anything true? No. The Bible is true for other reasons. It’s true because it is the absolute truth. Because it’s God’s perfect truth and He’s the One who determines that. There’s evidence by which we can measure that it’s truth. You know, they’re starting to review history a little bit and question weather Robert E. Perry did actually make it to the North Pole because the instruments that he used were a little more primitive than the ones we have today they say you know he actually may have been several miles off. Well, based on the instruments that he had they believe that he got close enough to take the credit for being the first one to the pole. He couldn’t have been any closer with the instruments that he had. I think he deserves the credit for going to the North Pole rather than Amundsen who flew over in a blimp or whoever the others might be that go there. Many have been there since. But that’s different. Sincerity does not get you somewhere. You’ve heard me tell the story. I was driving to Texas one night on Interstate 40. Driving from California to Texas and I like to get there. Men don’t enjoy the trip. They want to conquer the trip. And so I drive all night long and somewhere in the middle of the night I pull over to fill up with gas at one of these Interstate gas stations, got back on the Interstate and started going down the road again feeling like I can make some progress now and then I noticed I started seeing familiar terrain. And I thought to myself, look, they must have a chain of these restaurants by the same name that I passed one of those earlier. And then I noticed that it did not say Interstate 40 East. Now the signs said West. I had gone 20 miles back in the same direction I’d just come from. Well, the first 15 or 18 miles of that I felt absolutely secure that I was going the right way. But you know what? My sincerity was never going to get me to Fort Worth. Isn’t that right? Now in some areas sincerity counts. God will sometimes wink at our ignorance. But for a person to think it’s sufficient to say, “As long as I believe it, that’s all that matters…” No, no, no. That’s not gonna cover your sins. The Bible says, “There is that which is highly esteemed among men and it is an abomination to God.” There are a number of counterfeits for truth that are out there. The devil is a master at counterfeiting and even in something like the Harry Potter books or Lord of the Rings or some of these other things that might have a little bit of good and evil battling, why would you say this is Christian because there’s a battle between good and evil? I cannot think of any popular series of any kind of program out there, I mean, you know, anything from “Rocky” to “Terminator” you can say there’s a battle between good and evil so it’s ok for Christians to go see it. You’ll find fringes of that in anything if you look hard enough. And that’s what Christians are starting to do. They’re thinking that “everything is relative” and “you need to consider the situation”. There are many counterfeits for truth. Because all the Christian leaders or most of the Christian leaders think that there may not be anything wrong with Harry Potter, it must be ok. Is that how we determine what truth is? You know what also is the case? The majority of Christians think it’s ok for people to live together before marriage. That must mean God thinks it’s ok, right? No, there are certain absolutes. You and I cannot get together and vote to change a truth. The truth does not change. The whole purpose of the Plan of Salvation is to change us and to conform us into the truth. Popular trends tell us that if you don’t believe in Evolution you are stupid. That’s a harsh word for me to use, but that’s what they say. Have you met folks like that before? You tell them you still believe in Creation and they look at you like… “Low I.Q. Poor person.” And when they give Evolutionary statements on TV do they ever say “theory” anymore? Or do they state it like, “This is an absolute truth. We have all evolved over millions of years.” And people assume, well, you’ve got all these scientists, you’ve got all these leaders. I talk to some of my loved ones and relatives about Creation and they say, “Doug, ah, come on. Don’t say that out loud! I mean look at all the scholars and the scientists and the doctors. They’ve all accepted it. You think you know more than they do?” Yes. You know why? Because my source of truth is different than theirs. I believe that I have an absolute source of truth. I don’t mean to be arrogant, but you need to know what you believe. You need to know what the truth is because the truth is what’s going to set you free. “All sincere religions lead to God.” There’s another relative truth for you. How many of you have heard that? That, you know, “all rivers lead to the ocean and as long as we’re sincere God is going to save everybody no matter what their religion is because if they’re sincere and they love God they’re all going to get to heaven.” Now, that sounds good and there are, there are threads of truth that mislead people to believe that. It is true there may be some people from many different religious persuasions who will be saved. They are the exception. They are the exception because they did walk in the truth that God gave them. It’s not because they happen to be a Hindu or a Buddhist or a Hare Krishna and God’s gonna save them because they were sincere Buddhists and sincere Hindus. Who would question Osama bin Laden’s sincerity? Who would question the sincerity of people that will kill themselves? But these folks who flew the planes into the buildings and blew themselves up were promised that they’re going to have 70 women and a harem when they come to. And they were very sincere. How many of you think that they’re going to get their harem? Their sincerity doesn’t make it happen. It’s a lie. And you cannot say, “Well, because they believe it, it’s gonna be true.” We don’t create our own truth. Truth is absolute. And your believing something doesn’t make it true. A lot of people believe a lie. The Bible says that in the last days God will allow people to believe a lie “because they receive not,” what? “They do not receive a love of the truth” a respect of the truth and so God is going to allow them to gag on their own self-delusion and they’ll get to the place where they’re very sincere believing a lie. There’s a lot of counterfeit truths out there. False facts, if you will. Doesn’t that sound like an oxy-moron? A false fact. A half-truth is an especially dangerous thing if you get a hold of the wrong half. And there’s a lot of people who have done that. What is truth? Well, there’s a lot of places I could go. Principally, God’s Word is truth. Now there’s reasons I believe that. There are scientific arguments, evidence that supports that this is dependable, accurate truth. You need to go somewhere where you can find a foundation, a pivotal place, where you can know that it is true and I believe the Bible is that. II Samuel, chapter 7, verse 28, “Oh, Lord God. Thou art that God and thy words be true.” Psalm 119:151, “All of thy commandments are truth.” Not “connected to truth.” Not “related to truth.” They are truth. John 17:17, Jesus, who I think has good authority, listen to what He says, “Sanctify them by your truth. Thy word is truth.” If that’s clear, please say “Amen”. Amen. “Thy Word is truth.” And so if you want to measure what’s true what is the best criteria? What’s the standard we’re to use? Christian leaders? Popular trends? Surveys? Or the Word of God? If you use the Word of God, is the truth always popular? Does the truth sometimes hurt? That’s why it’s not popular. But if you use the Word of God you may sometimes find yourself in the minority. God’s Word is truth. Now, there are even people in the secular world that are discovering, you can even find some reports that have come out, I’ve got a quote from “US NEWS” and one from “Readers Digest” where they’re beginning to see that the good old Bible, that evidence is surfacing, that it’s dependable. And I only had room for a couple of slides here, but I’ve got a whole collection of articles where secular sources are saying that there is evidence. What is that word that I used? There is mounting evidence that the Bible is true. Now, I grabbed these two because it used the word “true” specifically. “Is the Bible True? New discoveries offer surprising support for key moments in scripture.” And then the “Readers Digest” article, it’s telling us that archeologists are uncovering increasing evidence that the times and places in the Bible really existed. And you could search these articles out still on the Internet. They’re just a small sample of a growing mountain of evidence, even in modern times, where they’re saying, even the scientists and the skeptics are saying, “You know? Maybe the Bible is true.” You’ve seen the articles that say that they’re finding out that prayer really works. Medical evidence supports, I read a new report last week on the airplane, medical evidence supports that prayer really works. Medical evidence reports that people who are prayed for, this was a new report, people who are prayed for healed more quickly than those who are not prayed for. Wow! That should really… That should be earth moving! I don’t know why you didn’t see that on CNN. You’d think that everybody would start going to church and praying for everybody. Well, these are the teachings of the Bible. Now, some would say, “the Bible, that’s for Christians. The Bible is the cultural book for a certain class of people that live in a certain geography and it’s true for them. But if you live in the Middle East the Koran is true and if you live in India it’s the Bhagavad-Gita and maybe it’s Buddha if you live in China and there are different truths for different people.” I’m sorry. Wrong. The Bible is the truth everywhere. The Bible truth does not change with time, with location, with culture, with language. It is the same truth for all people. The principals in the Bible are perfectly dependable. Now, in connection with that I’d like to read a statement. The Devil does not want us to know that the Bible is the source of truth. This is from a classic called The Great Controversy, page 51. “Satan well knew that the Holy Scriptures would enable men to discern his deceptions” (that’s the opposite from truth) “and withstand his power. It was by the Word that even the Savior of the world has resisted his attacks. At every assault Christ presented the shield of Eternal Truth saying, ‘It is written.’ To every suggestion of the adversary He opposed in the Wisdom and Power of the Word. In order for Satan to maintain his sway over men and to establish his authority he must keep them in ignorance of the scriptures” and get them all enthralled with Harry Potter. Now, I added that last phrase there. I wish we could have a revival of reading the Bible, Bible stories. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that kind of phenomenon? You know after the September 11 attacks they did say that Bible sales started going through the truth, going through the roof. That applies also. “What is truth?” Pilate asked. The Word is truth. Jesus is truth. Now, I would not just limit that to Jesus, God the Son. But that would include God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. Here’s what the Bible says, Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 14. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” He was filled with truth, brimming, running over with truth. John 8:40, “But now” Jesus said, “you seek to kill me, a man that has told you the truth, which I have heard from God.” Jesus said, I’ve only told you the truth. John 14, verse 6, “Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life”. Either he was accurate or he was a liar, but he said, “I am the truth”. Now, I started out establishing for you, I believe the Bible is true. Now we’re using the Bible, assuming we accept that, to prove that God is the truth, that Jesus is the truth. I Peter 2, verse 22, speaking of Christ, the apostle said, “who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth.” No deceit in his mouth, only truth in his mouth. Hebrews 6:18, it’s “impossible for God to lie.” When God says something, what does that mean? It’s always true. God the Father, God the Son, and notice, God the Spirit. I John 5:6, “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ,” (not by water only but by water and blood) “and it is the Spirit that beareth witness because the Spirit is truth.” Jesus said, “I am the truth”. God the Father is truth. The Spirit is truth. The Word is truth. So, when you and I want to discover “what is truth?” he has given us what the criteria is. If you can be convinced… You know, when I do an evangelistic meeting what we’re really teaching people are the philosophies for thinking and living by. The first thing you need establish is the dependability of the Bible, that the Bible is accurate. I become irritated when I hear pastors say, “You need to believe the Bible!” and someone will say, “Well, why?” “You need faith. Just believe it.” That’s a really feeble argument. I think there’s an abundance of evidence. I didn’t want to believe the Bible. I thought it was just another religion. I needed evidence and you know what? I found there was a lot of evidence. Concrete, dependable proof that the Bible could be trusted. Prophesy, I think, was some of the best evidence. The way that God could see the beginning from the end. God is the truth. The truth liberates. Why is this study so important? Lies do not free, but the truth will liberate you. Of course, you know John 8:32, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” You may have heard this story about Billy. His grandfather gave him a slingshot and he went out in the woods and he tried his best to become a marksman but he couldn’t hit anything he aimed at, no matter how big the target was. Finally, frustrated, he came back to the house and he saw a little flock of grandpa’s ducks waddling around the garden. He looked around and he took a shot at one of the ducks thinking, “I can’t hit anything anyway.” Zing! Whack! Quack! Plop! He hit a duck square in the head and sent it to its reward. Dropped dead. He was terrified. He went and grabbed that limp duck and he went and buried it in the garden as quick as he could. He came sheepishly back into the house and then he saw his sister Sally smirking at him through the screen door. She’d seen the whole thing. He said, “Are you gonna say anything?” She said, “Not if you’re nice to me.” Well, after dinner Grandma said, “Now, Sally, can you do the dishes?” Sally said, “You know, I really think Billy wants to do the dishes tonight.” And he looked at her like she’s crazy and she said, “You remember the duck?” And so he went and he started doing the dishes. And then the next morning she said, “Sally, could you go get the dirty clothes from all the rooms and bring them downstairs?” She said, “I think Billy said he was going to do that.” She said, “You remember the duck?” And this went on for a couple of days where just everything she was supposed to do, picking up the eggs and milking the goats and all the stuff that was done around the little family farm there Billy was doing all of Sally’s work. And finally he just realized, “You know, I’d just as soon tell the truth. The punishment from Grandpa couldn’t be much worse than what I’m going through with my sister.” He finally went to Grandpa and he said, “Grandpa, I didn’t mean it. When I came back I was shooting this slingshot and I shot one of your ducks. I’m so sorry.” Grandpa said, “I know. I saw the whole thing from the kitchen window.” He said, “I was just wondering how long you were going to let your sister make a slave out of you.” You know, our lying imprisons us. Dishonesty imprisons us. Not only is it true that the truth will set you free in regard to honesty. Biblical points of truth liberate. Doctrinal truth sets us free. And that’s the next subject I want to deal with. Doctrinal truth. You know, it’s very, it’s almost a dirty word to say doctrine these days. “I’m going to church.”

“What for?” “I want to hear good doctrine.” When have you ever heard anyone say that? “I go to that church.” “Why?” “I really like their doctrines.” Have you ever heard anyone say that? That just seems so politically incorrect to say, “I love that church. They got the greatest doctrines.” But you know that’s the right answer! You should join a church because of the truth. Because they believe the truth. So many people join because they think it’s warm and fuzzy. They like the church because, “Oh, the music! Good children’s program... charismatic, good looking preacher… I like the building… It’s close to the house…” You wouldn’t believe all the reasons people join a church. Those aren’t the reasons. Their doctrines are the teachings of Jesus. That’s why you go. If you ask me, why am I who I am? It’s because of the teachings. It’s not even because of the people. We need to be who we are because of the doctrines. The doctrines of truth. I John 3:18, Jesus said, “My little children…” I’m sorry, John actually says this, “My little children, let’s not love in word neither in tongue but in deed and in truth.” If people say, “I love you, I love you” and their theology is all twisted it may not be a pure love. Real theology, truthful theology leads to truthful love. I’ll argue that with you if you want. If you really understand the truth… You know, the Bible says when Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, it doesn’t say ‘the people were amazed at his preaching. They were amazed at his performance.’ You know what it says? “They were amazed at his doctrine.” I’ve done evangelistic meetings before. After a couple of meetings I’ve had folks come up to me, they’ve been visiting from other churches, “Pastor, we didn’t know you were gonna come here preaching doctrine!” Doctrine! Ugh! Dirty word. Doctrine. Almost sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Doctrine. Like yogurt. Who would eat it if you went by the name, right? But it’s good! That’s what Jesus did. It was his doctrine that blew them away. His doctrine kept them spellbound all day long. The doctrines liberate. I think you’ve heard me say before that a good part of my life I, I hated God. I wouldn’t come out and say that, but I was raised to believe if there was a god if you were good, you go to heaven or you sit on a cloud and you play a harp, if you’re bad you go to hell and you roast in fire and brimstone through all eternity. I thought God was a sadist. I thought God enjoyed suffering because life’s hard enough then you die lost and you burn forever and ever. And when I understood the truth about that doctrine it liberated me. The truth will set you free. There’s so many false teachings out there. Don’t fight a fact, deal with it. Huxley said, “Facts do not cease to exist because they’re ignored.” A fact is a fact. I remember Lincoln used to use an illustration when he was arguing with some of his fellow politicians… You know politicians have a real gift for distorting the truth and making something that is not true sound appealing. They’re getting ready to raise taxes and they call it “an investment in the future!” That’s really a gift. To be able to get people excited about a raise of taxes. You know politicians are experts at twisting the truth. They take advantage of you and make you like them at the same time. That’s a gift. Well, Lincoln used to say, “How many legs does a dog have?” And his adversaries would say, “Well, four legs.” He’d say, “Let’s suppose we call the tail a leg. Then how many legs would it have?” They’d say, “Well, five.” He’d say, “Wrong! Calling the dog’s tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” He can’t run on it. You can call it a leg. He can’t scratch with it. And that’s, but that’s the way we are, “Let’s call it this.” Let’s call, let’s change the semantics and we can change the truth. Well, the truth doesn’t change. The truth abides still. This is also important because we are not purified by lies. The Bible teaches, “truth not only liberates. It purifies.” How many want to be pure? You must be pure. The pure in heart will see God. The truth purifies. I Peter 1:22, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth,” Don’t miss this point, friends, it’s not only enough to know the truth, what does Peter say? You got your Bible open? “obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren.” John 17, verse 19, “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified by the truth.” Sanctified by the truth. Who wants to be sanctified? What does it? The truth! I’ve seen this dynamic work so many times when you conduct an evangelistic meeting. Just the preaching of the truth has a purifying effect. Folks will come night after night, I’ll never say anything about smoking, but after they come for four or five programs you do the Gospel presentation they come up and they say, “Pastor, I need you to pray for me.” “How can I help you?” “You know, I’ve been smoking and I’m convicted that I need to quit.” It wasn’t enough that it was printed on every pack that it’s stupid to smoke. The truth is something that made a difference in their life. There’s power in the truth. God’s Spirit activates that power. We’re purified by it. I John 3:3, “And everyone who has this hope” (the hope of the truth) “in himself purifies himself, even as he is pure.” If Jesus is the truth, and if Jesus is pure, if you follow Jesus you will be following truth and you will become pure. Does that make sense? Now, I think it was C. S. Lewis who said (maybe I shouldn’t quote him today), “A man can’t always be defending the truth. There must be a time to feed on it.” Sometimes we spend so much time arguing about the truth that we don’t get to simply enjoy abiding in the truth. There’s a dynamic of being a Christian, it’s called “being settled in the truth.” There are some who are forever learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. We need to know how to be “settled in the truth”. How many of you have known people who have been part of a church for years and they’re still constantly reevaluating their foundation? When you build a house you want the foundation to be poured, you want the foundation to be established so that you don’t have to think about it. It’s like someone said one time, “The sign of good shoes is you forget they’re on.” Isn’t that right? If you go through the day and you’re aware of your shoes then they’re uncomfortable. How many know what I’m talking about? The sign you’ve got a good pair of shoes is you don’t think about them. You just walk on them. And that’s the way it is with the truth. Some people are just constantly having to reevaluate the shoes and their foundation and it just doesn’t fit and they’re not settled into it. You know at some point I don’t need to keep studying certain aspects of what I believe. I have put my roots down. I have dropped anchor in certain things. If people want to debate with me on certain issues I’ll try to study with them but not for my sake because I know what I believe. You can’t forever go through your life being beaten around like a ship without a rudder or blown to and fro with every wind of doctrine. There is a time to become settled in the truth. Paul describes these people in II Timothy 3:7, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” I know some people, I won’t point any fingers, but they have been coming to church for years. They have not been baptized. They study and study and when they get done they want more videos, more studies and they don’t ever make a decision. They don’t ever put their roots down. They think, “well, you know, there’s still some nuances I don’t understand and I need these things clarified a little bit and you know there’s others who believe something different about this.” And then I’ve known some, they pop into the church and they pop out and they go to another church and then someone else knocks on the door and they pop out there and they go to another church and they’re “ever learning” and they’re never are “settled into the truth.” They’re just bouncing from religion to religion. John chapter 8, verse 44, this relates back to what happened to where we talked about Pontias Pilate, Jesus is speaking. He said to the religious leaders who were his enemies. Not all the religious leaders were his enemies. “You are of your father the devil,” Christ never minced words, “and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth.” You know why Lucifer fell? Because he did not abide in the truth. There’s a time to be settled in the truth. “Because there’s no truth in him.” Now, doesn’t the devil sometimes have a little bit of truth? Can the devil ever tell a truth? Yeah, but Jesus said, “There’s no truth in him” because whatever truth he has is corrupted by the error. Are their any principals of truth in Harry Potter? Probably are. You know, someone said you can find a few vitamins in the garbage can. Did you know that? If you take your average garbage can, pour it out and analyze it you’ll find all kinds of vitamins in there. Who wants to get their vitamins from the garbage can? Anybody? “There’s no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, you believed me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do you not believe me? He that is of God hears God’s words:” (listen to what Jesus is saying) “you therefore hear them not, because you are not of God.” Some people can never settle into the truth, some people can never recognize the truth because they do not have the Spirit of God. Christ says if you’re blind your sin remains. You need to have your eyes open. Some people will never recognize the truth because they have rejected the truth and God has sent them delusion that they might believe a lie. Have you met people before? You try to give them your best ammunition, your best gospel presentation and it just bounces off them like they’ve got bullet proof armor. Truth proof armor. And you think, “I didn’t get anywhere.” And they say, “Hey! I know what I believe. I’m comfortable. You’ll get to heaven with your beliefs and I’m gonna get to heaven with mine.” They have spent some time in their life somewhere along the way they’ve spent so much time rejecting the conviction of the Spirit they’ve come to the place where they are guaranteed that they’re gonna be in the kingdom but they believe sincerely a lie. Isn’t that tragic? A lot of people out there… a lot of sincere people out there that believe a lie. You know, I heard, some friends here at the church gave me a tape by Josh McDowell and he was talking about children and how relative their view of truth is and that my truth is no better than your truth and everybody has their own truth. What do you think the most popular scripture is that’s quoted among young people? Would you think it’s John 3:16? Should be. It’s not. You know what it is? It’s Matthew 7, verse 1, “Judge not lest you be judged.” The most popular scripture. Why would a whole generation flee to that passage? Because if you question what they believe they say, “Don’t judge me. You believe what you want. You get the speck out of your eye. I’ll believe what I want.” And that is one of the most gross misapplications of Scripture. The Bible says we are to judge and we’re to use good judgement. The Bible says, “When you judge,” Jesus said, use a righteous judgement.” Bible tells us we’re going to judge angels. Can’t we judge in the smallest matters? And when you say that you’re not supposed to judge, you know what you’re really saying? That if you believe that Osama Bin Laden is guilty, you’re judging him! That’s exactly right. It’s the exact same principal. It’s just a more severe example of the exact same principal. We’re not supposed to judge anybody. That means there’s really no difference between Bin Laden and Mother Teresa. Because as soon as you determine that you think one is right and the other is wrong, you’re judging their sincerity. They’re sincere. I have no question that they’re sincere, but do they believe the truth? That’s the difference. The truth does not morph to what we want. It’s absolute. The purpose of the Gospel is to get us to change and conform to the truth. Jesus told the Samaritan woman when he met her at the well that we must worship God in truth. Not knowing the truth makes it impossible for you to worship God the way that you should. Did you know that? Lots of people worship God in vain. They deny the power of God. You know what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman. He said, “you’re from Samaria.” He says, “I’m a Jew. Salvation is of the Jews.” That was not the right thing to say. What he should have said to her is, “You folks sincerely worship on Mount Garrison.” Which they did. “We worship on Mount Jerusalem. We’ll all get to heaven and love each other.” He didn’t say that! He said, “You’re wrong. Salvation is of the Jews.” And then he said, “I’m the Messiah.” And the whole Samaritan town ended up believing him because of her testimony. But he did not buy into her religion. He wouldn’t be politically correct and say, “Well, what you believe is ok for you.” He didn’t! He said, “Salvation is of the Jews.” You don’t tell that to a Samaritan! That was the real crux of argument between them. He got right in her face and said, “We’re right. You’re wrong. This is the truth and you don’t have it!” That wouldn’t fly today, would it? Then he went on to tell her, “The hour is coming and now is when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” Remember the Spirit is truth. “For the Father is seeking such to worship him.” God is looking for people who will worship him not with a lot of emotional mumbo jumbo. God wants us to worship him, how? It says, He’s seeking people “to worship him in truth.” He’s wanting people to worship him in truth. They know who he is. They know what they believe. They know what the truth is and to worship him with that knowledge is the highest form of worship. The mushy, pink, empty kind of worship that’s being touted by so many… I don’t believe that’s what God is looking for. He’s wanting people to worship him because they know who he is, the highest form of worship. And finally, with everything that we’ve talked about in the context of truth, stand for the truth. God wants us to stand for the truth. Not only be settled in the truth, but to stand for the truth. You know, in the last days the real battle is going to revolve around what you believe and who you worship. In the last days the battle is going to revolve around people who are willing to stand up like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego rather than violate the commandments of God because they know it’s the truth. God says, Don’t worship graven images. They stood up. They were willing to die. They stood for the truth. It was not popular. Everybody else on the Plain of Dura was bowing down to the golden image. They stood up. They stood for the truth. Daniel stood up for the truth when he knelt down before God and opened his windows. And in the last days there are going to be religious laws that will challenge us regarding what we believe. We need to know what the truth is, friends. It’s not something that flows and ebbs like a river or a tide. The truth is substantial like a rock and we need to be willing to build on that rock. Jesus said, “He that hears these words of mine and does them is building on the rock.” The rock in the Bible is something that is unchanging. God’s law, the 10 Commandments, is in a rock. The foundation for our faith is in a rock. Jesus is the rock. It doesn’t change. Truth is absolute. Do you believe that? Our job is to find out what the truth is. I believe it’s in the Bible, but we need to study. Timothy says, “We need to study to show ourselves approved.” We need to know what the truth is. We need to know how to give an answer to someone who is looking for the truth. You can’t even introduce Jesus without a knowledge of the Scriptures. Acts 17, verse 11, speaking of the Bereans when they heard a presentation by Paul. Paul said, I believe this is the truth. The Jewish leaders said, No, no, he’s wrong. Instead of closing their eyes and putting on blinders and kicking Paul out, you know what the Bible says? They decided to determine if Paul was telling the truth based on the Scriptures. “These were more noble than those of Thessalonica, in that they received the word with a readiness of mind,” (they were open minded but they didn’t just receive anything) “and they searched the scriptures daily weather those things were so.” Let me retranslate that for you. They measured what they heard to see if it was true by the Bible. They evaluated the Scriptures once a month? Weekly? They searched the Scriptures daily. I think that’s a pattern for us. We need to open God’s Word and search the Scriptures so that we can know what is truth. How sad Pilate asked that question and he goes down into history in oblivion no doubt lost. “What is truth?” And he didn’t think it mattered. Sarcastic, indifferent, cynical about what is truth. Nobody knows what the truth is. There is no absolute truth. That’s the mantra of the day. Well, I’m here today to tell you, yes, there is. There are some things that do not change. Heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s Word doesn’t pass away. It’s an absolute. It doesn’t change. “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.” And if you’d like to know him better he has given us a manual that has pure truth in it and I commend this to you. If you’d like to accept that challenge, let’s sing about it together. Turn to your closing hymn, “Give me the Bible.” What is it, 247? 272. Let’s stand together as we sing it

Verse 1 and 2.

You know, I was thinking about what I might say to you in the form of an appeal connected with this message and I’d probably sum it up this way: If you’re like me, you know that maybe your compass has been skewed by the magnets of the world. We think we know what the truth is. We think we know where North is, but our thinking is being affected by a force field out there. There are so many voices, even in the Christian world, that are saying, “What’s wrong with this?” And, “What’s wrong with that? Let‘s not get too serious.“ And we’re forgetting that truth is not something to apologize for. Truth is something that you can be very sure of. And in our efforts to be loving and acceptable and respect people’s freedoms, in trying to be tolerant of everybody else, we’re becoming indifferent to God. Are you listening to me, friends? I believe that we can respect people’s freedoms, you can respect people’s views, but you do not need to respect lies. You do not need to tolerate lies. I think you need to know what you believe and be willing to stand for what you believe. This relativistic thinking has permeated our society and maybe we’ve been infected a little bit. If you would like to say before we sing our closing verse, “Lord, by your Grace, take the scales from my eyes and help me to see Christ in his Word as the absolute truth.” Is that your desire, friends? That’s the truth that will set you free.

Verse 3

Father in heaven, Lord, I pray that we can help these truths take root in our hearts today. And I pray that they will bear a crop, a harvest of truth in our souls. Help us, Lord, not to be confused or misguided. I pray that our vision can be clear. That you will send your truth, Jesus and your Spirit into our hearts and dispel the clouds that have cluttered our thinking. Help us to see that we do not need to be ashamed. We do not need to be apologetic. That your word is truth. That you are the absolute source or truth and this is something that never changes. Please, Lord, help us to keep our compass calibrated and fixed towards Jesus, the real true north. And I ask that you’ll help us to live our lives in harmony with that guide. Bless us now. We ask this for Christ’s sake. Amen.

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