Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose, I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him,
What is Truth?…
On the surface, Pilate’s question known by some as the Jesting of Pilate seems absurd. Was he arrogant and just sarcastic? Or was it a serious question posed by a man whose very survival depended on his ability to discern truth while trying to manage colliding worldviews?
Truth has been the primary battleground from the beginning. The ongoing deception of the entire world began in Genesis 3:1 with the question “Did God really say?”. Truth was the battleground when Satan tempted Jesus in Mathew 4. Jesus defeated Him with scripture. Later the disciples questioned Jesus regarding the time of the end. He prefaced the entire Olivet discourse with, Take heed that no man deceives you. Mathew 24:4 He further warned them in verse 24.
For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
If truth is the battleground, it behooves us to clarify what truth is.
If you’ve ever navigated by compass then you know how challenging it can be to stay on course. If you travel by land you plot your course from landmark to landmark. If you are sailing in the open ocean you must keep your eye on the compass at all times. There is a big difference between one degree off for one hundred feet and one degree off for one hundred miles.
Epistemology is the study of knowledge specifically how we determine what is true. Throughout Western history, most people, especially Christians believed the universe was governed by objective truth. That truth was both knowable and absolute. That we have a scientific method at all is the direct result of scientists taking Prov 25:2 to heart. It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter. They assumed the God of the Bible created everything according to the objective laws that He also created, then they prayerfully and worshipfully sought to discover how He did it.
Many are unaware that we have been progressively submerged in an opposing culture of relativism since the advent of postmodernism in 1979. But don’t get stuck on the terms. If words like relativism and postmodernism sound confusing just imagine an entire school of philosophy proudly based upon the words “did God really say?”. Perhaps you have heard “your truth is your truth”. “My truth is my truth”. “If you love me you will honor my truth.”? Long story short postmodern relativism is a large part of we ended up
Assertions like “Truth is objective” or “Truth is relative” are called presuppositions. We can’t prove them beyond a shadow of a doubt so we presuppose or assume they are correct then reason and construct our reality from there. What I would like you to understand is that all worldviews and truth claims are built on one’s presuppositions. World views rarely change until the underlying presupposition changes.
Only God can establish correct presuppositions. 1 Cor 3:6-9
While we can not change the presumptions of unbelievers by arguments alone, sometimes our own theological presuppositions can get off course. This applies to all of us. While we know that discussions between opposing world views can become hostile, discussions between believers must not. Their purpose is mutual edification and sanctification. Prov 27:17 Isaiah 1:18 In any case the Bible gives clear instructions on how to approach any discussion.
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason (Apologia– Greek for a reasoned argument) for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
1 Pet 3:15-16
How often do we listen to an assertion about God that strikes us as patently false and yet we remain silent out of a sincere desire to love and honor the speaker by honoring their truth? Respectful questioning is the way that “Iron sharpens Iron”. We listen to, and share thoughts, perceptions, and ideas, then compare them with the Word of God. This methodology is what Paul the Apostle praised in Acts 17:11.
The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now, these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. Acts 17:10-11
When we first come to Jesus our surrender is often accompanied by an encounter with His invisible attributes, his eternal power, and his divine nature. This experience becomes our testimony. Our testimonies are vital because faith comes by hearing… Rom 10:17 Testimonies help bolster the confidence of believers and challenge false assumptions in the minds of unbelievers.
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Rom 1:20
Unfortunately, Mormons, Muslims, and Hindus also have experiential testimonies. Testimonies inspire us to seek and delve deeper into the truth. But testimony alone is not enough to establish the truth. Hence the full text of Rom 10:17 says Faith comes by hearing and
Hearing by the Word of God!
The God-breathed Word 2 Tim 3:16-17 is what tunes our ears to hear. It is what ultimately separates the practice of Christianity from other faiths. It supports, confirms, and sometimes refutes our perceptions and ideas. The Bible is a glass – a mirror in which we see dimly and therefore know in part. 1 Cor 13:12 It is through the lens of the Word that we begin to apprehend the faith Heb 11:1 required to follow Jesus. 2 Cor 5:7.
His Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 At the end of the day Truth is found in the sum of it. Psalm 119:160 I don’t know about you but nothing gets me more excited than when a truth I haven’t seen is revealed in His Word. I know what it means to feel like one who finds great spoil. Psalm 119:162. Most of all I praise Him for His truth. I rest in the assurance of knowing the power and importance of His Word because I know He has magnified His Word above all His name. Psalm 138:2
If the Word of God is most important to God then it follows that it should be most important in the life of a believer. It is impossible to know God apart from it. Thankfully Holy Spirit makes it possible through revelation amidst our self-disciplined study and our God-given powers of understanding.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. John 16:13
They have been declared in His Word.
As for other ways of hearing and knowing God, e.g. prophetic words, we can be certain that they are real. So is falsity. Falsity happens when a speaker usurps the authority of God’s Word. Therefore we are commanded to test everything.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thess 5:19-22
At the risk of being redundant,
we test everything with the Word of God.
Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev 19:10
We ask Holy Spirit to guide and lead us into all truth contained in scripture – to teach us about the character, nature, and plan of our God who does not change. Mal 3:6, Heb 13:8. We endeavor to be good Bereans in the interpretation of revelations, ideas, perceptions, presuppositions, and experiences. We all see as in a glass darkly. It makes sense that we all might see better if we see together. We believe that we can and should Study God’s Word both individually and as a community because Jesus affirmed it when he prayed,
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17