Summary: 34th in a series from Ephesians. Jesus is the truth who transforms our lives.
Marilyn Monroe was once reportedly asked if she adhered to a faith. Her answer:
“I believe in everything – a little”
So I guess that we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that in the last Barna Group survey that asked people about absolute truth, only 22% of the participants agreed that “there are moral truths that are absolute, meaning that those moral truths or principles do not change according to the circumstances".
But if you think about it, those who claim that there is no such thing as absolute truth make scores of decisions every day on the basis that they believe some things are true and some are false. We all do. I will not turn on a light without believing in the reality of electricity, or drive a car without believing in the effectiveness of the combustion engine. No one flying in a cloud through mountainous terrain would want to be directed by a navigator who did not believe in the truth of his instruments. No one undergoing brain surgery would want to be operated on by a surgeon who did not believe that some things about the brain were true and some not true.
But for some reason, when it comes to religion, most people a lot more like the people that Steve Turner described in his satirical poem titled “Creed”;
We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.
But if you’ve been with us for any time at all in our journey through Ephesians, you might suspect that Paul would have something to say about absolute truth. And, of course, that is an absolute truth. Before we read our passage for today, I want to make sure that we put this passage in its proper context. So take your bibles out and turn to Ephesians 4 and let’s start reading in verse 11.
Read Ephesians 4:11-21
As you read through that passage, don’t you feel like you’re watching a tennis match? Paul keeps going back and forth as he describes the stark contrast between the life with Jesus Christ and the life without Him:
• Jesus gives gifted people to the church to help them mature and become more like Jesus (vv. 11-13)
• He does this so that His followers won’t be instable and easily deceived (v. 14)
• We grow up into the head as each part does its work (vv. 15-16)
• You can’t live like the unbelievers because that lifestyle is futile (vv. 17-19)
Now in verses 20 and 21, Paul is going to wrap up this discussion by clearly pointing out to his readers exactly what, or, perhaps more accurately, who, determines which of those two paths that we end up on. Let’s read that passage out loud together:
You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.
Ephesians 4:20, 21 (NIV)
Before we begin to look at this passage this morning, I want to give you a heads up. You all know how much I like my sermons to be rather logical. When I’m really on my game I can even come up with nearly the perfect sermon – either three or five points (for some reason most sermons don’t have 4 points) and if I’m really good, I’ll come up with some alliteration or an acrostic to make the points easier to remember – at least for me. But this passage didn’t seem to fit that pattern. So I’m not going to give you five principles on how to find the truth. Instead, I’m just going to make a few observations about the passage and suggest a few ways that we might be able to apply it to our lives.
Let’s begin by focusing for just a moment on that last phrase – “the truth that is in Jesus.” Hopefully, you still have your Bibles open to the book of Ephesians. I’m going to ask all of you to do some work this morning. I want you to scan through the Book of Ephesians and see if you can tell me how Paul uses the name of Jesus differently in the last part of verse 21 than he does anywhere else in the rest of the letter. [Allow time for people to look].
Paul does something very interesting here. This is the only place in his letter where he uses the name “Jesus” without connecting with “Lord” and/or “Christ”. Every other time Paul refers to Jesus, he calls Him “Christ”, “Lord”, or some combination of those titles along with the name “Jesus.” But here, he simply uses the name that God gave his Son at the incarnation. I think that’s very significant. And here’s the point Paul is making: