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What is Truth?
A Sermon by the late Rosco Brong

Truth is Both Relative and Absolute and it can be Found Out

"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again. . . ." (John 18:38.)

Pilate's question was a confession of ignorance, but worse than this, it was a profession of willful ignorance. It is no disgrace to be ignorant: we are all ignorant, more or less. But it is a tragic disgrace to be willfully ignorant, to have opportunity to learn and then to turn away from the truth, to choose for ourselves to remain ignorant rather than learn the truth.

Confusion of truth and error in this world is sufficiently frustrating that sophistry and agnosticism have be­come the popular philosophies of shal­low minds. To the sophist one opinion is as good as another if it can be prof­itably rationalized. To the agnostic the search for truth is too much trou­ble: he lazily rests in his ignorance and consoles himself with the delusion that everyone else is as ignorant as he is.

Relativity in Truth
Grossly overworked in current reli­gions philosophy is the fact that much truth, is relative. It would be foolish to deny this fact, which was not in­vented by modern philosophy, out is perfectly Biblical. For instance, in the absolute sense, there is none good but God. (Mark 10:18.) But relatively speaking, Barnabas was a good man.

When Jesus said, "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me" (John 7:16), certainly He was declaring rela­tive truth. So also when He said of the Holy Spirit, "He shall not speak of himself." (John 16:13.)

Nevertheless, it is an egregious er­ror to suppose that all truth is rela­tive. On the contrary, there is such a thing as absolute truth, truth that is not dependent on comparisons or cir­cumstances but is in itself unchang­ingly and forever true. Moreover, it is possible even for our finite minds to learn a little something of eternal truth.
Value of Truth
"The truth of the Lord endureth for ever" (Psalm 117:2), which is more than can be said of the fleeting opinions of men. Truth is something we can stand on and stand by, without shame or apology, for time and eternity. No matter what it may cost us, it is worth more than it costs.

Money cannot buy truth. Its cost is rather to be reckoned In terms of time and attention, honesty and humility, sometimes suffering and sacrifice. But regardless of how much it may cost to obtain and regardless of what price may be offered to induce us to give it up, the counsel of scripture is clear and concise: "Buy the truth, arid sell it not* (Proverbs 23:23.)

Power of Truth
Truth is a mighty power for those who learn it. This is an evident fact in all of life, but most of all in scriptural matters. One part of divine truth Is the gospel of Christ, and this gospel "is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." (Romans 1:16.}

In a broader view of truth, Jesus said "to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue In my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31, 32.)

So we can understand that divine truth has power not only for salvation from the penalty of sin, but in the lives of genuine disciples (learners) it has power to save continuously and eternally from the practice and presence of sin. Such power can be found nowhere else.

Source of Truth
All truth comes originally from God; He is the "God of truth" and "all his works are done in truth." (Psalm 31:5; 33:4.) It was in recognition that God is the source of truth that the inspired psalmist prayed:

"O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles," (Psalm 43:3.)

While we must confess with David that God's "knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it" (Psalm 139:6), we may yet take courage from the proclamation to Moses of "The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth." (Exodus 34:6.)

Well may we pray then, again with David, "Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: . . . The secret of Hie Lord is with them that fear him." (Psalm 25:4-14.)

Revelation of Truth
God's truth is revealed in His works, in His law, in His judgments, in His sal­vation, in His Son, in His Spirit, and in His word. These means of revelation are of varying degrees of clarity and definiteness.

All God's works are "in truth" and "are truth" (Psalm 33:4; Daniel 4:37), and His invisible things, His eternal power and deity, are clearly seen from the creation of the world, being understood by the things that are made (Romans 1:20). It is only because man is blinded by sin, that he refuses to see something of the truth of God in His creation.

"Thy law is the truth," sang the psalmist, "and all thy commandments are truth." (Psalm 119:142, 151.) Beware of antinomianism which would cut us off from this revelation of truth.

"The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." (Psalm 19:9.) "When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." (Isaiah 26:9.) "The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth." (Psalm 9:16.)

"My prayer," sang David, "is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation." (Psalm 69:l3.) He understood that "By mercy and truth iniquity is purged." (Proverbs 16:6.)

It is in the Son of God that we find the supreme revelation, of Himself and of His truth, as Jesus Himself declared: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh onto the Father, but by me." (John l4:6.)

But Jesus is not here in the flesh, and so He has given us "another Comforter," the Holy Spirit, to guide us "into all truth." (John 14:16; 16:13.) It is "the Spirit of truth" (John. 14:17) Who takes of the things that are Christ's and shows them to us. (John. 16:15.)

Yet we are warned, "Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world," (I John 4:1.) The next two verses, in improved trans­lation, read as follows:

"In this know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in flesh is from God: and every spirit that does not confess the Jesus Christ that has come in flesh is not from God: and this is the spirit of the antichrist, which ye have heard that it is coming, and now it is in the world already."

Therefore the test of any spirit that might lead or teach as is the testimony of that spirit concerning Jesus Christ — whether the spirit agrees with the writ­ten record of "the Jesus Christ that has come in flesh."

Not without reason did the psalmist exclaim: "I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovrng kindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above an thy name." (Psalm 138:2.)

"Thy word is truth," Jesus testified to His Father (John 17:17), and to skeptics He insisted, "The scripture cannot be broken." (John 10:35.)

"To the law and to the testimony," cried the faithful prophet, "If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isaiah 8:20.)

He Who is above all the Faithful Wit­ness (Revelation 1:5) warns us faithfully: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." (Matthew 24:35.)

Invitation of Truth
Finally, let us remember that the God of truth, He Who is the truth, invites us to learn of Him:

"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your soul." (Matthew 11:28, 29.) When we come to know Jesus, we have found the truth.

[From AAB, June 27, 1969, pp. 1, 3. - jrd]

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