Truth and Faith

Here is a crucial truth: you are not God. You never have been nor will you ever be.

But what is a god? Here’s a description: Someone who rules the universe; or, in much more common and less grandiose terms—yet the same in substance—it is someone who thinks he or she is independent and wholly free.

The truth is that we are utterly dependent beings, made by and for God. Only this truth leads us to find rest for our souls as those assured of his love.

Now let me ask a question. Are you already there, so that what I just said strikes you as an obvious truth? Are you intrigued and ready to hear more? Or did you just grimace and ask yourself, “Why do I bother reading this sort of nonsense?”

Here is why I ask: Jesus treated truth as the magnet that draws some, but not all, to faith. An appetite for truth draws us to listen both to Jesus and to the Bible as a whole.

Let me add that by “listen to Jesus” I mean “give yourself wholeheartedly to whatever he says”. Jesus, after all, is the Son of God—wholly divine—and the Bible regularly speaks of him as Lord: the master-in-charge. Those, on the other hand, who are not drawn to the truth will ultimately dismiss Jesus.

Jesus said as much to Pontius Pilate when he was being tried (see John 18). And here the pronoun “he” refers to Pilate, not Jesus. This Roman ruler was standing before God and not the other way round. Pilate, of course, missed the point by thinking that he, as the chief Roman authority in Palestine, was trying Jesus. But Jesus had already made it clear that whoever did not believe in him “is condemned already” (John 3:18).

Jesus gave the Roman some gracious cues—invitations to respond—before Pilate’s trial ended badly. Jesus, for instance, acknowledged that he is a king but his kingdom “is not of this world”. Pilate needed to ask, “Where is your kingdom?” but it seems he wasn’t concerned to hear about Christ’s true status.

Jesus also told Pilate why God sent him: “to bear witness to the truth” (18:37). And then, to amplify how important this point was, Jesus told Pilate that this was the crux of the trial—Pilate needed to get it right: “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

And how did Pilate respond? With a dismissive comeback—“What is truth?” It smelled of the serpent’s skepticism in Genesis 3. Jesus might well have corrected him with an earlier comeback he offered Thomas: “I am . . . the truth” (John 14:6).

Jesus offered Pilate one more clue. He told him that it was God the Father who made the decision that Jesus must die, so that “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above” (19:11). Judgment followed.

In an earlier episode of Christ’s ministry we see another truth-and-belief lesson: that the mere guise of faith is not enough. Jesus told a group of “believers” that true discipleship is defined by a complete devotion to Christ’s “word”. His word brings disciples to “know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

His audience—a group who actually believed in a freedom to choose rather than in Jesus—answered, “We . . . have never been enslaved” (18:33). Jesus then told them the truth.

“Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks the Lie, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of it” [“the Lie”]. John 8:44

So the question is this: do we prefer “the Truth” or “the Lie”? Everything rides on who has captured our faith—either the liar or the one who is always and absolutely true.

Paul summed this up for the church in Thessalonica when he warned that the enemies of Christ “are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so to be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10).

Those of us who love Jesus, on the other hand, will also love what he says because we find truth to be attractive.


1 Comment

  1. Gretchen

    Thanks, Ron. It’s sad how when we think we are the most free, we are truly the most enslaved. As you point out, “The truth is that we are utterly dependent beings, made by and for God. Only this truth leads us to find rest for our souls as those assured of his love.” May Christ’s rich love poured into our hearts overflow to others who have believed the Lie.

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