Truth on Trial
I’m a big sports fan! I’ve been around sports most all my life. Since I was a kid, I’ve followed my favorite teams and watched too many games to count. Additionally, competing in and coaching competitive tennis for a quarter-century earlier in my life only deepened my interest in athletics. You might call me a sports fanatic.
A fascinating aspect of a major sporting event is the post-game interviews. Often a losing coach or player gets a microphone stuck in his face and has to give an answer for the undesirable outcome. The cold, stark, and undeniable reality is there for all to see. The scoreboard doesn’t lie. It’s objective, real, and unchanging.
On occasion, these begrudging words are uttered from a player or coach of a losing team:
“It is what it is.”
This idiomatic phrase, commonly used in our American culture, often points to the immutable nature of an object or circumstance. In the context of a post-game interview, the final score certainly applies, “It is what it is.”
But what of it?
The truth of a final score may be self-evident, objective, unchanging, undeniable, and generally excepted (there are always a few sports fans who can’t believe their team actually lost!). But what of truth in general? And more specifically, Jesus claims to be The Truth? Are they generally accepted? Not so fast!
In our present-day 21st century post-modern world, the general belief in absolute truth is waning. In fact, Jesus’ claims to be The Truth are increasingly scoffed at. As followers of Jesus, we might be tempted to get discouraged by this trend away from the truth, as it can, in some ways, make evangelism more challenging. Hopefully, we don’t throw in the proverbial evangelistic towel, stop engaging the evangelistic process, and mutter under our breath or in our heart, “It is what it is.”
Rather, it would serve us well to remember that the Great Commission is transcendent and our mandate to be witnesses for Jesus remains, however, our cultural context may change.
Today, truth is on trial, and in the court of public opinion, it is being increasingly condemned. But take heart! The truth keeps marching on, God continues to execute His Kingdom-building program, Jesus is building His Church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it!
Truth is on trial today. Two thousand years ago, the Truth was on trial in the person of Jesus. Jesus, who proclaimed to be “the Truth” in John 14:6, was now on the stand. And when He answered questions, He was direct, pulling no punches.
Pilate, therefore, said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “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” (John 18:37).
The King of Kings came into the world to bear witness to the truth. And by God’s grace, we as His followers hear His voice, the voice of truth, and believe.
Pilate’s responds to Jesus testimony with these striking and profound words in John 18:38:
“What is truth?”
Among Bible commentators, Pilate’s question to some reflects cynicism and contempt, to others sincere searching. Whatever Pilate’s motive in uttering those words, their profundity resonates today, being central to our witness and to those we’re striving to reach for Christ.
What is truth, where does it come from and why does it matter?
These are questions we need to be prepared to answer today in our witness. For our present cultural context for proclaiming the gospel is dominated by post-modernism, a paradigm of thinking which rejects absolute truth. For a simple introduction I previously posted on post-modernism, click here.
As a starting point:
What is truth? That which corresponds with reality.
Where does it come from? God, the source of all truth.
Why does it matter? Because Jesus, said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). Ultimately, an individual’s reception or rejection of gospel truth will determine their eternal destiny!
As witnesses for Jesus, we need to articulate the truth and defend the truth among those in our sphere of influence.
Whether religious, spiritual, atheistic, agnostic, humanistic, or post-modern, all people have some kind of belief system. And as we seek to proclaim and defend the truth, it’s ok to ask people what they believe, why they believe it, and how they came to that conclusion. Another powerful question is: “How do you know what you believe is true?” As an appropriate follow-up, ask what ultimate consequence or destiny their belief brings. This line of questioning can be a healthy exercise and sometimes can very much help somebody see problems with their worldview.
Years ago I was having a conversation with a friend about absolute truth. He made a classic postmodern statement that gave me an opening. He said, “I don’t believe in absolutes. I’m a relativist.” I kindly responded, “Is that an absolute statement?” Silence.
That wasn’t a “gotcha” moment. I simply wanted my friend to see a contradiction and error in his worldview. Yes, the truth exposes error and it is the truth that sets people free. And sometimes the Holy Spirit uses doubt to draw people to Himself.
For a more in-depth study of truth, I point you to an excellent article entitled “What is truth?”.
In an age where truth is on trial and the verdict among many is skepticism, cynicism, and outright rejection, take heart!
The Holy Spirit is convicting people with truth (John 16:8) and bringing them into a saving knowledge of Jesus (John 16:13-14 AND Ephesians 1:13-14).
The Word of God shall not return void, but accomplish all that He pleases (Isaiah 55:10-11 AND 2 Timothy 3:16).
And Jesus is building His Church and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
As His witnesses, we are called to live out the truth (1 Peter 1:22-23), speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and demonstrate God’s love in truth (1 John 3:18) among those who’ve yet to embrace the truth of Christ.
Though truth is on trial, the truth keeps marching on, setting men and women free – free from the power of sin and death and into a saving knowledge of Jesus! Amen!
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).