Title: True Truth, Text: John 18:36-40

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, I find no basis for a charge against him.  But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.


Introduction

“What is truth” is a scoffing remark. Jesus has said he came to bear witness of the truth, and furthermore, if you are on the side of truth you will hear and believe Jesus. Pilate’s scoff could well be the funeral oration over the grave of truth. It is as we shall see the unspoken voice, the concealed character of 21st century culture. It is concealed because the devil is the Father of lies and was a liar from the beginning (John 8:44), and to his credit he has so immersed us in lies that we tell lies about our lies. The world is so deceived that it cannot recognize the truth and in all these lies we are saying that we disrespect and ridicule the truth. So desperate is the situation that the great apologist Francis Schaeffer found it necessary to talk about “true truth” because there are so many lies that claim to be truth, and so many liars who claim to be speaking the truth. Today I want us to answer the question sincerely “What is truth?” We need to understand 4 things about the treatment of truth: Extinction,Enmity, Endurance, Engagement

I The Extinction of the Truth

September 22, 2009 News reports said that spanking reduces the IQ. This confirmed two long standing suspicions of mine. 1) Most people are sitting on their brain 2) Scientists who don’t know what they are talking about publish results on the flimsiest suppositions. I hesitate to point out the obvious. Spanking in our society is declining but during the same period the US has fallen farther and farther behind other nations in academics. How did I ever survive? In fact, how did my son’s children who were spanked when appropriate all end up successful college graduates? One of the definitions of propaganda is misleading or misteaching. Propaganda has been the tool of tyranny and the refuge of scoundrels and monsters for all of history. In the Roman empire, and in more recent times, in  Nazi Germany and in communist countries like Russia, China, and North Korea as well as in countries like Iran. Wherever there is propaganda it exists to destroy independent thinking and therefore liberty. It exists to make people believe lies and not think. I remember seeing an ad for a film, “Sunshine Cleaning.” Sisters start a business cleaning up after biohazards and crime scenes. In it Alan Arkin, the Father, has a line. There is an ad he had painted on the truck and it says in business since 1963, and his daughter says "That’s a lie." He replies, “Yea, but it’s a business lie, that’s not the same as a life lie.” Do we see these ads with exorbitant claims on TV? Check on the internet how many people have been cheated by the inflated claims. We expect it from advertisers, but it infects every segment of our society. It is in politics. A political lie is not the same as a life lie. I mention the following not to promote any particular political position or to demean any politician. Nor do I want to support any particular scientific theory. My sole aim is to enhance your Christian World and Life view so that in the words of Francis Schaeffer, you will know “How then Should We Live?” Congressman Joe Wilson became infamous for a breach of civility when he shouted during a presidential speech, ”You lie.” It was extremely rude, of course, but was he correct? A few days later Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, wrote an op-ed entitled politely "Presidential Misdirection." That’s a code word for propaganda. Regardless of what you think politically, my point is that this kind of misdirection happens all the time. Krauthammer said, “he doesn’t lie-he merely elides, gliding from one dubious assertion to another. He doesn’t lie, he implies, he misdirects he misleads so fluidly and incessantly that he risks transmuting eloquence into mere slickness. IT’S NOT JUST THE PRESIDENT-this is not a political commercial-it is an analysis of our culture. Psalm 2:2 reminds us that the kings of the earth have set themselves against the Lord and His anointed. I must declare again I am not politicizing, but  I must quote another famous American, William Jefferson Clinton: "It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is." That presidential statement to a grand jury is now enshrined in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. The year 2009 is the society predicted by George Orwell in his book “1984.” In it he portrays the ultimate government control of thought. The way they do it is by something called NEWSPEAK which is just totally changing the meaning of words. One of their slogans is WAR IS PEACE. In colleges and universities professors lie to their students pretending theories are facts and anyone who does not accept their theory is stupid. And there are no disclaimers such as the FDA insists be attached to medications. If there were disclaimers such as this medicine may cause heart attacks, cancer, strokes or paralysis, then nobody would accept their flimsy theories.


II The Enmity against the Truth

Theological liberalism became common in this country primarily because the modernists made fun of the fundamentalists. People who believe the Bible are caricatured as nut-cases. The class of people maligned almost as much as fundamentalists is University professors who don’t say what is politically correct. Anybody who doesn’t agree with the mainstream, the policy, the program, is treated as crazy. I recently read a novel “State of Fear” by Michael Crichton about climate change. It was not his point, nor is it mine, to totally debunk or support the claims of global warming. He wrote the novel to show how the academic and political establishment refuses to allow its agenda to be affected by any experiment or statistic that does not support the majority view. Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister of Great Britain in the 19th century said that there are three kinds of lies: “lies, damn lies, and statistics.” He was pointing out the prevalent use of statistics to bolster weak arguments. Crichton who is a med school graduate has appended to the end of his novel a bibliography of 170 scientific books and journals that do not support the politically correct view. A most unusual feature in a novel. He also has an appendix entitled, “Why Politicized Science is Dangerous.” The very classrooms where youth are supposed to be taught the truth have become places where lies are perpetuated and promulgated. One example of this is the theory of eugenics (Greek for good genes), or in short, the theory that the human race was degenerating because of what they called inferiors or imbeciles and dangerous human pests. This theory, popular before World War II, was supported by nobel prize winners, funded by the Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations, and espoused in the hallowed halls of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and promoted by Johns Hopkins, and by the National Academy of Sciences and the AMA. H.G. Wells wrote about the ill-trained swarms of inferior citizens, and Margaret Sanger spoke of people as the dead weight of human waste. All of this was not science. It was politics trying to stem integration and immigration, but supported by scientists who were motivated by elitism and economics. If you disagreed you were ostracized. This disappeared after World War II and Hitler, when it became politically incorrect instead of politically correct because of what happened in Nazi Germany. But in your own life the idea of producing a master race has been popularized by the renowned Francis Crick. On October 6, 2009 James Bowers a Dr. of Science who lives in Madeira Beach,FL wrote a letter to the Tampa Tribune. He wrote concerning global warming that it was not necessary to have a Ph.D to see through the farce. He said after teaching at three major universities he learned that “Professors write proposals based on what the in-crowd wants to hear to further their own advancement. They must publish or perish. Whatever the government is pushing, they will be singing the same song as they laugh behind their backs” This alliance between science, politics and the press is an ancient practice. In the world of the Bible, wise men, or magi, were alchemists and astrologers and they were the scientists of their day. Actually modern chemistry and pharmacology arose from that alchemy and we still use some of the words that they used like elixir and panacea. Rulers constantly supported and employed them in their nefarious schemes. Civil and political counsel was invested with religious authority. You know the story of the wise men at Jesus birth (Matthew 2:1,2). Did you realize that the reason God sent them was to show that Jesus was sovereign ruler of all and in the future the so called wise men or scientists were to be subject to Jesus and not to any earthly ruler.


III The Endurance of the Truth

A 2009 poll in today magazine recently noted that 59% of Americans believe that all religions are true. As absurd as it is, it shows that people do not even know what truth is. In our broken society it is often the case that truth does not arise until it no longer matters. The NT is full of predictions of false teaching. In Acts 20:30 Paul is addressing the Elders in Ephesus as he departs.  He says, Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw disciples after them, so be on your guard. Elsewhere they are called wolves in sheep's clothing, and the reason we face living with this is given by Paul in Romans 1. He says, The wrath of God is revealed against sinful mankind because they suppress the truth by their wickedness,and exchange the truth of God for a lie. Is their no hope for the cause of God and the truth? Absolutely! The Psalms of the Bible often remind us that God abounds in love and truth, that His truth continues for all generations, endures forever, and that He remains  true forever. This is echoed by James Russell Lowell in verse: “Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne, Yet that scaffold sways the future, And behind the dim unknown stands God Within the shadows keeping watch above God's own.” As an encouragement Paul writes to the Corinthians II Cor. 13:8, We can do nothing against the truth. Someone explains, “Man can do much against theories of truth, conventional manifestations of truth, ecclesiastical representations of truth, verbal pretensions of truth. The more he does against these, perhaps, the better; but he can do nothing against 'the truth,' its essence! Man may quench all the gas lamps in the world, but he cannot dim one star. Ultimately the truth is uninjurable.” Paul writes to Timothy II Timothy 3:7 about men who oppose the truth. He says that they will not get very far because their folly will become evident to everyone. This is echoed in well known quotations such as The encouraging words of Miguel Cervantes who said “Truth will rise above falsehood as oil above water.” Martin Luther King, quoting William Cullen Bryant, said, “I come to say to you today, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth crushed to earth will rise again.” Thomas Carlisle said, “No lie can live forever.” But the foundation of our conviction is not conventional wisdom, but Christ Himself who said “I am the Truth.”

IV The Engagement with the Truth

We must participate in the truth This is why the Apostle John talks about it frequently in his letters. The capstone is III John 4 where John says  It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. How do we walk in the truth? Three ways:


A Powerfully

Jesus said the truth will make you free. Slaves are not powerful, but free men are. Martin Luther King said to the disenfranchised and oppressed people who followed him, “you do not struggle alone, truth struggles with you.” And he said to them “free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, free at last.” There is no greater freedom than that which is granted by faith in Christ, and that freedom affects the whole man. Free men are armed and our country’s founders enshrined it in the second amendment of the constitution. It was already a right in Great Britain. In the spiritual realm, Paul teaches us that we are in a warfare. In Ephesians 6 we are told that we need to put on the whole armor of God. The first item is the belt of truth and the last is the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Truth is a powerful weapon cutting through delusions, cutting walls, through prison bars, cutting its way to the hardened hearts of sinners, and according to II Cor. 10:4 the gospel has the divine power to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, taking captive every thought and making it obedient to Christ. When we walk in the truth we are armed to the teeth.

B Personally

Truth is personal as well as powerful. James 1:23-25 says, Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror  and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. One man looks at the truth and ignores it while the other looks at the truth and personally does something about it. Chuck Swindoll illustrates with the story of a CEO who goes abroad for an extended period. He sends home frequent  communications to the man he has left in charge, but when he arrives home after several months he discovers everything in a total mess. He asks the man to step into his office which in his absence has become a TV room for watching afternoon soap operas, and says, “What happened, didn’t you get my messages?” The man says, “Yes they were very interesting. We all read them, we had study groups every Friday evening. We divided into small groups to discuss what you wrote. Some of us even memorized portions of the communications and one or two memorized whole messages.” “OK,” the boss says, “You studied, discussed, meditated and memorized, but what did you do about them?” “UH, we didn’t DO anything.” Does it sound too familiar, or maybe too close to home? I John 3:17-19 says If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence

C Productively

And as our last scripture indicates, truth is productive in the sense of being philanthropic. A phil-anthropist by definition is a lover of men. He not only does, he does for others. In Ephesians 4 Paul reminds us that God has given apostles, prophets and pastor-teachers to the church to train the body of Christ and help it mature. He then says, in verses 14-16 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. God does not give us knowledge, understanding, gifts, and maturity to keep, but to share. He does not equip us to stagnate but to serve. We are not gifted and edified in order to be complacent and self–satisfied but in order to do the Lord’s work of service in building up and expanding the Body of Christ.


Conclusion

This message is vital because of the way so many people and Christians in particular are being deceived. We need to discern that all of the misinformation is not found in the tabloids and scandal sheets at your supermarket check-out. We live in a culture of deceit managed by unscrupulous politicians, journalists, and scientists, but created by Satan. We need to appreciate the power of the truth we possess in Scripture and walk in that truth. And we need to help one another grow in that truth and the discriminating wisdom that it brings.