The question what is truth? is more relevant today than ever. You would think that with all our easy access to information and expert opinions, we would know the truth—
Yet the opposite is true. We have trouble recognizing real news from fake, trusted sources from clickbait. No one has time to investigate the truth within a multitude of issues.
Sharpening My Truth-Detector
One Saturday morning I read the The Wall Street Journal, an article or two from the Chicago Tribune, several blog posts, and scanned my Facebook feed and emails. Somewhere, in the midst of all of that input, I read my Bible. How much of what I allowed into my brain that morning do I even remember? How much of it was true?
My truth-detector was dulled, so I decided to limit my reading for two weeks in an effort to sharpen it. I put aside my novel, which I gazed at longingly; I merely glanced at newspaper headlines; and when I scrolled Facebook I did not click on anything.
I started reading only the Bible, because God’s Word is the source of truth. Then I picked up a couple books by highly regarded Christian authors, and saw no untruth in them.
After two weeks of this information-fast, my truth-detector felt sharper.
What Is Truth?
So, back to the question: What is truth?
There is factual truth, as in two-plus-two-equals-four, and truth that conforms to reality, in that summer will follow spring. We speak of a “true friend” or “true love,” meaning faithful, lasting, and genuine. A novel can communicate deep truth through story. Truth is also defined as honesty, speaking the truth and living consistently by it.
But Jesus once referred to fundamental truth when he said, “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32, emphasis mine).
On the day Jesus was crucified, while being questioned by Pilate, Jesus said, “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” (John 18:37). Pilate responded, What is truth? Whether Pilate was asking a genuine question or was waving his hand at the issue is not clear—
But either way, he did not know the answer. And he missed an opportunity to find out from the author of truth.
The Truth Is Reality
In the beautiful first verses of John, we see that Jesus came to us full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Jesus described himself by saying, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (14:6). In John’s letters he frequently refers to belonging to or walking in the truth (3:18-20), tells us the Spirit is the truth (16:13), and writes that the truth will be with us forever. Paul wrote to the Ephesians that the message of truth is nothing less than the gospel of our salvation (Ephesians 1:13).
That all sounds great, but it’s rather abstract. Will this deep truth help us to discern the facts, the reality, in the day-to-day stuff? Yes, in fact it is the only way to know.
Ravi Zacharias, philosopher, apologist, and writer, defines truth as “that which affirms, propositionally, the nature of reality as it is.” The reality that Zacharias is referring to includes, but goes beyond, physical reality to spiritual and moral reality as created and upheld by God.
God’s reality is all reality. If we know his foundational truth, we’ll grow in separating the truth from the lies around us. Often, this begins with separating the truth from the lies in our minds.
The Truth Is God’s Word
This morning I felt like the world was passing me by, that I had missed the boat on which I would have lived a more important and influential life. Is that reality? I wondered. As I was reading the Bible and praying, I realized that those thoughts were lies. The truth of God’s Word tells me that I am his child (John 1:12); by his grace he has saved me (Ephesians 2:8-9); he has a good plan for my life (2:10); I have his Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:12); and he will act on behalf of those who wait for him (Isaiah 64:4).
My attitude went from discouragement to hope by identifying the lies and believing God’s truth. The truth set me free. Only from a correct mindset about who God is, who I am in his sight, and what he has for me in this life can I have a chance at discerning the truth. And I am very grateful that God has given us truth in his Word.
Oz Guinness said, “The notion of truth is not philosophical or abstract or theoretical. Truth is fundamentally about who God is.” My two-week focus on the truth brought me back to who God is, and he has once again set me free.