Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Matthew chapter 22 as we look at the issue of truth, what is it and what people do with it. And as you are turning there, listen to this story that relates to our topic, truth, or should I say, ignoring the truth. The story goes like this:
Shortly after the communist revolution, a spokesman for the Party visited one of the peasant villages and began to promote Communism. He said, "Thanks to the Party, we have increased wheat production by 100 percent." One little man stood up in the back and said, "My name is Menski, and I would like to know where all that wheat is."
The next year the same official returned to the same village and began the same litany of propaganda, except in this case he said, "I want you to know now we have increased the wheat production 200 percent." Little man in the back stood up and said, "My name is Menski, and I have one question. Where is all that wheat?"
Third year came. Same official approached these people and began his same talk. And he said, "The Communist party has increased the wheat production 300 percent." Little fellow stood up in the back. And the official says, "I know, youre Menski, and..." The fellow responded, "No, my name is Polaski and I have one question. Where is Menski?"
- Leslie Flynn, Humorous Incidents and Quips
Some try to put to silence the truth while others just ignore it. Leading up to our section we will be studying this morning, the Jewish religious leaders were trying to put to silence the truth that Jesus was speaking. They questioned His authority, who gave Him the right to do the things He was doing and to say the things He was saying?
So several groups of people confront Jesus, trying to catch Him in the words He was saying and thus, put Him to silence. The Pharisees and the Herodians came together questioning Jesus about paying taxes, is it lawful? In their minds it was a no win situation for Jesus. If He said it was lawful, the Jews would rebel because they hated anything to do with the Romans. If He said it was not lawful to pay taxes the Herodians would report Him as a tax dodger, a insurrectionist! And Jesus responded to this no win question by saying, "...Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." Matthew 22:21. And they were put to silence by His answer instead of Jesus being put to silence!
Then the Sadducees came questioning about the resurrection, for they did not believe in the resurrection, they saw it as foolish and they gave Jesus a imaginary story to show how foolish it was. But Jesus takes them to the Scriptures and tells them that they dont know the Scriptures and they dont know the power of God. You see, God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living! He is not the Great "I was!" but the Great "I Am!" And once again He put these religious leaders to silence, they did not put Him to silence!
Then a lawyer comes up to Him, a member of the Pharisees, and he wants to know out of the 613 commandments, which was the greatest, a question that had been debated over and over again. And Jesus says that they are to love God with their entire being and to love man. That also put this man and those with him to silence and not the other way around.
Now they didnt want to talk to Jesus anymore, but Jesus is not going to let them get away with these things just yet, so He questions them. And we will pick up our study this morning in verse 41 of Matthew chapter 22, where we read...
This truly is a great question. Jesus is trying to draw out their faith, to get them to examine what they truly are believing. So Jesus asks them, "...What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He? They said to Him, The Son of David." Matthew 22:42. A very easy question for them to answer, they were taught that the Christ, the Messiah is to be "The Son of David." And on this point they were 100% correct. So far, they are not voted off, they are not the weakest link!
But then Jesus nails them by asking them another question, "...How then does David in the Spirit call Him Lord, saying: "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool"?" Matthew 22:43-44. You see, in their minds, the way they were taught, the Messiah was going to be a man like Moses. He was not God. But now their beliefs, what they were taught is being challenged. Their foundations are beginning to shake and crumble. Why?
Listen carefully. They lived in a patriarchal society where the father is always treated with respect and honor. It did not matter how old the father was or how old the son was, the son always treated his father with respect. In fact, the son would call him Lord or ADONI, a term meaning master, a term of respect and honor. Also understand that the father would never call his son Lord or ADONI, master!
And here is the question that will really shake them. Jesus asks them "If David then calls Him Lord, how is He his Son?" Matthew 22:45. Do you see what Jesus is saying here? How can David call his Son Lord, ADONI? That is not kosher! Thus, Jesus is saying that the Messiah is much more than the Son of David, He is the Son of God! And thus, because of that, David called Him Lord, ADONI! It is as Paul said in Romans 1:3-4, "concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." Again, not only the Son of David, but the Son of God, and thus, David rightly called Him Lord!
The religious leaders were silenced once again. The truth was before them. They had the choice of accepting it or rejecting it, but they could not deny it. But they shut their ears, they ended up rejecting the truth before them because it did not fit their religious views. It went against their beliefs. How sad it is to see this. You see, what they held onto was challenged, and instead of investigating it further, instead of checking it out, they were silent. They were not interested in the truth. Thus, they are the weakest link, goodbye!
In his book, Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington wrote how in the period just after the Civil War, many people became teachers, thinking it was an easy way to make money. So they would float from town to town, teaching in small classrooms and rural settings until it was realized by the people of the village their teacher was a fake.
Booker T. Washington tells of one man who entered a village and applied for the post as a teacher. The people of the village were warned of the fakes that were going from town to town so they asked this applicant a question to see if he was real. They asked him if the world is flat or round. He replied, "Well that depends on what you believe. Im prepared to teach either view."
And that is one of the problems with our society, they dont believe there is absolute truth. Many times it is the majority rules and that makes the truth. I just had a discussion recently with someone who tried to tell me he learned in school that the Muslim faith is a faith of peace and love. I tried to share with him what the Koran teaches and he said to me, "You mean that all these other people are wrong? Teachers, reporters, religious leaders, are wrong and you alone are right?" I said, "It doesnt matter what I believe, what you believe, what others believe. What matters is the truth and you can check out the Koran yourself and find in Sura chapters 5 and 9 that it is a religion of war!" Obviously he didnt like that nor did he check it out. He was happy to believe a lie because he felt it was right!
You see, people today are not really interested in the truth even when they can see it for themselves. People want to do what they want so they justify it by ignoring what is right and what is wrong. Actress Liv Ullman said as she was interviewed on The Today Show, "There are no rules which apply to everybody and there are many kinds of truth. The one which is easiest and best to live by is your own, the core within yourself. Ive never told my daughter what I say is the truth." Is it just me or is that just plain foolish?
I would love to see her apply that to her life, that there are no rules that apply to everyone. You see, I think the law of gravity does, it is a good rule, but, according to her philosophy, she doesnt believe it applys to everyone. So to prove her point, she should climb to the top of this building and walk off. And you know what would happen, the law of gravity would affect her as she would come crashing to the ground, her experiment failed! And I dont care how many people you get to do this, the same result will happen, it is the law of gravity, it is a truth!
What about the court system or law enforcement. Why do we have them if you create your own reality, you make up your own laws? You may not believe that killing a person is wrong, but I do. But I couldnt say anything against you, because that is what you believe is true. That too is just plain foolish! Thus, in their mind there is no absolute truth, everyone does what is right in their own eyes. Do you know what we call that? ANARCHY!
"On the pages of Charles Schultzs comic strip Peanuts, the junior pop philosopher Linus came face to face with a form of religious persecution. In an understandable piece of childrens logic, he decided that Halloween was just as important an occasion as Christmas. If Christmas had Santa Claus, why shouldnt Halloween have a hero as well? So Linus used his imagination and invented a suitable mythical figure for the occasion - The Great Pumpkin. Naturally, this departure from the straight and narrow met with some opposition. Linus ended up being ridiculed by the holders of the more traditional belief in Santa and the eight tiny reindeer. But undaunted, security blanket in hand, he uttered a phrase that would become an anthem for a generation: It doesnt matter what you believe, as long as youre sincere!"
And isnt that what we see today, sincerity is more important than truth. But think about that for a minute. Sincerity is worthless unless it is based in truth! Doesnt that make sense to you? I dont think Im out on a limb on that one, but you talk to some people about truth, and they could care less.
But negating the truths have a affect on our society, as Im sure you can imagine. Let me explain. Everyone is aware of what transpired with President Clinton and the White House Intern, Monica Lewinsky and how he tried to cover up their sexual relationship. After he admitted to something, we are not exactly sure what, some people wrote letters to Time Magazine, and this particular one was published in the September 14, 1988 issue. This is what one person wrote:
"The simple words of Rev. Jim Casy in John Steinbecks The Grapes of Wrath provide meaningful commentary on the Clinton-Lewinsky matter: There aint no sin and there aint no virtue. Theres just stuff people do. Its all part of the same thing. And some of the things folks do is nice, and some aint nice, but thats as far as any man got a right to say."
Think about that for a minute. "Hi honey, I didnt have sex with that woman really, I was just doing stuff with her!" See how far that will get you! That philosophy is totally wrong. There are right and wrong things, legal and illegal, moral and immoral, there is absolute truth! And thus, truth is the expression of what is real, and it doesnt matter if anyone believes it or not!
Now some of you may argue that of course the unsaved, those that dont know Jesus as Lord and Savior will feel this way. They have no standard to live by except their own or what others have set. But Christians on the other hand believe in absolute truth, right? Wrong! In a 1991 George Barna survey they had one question that asked the following: "Do you agree strongly, agree somewhat, disagree somewhat, or disagree strongly with the following statement - there is no such thing as absolute truth; different people can define truth in conflicting ways and still be correct."
Only 23% of those who call themselves "evangelical Christians" expressed a strong belief that there is absolute truth. 67% of believers dont believe strongly in absolute truth! That should shock us. That means that 3 out of every 4 Christians really believe there is no objective truth, that truth is determined by what one believes, whatever that may be. That should be alarming to us!
Now if that is true, which I believe it is, no wonder few are compelled to share the Gospel with the lost. If there is no absolute truth, then the Gospel might be the truth, it might contain the truth, but it doesnt have to be for you, as long as you are sincere about whatever it is you believe. As long as you are sincere you will be okay. According to Barna, if 3 out of 4 believers dont believe in absolute truth, that means that the 3 people surrounding you dont believe in absolute truth. So turn to them and ask them "Why not? Whats your problem?" No, dont do that, just kidding!
But with those statistics, I want to spend the remainder of our time sharing with you several things that are absolute truths. And as we complete this, hopefully your faith will be strengthened, you will trust in these absolute truths that are given to us, and that it would stimulate you to share those truths with others. These five areas we are going to be looking at are THE BIBLE, THE FATHER, JESUS, THE HOLY SPIRIT, and we will conclude with THE CHURCH. And you may want to write some of these verses down so you can go over them again, keep them fresh in your mind.
1. THE BIBLE
For some, they pick and chose what they like and dislike in the Bible and that is wrong. It doesnt contain the Words of God, but it is the Word of God. It does not just contain the truth, it is the truth. If it only contains the Words of God, then how do you know which ones? First of all, II Timothy 3:16 tells us that "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God..." or literally breathed from the mouth of God! But that does not necessarily speak of it being truth or absolute truth, and that is correct.
But listen carefully to these verses and see what conclusion you will come to. And just a hint, there is only one right answer! Jesus said in John 17:17, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." I think that is pretty clear, but there is even more. In James 1:18 we are told, "Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." Gods Word brought us into the faith, it is truth! This same thought is found in Colossians 1:4-6, where we read, "since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth." You see, Gods Word is truth, it just doesnt contain truths!
2. THE FATHER
Here we being our look at the Holy Trinity and we are going to see that the Father is truth. In John 17:3 we are told, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." He alone is the True God. And in Psalm 12:6 we read, "The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." Gods Words are truth, perfect, there is no darkness in them at all for God the Father is truth!
The second member of the Holy Trinity is also truth, absolute truth, and that is Jesus. In John 14:6 Jesus tells us this point by saying, "...I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." He is truth. Thus, if Jesus is absolute truth, we need to heed His words and not just pick and chose those we like and dislike. The Gospel message, the things that Jesus taught is not just some huge smorgasbord where you pick and chose what you want. It is all truth and you can accept it or reject it but it doesnt change the fact that Jesus is truth!
4. THE HOLY SPIRIT
The third and final member of the Holy Trinity is the Holy Spirit, and like the rest, He is absolute truth, there is no darkness in Him at all. In John 14:16-17 Jesus said, "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." Notice, the Spirit of truth, not one of the Spirits of many truths!
In John 15:26 Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me." Notice, this Spirit of truth will testify of Jesus.
And lastly, in John 16:13 Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come." If you are confused about truth, unsure, bring it to God, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in the truth, and He will for He is absolute truth!
5. THE CHURCH
We have the authority that the Word of God is absolute truth. We have the assurance that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are absolute truth. But, because the church many times does not believe this, they are not speaking of the truth to their people but the philosophys and ideas of the world.
But, in I Timothy 3:15 Paul told Timothy, "but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." The church is to be the foundation, the mainstay of the truths of God found in the Word of God. It is to be a pillar or a support to them. But in many churches you dont get the Word, but you are entertained, you are given fables, fairy tales, and that is wrong. You see, when people want the truth, when they dont want the truth, the church is to give it to them, they need to hear it.
Again, Paul told Timothy, "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." II Timothy 4:1-5. Fulfill the ministry God has called you to do, when it is popular and when it is not!
Dont be like these religious leaders, when confronted with the truth, they were silent, they ignored it. Charles Swindoll said, "After a morning church service a man stopped me and said, Ive waited till the end to talk to you, because Ive got a question that may take a long time to answer. I want to know from you, what is the truth? Ive heard you talk and Ive listened to you preach. What do you mean whey you refer to the truth?
He was standing with his arms folded hugging a Bible to his chest. I punched the cover of his Bible and said, Everything within the covers of that Book, and nothing else. I dont think I had ever answered that question like that before. He expected a long answer, but to his surprise, and a little to mine, it wasnt very long at all. Scriptural truth is what we need." I couldnt agree with him more!
Let me leave you this morning with these words from Paul to think about. My prayer is you will not leave here believing there is no absolute truth, because, as we have seen, there is! Paul put it this way in Colossians 2:8-10, "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power." The choice is yours, the empty truth of the world or the solid truth, the pure truth of God and His Word!