What is Truth?
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry
The calendar has turned to March 15 and I have recalled the phrase, “Beware the Ides of March!” Just why, I don’t know, but some 60 plus years ago this phrase was implanted in my head by a well-meaning literature teacher under the pretense that somewhere, somehow, I would benefit by knowing even this little bit of wisdom from a play written by William Shakespeare 500 years earlier. Even worse, the play concerns an event in the history of the Roman Empire; the assassination of Julius Caesar. Perhaps, there is some benefit to my knowing something about this period of ancient history (even if I can’t today lay my finger on it) but why would such a detail pop into my mind and how can I even know the story is true? After all, is it really important that some ancient soothsayer warned Caesar to be especially careful on this one day in March of 44BC?
Okay, enough of this rambling. It’s giving me a headache and probably has you ready to throw this into the trash. But it has also caused me to consider a later Roman official who raised a similar question. Pilate the procurator of Judea, while questioning Jesus about charges that He was claiming to be king of the Jews, would ask directly, “Are you a king?” Jesus responded. “You say rightly 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. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” So, Pilate’s response was a sarcastic, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38)
Perhaps Pilate’s question doesn’t seem to be so far-fetched in today’s world where the truth is so easily tossed aside to accommodate every whim of man and seen as a detriment more than an attribute. But for our purposes, let us ask that question and take it seriously. What is truth? More specifically, what is truth to the Christian?
Probably, your ready answer is, “God is truth.” And that would be correct; it is true because He says it is. But how do we know? Well, it begins with faith. I have maintained that four of the most important words in the Bible are its very first. “In the beginning God...” (Gen.1:1) This requires faith. If we cannot accept by faith these four words, we will have a very difficult time understanding and believing anything else God has to say to us. God was first and He will always be first. This is what Jesus meant in the verse from John 18 when he said, “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” Paraphrased, this says, “Everyone who by faith believes I am who I say I am, listens and is obedient to My voice.”
The second part of knowing the truth is experience. We learn who and what to trust through life’s experiences. In Luke 7, we have the story of how John the Baptist, while in prison, had heard the good reports of Jesus’ work and sent messengers to Him inquiring if he was “the Coming One, or should they seek another.” Jesus’ response was, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
This is the answer to Pilate’s question, and it is the answer for anyone who asks, “What is truth.” God is truth, He has shown us this truth by giving us the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and He has embedded this truth in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Knowledge of this truth began in us the moment we first believed, and it has grown in us, and continues to grow in us as we faithfully experience Him, now and forever.
We may ask, “What is truth?” But the answer comes in knowing Who is truth.
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