Philosophies of Man

What is Truth?

This question was asked by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, when faced with the Messiah, the Suffering Servant Jesus.  He said this in response to these words of Jesus: “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

Truth is a subject that has been debated, fought over, even ignored, over the centuries.  Philosophers debate the meaning of life, wars have occurred over claims to truth, anarchy occurs over denial of any objective standard of morality one should live by.  Truth is the objective standard by which we are to live our lives. Without an objective standard, we are making things up as we go along, grabbing onto every wind of doctrine and philosophy that comes along, and not able to coherently explain any moral convictions we may feel.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

Colossians 2:8, The Bible

In the Christian faith, there are attacks on truth from within through liberalism and apostasy, and from without – enemies of truth.  Even that which appears to be true can be deadly.  One only has to look at certain religious movements which claim to be Christian yet have a subtle undermining of the doctrines of the historic faith.  Let’s consider two of those pseudo-Christian faith systems.

Jehovah’s Witnesses/Watchtower organisation.  The authority figures of this religion have truth claims.  They claim to be the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ (New World Translation) spoken of by the Lord Jesus, (Matthew 24:45).  That their Governing Body is the purveyor and guardian of truth. Thus their interpretations of the Bible are taken as truth, hence the spread of their works-based religion. They claim that God’s proper name is strictly called ‘Jehovah’ and undermine the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The historic event of Jesus rising from the dead bodily is reinterpreted as Him not physically resurrecting, thus the gospel message is undermined by the Watchtower hierarchy.  Their corrupt Bible translation makes subtle and not-so-subtle changes to what has already been canonised.  The result – thousands of people trying to earn their way to acceptance by a holy God through religious burdens imposed on them by a group of men who set themselves up as an authority on Truth.  The fruits of this religion can be found in their treatment of those who begin to question the dogma. An example of this is a woman who was raised in a JW family, but who began to seek to know Jesus personally, who searched the scriptures for herself, and who met a real Christian when she went knocking on his door.  Through this man’s willingness to engage in Bible discussions to reach the woman for the truth, she wanted to get baptised urgently and asked him to do it.  She ended up being accused of apostasy because she chose to follow the Biblical mandate of being baptised by a Christian.  The ‘crime’ was that the baptiser was himself baptised outside of the Watchtower meetings so he was not recognised as a Christian.  The baptised woman followed the Bible, which JW’s claim to follow, but she was ostracised for not doing things their way (she chose God’s way). See how Truth gets twisted and brings confusion?

Latter Day Saints/Mormonism.  They teach that the historic church had fallen away so there was a need for restoration of truth.  Their ‘Book of Mormon’ is given equal or more authority that the Holy Bible and introduces another message. They believe that more relevation has been given.  LDS teachings state that we are saved by grace “after all that we can do” (an add-on doctrine to the statement in Ephesians 2).  The suffering and death of the Messiah as a ransom for sinners like you and me has been re-interpreted as something that needed to be added to for it to be sufficient.  The Bible is not seen to be completely trustworthy in its teachings apart from Mormon doctrines to ‘help’ people understand it better.  The result is thousands upon thousands of LDS ‘saints’ trying to earn their way to heaven through works, not quite realising the compete sufficiency of the shed blood of Jesus Christ to atone for the sins of the world. Not only this, but the Jesus they think they have is taught in Mormon doctrine to be the brother of lucifer!  (Like JW’s, they have the wrong Jesus, sadly).

There is a lot more to be said about these two examples perhaps another time. 

Truth is qualitative.  Truth blows away confusion.  Truth leads to peace in the hearts of men and women.  Jesus said that He came to “bear witness to the truth”, showing Himself to be the manifestation of truth.  He came as Saviour of the world, as the truth is that we have all sinned against a holy God who created us.  We have all fallen short, all transgressed His righteous commandments.  So Jesus bearing witness to the truth is pointing us to Himself as the embodiment of truth – sent by the Father, “full of grace and truth” (John 1).

It should not surprise us who follow the Lord Jesus, that Truth is opposed.  We are taught the reality of the existence of the devil – satan, the accuser and adversary.  Full of pride and father of lies.  One who seeks to overturn all that is pure and holy to get worship unto himself. That’s why he tried tempting our Lord Jesus during the 40 days wilderness experience.  That’s why he ‘inspires’ pseudo-Christian movements and false messiahs and false prophets – to undermine that which actually undermines him.

So, when that Roman governor who said “what is truth” actually had Truth staring him in the face and did not realise it (though his wife had revelation in a dream, Matt 27:19), we should not be surprised whilst declaring the gospel message, to find that we face scepticism and opposition.  Truth has an exclusiveness about it, yet is universally offered by a gracious God.

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