Good morning, everyone! I hope you’re ready to get a little intense because the topic for today is Truth. Truth is especially important because God identifies Himself with the Truth. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is a bold statement. Especially in our post-truth culture. Here Jesus claims that He, God, is the truth, and that He is exclusively the way to the Father.
A lot of people don’t like truth claims enough as it is, but here we have an exclusive one. That’s an extra big no-no in our culture. But as you’ll soon see, truth is always exclusive, because the truth simply is what it is whether you like it or not. My hope with this sermon is to give us all a deeper regard for truth, understand that truth is found in God, and encourage us all to stand for and spread the truth of Christ.
In these days, people like to talk about “subjective truth,” that is, truth determined by and for the individual. You can’t tell anyone what the truth is because everyone’s got their own brand. In fact, if you try to intrude on someone’s personal truth party, you get called arrogant. The irony of course being that it is incredibly arrogant to think that one may determine what the truth is for oneself. If my personal truth is true, and your personal truth is true, and we disagree, then neither of us are right because we have a contradiction. The very word “truth” implies objectivity, or the existence of facts that are unaffected by what you think.
For this and many other reasons, I’m beginning to believe that there is no such thing as subjective truth. With nothing objective to appeal to, all we have is opinions, and opinions are neither true nor false because opinions have to do with things not related to objective reality. For example, no one can have an opinion on whether or not we live on Earth, you are either right or wrong about that. You can have a view on that particular subject, but to plant your flag on one side or the other is to make a truth claim, and when you make a truth claim, reality will show whether you are right or wrong.
There’s this idea that morality is subjective. “Your morals aren’t my morals”. But if morality is subjective then there is no morality. No one is actually beholden to anything if that’s true. Shall we say that murdering someone is wrong for one person but not for another? Look, if people get to make up their own moral standards, we’re all in trouble. And if a person believes their moral standard is reflective of reality, (which we all do, that’s why we get upset about moral issues) then they actually believe their moral standard is objective. You cannot escape the necessity of objective truth for morality to exist. If morality is not grounded in a reality external to ourselves, it is all a convenient fiction.
Sometimes you may hear, “there is no truth”! That ridiculous claim can be defused with a simple question: “Is that true”? You see, It’s self-defeating. To say there is no truth is to make a truth claim. If you were right, then what you said is true, therefore truth exists. Truth is inescapable. It does not bend to your will, and it will not go away.
Some will say, “Why do you care about truth so much? Why can’t you just let people believe what they want”! Simple, because truth has consequences. If someone chooses to believe that they are healthy, despite having thousands of diseases, and goes untreated because of that, the consequence of their rejection of the truth is more suffering, and probably death. You can’t beat Ebola with positive thinking.
If I love someone, I will tell them truths they don’t want to hear so I can help them. If someone is caught in some ongoing sin, love demands that I confront them even if they don’t think it’s a big deal. As Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 13:6, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”
We live in a time where society is rapidly departing from the truth, if it hasn’t completely already, and we’re told that it’s loving to lie to people and leave them in their confusion. I hate to get controversial, but being afraid to get controversial is kind of what got us here in the first place, so I will be. The issue of gender is currently one of, if not, the biggest example of a clear departure from truth in our culture. We’re told that although someone is biologically male or female, they can mentally be whatever. But the big problem is that the definition of man or woman becomes incoherent once separated from a biological context. The only way we can define man or woman is through physical attributes. One cannot mentally be something that is defined on a purely physical basis. I cannot be a dog because the entire basis for knowing what makes something a dog is physical. There is no mental dog that I can be. Try coming up with a coherent definition for man or woman without appealing to biology whatsoever. Good luck.
It is just as Scripture says in the very first chapter of Genesis verse 27, “male and female he created them.” You see, there’s intentionality on the part of God in this distinction. We can’t blur the line as we see fit. There’s no picking and choosing. What you’re biologically born as is what you are.
As obvious as all this is, there are a lot of people that just don’t care. Not just in regard to the topic of gender but in all sorts of other areas as well. They don’t want reality to be contrary to their thoughts, so they shut out the truth. Wittingly or unwittingly, they think that if they deafen themselves, they won’t ever have to face the music. Unfortunately, I think we’re all like that to a degree. It’s part of our fallen human nature. We all want what we want, and we’ll silence any voice in the way. We become stupid on purpose. Romans 1:24-25 talks about this tendency to embrace the lies we want to believe: “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” It’s interesting how idols in the heart are directly connected to a loss of truth. We also see knowledge of God connected positively to the truth.
The way we get people who don’t want to hear the truth to soften up is to show them what they lose without truth, and ultimately, without God. I would wager that most people today are already feeling the effects of a loss of truth in their lives without even realizing it. There’s a crisis of meaning in our time. So many people feel lost and hopeless in a world that appears meaningless and with no discernible truth. Nothing ever satisfies and nothing is ever truly known. After all, what is the truth, and how are we to know it? How can my little brain possibly know the secrets of the universe and understand the true way to live? It’s not that there is no truth, just that I am ill-equipped to ascertain it. In the history of our cosmos, I am but a newborn and I can’t possibly know all there is to know in my lifetime. Where oh where can I find truth? And if I do find that truth, where will it lead me? Will I be satisfied in the core of my being or driven to more despair? Do I mean anything? Does anything mean anything? These are the cries of our hearts. Not only in these confusing times, but throughout all of human history people have grappled with these agonizing questions.
Praise be to God, that He has revealed the answer in Himself. An honest search for truth results in finding Jesus. Jesus is the Truth; thus, truth points us toward Jesus. It is only God who saves us from falsehood, meaninglessness, and the unknowing void. Jesus said, “I am THE way, and THE truth, and THE life”. This of course implies that without Him we are utterly lost, as there is no other way. We are shackled by lies since there is no other truth. And we are as good as dead, seeing as He is the Life.
If losing the capital T Truth means losing God, then the deepest longings of the human heart go unfulfilled, since they find their ultimate fulfillment in God, seeing as we were made for Him. For example, our question of whether our lives mean anything or not is answered in how God loved us. We should be thankful that he didn’t just reveal to us that He loves us in words only, but in action; when Jesus died to cover our sins. We know the truth of God’s love in a deep way because we’ve seen it exemplified in Christ. What if we didn’t know these things? What if He never showed us? Would we ever be fulfilled? Would we ever know that our lives have ultimate meaning? Praise be to God that we have His revelation because we only have what He has communicated to us. Which is a great reason why you should read your Bibles if you don’t already.
Life without God is life unmoored from life. Life untethered from truth or meaning. The writer of Ecclesiastes speaks of this emptiness in Ecclesiastes 1:2-11 which reads,
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.
What a visceral description of the sorry state of things without God. Emptiness and temporary things are all we can expect apart from Him.
Now you may be sitting there thinking, “Okay, you keep saying that knowing the truth is knowing God and we need Him, but how do we even know that God exists?” A robust case for the existence of God is beyond the scope of this sermon, but for what it’s worth I can share my testimony. I for one am well acquainted with what the writer of Ecclesiastes describes. Although I was raised in a Christian household, I had my doubts. I began to think, “what if there is no God?”, and tried to figure out how I would live my life if I found out there wasn’t. What I should have done from the start was figure out if He exists or not instead of trying this experiment concerning a plan B of sorts. I’d have saved myself a lot of trouble, but I wasn’t that smart.
The following years were torture. I became more and more aware of the futility of existence without God and more and more depressed. Although somewhere in the back of my mind I still affirmed the existence of God, I question now if I really believed it or not back then. I floated untethered through the void of my life divested of all meaning. I tried to argue against nihilism, (that being the idea that life is utterly meaningless) from a purely secular perspective and failed. All was vanity. Eventually, I came to a place where I was almost comfortable with the idea of nihilism. Perhaps I had just grown numb. I didn’t really care anymore. I even considered abandoning belief in God entirely since I had come to a place where I felt like I had been lied to all my life.
But by His mercy, I was given the strength to give this whole Christianity thing one last chance, even though part of me just wanted to be done with it. So, I devoted myself to the thing I should have done in the first place: Figuring out whether God was actually real or not.
After about 3 months of voraciously consuming content such as debates and lectures on the topic, I was totally convinced, and all the reasons I had to doubt His existence fell by the wayside. “How stupid am I?” I thought to myself, “Why didn’t I just do this in the first place!” But I suppose I’m glad now that I spent so long adrift because it’s given me a greater capacity to understand where a lot of people are at right now.
I’ve felt firsthand the existential agony of a life without meaning, where even the slightest trials become nigh insurmountable burdens. I know what it’s like to search for water in dry places. And I don’t know if I was saved before all this or after this or what happened, but I do know that when I truly saw God, it was the happiest time of my life. “I’ve gotta’ tell everyone!”, I thought. I was filled with joy inexpressible. “This is actually real? Wow!” Who would have thought that the answer to the problems presented by life without God, was God? Doi!
When Gavin Ortlund, one of my favorite Christian apologists, was in college he wrote this,
The only thing worse than the pain of life is its utter randomness. We are hurled into consciousness and struggle without any explanations or answers to accompany them. Life is like a test which we are forced to take, the answers to which are impossible for us to know. The blanks with which we fill in the questions of life are at best guesses, and usually merely unexamined prejudices. Life is like a battle which we are forced to fight, but the objective of which is unclear to us. We are hurled into the contest, but unsure of what is required of us. We sense that we must strive but are unsure to what end we strive, or by what means. The great dilemma of life is not its failure or pain, but its uncertainty and chaos.
The answer he eventually came to was that existential angst is meant to drive us to God. Our uncertainty drives us to faith. I think that’s true. Through uncertainty we are forced to trust in God and what He has revealed. To rely on Him for truth, seeing as He is the only one who knows it fully.
Many people are yearning for meaning, but they look for it in the wrong places. We can help. As the church our duty is to speak and spread the truth with love and without compromise. We point people to Christ, the truth that saves people from staying in those dry places, searching endlessly. We must help our culture turn back to God, because without God we are not in the truth, if we are not in the truth we have no direction, without direction there is meaninglessness, and in meaninglessness there is despair. But people don’t have to float through the void. Christ is the answer to their questions. John 8:32 says, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. For those who do not know the truth yet, He is waiting to receive you, and for us who know Him already, our charge is to introduce Him to others so they too may be free.
Everyone needs to know that this universe is not an empty pitiless place, but there is in fact a God who stands above it. A God who stooped down to humble Himself as a man and suffer with us and for us, so that he may be the perfect priest and payment for all of us who offended Him by our sin. You do have meaning. Everything has meaning. There is truth. There is a way. There is life and that life is in Christ alone. Don’t look elsewhere. It’s a waste of time. Trust me, I know.
If you’re still unsure, I’d invite you to consider taking Pascal’s Wager. Pascal’s Wager is the idea that one should “bet” on God so to speak. If you’re on the fence about believing in Christ, you should go ahead and bet on Him because the potential benefits are infinite, and the potential loss is also infinite. You have everything to gain, and everything to lose, and the benefits of knowing Christ are not just for the next life but for this one too.
If you’re weary of the endless confusion and darkness in the world, come to Jesus. He says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Eternal life isn’t a distant reality. It starts now when we put our faith in the risen Christ and His perfect payment for our sin. Romans 10:9-11 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes and is justified, and with the mouth, one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame”. I pray that the Truth Himself will set you free. Thanks.