What Is Truth?

What Is Truth?

Date: 10/11/2012 
What is truth? How did we get here? Why is there evil? And where am I going? Get the answers that you need ... don't miss the Ultimate Purpose with Pastor Doug!

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible Hardcover (Revised) by Amazing Facts

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible Hardcover (Revised) by Amazing Facts
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

PASTOR ROSS: Good evening, everyone. Welcome to Ultimate Purpose. We are glad you are here on the campus of Southern University and I’d like to welcome those who are watching across the country and around the world. Thank you for joining us.

This is a four-part series committed to exploring the most important questions in life: Where did I come from? Where am I going? What is truth? So thank you for joining us tonight.

Now this is going to be an interactive study of God’s word together and if you have a bible-related question, we’d like to hear from you. For each program, we’re going to be setting aside a certain amount of time to take bible questions. So if you have a bible-related question, you can send us a text and we’re going to put that number up on the screen for you. It’s 931-6-TEXT-UP. That’s 931-683-9887. So if you have a bible question, just send us that -- send it to that number and we will try to answer as many questions as possible each evening.

We also have a book that goes along with each of the presentations. The book is entitled Dare to Follow. And for those of you who are watching if you’d like to get your own book, you can go to the Amazing Facts website. That’s www.AmazingFacts.org. AmazingFacts.org. And those of you are here in the audience, be sure to stop by the table in the back and you’ll be able to receive your own book that goes along with this series.

Now our subject for this evening is ‘What is Truth?’ And we’re going to be exploring that and looking at what the bible has to say about the subject, but before we do that, we’d like to share with you some ideas of what truth might be from people out in the community. We took the camera out onto the street and we asked the simple question, ‘What is truth,’ and here’s some of the responses that we got. We’ll roll that at this time.

‘It’s something that’s deep inside of you maybe, something that you truly believe, something you grew up knowing.’

‘Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know what truth is.’

‘I think truth is being honest to yourself and to others.’

‘Something you could not deny, I guess.’

‘Truth is truth. Truth is honesty. Truth is being open and honest about whatever you say and do.’

‘Yeah, yeah, truth exists, but everyone has a different version of truth, so it’s kind of hard to describe what truth would be.’

PASTOR ROSS: Well, there you have it. What is truth? Well, let’s see what the bible has to say about this important subject. I’d like to invite our speaker for the series, Pastor Doug Batchelor, to come out and join me here on stage. Give him a warm welcome as we welcome Pastor Doug Batchelor.

PASTOR DOUG: Thank you, Pastor Ross. Good evening, friends.

PASTOR ROSS: Well, Pastor Doug, we just heard some ideas about what truth might be from the video spot that we had and we went up and we asked certain individuals what truth might be and that’s the subject that we’re going to be talking about this evening. But before we actually get to the study of the word to find out, we have some questions that have come in. So if you’re ready, we can go to our first question.

PASTOR DOUG: We’ll find out, but I’m excited.

PASTOR ROSS: All right. The first question is an obvious beginning point and it’s ‘What are these meetings all about?’

PASTOR DOUG: You know, you are living -- when I say ‘you,’ I’m speaking to those who are in the college age that are viewing or here in the auditorium, at the real crossroads of your life. The ages between 17 and 25, the most pivotal decisions in life are being made regarding everything from what your career is going to be, your boyfriend or girlfriend that may end being your spouse is often chosen during this phase in a person’s life, and even more important, where you’re going to spend eternity?

Most of the decisions that are made regarding what a person’s spiritual course is going to be, what their world view is going to be, that will define who they become is made during these very crucial years. And so I’ve just had a real burden on my heart, having kids that span from 16 to 35 and seeing how pivotal this time is, we just wanted to put together a series with Amazing Facts and 3ABN and really target as well as we humanly can with God’s help, speaking to the hearts of young people in these formative years, in these very important pivotal years.

And so it all boils down to, what is the ultimate purpose in life? Why are we here? I don’t believe that you can be happy unless you understand three very important basics: Where you came from, What you’re doing here, and Where are you going. And we’re going to be exploring those things in this brief series.

PASTOR ROSS: Well, Pastor Doug, I think we have a video question that’s come in and we’ll take a look at that now.

‘Pastor Doug, why should I read a 2,000-year-old book when the culture is very different from my own. What’s in it for me?’

Well, that question is related to the bible, is it relevant for where I am today?

PASTOR DOUG: You know, it’s amazing, people will say, well, the bible, it’s written 2,000 years ago. The bible was actually written over a period of 1,500 years from start to finish. And so it managed to stay relevant during all of that time. And you have to ask yourself, why is it still a best seller around the world today?

This is actually, I’m holding a new Amazing Facts bible. It’s our prophesy study bible. I think it’s one of the first times I’ve used this bible in a public meeting. And I’m reading through it and every time you read it, you find something new. The principles that the bible teaches are relevant because they speak to the heart of man. And while technology might change and while there’s certain cultural nuances that may change, in essence the dilemma of man has not changed. We are born with a terminal disease. And as I’ve often said, if you live long enough, you’re going to die, if Jesus doesn’t come first.

And we’ve got to know, what is the purpose of life? Jesus address that with his very simple teachings. We don’t know what Jesus looked like. I know there’s a lot of artist portrayals. We don’t know exactly what color his clothes were. Those things never really played into his life.

The teachings of Jesus, you read the Sermon on the Mount and it can’t be misunderstood. It applies the heart of man today and it really defines what the priority ought to be seeking first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness. We all still struggle with sin and temptation, what the purpose of is. And the bible answers all those questions.

PASTOR ROSS: We’ve got another question that is a text question that came in, so let’s take a look at that at this time. The question is, ‘Truth is so subjective. Isn’t sincerity more important?’

PASTOR DOUG: Now does sincerity matter with God? I believe, absolutely. God wants us to be sincere. Man looks on the outward appearance. The Lord looks on the heart. But sometimes sincerity is not going to do it. I remember one time I was driving across North America making one of many trips from California to Texas and, you know, sometimes families want to enjoy the trip. The father, the man, wants to conquer the trip.

And so I drove all night long while the family was sleeping. I thought I could get some peaceful miles behind me. I started running low on fuel, pulled off at one of those areas to fill up with gas. I filled up with gas, got back on the on-ramp, started speeding down the interstate again. And after about ten or fifteen minutes, I thought, boy, they must have a chain of these gas stations and restaurants because I know I just saw one of those further back. And as I went a little further, I said, boy, this is just like a mirror image of the places I just passed. And it occurred to me, I looked and it said of it being Interstate 40 East, it said Interstate 40 West.

Well, there was no way in the world I was going to get to Texas going that direction. Even though I drove for half an hour absolutely sincere, and I’m sure that the Lord smiled down upon me when I was doing that, but I still was never going to get to Texas. I was heading back to the Pacific Ocean. I had to turn around.

And so, yes, sincerity matters, but truth -- you want to know what the truth is. You want to head in the right direction. You want to reach your destination. And so it’s not just about sincerity.

PASTOR ROSS: You know, Pastor Doug, I’m not a pilot, but you are. And I understand that when flying, especially in cloud and in fog, you need to keep an eye on your instruments, because sometimes you can think that the nose of your plane is going up when in reality it’s going down. You can’t just trust the way you feel and that’s probably true with life. You can’t trust how you feel in every situation. You’ve got to have the book, the bible, to guide you.

PASTOR DOUG: Let me ask you, if you’re flying across the Pacific on one of these jumbo jets and the pilot came over the loudspeaker and he said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, if I could have your attention for just a moment. I’ve been talking with my copilot and he’s absolutely convinced that this machine can also function as a submarine and he’d like to give it a try. He really believes it will work.’

Now, would his sincerity matter to you? No, but he’s sincere. There are rules, there are aviation laws, and if you violate those laws, you’re going to get wet. And in life, sincerity is important, but you need to know what the truth is or it can be fatal.

PASTOR ROSS: Absolutely. Our next question is a video question and we’ll take a look at that. ‘Pastor Doug, with such a busy schedule, hectic with life, studies, how do you balance your spiritual life with your real life?’

So how do you balance spending time studying God’s word and in prayer with all of the homework assignments that have to be finished?

PASTOR DOUG: You know, I’m hoping my dear wife is watching right now, but she’ll probably think I’m the least qualified person to answer this question because I struggle all the time with trying to strike that balance between work and study and family and rest and exercise. Pastor Ross and I played a little racquetball last night. I really didn’t enjoy it; I just knew I needed it.

PASTOR ROSS: Was that the reason?

PASTOR DOUG: The second two games, yeah. But you’ve got to do what you know you need to do. You know, there’s a story I heard one time that I think applies here. A frog was hopping along whistling one day, wasn’t paying attention to where he was going, and he hopped off into a very deep hole. And he hopped and hopped and he couldn’t get out.

He was croaking for help and a turtle slowing came ambling by, craned his neck over the edge and said, ‘What’s the problem?’ The frog says, ‘I wasn’t paying attention. I was hopping along and I hopped into this hole and I can’t get out.’ The turtle said, ‘What do you want me to do?’ He said, ‘Well, if you could go get a stick and drop it off in here, I could probably climb out.’ He said, ‘I’ll see what I can find.’ The turtle took off and on his way back he sees that same frog, except he’s sunning himself on a rock. He said, ‘What are you doing here? You were in that hole and you said you couldn’t get out.’ He said, ‘Yeah, but that was until the snake crawled in the hole. I had to get out.’

The moral of the story is, people say I don’t have time for my spiritual devotions, but you get a lab report from the doctor and he tells you that you’ve got some very serious disease, all of a sudden you’ve got time. And if you realize right now that your life is very short, we are all terminal, and the most important thing is to prepare for the life that last forever. You’ve got to schedule that into every day, just like you would a time to sleep and to eat.

Jesus said, ‘A man doesn’t live by bread alone, but every word that precedes from the mouth of God.’ And I think Job says, ‘I’ve esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.’ It was Jeremiah that said, ‘I found your word and, yes, I did eat it.’ And so as important to you as your physical food is, that’s a priority that the word of God and your spiritual life and devotions need to have.

And then it helps also to have a plan. Sit down, discipline yourself and say what is a reasonable about of time to study. In getting for this series this week, I never feel like I’m ready. I don’t know if I’ve really thought I’ve arrived. Because as you soon as you trust that you’re ready, the Lord will show you that you’ve got blank ammunition. And so I always go into it saying, ‘Lord, I don’t feel like I’m ready.’ But you can get so busy studying that you don’t think clearly and you have to say all right, I’ve got to take break and get out of this hotel room, walk around, get some fresh air. And you’ve got to have balance and then just leave it to God. But schedule that time with God.

One more thought; morning is the best time. Sometimes people say, well, I’ve got to go to bed, I haven’t my had my devotions yet. And you end up ‘zzzzzzzzz.’ Yep, I’ve read a verse. You’re kind of giving God your leftovers when you do that. Give him your first fruits. Children of Israel, manna rained down, they went out first thing in the morning and they fed their souls. You’ve got to gather that manna and feed your soul. That’s so important for your spiritual life.

PASTOR ROSS: Well, that’s all the time we have for our text questions tonight or our bible questions. If you would like to send in a question, we’d love to hear from you. You can send it via text. And the number again is 931-6-text-up. That’s 931-683-9887.

We have a theme song that we’re going to be singing for each of our programs, so this time I’m going to invite you to stand. I’d like to have our song leader some out. We’re going to sing Higher Ground. Let’s stand together as we sing.

PASTOR DOUG: Before you sit down, I’d just like to pray with you. Father, in a special way now as we direct our attention to this very important principle, What is Truth? As we open the blessed book, the bible, we ask your presence to be here. Be with all those who may be watching. And Lord, speak to our hearts. We thank you and we pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen. You may be seated.

You know, I picked this theme song. I just wanted to sing one verse of Higher Ground because Ultimate Purpose, we figured it’s up. We’re calling this the Up Meetings. And really, that’s where we all want to go. The Lord will descend from heaven with a shout, the voice of the archangel, the trump of God and dead and Christ will rise. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught Up. I want to go up, don’t you? And so Jesus is coming soon and we want to live a life that brings glory to Him. And so this series is really about talking about the priorities in life.

Now, as we explore our subject tonight, which is really dealing with ‘What is Truth,’ this is I think one of the most important things that we could discuss. And so I hope you’ll be praying with and for me and also those of you who are at home, I’d like to make a very simple statement here. We know that we’re here and we know we won’t always be here. This life that you’re living right now in your body, even if you’re alive when Jesus comes, this is not going to last forever. It’s temporary. What really matters is the life that lasts for eternity. Your eternal destiny is what really matters.

Now if that’s true, because I believe it is, then the greatest treasure is truth. We have a limited period of time to discover what is the truth. And the greatest tragedy would be a wasted life. And that’s why I think this is so important and I’d just like to speak to your hearts.

Now, I don’t want to assume that everyone here knows me or knows my background or where I came from, but very quickly, let me summarize that the first 16, 17 years of my life was a real mess. I won’t go into all the detail, but born in California, grew up in New York City, Boston, Miami, part of the time in Europe, father was raised a Baptist, but during World War II, he became an atheist. My mother was Jewish, but she also was pretty much agnostic. I went to 14 different schools and you get a pretty broad perspective of different people when you go to two different Catholic schools, two different Jewish schools, multiple public schools, military school and a free school with no rules. And a school on a sailboat that goes around the Mediterranean. And that was before I went to college.

And so all of my life, being raised pretty much an atheist, I didn’t think life had any purpose. I was taught you’re born, you live a little while, you die and you basically just migrate back into fertilizer and that was your life. And so it just seemed so meaningless to me. And I thought there’s got to be more than this. And I just really began to search.

Now, a lot of people in the world will tell you that happiness comes from success, money, the power that comes with that and they think the key is if you could just have a lot of money. Most of us would not argue if someone wanted to give you a lot of money, right? You think that would be a good thing. And money in itself is not evil. The bible says it’s the love of money.

And my father had millions and millions of dollars. And when he passed away, we started a foundation that’s got over $300 million dollars in it. But all of my life, I remember my dad being very unhappy. And he drank himself to sleep every night.

On the other side, my mother, she was in show business. There’s all different kinds of show business. She was a songwriter; she used to write for Elvis Presley. I saw some of you -- I don’t know how many people in the college would remember Andy Williams, but Andy Williams died a couple of weeks ago and I looked on the internet news and I saw it and there was a picture of my mom onstage with Andy Williams. I put it on my Facebook if any of you are my friends on Facebook. And he was singing a song that she wrote and he let her dance on a routine during his show.

But she was, during that time, she was writing songs and musicals and she was an actress. But most of all, she was a film critic in Hollywood. She was the president of the LA Film Critics, Good Morning America film critic, and she knew a lot of people in Hollywood and we knew some of those people. My brother and I weren’t as involved as my mom was, but she was very unhappy. And a lot of the people that we knew in that life were very unhappy. And some who were successful and wealthy and good-looking and healthy and talented, just oozing with talent, good looks, killed themselves because they were so unhappy.

And so I thought happiness doesn’t come from money. Happiness doesn’t come from fame. What is the purpose of life? And I just began to search. I was just really hungry because I thought, well, I can kill myself. I used to think about suicide all the time. But I thought, you know, suicide, once you do it, you can only do it once. If you do right, you can only do it once. And I figured if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right.

But I thought, you know, I can postpone that and do my best to find out if there’s any purpose, because I’m sure he could get it wrong. And so I just began to search. And I just tried everything. I won’t go into all the details, but I tried the drugs and wild living and crime and ultimately I was living on a boat in the Mediterranean and just searching. I began to get into the Eastern religions. I was willing to try anything. Hallucinogenics, mushrooms, LSD, anything. I was hungry to find out where is meaning, what’s the purpose of life.

And then I decided it was in nature because nature at least seemed real to me. I was so fed up with New York City and the Hollywood scene. I moved into the mountains outside of Palm Springs into a cave to be at one with nature and I went all out. When I do something, I do all out. I didn’t wear any clothes and I tried to live off the land for a little while, but I nearly starved to death. I’ll just tell you, there’s not much meat on a rattlesnake and a squirrel. You can just take my word for it. But I would panhandle in town and I’d get my groceries.

The short version of the story is, someone had left a bible in the cave before I ever got there. It was a good camping spot by a creek up in the mountains, way back. And I started reading the bible, never intending to believe it. Somewhere along the way, I encountered the teachings of Jesus and I couldn’t shake it. I just knew that this was true. I said that can’t be true. My mother being Jewish said, ‘You know, Christians are the problem with the world and they’ve always persecuted Jews.’ And so I was very biased.

But when I read the actual things that Jesus said, I had never heard anyone talk like that before. You know, his enemies sent some guards once to arrest Him and they came back without Jesus and they said, ‘Where is He, why didn’t you arrest Him?’ And they were dumbfounded and they said to the leaders, ‘Never man spake like this man.’

Now I’d like to direct your attention to a story in the New Testament. Go to the Book of John and in the Gospel of John, Chapter 18, there’s an encounter between Jesus and Pilate. I had told you a minute ago, there’s nothing sadder than a wasted life. I remember doing an Amazing Fact about a man who was a self-imposed prisoner for 27 years. Let me see if I can pronounce his name correctly; Shoichi Yokoi. You maybe heard about him. He was a Japanese soldier on the Island of Guam that when the American Forces came and basically liberated the island and the war was over, there were about ten soldiers that first held out and they said they didn’t believe that the war was over.

Well, gradually seven of them migrated away from three of them and even though he saw leaflets, this one soldier just did not believe that the war was really over. For years, he and this three friends held out and were rebels and didn’t accept that the war was over. They thought it was propaganda. They separated because there wasn’t enough food in this one area. They were nearly starving. And then he found his two friends starved to death.

This gentleman spent 27 years basically living in a swamp in a hole in the ground being eaten alive by mosquitos, eating rats and frogs and cockroaches, miserable. Finally, a farmer found him and he was captured or surrendered and he realized the war had really been over all that time. And he had spent the best years of his life, from his 20’s. He was 57 years old when finally he realized that he had been fighting a war that didn’t exist. He went back to Japan and they treated him like a hero. And he said, ‘I have returned and I am greatly ashamed.’ And he never did really recover or fit in because he felt like he had wasted his life because he did not know the truth.

You know, that to me is a story that sort of summarizes what’s so important about this meeting. You don’t want to come to the end of your life and find out I believed a lie and so I wasted my life miserable. Can you imagine that? Twenty-seven years being eaten alive by mosquitos. To me, that was worse than eating the rats. Because you don’t know the truth.

Back to -- I gave you a verse, John 18. Jesus is being tried by Pontius Pilate and, in the exchange, the mob is calling for his crucifixion. Pilate is intrigued because he’s received a letter from his wife and she says, ‘I’ve suffered many things in a dream because of this man and don’t do anything with that just man.’ So his wife has told him that and that has shaken him up and he’s heard about Jesus and that he’s a great teacher and he’s a worker of miracles and that he’s being told that he’s a rebel and he’s causing an insurrection against Rome and Pilate’s not sure what to think.

And he can look at Jesus and see, I’ve seen many criminals and this man is not a criminal. So he does something very unusual. He wants a private interview with Christ and he takes him aside and he’s talking to Jesus. He took him into the praetorian. Actually, I’m in verse 33 of John 19. And he called Jesus, he said, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ And Jesus answered, ‘Are you speaking for yourself about this or did others tell you this concerning me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priest have delivered you to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered and said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight so that I should not be delivered to the Jews. But now my kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate then said to Him, ‘Are you a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You rightly say that I am a king. For this cause I was born and for this cause I have come into the world that I should bear witness to the truth.’

Jesus said that He came to bear witness to the truth. He came to show us what the truth is. ‘Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.’ Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth.’ In case you think I made up the sermon title for this evening, I didn’t. Pontius Pilate did. What is the truth? Nothing is more important than truth. There is no greater treasure than truth. There’s no greater tragedy than a wasted life. You know what’s sad? Pilate didn’t wait for the answer. Maybe the crowd was screaming outside. Maybe there was some cynicism in the way that he answered this.

What is truth? Can you imagine being the governor in Judea at that time with all these different religious fractions that are fighting and even when in the Roman Empire had so many different religions; they had the Greek religion and all the different Roman Gods and all the different religions of Asia. And he says, ‘What is truth?’ Everyone says they’ve got the truth. How can anyone know what the truth is?

I think right now young people, especially in the college years, are bombarded with a kaleidoscope of ideas and there’s so many new creative and bizarre ideas out there that you can become overwhelmed and it all gets fuzzy and you start to think, ‘What is truth?’ And how sad to be standing next to Jesus who is the embodiment of truth, God, the truth of God was incarnate in the person of Jesus to be standing so close.

What an interesting conversation that must have been. One of the leaders in the Roman Empire to say to God incarnate, ‘What is truth,’ and not wait for the answer, but to turn and walk away. How sad to be so close to the truth and not listen to what Jesus had to say.

Later, Pontius Pilate was banished to Gaul. Tradition tells us that he committed suicide. I read somewhere last week Marilyn Monroe was asked about what is truth and she said, ‘I believe everything a little bit.’ Tragically, she also killed herself. So we’ve got to know what is truth.

In our world today, everyone thinks they’ve got their own idea of truth and it can be fatal not to know. The bible says, ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,’ especially the knowledge about the priority of life would be the thing that we would want to ascertain.

Well, I thought it would be appropriate to put a definition up on the screen since we are here at a place of learning. Truth is, 1) the true or actual state of a matter; 2) conformity with a fact or reality or verity; 3) the state or character of being true. Now, in our world today, the big question is, is there one truth or are there multiple truths?

You know, I think we heard one of the video questions that was out a little while ago. Someone said, well, you know everyone has a different truth and you’ve got your truth and I’ve got my truth and nobody’s truth might the same. Do you want the pilot on the airplane to say that before you take off? You know, the copilot and I can’t exactly agree on aviation law today, so we’re going to wing it. We’re just going to fly by the seat of our pants. And yet some people live their lives that way.

Is there an absolute truth? A few years ago, the Barna Research Group did a study and they asked Americans this question: Is there an absolute truth? Amazingly, 66 percent of adults responded that they believe that there is no such thing as an absolute truth, that different people can define truth in different, conflicting ways and still be correct. The figure the 72 percent -- notice this -- when it comes to those between the ages of 18 and 25. Those Americans between 18 and 25, up to 72 percent -- and by the way, this is an older study. The newer study, I think that percentage has gone up -- say that there really is no absolute truth.

Let me give you an example of an absolute truth. An absolute truth would be something cannot bring itself into existence. Now is that absolutely true? Something cannot bring itself into existence. Wouldn’t something need to exist prior to bringing itself into existence. You all with me? Could we agree that it’s an absolute truth that nothing cannot bring itself into existence? You’re still with me? It’s making sense to me. So there are certain absolutes. We depend on absolute truths everyday.

But when it comes to the purpose of our lives, for us to think, well, I’m sure. You know, I’ve got this idea today; I might have a different idea tomorrow. We need to find out, what is it, and be calibrating a sharper and sharper focus with our lives that we’re zeroing in on what is the truth.

Now granted, you’ve got to search and study and it may -- I hate to use the word evolve -- but as we refine, as we study, it becomes more focused. But our lives depend on knowing what is the truth and we’ve got to make sure we’re not be deluded by the world and the culture around us.

Another study was done and reported in the magazine The Invisible Generation, 70 percent of young people believe that absolute truth does not exist and that all truth is relative and personal. And, you know, it’s considered judging if you say to the person next to you, ‘You’re wrong, your idea of truth is wrong. My idea of truth is right.’ I think you should be respectful of everybody’s opinions, but if you see a child that thinks they can jump off a building with a towel around their neck because they watch Superman, are you going to let them do it? Even if they’re sincere?

I was that kid. I watched so much Superman growing up I thought if I just believe, you know, if you mix your Superman and your Peter Pan and you just believe, you can jump out a window. I used to think if I just had more faith, I could just pin this towel around my neck and soar through the air… Now if you saw a kid getting ready to do that, would you say, well, I don’t want to insult his freedom. I need to respect his opinion. He’s sincere. Somewhere along the way, while we should be respectful of everybody, that doesn’t mean everybody’s ideas are true. There is a truth.

One of the favorite things our family likes to do is scuba diving. Karen and I, Steven, Nathan, even Daniel in the Marines, got our scuba license. And I’ll tell you, as close as you can get to heaven, this side of heaven, is if you’re scuba diving. It’s got to be warm water or it just doesn’t feel like heaven. But you’re scuba diving in the Caribbean and the coral reefs, you see all the beautiful colors and iridescent fish and they’re just flowing around in these ballets and it’s fun when you swim through a school of fish. Unless it’s piranhas. But otherwise, it’s really neat. And you see all the different colors and you just feel like you’re flying.

But if you know something about scuba diving, you know that as you go deeper and you’re breathing compressed air, there’s a very dangerous effect that can overtake you somewhere between 90 and 100 feet, nitrogen narcosis. And they call the raptures of the deep because what happens is, it’s almost like breathing nitrous oxide, laughing gas. It can give you a feeling of euphoria. They also call it the martini effect. You probably understand why. Every 50 feet that you go down beyond that 100 feet is like having a martini on an empty stomach.

And so unless you really know when you’re starting to get that feeling, you’ve got to be careful because you get folks that are under water and they start acting a little loopy. And you’re always supposed to be with a diving buddy and then you go, you got to go. It’ll cure itself if you get up a little higher. You’ve got to up. But that person down there can be just, well, everything’s fine. I think I can breathe without my regulator. I think I can walk on sea urchins. I bet I can lasso a shark. And they’ve done some of the dumbest things in the world because they’re basically drunk. And it can be fatal. They don’t know it’s happening. And that can happen in our culture today.

Some people, because of all the different messages we’re bombarded with, we have -- you know what else they call it, nitrogen narcosis; they call it being narced. Oh, that guy’s been narced. There’s a very disturbing video that I saw online in Egypt. One diver went down with their camera and they basically videotaped themselves. They didn’t mean to, but they videotaped themselves going deeper and deeper and they were under the influence. They got narced. They got caught up in the rapture of the deep and they just started to go deeper and deeper. They couldn’t figure out how to operate the regulator. They were so drunk that they didn’t know how to release their weights and basically you end up seeing this person, there’s no audio, but you see this person basically drown because they were overcome with a sense of self-confidence and they didn’t realize they were going down 300 feet. They might have been very sincere, but that won’t help you if you’re self-destructing.

Now, someone might say, well, you know, we all come from different backgrounds and so we all have different perspectives and it just depends on what your perspective is. And maybe you’ve heard the illustration used before about this king. This king wanted to find out how blind men would react when they saw an elephant; they didn’t see an elephant, but when they were exposed to an elephant. And so he got six blind men and he led them up to the elephant, but he led them to different parts of the elephant. And one of the blind men, you’ve heard this before, one of the blind men, he gets up to the elephant’s trunk and he says, ‘I understand the elephant,’ and he calls out to his friends, ‘An elephant is very much like a snake.’ And the other one, he got led up to a leg and he says, ‘Oh, you’re all wrong. It’s not at all like a snake. An elephant is a tree, very much like a tree.’ The other one gets a hold of the tusk and he says, ‘No, no, no. The elephant is like a stick. I understand the elephant, it is like a stick.’ Someone else is led to the body and says, ‘You’re all wrong. I don’t know how you could even see it that way. An elephant is a mountain.’ Another one, he’s led around by the tail. He says, ‘Oh, an elephant is like a rope.’ One gets a hold of the ear and says, ‘It’s like a great bird.’

They all had different parts of the elephant and people love to use that illustration and say, everybody comes at truth with different perspectives and it just depends on what part of the truth you got a hold of. And really, nobody knows for sure. You’re so sure because you got the trunk and you’re so sure because you got the ear. And no one can really know what the truth is. Well, you know, that elephant got upset because all these people were groping it and it trampled the blind men. But the king who could see survived. That’s the rest of the story. That elephant did not stop being an elephant just because some people had the wrong part of the elephant. There is a truth and it is crucial that we understand what the most important truth is.

Now, there are different kinds of truth. There might be a truth about how the proper way to operate your cellphone. There could be instructions in the truth about how to cook waffles. And there’s all different kinds of truths that may not be a real priority. But when it comes to why your heart is beating right now, why your lungs are breathing, why you’re alive, why your mind is spinning with thoughts right now, why? What is the purpose of your life? You need to know the answer to that. Because your eternal destiny and what you do between now and whenever the end of your life comes or Jesus’ coming, whichever comes first, it’s going to depend on what you understand truth to be.

And so I would recommend that you make that a priority to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness. I’ve got my truth and you’ve got your truth. Does it matter?

Not too long ago, we were all just horrified by the news images that came through of somebody that spent way too much time watching videos and they died their hair red and they went into a movie theatre with automatic weapons and just began to blaze away at people who had come to watch the Dark Knight. Now who knows what in the world, I don’t know if anyone knows yet, what in the world was going through that guy’s head. But he was living in an altered reality. Would we all agree with that? Does it matter if he says, ‘But I was sincere?’ That was absolutely wrong. There are some things that are right and there are some things that are wrong. Where do we go to find out what the truth is? Are we forever to be just kind of guessing?

I’ll submit to you, and you knew where I was going with this, the bible is true. God’s word is the truth. That what it says about itself. John 17:17, Jesus said, ‘Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth.’ You know, it used to be when you went into a courthouse and you were going to testify somehow that you’d say, do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Well, you’d think you’d need to know what that was and the judge needs to discriminate. Your pilot is getting ready to judge Jesus and he says, ‘I don’t know what truth is.’ Would you want a judge who says, ‘I don’t know what truth is; who knows what the truth is,’ and he’s getting ready to decide whether you’re going to live or die?

If God’s going to determine your eternity, do you want Him to know what the truth is? Do you need to know what the truth is? Jesus said, ‘I have communicate to humanity through a book, through a sacred supernatural message. My words have been preserved.’ And His word, the scriptures, are the truth of God.

Now, I take it as its whole and I’ve been reading the bible for years. And I understand there are some difficult passages and I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I’d like to suggest to you that you’re better off believing too much of the bible than not enough of it. You’re better off believing that it’s all true than thinking, well, you know, I might take a little bit out here and edit a bit here. If you take the whole thing as the word of God, you’re life will be a lot happier. Jesus said, ‘Thy word is truth.’

And so maybe I need to illustrate this somehow. Maybe I can get a couple of volunteers. I’d like to get one young man that’s going to -- yeah, let’s do that. One of you young men over here be willing to come up? You’re willing to come up? All right. I’d like a young lady. Let’s go to my left here. You want to come up, come up, please. Come on up on the stage here. You can go around the back if you want to walk up the stairs. It looks a little more graceful. I’m going to get Pastor Ross, if he’ll come out. What is your name?

ANDREW: Andrew.

PASTOR DOUG: You can tell me, here, talk into my tie.

ANDREW: Andrew.

PASTOR DOUG: Andrew, okay. He’s got a microphone here. And you’re?

ADELE: Adele.

PASTOR DOUG: Adele, okay. I tell you what. I’m going to ask you, how’s your sense of direction?

ANDREW: It is terrible. I need a GPS to get --

PASTOR DOUG: You are perfect for this illustration. Thank you very much. How’s your --

ANDREW: My sense of direction, I need a GPS to get to my classes. It’s terrible.

PASTOR DOUG: Great. Take a stab at it; can you point north for me?

ANDREW: North.

PASTOR DOUG: Well, you know what, you might be pretty close. You had about 360 options to get it right. All right, let’s find out here. Do you know what this is?

ANDREW: That is a compass.

PASTOR DOUG: Okay, assuming there’s no magnetic interference, you were only about 10 or 15 degrees off. That’s not bad. But of course, with a railroad track, do you know if you’re a quarter of an inch off, in about a mile you’re 20 feet off and the train is going to derail. So you want to be a little closer than that. All right. Let me see if we can help. Could you hold this? Pastor Ross, maybe you could hold that for me.

I want you to help me, Adele. We’re going to dress up Andrew a little bit, okay, for this illustration. So let’s put some blindfolds on him. We wanted to make sure that we were going to make a fashion statement with this. Okay. Now just in case he can see, do you want to put that on him? Get it so you don’t take the -- yeah, all the way down. Cover his eyes. Even lower than that. Just so he can breathe through it. He’ll be all right. It’s just a short period of time. Why don’t you come over here for a second. Now I’d like you to -- all of you need to be -- okay, spin him around a little bit. Thank you. Keep going. And keep spinning. You haven’t even started yet. Okay, Andrew, that’s good.

Can you point north? [Laughter] Hey, you know, you’re better than you thought. All right. Let me get another volunteer. I’m going to take you driving with me. How do you know if you’re right? You can take that off now.

ANDREW: It looks good, though.

PASTOR DOUG: I’ll tell you what; we’re going to let you keep that as a gift.

ANDREW: Thank you.

PASTOR DOUG: You were pretty close. I’m really impressed.

ANDREW: Wow.

PASTOR DOUG: But do you measure based on being spinned around pointing or do you feel better when you can look at something dependable?

ANDREW: Much better when I have a compass.

PASTOR DOUG: Tell you what; we’re going to give you a little gift. You get to keep the compass. He doesn’t needed it.

ADELE: Thank you.

PASTOR DOUG: You get to keep the eye pad and we’re both going to give you -- hang on, let’s give them a hand. We’ll both give you the new book Dare to Follow. Thank you very much.

That was a simple illustration, didn’t work very well. But the idea being -- you get the point. We can be spun in every direction. How do we know? I like what he said about the GPS. When I travel, I take a GPS with me. Even a GPS can mislead you. I was driving across the mountains this last year, taking a road I had not taken before, in very remote mountains in Northern California. It’s an area called the Emerald Triangle. Do you know why it’s called the Emerald Triangle? I’ll tell you in a minute. My GPS is taking me down these log trails, 60 miles to the next gas station, and all of a sudden the GPS says turn left. And if I had gone the way the GPS was telling me, I would have gone off a cliff. And on my way down I would it would have said recalculating.

And I got so lost back there, I got into marijuana country. Before the day was over, I was being chased by somebody and I was going as fast as I could to outrun them. This big truck with the headlights across the rack and a gun rack in it started to chase me and I’m in my pickup truck and I’m running -- this has nothing to do with the sermon -- and I’m running and driving as fast as I can up these roads and the sun has gone down now and there’s water lines all across the road. This is marijuana country. And then they turned on their police siren. I was trying to outrun a policeman. Anyway, I was really lost. GPS misguided me, so I spent the night in jail and everything work out. No, not really. He let me go.

So if we want to know what the truth is, the bible is the truth. It’s like, you know, you punch in when you first turn on your -- I fly. My GPS in the plane is a lot more dependable. A lot more expensive, too. When you first turn it on, it tells you how many satellites you’re getting. Because if you’ve got one satellite, you can’t fix your position. You get two satellites, you can’t really fix your position. You get three satellites and you can triangulate and get your position on the map, but I don’t know my elevation. You need to get six or seven satellites before you can really get -- and the more satellites you register, the more accurate you can pinpoint your position.

And so reading the bible, comparing scripture with scripture -- oh, and then that’s the next thing someone’s going to say. Pastor Doug, you say the bible is true. Who’s version of the bible? Before I joined my church, I studied with Christians from all different backgrounds and I was so frustrated because everybody had a different idea and I just to pray and say, ‘Lord, I want to know what the truth is.’ I believe Jesus is true, I believe the bible is true, but now there’s all this disagreement among Christians. So should I shrug my shoulders like Pilate and say what is truth or do you need to search?

So how do you find when you’re reading the bible what is the truth? Well, there’s a few things in particular you do. One, you compare scripture with scripture. Let the bible interpret itself. Pray for the spirit as you read the bible. God’s spirit will lead you into truth and then consider Christian counsel. There’s a number of other things you can do, but you can actually pinpoint with some precision what the truth is.

Now, if you’re trying to pick something that’s popular, it may not be the truth because the bible says, ‘Straight is the gate and narrow the way that leads the life and few there be that find it.’ Why are there few that find the truth? Because truth can hurt. Truth is the most valuable thing and it’s a treasure. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be the most popular thing. You’ve got to search for it with all your heart.

Jesus said, it’s actually Jeremiah 29:13, ‘You will search for me and you will find me when you search for me…’ Do you know the rest of that? ‘…with all of your heart. You know the Lord promises, seek and you’ll find. What would be more precious than finding the truth? But it’s something that needs to be sought after. So you search and you search with all your heart for the truth.

For one thing, God’s spirit is truth. John 16:13, ‘However when He, the spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.’ So as you’re reading the word and you’re comparing scripture with scripture, you pray for God’s spirit. You know, when I open the bible and I begin to study, I always pray. The first thing in the morning before I open the word, I pray and say, ‘Lord, guide me into the truth.’ You know, our lives depend on that.

Another verse, John 4:24, ‘God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.’ Well, let me tell you why I think this is so important. Is the day coming when everybody in the world, according to the bible, is going to either receive the mark of the beast or have the seal of God. And that’s going to be boiling down to whether you worship the beast and his image or you worship God.

Jesus said, ‘The hour is coming when those who kill you will think they’re serving God.’ There is going to be a major deception in the last days that Jesus said will be so powerful that even the very elect could be deceived. And so how important is it for us to really know what the truth is because in order for us to worship God the right way, it says, ‘Those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.’ There is a truth. You can’t worship God the way that God is to be worshipped unless having some idea of what the truth is. That’s why the Lord condemns idolatry. Because when people around the world, bless their hearts, they kneel down in front of these four-footed critters and call it God. They might be sincere and the Lord looks on their hearts, but that doesn’t mean that God is a cow. Do you know what I’m saying? It doesn’t mean that God is a bug or the wind or the trees or any of the many things that people may worship. Not meaning to be disrespectful to what people believe, God says that’s idolatry. He said it’s wrong. He says it’s a sin.

And so if God feels that strongly about our worshipping Him in spirit and in truth, we’ve got to know who it is we’re worshipping. So we’re studying, trying to find God.

Two most important things in life, while we’re talking about the Ultimate Purpose. Jesus said, ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God knowing God and His love, sharing God and His love.’ The cross goes two directions. It’s this love relationship and it’s this love relationship. Loving the Lord with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength; loving your neighbor. That’s the priority of life. That really is the Ultimate Purpose. But then knowing who is that God that we’re to love and how can I love my neighbor the way I should before you God and you have his spirit. You know, you’re all facing some very important decisions in your lives and it’s so important to know what the truth is.

In 1 John 5:6, the apostle says, ‘This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ. Not by water alone, but by water and blood and it is the spirit that bears witness because the spirit is truth.’

And again, 2 Peter 1:20, ‘Knowing this first, that no prophesy of scripture is of any private interpretation. The prophesy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.’ The Holy Spirit moved the people that wrote the bible in a special way so that it presents truth to us.

Does God care if you believe the truth? As long as you’re sincere, is that all that matters to Him? Sincerity is important. But you know, in the last days, there are going to be people who really, really believe that they believe the truth and they’re deceived because they reject God’s spirit and His holiness.

One more verse for you. Well, I’ve got a few more verses. 2 Thessalonians 2:10, ‘And with unrighteous deception among those who perish…’ Why do they perish? ‘… because they did not receive the love of the truth that the might be saved.’ I’m not done there, but do you love the truth? How are you going to be saved? You’ve got to receive a love of the truth. That is the most important thing you could seek after.

You know, we’re -- I appreciate the internet. It’s sort of a tree of good and evil, but you know what I mean. It’s just mindboggling to me. We can go to our cabin way back up in the hills and now we have phone reception there and I’ve got a smart phone like many of you. And I remember when I lived in a cave and I had no radio and no television and no telephone and no communication. I saw no people. It was really wild, isolated living.

And now we go to the cabin way back up in the woods and I can search the internet. You go to Google or Yahoo and you can search this exponentially exploding database of information that is just constantly growing for just about every little nuance you could possibly want to know or not want to know and there’s something written about it. And I often wonder how many people are searching for truth. So much knowledge there.

But you know, you can have knowledge and not have wisdom. And everybody is -- you know, in the last days it says ‘Knowledge will increase,’ Daniel 12. Boy, we’re living in that time. People will run to and fro going back and forth between Google and Yahoo, knowledge increases. But that doesn’t mean that wisdom increases.

So what is everyone searching for? As soon as you turn on your computer and you go to the bottom of the screen and it says search any website, search. You can not only search for a website, then you go to the website and you search the website. Everybody’s searching. But I wonder, how many are searching for truth? What is the purpose of life? What could possibly be more important?

Jesus said, ‘Those that love the truth will not perish. If those that do not love the truth, they will perish.’ And then he goes on to say, ‘They did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved for this reason. Because they don’t receive a love of the truth, God will send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie, that they all might be condemned who did not believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.’

Now the truth is expensive. Would you like the Lord to show you the truth? Would you? Would you like to really know the truth? Are you sure? Have you had someone ask you that question; would you like to know the truth, and you think, I’m not sure, what are you going to say? Because the truth can hurt. When God says, ‘Do you want to know the truth,’ He’s going to say, ‘Do you really want to know the truth.’ Do you know why? Because when you know the truth, then you’re accountable, you’re more accountable to follow the truth. Pilate said what is truth, but did he really want to know? He said, ‘What is truth,’ and then he walked away from Jesus.

If Jesus were to ask you tonight, ‘Do you want to know the truth,’ do you want to know? What if God were to say, ‘I love you and I want to save you from your sin. You come to me just like you are. I’ll forgive your sin, I’ll give you a new heart and I want you to live a new life. I want you to make some changes.’ Oh, wait a second, Lord. I want to know the truth, I’m curious, but I’ll ponder these things. That’s interesting, but as soon as the Lord says the truth is going to ask for your heart and your life, do you really want to know the truth? Lord, I’ve got plans and when you show me the truth, it may get in the way of my plans.

And you know what the bible says; we just read that, ‘If we do not receive a love of the truth, God will send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie.’ A lot of people out there have a curiosity about the truth and when God shows them an element of the truth, they don’t want to walk in it. When God shows you some truth, He wants you to walk in that truth and He will give you more. It’s like a life that grows brighter and brighter until that day dawns in your heart.

If you walk in the light as he is in the light, the light gets brighter. But if God shows you light and he shines the light into your heart and you say, ‘You know, that’s interesting, Lord. Thank you very much for sharing,’ but it conflicts maybe with something in your life and you turn away, that can be very dangerous.

Now, don’t misunderstand. God is loving, God is patient, but you don’t want to gamble with eternity, do you? So if God reveals some duty to you, if God reveals some truth to you, it’s not just to entertain you. He gives you the truth so that you can walk in that truth. And then he’ll give you more.

You know, I pondered these things years ago when I was young. I had tried so many things finding the truth and when I began to discover the truth in the bible, I said, ‘Oh, Lord, you don’t mean that. You want me to do this and you want me to do that and you want me to stop doing this and that?’ And then I realized what the consequences would be of turning away from the truth and I made a decision I’d like to recommend to you, I think it really did help change my life.

Listen, please. If you’re going to lie to the whole world, don’t lie to yourself. When God convicted me of something that needed changing, when I came to Jesus, he said, ‘All right, Doug, I’ll accept you just like you are, but we’ve got to do some redecorating.’ I said, ‘I’ve got plans, Lord.’ He said, ‘Look, it’s all of me or none of me.’ It’s like Jesus went around the circle washing the disciples’ feet and he said to Peter, ‘I’ve got to wash your feet’ and Peter said, ‘No, you’re not going to do that, not you and not my feet.’ Jesus said, ‘If I don’t wash your feet, I have no part in you and you have no part in me.’ And he said, ‘Not only my feet, but my hands and my head.’

I made up my mind. I said, ‘Lord, even if it hurts, if I’m doing something wrong, if I’m not following you, then, Lord, I’m just going to confess, Lord, I’m struggling with this right now, but I know it’s true.’ Do you hear what I’m saying? Don’t ever lie to yourself.

If you discover something in God’s word, be careful about going down that road where you numb your own soul. You might find yourself with the martini effect. You might find yourself narced. You might find that you’re enveloped with the raptures of the deep and you think everything is okie dokie and it’s inky stinky to quote Lucille Ball.

And you don’t want to deceive yourself because if you don’t receive a love of the truth that you might be saved, then when -- When you take truth away, what is left? It’s not God that says, ‘I’m going to send delusion to deceive you,’ it’s when you take away truth, the only thing that comes in is darkness. That’s why we need to receive a love of the truth.

You know another reason truth is so important? Truth liberates. Truth will set you free. Of course, that’s John 8:32, ‘You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.’ You can never be free until you really know what the truth is.

Psalm 91:4, ‘He’ll cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will trust. His truth will be your shield and your buckler. A half truth is a dangerous thing, especially if you get a hold of the wrong half of the truth.

I remember reading a story one time about a little boy named Billy. A friend at school gave him a slingshot. He wasn’t so sure mom and dad would approve because he lived on a farm, but he really wanted to try it. So he took out his slingshot and he went out to the creek and he shot at some leaves and he couldn’t even hit the tree. And when he shot the slingshot at the barn door and barely hit the side of the barn, and he just thought it was so inaccurate that he was just shooting everything and stones were turning right and left and he didn’t know how to pick a nice round stone.

And he was walking back to the house and he saw the family ducks waddling across the lawn and you know every boy; there’s just something sinister. Innocent little birds. You know, you give them a BB-gun and say don’t shoot anything. And so he hauls back and he fires at the ducks. Bink, one of those ducks got hit square in the head, fell over and didn’t even get to quack. And he thought, ‘Oh, no.’ And he turns to come back in the house and he looked and there his sister Sally was staring out the kitchen window. And he came in the house and he was white as a sheet and he said, ‘You won’t tell about the duck.’ Oh, I forgot to tell you, he went and dug a hole real quick and he buried that duck and hoped they wouldn’t notice there were only nine ducks instead of ten. His sister saw the whole thing. He came back and he said, ‘Sally, don’t say anything about the duck.’ She said, ‘Well, we’ll see if we can have an understanding.’

And so that night after dinner, mom said, ‘Sally, I think it’s your turn to wash the dishes,’ and Sally said, ‘No, Billy and I have an understanding.’ And she looked at Billy and said, ‘Remember the duck?’ And so he’s washing the dishes. And then the next morning she says, ‘It’s your time, you’ve got to go out and milk the goats. Billy, goats.’

And a couple days went by and she just made him a slave. And finally he went and he told mom and dad. He said, ‘I was just firing the slingshot. I didn’t know I’d hit the duck and it fell and it died and I buried it. I’m so sorry,’ and mom nodded and smiled and she said, ‘Yeah, Sally wasn’t the only one that saw that. We saw that, too. We just wondered how long you were going to let her make you her slave.’ And once he finally dealt with the truth, he was free.

We’ve all got these things we think are hidden from everybody and we need to lay out the truth before the Lord. The truth will set you free. Well, I told you God’s spirit is true, truth liberates, truth purifies.

1 Peter 1:22, ‘Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the spirit and sincere love of the brethren…’ Purified your souls. It’s not just knowing truth. The devil knows the truth, doesn’t he? It’s obeying the truth.

John 17:9, ‘And for their sakes, I sanctify myself that they might be sanctified or purified by the truth.’ These are the words of Jesus. ‘The truth will purify you.’ The bible tells us, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.’ Don’t you want to see him in peace someday? It’s the truth that purifies you. It’s what calibrates the compass of your soul.

Again, 1 John 3:3, ‘Everyone who has this hope in him, purifies himself even as he is pure.’ You shine the light on a swamp and it sterilizes. It’s like you can find all kinds of disease breeding in the swamp, but in the desert, things are purified.

And then finally, last, but certainly not least, Jesus is the truth. John 1:14, ‘The word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory as the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.’

Jesus said, John 14:6, ‘I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life.’ The Ultimate Purpose in life is in Christ. There’s nothing more important than Him. If you want life, then you must accept truth. And the embodiment of the truth of God is Jesus.

Now, Jesus, we may see His body here on the planet, but the closest thing we’re going to get to Him being here is His word. We don’t know what he looked like, but we know what he said. And what he said is change the world. His word is truth. The word became flesh and dwelt among us.

You have a chance to know the truth in his word. Christ is the word. He said, ‘I am the way, I am the truth, and I am the life.’ If you want life, we’re going to be talking this weekend about plans for your life. I don’t know what God’s plans are for you specifically, but there are ways you can discover His plan for your life. You might have questions about where you came from and what you’re doing here and where you’re going, but it all begins with where do you get the answers to those questions. Jesus is the truth. He is the way. He is the life. And the truth will set you free.

I heard years ago about a town that was struggling with bankruptcy. Now, I don’t know what you’re hearing in the news here in Tennessee, but in California, our state is almost all bankrupt. We’ve got whole cities that are declaring bankruptcy and it’s gotten pretty serious.

Years ago, in the Northeast, there was a resort town that was struggling with bankruptcy. And leaders of the community had an emergency meeting and they all gathered in this public building to see if they could come up with some ideas. And there were about 20 of them in the room, these leaders that wanted to find out how they could resolve this financial crisis they were facing.

And while they were in there in the meeting, the door was open, it was a summer afternoon, an old man kind of wandered in and sat down and he looked like a stranger to everybody there and they thought that maybe he thought it was a church service and he didn’t know where he was, but they didn’t want to evict him and so they just let him set there. And they were offering this suggestion and that suggestion and they were just desperate to find answers how to save this community financially.

And the old man raised his hand and said, ‘I’d like to make a suggestion.’ And they just shut him down. They thought, ‘We don’t know who you are. You’re not part of this community, what do you know.’ And once or twice he said, ‘You know, I --‘ and they just interrupted him and they wouldn’t recognize him during the meeting. And finally he kind of got up and he straightened him and he walked out the door.

A few minutes later, someone came running in to the meeting and they said, ‘What did he say?’ ‘What did who say?’ ‘The man who just left, what did he say?’ ‘He didn’t say anything. Who was he?’ ‘You don’t know who that was? That was John D. Rockefeller. His yacht is in the harbor. He heard you were struggling. He wanted to help the community. He came to offer help.’ There they were looking for financial solutions, the richest man in the world came in to offer them help and they didn’t know who he was.

You wonder how often that happens in this life or people are wondering where to turn. Maybe you’re facing some of those issues and some of those decisions. What my major should be. What should I do with my life? Who am I supposed to spend my life with? Should I take some kind of career or are you calling me to the mission field? Lord, what is your plan for me? And here we’re struggling to find answers to what God’s will is for us and what the Ultimate Purpose of life might be and Jesus is a prayer away. He is the truth. You can turn to Him. In His word, there are answers for everyone of us. We might say, well, this person’s got that opinion and this person’s got that opinion and I feel this and I’m sincere.

Proverbs 14:12 says, ‘There’s a way that seems right for a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.’ This is a life or death question we’re talking about. Knowing what the truth is can make all the difference in the world for your life. Making that the supreme pursuit.

And I’d like to invite you tonight to consider the one who has come to the room. Jesus is here. He said when we gather in His name that He is present. And He has a plan for your life. He has a good plan. He has a big plan. He says, ‘I know the thoughts that I have for you, thoughts of peace and hope to give you a future.

God cares about you, but He won’t force Himself on you. He wants you to pursue Him. He wants you to seek Him. And He wants you to do it with all your heart.

What would be more important than the truth? Can you think of anything? Tonight, would you like to say as we close, Lord, by your grace and with your help, I want to treasure the truth. I want to know the truth. And if you’re willing to come to Jesus and say, Lord, I believe you’re the truth, what is your plan for my life, and ask Him, let’s stand and close with prayer. Do that right now.

Loving Father, we’re so thankful that you loved us so much that you sent your own son into this world, that you came to demonstrate what the truth is through His life, that He not only showed us who you are, He showed us how to love each other and then ultimately died for our sins. Lord, I pray that each person here can accept that sacrifice and that love. We thank you, we praise you and we ask this in Christ’s name. Amen.

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