The Truth About Truth

“If there is no absolute beyond man’s ideas, then there is no final appeal to judge between individuals and groups whose moral judgments conflict. We are merely left with conflicting opinions.” —Francis Schaeffer

Of all truths in the universe, the most important is the truth of who Jesus is. After all, Truth is not merely an impersonal moral standard. It is a living Person who loved us so much He bears on His hands eternal scars because He rescued us.

“Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life” (John 6:47, NIV). The phrase “truly I tell you” appears 79 times in Scripture, 78 times spoken by Jesus. He is the Truth, and He tells the truth. We can fully trust everything He says. His promises are written in blood.

Truth exists whether or not anyone believes it.

“’You are a king, then!’ said Pilate.

Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.’

‘What is truth?’ retorted Pilate” (John 18:37-38a, NIV).

What is truth? It is reality. When Pilate said of Jesus, “I find no basis for a charge against him” (John 18:38b, NIV), he affirmed what he believed and what was indeed true: Jesus was innocent.

Truth-claims are exclusive. Jesus didn’t say He was a truth, but “the truth” (John 14:6). If someone says Jesus isn’t the primary truth, then either he’s wrong or Jesus is.

If we grasp this truth, we’ll undergo the ultimate paradigm shift: without Christ, any sacrifice we make is worthless. We are miserable without Jesus. Nothing we have can satisfy us. And even if it did, we couldn’t hold on to it.

When we hear Jesus tell us to take up our crosses and follow Him and say we should lose our lives for His sake, we’re tempted to think, “Then I will never be happy.” But in fact, Jesus is saying our short-term sacrifices for Him are a means to an end, and that end is true and abundant life: “Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39, NIV).

Theologian John Brown wrote, “He who believes the truth enters on the enjoyment of a happiness which is of the same nature, and springs from the same sources, as the happiness of God.”

Have you had a heart transplant?

Scripture is full of disheartening diagnoses, including that “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9, NIV).

But the Great Physician must tell us this hard truth so we can say, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10, ESV). The Physician also promises, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees” (Ezekiel 36:26-27, NIV).

Words that at first may sting us deeply don’t mean we’re without hope, only that we cannot cure ourselves. But God has provided the cure: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV).

Eternal life is not found by believing in just any god but by believing in the “only true God.” False gods, both religious and secular, litter the landscape. “Jesus prayed, ‘Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent’” (John 17:3, NIV). The only true God is the one who sent the only true Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jesus gives us more than eternal existence. He gives us eternal life: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6, ESV).

This great truth all hinges on the person and work of none other than Jesus.

God’s best and most perfect gift to us is Jesus Himself.

“All things were created through him and for him…and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17, NIV).

If everything that comes into our lives is Father-filtered, how can we be anything less than optimistic? Our optimism is based squarely on realism: Jesus is real, atonement is real, resurrection is real, Heaven is real, and the Gospel really is “good news.”

William Temple wrote, “The only thing of our very own which we contribute to our salvation is the sin which makes it necessary.” And Scripture tells us that apart from Christ, we were “dead in [our] sins.” This sounds like bad news since a corpse can’t raise itself from the grave.

Salvation is a gift: we contribute absolutely nothing. When Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb, He did the work, not Lazarus. Salvation depends on God’s mercy and His faithfulness to His promises.

Faith saves us, and we stay saved because of the sustaining, persevering work of God in our lives. The “good news” includes the fact that we needn’t live in fear of losing our salvation: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28, NIV).

Our source of comfort is the truth that not only will we be with the Lord in Heaven, but also that we’ll be with each other. In Heaven, God will delight in His children’s love for each other. As we walk and talk and laugh together, He’ll take as much pleasure in it as we do.

“If God is your co-pilot, swap seats!” (Max Lucado)

Psalm 86 tells us that we must learn the ways of God in order to walk in the ways of God. Jesus said, “Come to me…Take my yoke upon you and learn from me” (Matthew 11:28-29, NIV).

Walk in God’s truth, and then you’ll be in the position to receive His daily guidance. A.W. Tozer said, “Practice the truth and we may with propriety speak the truth.”

All human claims to greatness and sovereignty are pretensions. When Herod took credit for godlike powers, he breathed his last, while the God-breathed Word grew.

A crowd, seeing someone jump to escape a skyscraper fire, could vote unanimously to suspend the law of gravity. What difference would that make?

We can’t negotiate God’s truth any more than we can negotiate gravity.

Have the courage to ask Christ to show you what He really wants for your life—not what others want for you, but what He knows is right for you. Listen to His Word for the answers, and call upon Him to show you the truth and empower you to live it.

For more on this topic, see Randy’s book The Grace and Truth Paradox.

Photo by RODNAE Productions

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries