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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Word For The Week

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him.”

John 18:36-38

What is truth? Some people would assert that the world is round – is that true? Some people would assert that Napoleon Bonaparte actually existed – is that true? Some people would assert that Jesus Christ is fully God while others would assert that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet – which one is true? What is truth?

It has been asserted that the world suffers from truth-decay, that skepticism has eroded the enamel of truth and has infested it with nihilistic cavities. The situation is such that to the postmodern mind the most offensive thing that one could do is to assert that someone else is wrong – the word “tolerance” has been modified to mean “Never tell me that I am wrong!” The postmodern mind, however, is incredibly inconsistent and even celebrates its inconsistencies. To the postmodern mind it is wrong for a Christian to assert that a Jew or a Muslim is wrong, but there is nothing wrong with asserting that Robert Oler is wrong. Any- and everything is to be tolerated except that which the postmodern mind finds to be intolerable. It seems that even to the postmodern mind there is such a thing as objective right and wrong, such a thing as objective truth.

No matter how hard you try, you simply can not escape the Law of Noncontradiction – it’s not just a theory. When you assert a woman’s inalienable right to choose an abortion you simultaneously assert that those who affirm a baby’s inalienable right to life are wrong. When you assert that the death penalty is immoral you simultaneously assert that those who support the death penalty are wrong. When you assert that all roads lead to God you simultaneously assert that those who affirm Jesus’ statement that no man comes to God but through Him are wrong. Whenever you assert any proposition as being true you simultaneously assert that all contradictory propositions are false, that all contradictory propositions are wrong. Such is the nature of the Law of Noncontradiction.

But what is truth?

Truth is that which corresponds to objective reality. Some would say that perception is reality, but our perceptions can be deceived like Adam and Eve. As I look down a set of railroad tracks I perceive that they eventually touch, but that perception is wrong – the two tracks never touch each other. As I observe the sun I perceive that it rises in the east and sets in the west, but that perception is wrong – the earth rotates, the sun does not circle the earth. As I sit in my chair I perceive that it is solid, but that perception is wrong – it is primarily blank space with bits of matter held together by covalent and ionic bonds. Human perception is not sufficient for understanding objective reality; it can not get us to the truth.

In order for us to properly discern the truth, in order for us to understand objective reality, we need the understanding of One who created objective reality. Without divine revelation we can know nothing of objective reality. The universe bears God’s fingerprints and we can learn a lot about the universe through the faculties that He has given us, but we can know nothing about Him who gives meaning to the universe without special revelation from Him about Him. If you ask a person on the street, “Who is Jesus?” you will hear any number of answers – “A good man,” “a prophet,” “a teacher,” “an angel.” People have misunderstood the person and work of Jesus Christ since His incarnation. Joseph initially thought that He was some other man’s baby. Herod the Great thought that He was born to overthrow him. Herod Antipas thought that He was a sideshow entertainer to amuse him. Some people thought that He was their free lunch, while others thought He was one of the prophets reborn. People, left to themselves without revelation from God, have always been wrong about Jesus.

Always.

I wish that Pilate had waited for Jesus’ answer to his question about the nature of truth, but Jesus answered that question earlier when He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” It is said that all truth is God’s truth, that anything which is true affirms God and is affirmed by God, and that assertion is supported by Paul’s epistle to the Colossians where he testified, “For by [Jesus] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” John testifies, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Truly, Jesus, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

There is a reason why some things are truly right and some things are truly wrong – the universe has a Moral Lawgiver, a Creator, and He loved us enough to empty Himself into flesh and blood and walk among us. We who are called by the name of Jesus Christ seek to advance His kingdom – the dynamic rule of God over the lives of men and women, boys and girls. The Kingdom is not advanced through coercion, force or politics – it is advanced by giving people an opportunity to accept citizenship in His kingdom, to accept Jesus Christ as Lord.

Some people find it offensive when Christians tell them that they are going to Hell under the influence of sin, but is that any different from progressives telling Americans that the country is going to Hell in a hand basket under the influence of the Bush Administration? The truth can trouble you. The truth can terrify you. The truth can totally twist your thinking (“I’m fat?!?”), but that does not negate its truthfulness: I am fat, the Bush Administration is destroying America, and no one comes to God except through Jesus Christ – to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God; children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

That’s the truth.

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who desires an objectively real relationship with you,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 11:00 AM

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