Summary: What is truth? That’s the question Pilate asked of Jesus and it’s the same question people are still asking today. Some will tell you that there are as many truths out there as there are people. But is that really true? Can we know what truth is? Why
Understanding the World Around Us: What Is Truth? - John 17:13-23
“What is truth?” - that’s the question Pilate asked some 2000 years ago, isn’t it? It’s a question that people are still asking today: What is truth? And they’re asking that question and they’re coming up with a variety of answers. How would you answer that question I wonder?
You see, for many people, truth is no longer determined by what we would call the facts. Instead truth is determined, in many cases, by an individual’s personal feelings on a particular matter. In that sense, truth, has become very subjective. We define it to be whatever we desire it to be. So what is supposedly true for one person is not necessarily true for the next. The outcome of that type of thinking is absolute chaos as everyone does what seems right in their own eyes. It results in a superficial faith that, instead of being built on solid rock, is built on shifting sands, and which can stand neither the storms of life, nor the test of time. So today we’re going to try to answer that question: What is truth?
Open your Bibles with me please to the 17th chapter of the Gospel of John. John 17 and we will read verses 13-21. These verses form a portion of a prayer that Jesus prays shortly before His crucifixion. John 17, beginning in verse 13. This is what we read: Jesus prays saying …
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:13–21, NIV84)
It’s popular today to define truth in such a way to suit our own preconceptions of what we think truth ought to be. Therefore truth has become the property of the individual, and there are as many truths, as there are people out there. It is easy to see where this has led us as a society and as a nation.
Adrian Rogers said it this way: “It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, than falsehood that comforts and then kills. It is not love and it is not friendship if we fail to declare the whole counsel of God. It is better to be hated for telling the truth than to be loved for telling a lie. It is impossible to find anyone in the Bible who was a power for God who did not have enemies and was not hated. It’s better to stand alone with the truth than to be wrong with a multitude. It is better to ultimately succeed with truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie.”
(www.sermoncentral.com, Illustrations, submitted by Brian La Croix, Quoted in The Berean Call, Dec. 1996)
Truth is of the paramount importance and as God’s people, as His witnesses in this world, we must be people who are standing on, living by, believing in, and trusting through truth as God has revealed it. But in order to do that we must understand what truth is. And the first thing we need to know is this:
Truth belongs to God. It sounds so very simple but it really is the basis for everything we know about truth. Verse 17 says, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” The word of God is truth. That’s our starting point - it has to be. If the word of God is not truth, then there is nothing that we can know with certainty about life, about death, about the meaning of life and about our value as people. Without taking God’s word as truth there is not even anything we can know with certainty about God, including whether or not God exists, because God has revealed Himself to us through His word. If we do not accept that word, or if the Bible is in fact not truth, then all we are left with is empty speculation and a futile hope based on our perceptions of fairness, and the leading of our feelings. When that happens what we end up doing is shaping God into our own image of what God ought to be like. And people do this all the time.