Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 18, 1971

"What Is Truth?",

Robert H. Farish — William E. Wallace

"What is truth?" is not a question originating in the "age of Aquarius." Long before Johnny Cash sang about the youth with long hair asking what is truth, Governor Pilate had inquired of Jesus, "What is truth?"

The answer to the question will elude all who "receive not the love of the truth." The idea persists that many, who voice the question, do not really want to know the answer. Infatuation with their presuppositions and pragmatic conclusions effectively quenches love of the truth. (2 Thess. 2:10-12) As it was in the days of Pilate so it is today. "The light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his works may be manifest, that they have been wrought of God." (John 3:19-21) "Light" and "truth" are used interchangeably in this place. One who "doeth the truth" receives "the love of the truth." He "cometh to the light;" he tries his "own self whether he be in the faith," On the other hand, the one who is determined to have his own way, who is set to do evil and to formulate his own code of ethics and morality "hateth the light and cometh not to the light." Jesus told Pilate that "everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice." (John 18:37) The witness unto the truth, which Jesus spoke and exemplified, is heard only by those who "love the truth."

"Art Thou A King Then?"

Pilate's question, "What is truth," is directly linked with the Lord's answer to Pilate's preceding questions. Pilate first asked him, "Art thou the King of the Jews?"

Jesus' answer to this was "my kingdom is not of this world. . ." This satisfied Pilate on the point that Jesus was not a political rival. But Jesus had claimed a kingdom or reign in his reference to "my kingdom." This led to Pilate's question, "Art thou a king then?" In answer to this question Jesus said, "Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end have I been born, and to this end am I come into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth." (John 18:37) In face of Christ's frank statement, "I am a king," Pilate went out and declared that he could find no fault in him. This he could not have done if he thought that Jesus was claiming a kingdom such as Pilate ruled. Jesus is king. His reign is not the sort of reign which Pilate exercised, for Jesus' kingdom "is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Rom. 14:17) The reign of Christ was not designed to provide food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy. These are provided by truth.

After affirming that he is a king, Jesus explained the nature of his kingdom by stating the means whereby he exercised his reign. He was "born (became flesh) came into the world to bear witness unto the truth." Jesus' revelation of the truth by word and deed is his witness of truth. He reigns in the lives of men when they bow in submission to the word of truth — the gospel of salvation." Jesus came into the world not to enslave men by the sword, but to set them free by the truth. Any man may become a citizen of his kingdom by accepting his witness and obeying the truth." (The Final Week — R. C. Foster)

"What is truth?" Jesus "is the way, the truth and the life." (John 14:6) He is truth expressed and demonstrated — truth incarnated.

Truth And Freedom

Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32) The freedom here promised is the freedom gained through Jesus. "If therefore the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (John 8:36) Why are not more people realizing the freedom which Christ provides? Part of the answer, at least, lies in the requirement to know the truth. No promise of personal freedom is made apart from that person's knowing the truth. "Ye shall know the truth." To know the truth is to know the Son of God. The truth (what Jesus both did and taught) is learned from the New Testament. (Acts 1:1) Do you long to be "free indeed"? Then study the record of the things that Jesus did and taught. No error can be found in his teaching and no mistake can be found in his life! Christ invites all men to "come . . . learn of me." (Matt. 11:28, 29) This is another way of saying, "Ye shall know the truth."

The Nature Of The Freedom

Freedom from sin is the freedom promised. "Everyone that committeth sin is the bondservant of sin." (John 8:34) This is said in answer to the claim, "that we have never been in bondage to any man." (John 8:33) Our Lord's answer shows that the liberty which the Jews had in mind, (civil liberty — absence of bondage — to any man) was not the vital freedom. It did not make them "free indeed." (John 8:35) To be free from the bondage of sin is to be "free indeed." No matter what the civil, social, economic, physical condition or situation may be.

Freedom from fear of death is for those freed from the bondage of sin. "Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same, that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." (Heb. 2:14, 15) Freedom from fear of death, anxiety and despair are part of the package. They are all included in being "free indeed." Read Rom. 8:28, 29; Phil. 4:4-7.

Truth And The Twentieth Century

Realization of the completeness of truth in Christ prevents one being captured by error — brought into bondage to sin. "Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, and not after Christ; for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and in him ye are made full, who is the head of all principality and power. . . (Col. 2:8-10) In the twentieth century, as in the first century, there are teachers "promising them liberty, while they themselves are bond servants of corruption." (2 Pet. 2:19)

"What is truth?" is as much the concern of men today as it has ever been. But some have been made spoil (captured) by human philosophy with the empty lie that the gospel is not relevant in our day. Some seem to reason that our technological advancements (we have put a man on the moon!) have put us ahead of the truth of the gospel. Their theories would call for a different, more up to date, answer to the question, "what is truth?" The Holy Spirit anticipated this "vain deceit" and had the answer recorded with a warning against error. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yea and forever. Be not carried away by divers and strange teachings. . (Heb. 13:8, 9) The deity of Christ guarantees his relevancy. The truth of the gospel is as relevant as is Jesus. He is the same today as in the past and will continue in the future, "yea and forever?' The immutability, which belongs to deity alone, is claimed for Jesus. Recognizing the fulness and immutability of Jesus, who is the truth, prevents one being "carried away by divers and strange teaching." Jesus promised, "Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words shall never pass away." (Matt. 24:35)

"What is truth?" Jesus is the truth, absolute, complete, unchanging and eternally relevant. He will sustain the believer through the crash of nations and human systems unto glory, honor and incorruption eternally.