So, we began a new series a few weeks ago which I am entitling “What is truth?” because in a world where it is so hard to tell what the truth is, we need to know that we as Christians don’t have to be at a loss like the lost are. No, church, there are things God has given us that clearly reveal truth to us and will show us exactly what to do, what to believe, etc. when it comes to any of these things that we are dealing with in the world. So, we ought not to be looking for truth in the things of this world; we ought to be looking for truth in Him and in the tools He has given us to know the truth. Amen?
We learned in part one of this series that one of the main reasons that being led by the spirit of truth is so important for this hour we are living in is because the spirit of error—that spirit of antichrist that has been in the world since time began—is working hard to sweep people off into deception. Yes, there seems to be an even stronger current—more troubled waters—that is carrying the world on to its demise.
And that’s what we described living in this world to be like—a river that’s current is moving everything in it downstream towards destruction. But we learned that it should not be so for the Christian because when we heard the word of truth—the gospel of our salvation— we were “converted” (i.e., turned) and the truth was put in our hands to turn our boat around and head upstream.
Last time, we began answering the question of this series—What is truth?—and I began by giving you a specific definition that the Holy Spirit gave me when I asked Him this same question that Pilate asked Jesus.
I explained that several years ago, after asking the Lord many times to define truth for me, I finally got my answer. On my back porch in Colorado Springs, CO., during a time of prayer, the Lord spoke to my heart the following statement: He said, “Truth is—that which is not hidden, which makes God known.”
So, as we considered this definition, we saw that the Lord described truth as something which is not hidden. In fact, when He gave me this definition, I didn’t know it, but when you look up the root word for “truth” in the New Testament—the word aletha—you’ll find that it describes something not hidden and unconcealed. So, the definition he gave me certainly lined up with the literal definition of the words used in the Bible for truth.
But what this means is that at its core, truth is the exact opposite of hiding and concealing things. In other words, truth is the exact opposite of a lie—which is a concealing of truth.
So, we looked at what a lie actually is and how the truth and a lie are as opposite to one another as God and the devil are. We saw how all deception and intent to deceive comes from the father of lies, satan, and how all truth comes from the one true and living God. We learned that as children of the truth, we are to always speak the truth in love with one another. And that doesn’t mean that we are brutally honest, but that we get to the heart of the matter and always point people towards the truth.
You see, as that definition of truth that the Holy Spirit gave me went on to say, the truth is not just that which is not hidden; it is also what makes God known.
Well, that is when the Holy Spirit began sharing with me how all the examples of truth that I had come to know in the Scriptures all illustrated this “rhema” word that He gave me.
THE TRUTH HIMSELF
So, this week, I want us to move on to some of these things the Lord then began showing me about the truth that certainly are not hidden and absolutely make God known.
Now what is one of the first things you think of when you hear the question—What is truth? Well, I would suppose that most of us would immediately gravitate towards that statement by Jesus in John 14:6 where we have one of the most powerful proclamations of Himself that He ever uttered …
In John chapter 14, we have Jesus beginning to teach His disciples some final lessons before He would be taken from them. He begins by telling them not to let their hearts be troubled and to know that He was going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house. Then in verse 4, Jesus made the following statement— “And where I go you know, and the way you know …” To which Thomas pipes up and says, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Somebody say, NOT SMART!
How many of you know that when the Lord tells you that you know something and you know how to get there, that you don’t essentially respond with, “No, we don’t know, and we don’t know the way either.” That’s like calling Jesus a liar. And we know that Jesus is not a liar but is the totality of truth. Amen?
And that’s exactly what Jesus went on to say to Thomas next, which is what I wanted to get to: He responded to Him in verse 6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
So, essentially what Jesus was saying was that the way and where they were going, they knew because He is that way! So, if they knew Him, they knew the way. Amen?
I’m reminded now of how God’s ways were made known to Moses while His acts were all that was revealed to the children of Israel. So, what He does was made known to them, while why He does the things He does was made known to Moses.
And why was this? It wasn’t because God just chose to reveal His ways to Moses and not to the rest of the Jews. No, it was because Moses positioned Himself to know God’s ways through spending time in His presence and being the most humble person on the face of the earth at that time. Amen!
And guess what else Moses came to know—the truth and the life? Yes, through His humble approach to seeking God, He came to know the way, truth, and life of God. And church, that is the same way we come to know the truth—it is through coming to know Him. Yes, the more we spend time with Him and in His Word, the more it comes alive to us, and we are able to know the liberating truth of God and His Word. This is a foundational truth to knowing what the truth is—it is found in knowing God Himself. Amen?
Which is what Jesus went on to say in John 14:6—that He is not only the way; He is also the truth and the life. No, not a truth or a life; He is the way, the truth, and the life—meaning He is not just a way to God or one of the many truths that are out there. All truth is all enveloped in Him! He is the only life! And there is no other way to the Father except through Him.
So, Jesus is the truth. He didn’t just have truth or speak truth; He was the truth. But not just “was” the truth; He is the truth yesterday, today, and forevermore.
THE TRUTH IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND FOREVER
In Hebrews 13:7-9, the author of this epistle said this— “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.”
Notice that verse 7 first shows us the importance of both respecting and honoring those who our spiritual leaders and have shared God’s Word with us. But why? “Considering the outcome of their conduct.” That means that what we need to be mindful of is that those who not only preach God’s Word to us but practice what they preach have certain fruit in their life that needs to be “remembered.” I mean, the fruit that one has in their life is indicative of what they believe. So, if one’s life consistently does not line up with the life God said we can have, then there’s a chance that what they believe might be wrong. So, it would be wise to follow the faith of someone who has the fruit that we desire to see in our lives instead of being unrelenting regarding our own theology or philosophy.
Being a teacher of God’s Word, I’ve run in to enough of this—most people have their minds already made up and they love you when you echo what they already believe, but they don’t like it when you challenge their belief systems even when you have a laundry list of Scriptures to back it up.
This is what the apostle Paul taught us–that the time will come when people “will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (Second Timothy 4:3-4).
Now when he said here that they will not “endure sound doctrine,” do you know what that means? It means they will not tolerate “healthy” teaching. Yes, the word used for “sound” here is the same word that is used in Third John 2 in describing the Lord’s desire that we prosper in every area of our life and be in “health” just as our souls prosper. So, this word “sound” describes something that is healthy.
Now we know the word of God is likened in many places to food (See Matthew 4:4, First Peter 2:2, Job 23:12, and Jeremiah 15:16). So, what we see being described here is that like children tend to do, the world will come to a place where it does not want to hear what is truly healthy and good for them, but will do what? Because they have “itching ears” (or ears that need to be tickled or scratched), they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to “stories.”
You know, it has always just amazed me how so many Christians do this. Their ears and hearts are readily inclined to listen to someone who speaks well, has charisma, and mixes in interesting and funny stories. But if someone comes simply speaking the truth of God’s Word with none of these other things, they turn them off.
This should not be so, church! We ought to be all about what the content is that the speaker is saying and not just be inclined to their speaking ability. In order to grow, we must be nourished with the words of faith and of good doctrine. That’s what produces the fruit we desire to see in our lives.
So, what Hebrews 13:7 is showing us is that what ultimately reveals truth is fruit. Just consider the outcome of what people are ministering. Is there the fruit of the Spirit evident? Is the Holy Spirit Himself present?
Then Hebrews 13:8 goes on to say, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” So, what does this have to do with what was just said in the previous verse? I believe it’s that one of the fruits that indicate what the truth is, is found in the consistency of it. Verse 9 bears this out because it goes on to say, “Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines.”
You see, when it comes to where our faith needs to be and what we build our lives on, it needs to be on the One who never changes, the One who is the same today as He was yesterday and the one who will still be the same tomorrow as He is today. This is Jesus!
In fact, based on John 14:6, we can translate Hebrews 13:8 like so— “The truth is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” It does not change because the Lord changes not (Malachi 3:6).
But oh, how the truth seems to always be changing, doesn’t it? It’s evolving with the times and today we are seeing the world around us adopting certain mindsets and belief systems that were unheard of just decades ago.
This should not be so with the church of the Lord Jesus Christ! Like the truth Himself, we ought to be the same yesterday, today, and forever—understanding that the truth that we heard from Him 2,000 years ago is still true today and we do not move off of it.
And, again, the writer of Hebrews declared in verse 9 that we will have ample opportunity to be moved by various and strange teachings even in the church. This is similar to the apostle Paul’s description of being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine (See Ephesians 4:14). And what was His solution there? It was speaking the truth in love (verse 15) and growing up in Christ Jesus, who is the truth.
But the fact is, the truth is unchanging. It has been here before the world began and it will be here long after this world ends. So, one critical part to abiding in the truth is looking at Jesus, who is that unchanging truth of God, and embracing what He came to deliver to us—God’s truth.
FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH
I love the way the Gospel of John shows this to us: John 1:14-18 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”
In describing how Jesus came to us in the flesh and lived among us, the apostle John described Him as being “full of grace and truth.” Now notice how Jesus was not just described as being full of grace, but also full of truth. The apostle Paul also said in Ephesians 4:21 that the truth is in Jesus.
You see, in the church today, I believe there is a little too much absence of truth in the emphasis of His grace.
Now you know that I am certainly big on His grace—understanding that it is only by His grace that we can be saved, and it is only by His grace that we can grow and increase. But the mistake I see a lot of the church making in this generation is that in making such a strong emphasis on His unconditional love and grace, the truth—absolutes in His kingdom—are not being held in high esteem and proclaimed to the people. A lot of the reason for this is because of what we said earlier—people don’t want to hear what is right versus what is wrong. They don’t want to hear absolutes, especially when these truths go against what our flesh wants and what we think.
But the “truth” is that Jesus was full of both of these things: Yes, He came to reveal to us God’s goodness & grace, and we see that on full display throughout His life and ministry. But at the same time, He never compromised the truth of God. Rather, He boldly proclaimed it in the face of the hypocrisy that had permeated Israel.
So, Jesus was, is, and forever will be our example of truth. That means that the things Jesus declared to us are things that we ought to hang our hats on. His words are ultra-significant and super relevant—not just for the Jews 2,000 years ago, but for all today.
You would think that all Christians would know this, but there is even a large group of “believers” today who do not believe that Jesus’ words are relevant to the church because He was called to minister to God’s chosen people, Israel. And while it was true that He was called to lost sheep of Israel, that doesn’t mean that His teachings aren’t to be applied to our lives as well or we might as well throw out just about all of the Old Testament and even the epistles of the New Testament like Romans since we are not Romans.
And so, what I see here is that since Jesus is the truth, then the things that He taught are absolutes. Yes, they are things that we must adhere to and will always be relevant—no matter how much things change around us. Amen?
WHAT WOULD JESUS PREACH?
So, let me end today’s message by asking this question: If Jesus were to be the guest speaker of a church today, what would He preach? What truth would He have come to deliver?
Well, I can assure you that there would be no guarantee it would be sweet, rosy, and peachy. No, it might ruffle a lot of feathers because it would be vastly different than so many traditional Sunday morning sermons today. Yes, it would contain much love and grace, but it would also include rebuke, reproof, correction, and warning.
I remember one time early in my Christian walk where I was attempting to see a fellow co-worker (in a Christian bookstore no less) be truly converted. You see, just because someone goes to church or is involved in some Christian thing, that doesn’t mean they are a child of God. No, everyone must be born again and be personally converted, and this is more than just following traditions and certain rites & rituals.
So, one time when I was expressing their need to truly make Jesus their personal Lord and Savior, they asked me what I meant because they had gone to the altar before and said the sinner’s prayer. This took me aback because I didn’t know what to tell someone who had gone through the motions of becoming a Christian but had never been truly converted. That’s when the Holy Spirit gave me the “truth” I needed to help her understand that it must be a heart change. I said to her, “Don’t you think if you truly believed that He was Lord, it would change the way you were living your life?” She looked at me and said, “You know, you’re right.”
You see, there was certainly a risk of offending her by declaring to her the truth, but because I loved her, I was willing to take that risk.
That reminds of my attempt to see a friend get saved who I had before I was born again: I told this friend the truth about Jesus more than once after my conversion and they finally said, “Why do you keep trying to get me to become a Christian?” because they were certainly offended with my attempts to see their life changed as mine was. Well, I told this person—“Let me ask you this—If I knew you were about to get on an airplane that was going to crash, wouldn’t you want me to tell you?” They responded with yes. So, I then told them— “That’s exactly what I am doing. I know that you are on your way to death and destruction, and I am trying to get you off that plane.”
Church, this is a big part of the truth that Jesus came to proclaim. Yes, He ate with tax collectors and sinners, but that was because He loved them enough to come by their side and tell them the truth. This is how we should be living as well—loving our neighbor to the degree that we tell them what they need to hear in the way they can hear it.
THE TRUTH’S TRUTH
This is exactly how the Truth Himself lived His life on the earth. As both the Truth and being full of truth, we know that all that He said was the truth.
So, let’s look at some of the things that Jesus emphasized throughout His ministry that are certainly relevant truths to us even today.
Let’s go back to the beginning of His ministry and see what He began by proclaiming: What was Jesus’ first word to the people when He began His ministry? It was “Repent”—not a word that is accepted too easily in the church today (See Matthew 4:17).
As we’ve seen, this is a word that literally means to think a different way and turn in that new direction. But like I said, this is not what most people like to hear. They like to think that the direction they are going in is okay and certainly don’t like anyone telling them that they need to change. But that’s exactly what Jesus came on the scene proclaiming to His chosen people who desperately needed a course change.
And He also greatly emphasized why we all needed that course correction. It’s because as He stated in His Sermon on the Mount— “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
You see, the truth is that there is a direction that we all can choose, and while the majority of this world will choose the wide gate and the broad way that leads to destruction, the way of life is the narrow gate and the difficult way.
This is what Jesus came to direct people’s minds towards—that there is a better way, and that way is one of love, mercy, compassion, and a selfless, sacrificial life. He came to remind us that people are what are important and to live one’s life for others is the highest call of all the human race. It is to populate and enrich heaven with souls and to be ready for His Second Coming. This is what it means to be “woke” according to Jesus.
So, Jesus came to tell us the truth—it is that God is good and merciful. It is that He loves the sinner and seeks to save the lost. But it is also to tell the sinner to repent and to declare the true way to God. Jesus is the truth and was full of the truth, and so should we be. Amen.