Category: “What is truth?”

Was Jesus a Jew?

One needs only to search the internet today to determine that there is great controversy and disagreement over the question of whether Jesus of Nazareth was actually Jewish. Before we can answer this question adequately, we must first ask another question: who (or what) is a Jew? Even this question has its controversial elements, and the answer depends on who is answering. But one definition that each of the major sects of Judaism— Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform—would probably agree to is, “A Jew is any person whose mother was a Jew or any person who has gone through the formal process of conversion to Judaism.”

Although the Hebrew Bible does not specifically state anywhere that matrilineal descent should be used, modern rabbinical Judaism believes that there are several passages in the Torah where this is understood or implied, such as Deuteronomy 7:1-5; Leviticus 24:10; and Ezra 10:2-3. Then there are several examples in Scripture of Gentiles converting to Judaism (i.e., Ruth, the Moabitess; see Ruth 1:16 where Ruth voices her desire to convert) and are considered every bit as Jewish as an ethnic Jew.

So, let’s consider these three questions: Was Jesus a Jew ethnically? Was Jesus an observant Jew religiously? And then finally, if Jesus was a Jew, why don’t Christians follow Judaism?

Was Jesus a Jew ethnically, or was his mother a Jew? Jesus clearly identified with the Jews of His day, His physical people and tribe, and their religion (although correcting its errors).. God purposely sent Him to Judah: “He came to His own [Judah], and His own [Judah] did not receive Him. But as many [Jews] as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name… (John 1:11-12 NKJV), and He clearly said, “You [Gentiles] worship what you do not know; we [Jews] know what we [Jews] worship, for salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).

The very first verse of the New Testament clearly proclaims the Jewish ethnicity of Jesus. “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). It is evident from passages like Hebrews 7:14, “For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah,” that Jesus descended from the tribe of Judah, from which we get the name “Jew.” And what about Mary, the mother of Jesus? In the genealogy in Luke chapter 3, we see clearly that Mary was a direct descendant of King David which gave Jesus the legal right to ascend the Jewish throne as well as establishing without any doubt that Jesus was a Jew ethnically.

Was Jesus an observant Jew religiously? Both of Jesus’ parents had “done everything required by the Law of the Lord” (Luke 2:39). His aunt and uncle, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were also Torah-observant Jews (Luke 1:6), so we can see that probably the whole family took their Jewish faith very seriously.

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7), Jesus continually affirmed the authority of the Torah and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17) even in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:19-20). He regularly attended synagogue (Luke 4:16), and His teaching was respected by the other Jews of His day (Luke 4:15). He taught in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (Luke 21:37), and if He were not a Jew, His going into that part of the Temple would simply not have been allowed (Acts 21:28-30).

Jesus also displayed the outward signs of being an observant Jew. He wore tzitzit (tassles) on His clothing (Luke 8:43; Matthew 14:36) to serve as a reminder of the commandments (Numbers 15:37-39). He observed Passover (John 2:13) and went up to Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:16) on this very important Jewish pilgrimage feast day. He observed Succoth, or the feast of tabernacles (John 7:2, 10) and went up to Jerusalem (John 7:14) as required in the Torah. He also observed Hanukah, the festival of lights (John 10:22) and probably Rosh Hashanah, the feast of trumpets (John 5:1), going up to Jerusalem on both those occasions as well, even though it isn’t commanded in the Torah. Clearly, Jesus identified Himself as a Jew (John 4:22) and as King of the Jews (Mark 15:2). From His birth to His last Passover Seder (Luke 22:14-15), Jesus lived as an observant Jew.

So, if Jesus was a Jew, why is it that Christians don’t follow Judaism? The Laws of Judaism were given to Moses for the children of Israel in a very sacred and special covenant at Mount Sinai and recorded for us in the book of Exodus. In this covenant, God wrote His laws on tablets of stone, and Israel was commanded to be obedient to all that was revealed to them. But this wonderful covenant was only a picture of a New and better covenant that God would one day give to His people, both Jew and Gentile.

This new covenant is recorded for us in Jeremiah 31:31-34, “‘The time is coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,’ declares the LORD. ‘This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, “Know the LORD,” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the LORD. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’”

Christians don’t follow Judaism today because the Mosaic covenant has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). And the writer to the Hebrews wrote, “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear” (Hebrews 8:13).

As Christians we don’t need to follow the old covenant any longer because that old covenant has been replaced. We now have a better covenant, with a better sacrifice, administered by a better High Priest! “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:19-23).

So much has been lost, I must start with the name itself. Christian What does it mean? A Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ who is Christ-like. Even this has been perverted in America. Christian has come to mean, anyone who confesses that Jesus was something more than a man. There are sinful Christians, lukewarm Christians, lying, cheating, stealing Christians. There are worldly Christians, carnal Christians, violent Christians, and adulterous Christians. The name has become an idol. People think that by wearing the title, they will be blessed or even saved. As I said, the hirelings have done us a great evil. But here is the greatest evil of all; they have made Jesus and His cross into an idol! They have perverted who He is and what His cross stands for. They have preached, another Jesus and a pillow cross. This has brought deception and death to the church in America.

This is the sin of the leaders

For among My people are found wicked men;
They lie in wait as one who sets snares;
They set a trap;
They catch men.
As a cage is full of birds,
So their houses are full of deceit.
Therefore they have become great and grown rich.
They have grown fat, they are sleek;
Yes, they surpass the deeds of the wicked;
They do not plead the cause,
The cause of the fatherless;
Yet they prosper,
And the right of the needy they do not defend.

Shall I not punish them for these things? says the LORD.
Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this? Their sin be upon there own head.

But, this is the sin of the people called Christian –

An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land:
The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power;
And My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?

Jesus is not a baby in a manger. He is not your buddy. He is not your servant. He did not come to make you happy, rich, successful, or to build your self-esteem. He is not a picture on your wall or a fuzzy feeling in your heart. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords! He is the Almighty Judge of heaven and earth! He is coming back in wrath!

Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. (Rev. 19:15) I cry out with John, Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? I asked this question to two young men in a big church the other day; they had no idea what I was talking about. They both told me they had never been warned. They grew up in church and had never been warned to flee from the Wrath of God! What kind of preacher does not warn these young, worldly, sensual people to Flee from the Wrath to Come!? A hireling, who does not love the sheep.
Let us hear the whole of John’s warning:

Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father.

(I’m a Christian) For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:7-12)
This is the Jesus that is about to visit America! The Jesus most have believed in, is nothing more than an idol; a vain imagination of man’s own heart; a formed image that has no power. The real Jesus is coming to, reward every man according to what he does, not what he thinks. The real Jesus gives victory over sin, not peace in your sin. The real Jesus gathers only His wheat into the barn. He is coming to thoroughly purge the church in America.

A true Christian has a cross on his back. He has left the world behind, and counted it the enemy that it is. A true Christian, follows Jesus. To the one who is dead to self and sin, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

(Luke 14:25-27 & 34,35)
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

(Luke 9:24) Multitudes want to follow Jesus when He heals them and feeds them, but in the garden they sleep, and at the cross they forsake Him.
I say again, the cross of Christ has become an idol. It has been made something of honor, something of splendor to look upon. It is something that men hang on the wall that they may receive a blessing. Men worship idols to receive a blessing.

The cross of the Bible is a place of death! It is where Jesus gave up everything, saw the back of His Father turned toward Him, and died a gruesome death! It is where He calls us to follow. No man goes there without passing through Gethsemane. No man comes down from it alive. The hirelings have invented a resurrection without the death on the cross. Men have believed that Jesus did it for them so that they wouldn’t have to. Jesus says, If you do not follow Me here, you can not even be My disciple. Much less a Christian.

The false teachers, preachers, prophets, and priest, will bear their judgment! But what about those who hired them, and listened to men instead of God?

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.

(II. Timothy 4:3,4)
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame who set their mind on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18,19)

But what will you do in the end?

The apostle Paul described true worship perfectly in Romans 12:1-2: “I urge you  therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and  holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your  mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and  acceptable, or well pleasing and perfect.”

This passage contains all the  elements of true worship. First, there is the motivation to worship: “the  mercies of God.” God’s mercies are everything He has given us that we don’t  deserve: eternal love, eternal grace, the Holy Spirit, everlasting peace,  eternal joy, saving faith, comfort, strength, wisdom, hope, patience, kindness,  honor, glory, righteousness, security, eternal life, forgiveness,  reconciliation, justification, sanctification, freedom, intercession and much  more. The knowledge and understanding of these incredible gifts motivate us to  pour forth praise and thanksgiving—in other words, worship!

Also in the  passage is a description of the manner of our worship: “present your bodies a  living and holy sacrifice.” Presenting our bodies means giving to God all of  ourselves. The reference to our bodies here means all our human faculties, all  of our humanness—our hearts, minds, hands, thoughts, attitudes—are to be  presented to God. In other words, we are to give up control of these things and  turn them over to Him, just as a literal sacrifice was given totally to God on  the altar. But how? Again, the passage is clear: “by the renewing of your mind.”  We renew our minds daily by cleansing them of the world’s “wisdom” and replacing  it with true wisdom that comes from God. We worship Him with our renewed and  cleansed minds, not with our emotions. Emotions are wonderful things, but unless  they are shaped by a mind saturated in Truth, they can be destructive,  out-of-control forces. Where the mind goes, the will follows, and so do the  emotions. First  Corinthians 2:16 tells us we have “the mind of Christ,” not the emotions of  Christ.

There is only one way to renew our minds, and that is by the  Word of God. It is the truth, the knowledge of the Word of God, which is to say  the knowledge of the mercies of God, and we’re back where we began. To know the  truth, to believe the truth, to hold convictions about the truth, and to love  the truth will naturally result in true spiritual worship. It is conviction  followed by affection, affection that is a response to truth, not to any  external stimuli, including music. Music as such has nothing to do with worship.  Music can’t produce worship, although it certainly can produce emotion. Music is  not the origin of worship, but it can be the expression of it. Do not look to  music to induce your worship; look to music as simply an expression of that  which is induced by a heart that is rapt by the mercies of God, obedient to His  commands.

True worship is God-centered worship. People tend to get  caught up in where they should worship, what music they should sing in worship,  and how their worship looks to other people. Focusing on these things misses the  point. Jesus tells us that true worshipers will worship God in spirit and in  truth (John 4:24).  This means we worship from the heart and the way God has designed. Worship can  include praying, reading God’s Word with an open heart, singing, participating  in communion, and serving others. It is not limited to one act, but is done  properly when the heart and attitude of the person are in the right  place.

It’s also important to know that worship is reserved only for  God. Only He is worthy and not any of His servants (Revelation  19:10). We are not to worship saints, prophets, statues, angels, any false  gods, or Mary, the mother of Jesus. We also should not be worshiping for the  expectation of something in return, such as a miraculous healing. Worship is  done for God—because He deserves it—and for His pleasure alone. Worship can be  public praise to God (Psalm 22:2235:18) in a congregational  setting, where we can proclaim through prayer and praise our adoration and  thankfulness to Him and what He has done for us. True worship is felt inwardly  and then is expressed through our actions. “Worshiping” out of obligation is  displeasing to God and is completely in vain. He can see through all the  hypocrisy, and He hates it. He demonstrates this in Amos  5:21-24 as He talks about coming judgment. Another example is the story of  Cain and Abel, the first sons of Adam and Eve. They both brought gift offerings  to the Lord, but God was only pleased with Abel’s. Cain brought the gift out of  obligation; Abel brought his finest lambs from his flock. He brought out of  faith and admiration for God.

True worship is not confined to what we do  in church or open praise (although these things are both good, and we are told  in the Bible to do them). True worship is the acknowledgment of God and all His  power and glory in everything we do. The highest form of praise and worship is  obedience to Him and His Word. To do this, we must know God; we cannot be  ignorant of Him (Acts 17:23).  Worship is to glorify and exalt God—to show our loyalty and admiration to our  Father.

The idea of worshipping the Lord “in spirit and truth” comes from Jesus’  conversation with the woman at the well in  John 4:6-30. In the  conversation, the woman was discussing places of worship with Jesus, saying that  the Jews worshipped at Jerusalem, while the Samaritans worshipped at Mount  Gerizim. Jesus had just revealed that He knew about her many husbands, as well  as the fact that the current man she lived with was not her husband. This made  her uncomfortable, so she attempted to divert His attention from her personal  life to matters of religion. Jesus refused to be distracted from His lesson on  true worship and got to the heart of the matter:  “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the  Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him (John 4:23).

The overall lesson about worshipping  the Lord in spirit and truth is that worship of God is not to be confined to a  single geographical location or necessarily regulated by the temporary  provisions of Old Testament law. With the coming of Christ, the separation  between Jew and Gentile was no longer relevant, nor was the centrality of the  temple in worship. With the coming of Christ, all of God’s children gained equal  access to God through Him. Worship became a matter of the heart, not external  actions, and directed by truth rather than ceremony.

In Deuteronomy 6:4, Moses  sets down for the Israelites how they are to love their God: “You shall love the  Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your  might.” Our worship of God is directed by our love for Him; as we love, so we  worship. Because the idea of “might” in Hebrew indicates totality, Jesus  expanded this expression to “mind” and “strength” (Mark 12:30Luke 10:27). To worship God  in spirit and truth necessarily involves loving Him with heart, soul, mind and  strength.

True worship must be “in spirit,” that is, engaging the whole  heart. Unless there’s a real passion for God, there is no worship in spirit. At  the same time, worship must be “in truth,” that is, properly informed. Unless we  have knowledge of the God we worship, there is no worship in truth. Both are  necessary for satisfying and God-honoring worship. Spirit without truth leads to  a shallow, overly-emotional experience that could be compared to a high. As soon  as the emotion is over, when the fervor cools, so does the worship. Truth  without spirit can result in a dry, passionless encounter that can easily lead  to a form of joyless legalism. The best combination of both aspects of worship  results in a joyous appreciation of God informed by Scripture. The more we know  about God, the more we appreciate Him. The more we appreciate, the deeper our  worship. The deeper our worship, the more God is glorified.

This melding  of spirit and truth in worship is best summed up by Jonathan Edwards, the 18th  century American pastor and theologian. He said: “I should think myself in the  way of my duty to raise the affections [emotions] of my hearers as high as  possibly I can, provided that they are affected with nothing but truth.” Edwards  recognized that truth and only truth can properly influence the emotions in a  way that brings honor to God. The truth of God, being of infinite value, is  worthy of infinite passion.

“The truth will set you free” is a common saying in academic circles that want  to promote academic freedom and the power of learning. Many universities have  this statement emblazoned on a sign near the entrance of a building. But “the  truth will set you free” did not originate in academia; Jesus said it in John 8:32. In context, Jesus’  statement has nothing to do with classroom learning. In fact, John 8:32 speaks of a higher form of knowledge than is  capable of being learned in a classroom.

Jesus had just finished a  speech at the temple where He delineated differences between Himself and His  listeners. “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not  of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe  that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins” (John  8:23–24). The result of Jesus’ message was that “even as he spoke, many  believed in him” (verse 30). Then, in verse 31, Jesus begins to speak just to  those who had believed.

“Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you  are really my disciples’” (John 8:31).  True discipleship is more than intellectual assent; those who are “really”  followers of Christ will “hold to” His Word. That means they will not only  accept His teachings as truth, but they will also obey His teachings. Action is  proof of faith (cf. James  2:17).

True disciples of Jesus believe that He speaks the truth  about God and the Scriptures. They also know that He is who He claims to be.  Back in verse 25, the people asked Jesus who He was, and He responded, “Just  what I have been telling you from the beginning.” There may be a tinge of  exasperation in His response; He had repeatedly made known that He was the  Messiah, the one they had anticipated for many years.

Verse 32 begins  with, “Then you will know the truth.” “You” refers to those who are true  disciples of Jesus. True disciples will know the truth. More than that, their  eyes are opened to a greater understanding of the truth (cf. 1 John 5:20).

The  truth Jesus’ disciples receive brings with it freedom. Jesus continues, “And the  truth will set you free” (verse 32). At that point in history, the Jews were  under the rule of the Roman government. Even though Rome gave them an  exceptional amount of autonomy, they were keenly aware of the Roman presence  around them in the form of soldiers, governors, and empirically appointed kings.  When Jesus said the truth would set them free, however, He was not talking about  political freedom (though the following verses indicate that’s how the Jews took  it). Jesus provides the best commentary for His own statement in verse 34. Jesus  explains, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” Being a  slave to sin is the ultimate bondage.

The freedom Jesus offers is a  spiritual freedom from the bondage of sin—that is, release from the  lifestyle of habitual lawlessness. He continues with an analogy: “Now a slave  has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever” (verse  35). The people would have understood Jesus to mean that they were not members  of God’s family, despite their biological relationship to Abraham (verse 37),  because they were slaves to sin. If they were to become disciples of Jesus, they  would know the truth of their condition and the truth about Christ, and Jesus  would set them free. Believers would be freed from their bondage and brought  into the family of God.

Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6).  Knowing the Truth will set one at liberty—free from sin, free from condemnation,  and free from death (Romans 6:228:1–2).  Jesus came to proclaim liberty to the captives (Luke 4:18).  “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but  living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16,  ESV).

In order to understand absolute or universal truth, we must begin by defining  truth. Truth, according to the dictionary, is “conformity to fact or actuality;  a statement proven to be or accepted as true.” Some people would say that there  is no true reality, only perceptions and opinions. Others would argue that there  must be some absolute reality or truth. (See also: “What is Truth?”)

One view says that there are no  absolutes that define reality. Those who hold this view believe everything is  relative to something else, and thus there can be no actual reality. Because of  that, there are ultimately no moral absolutes, no authority for deciding if an  action is positive or negative, right or wrong. This view leads to “situational  ethics,” the belief that what is right or wrong is relative to the situation.  There is no right or wrong; therefore, whatever feels or seems right at the time  and in that situation is right. Of course, situational ethics leads to a  subjective, “whatever feels good” mentality and lifestyle, which has a  devastating effect on society and individuals. This is postmodernism, creating a  society that regards all values, beliefs, lifestyles, and truth claims as  equally valid.

The other view holds that there are indeed absolute  realities and standards that define what is true and what is not. Therefore,  actions can be determined to be either right or wrong by how they measure up to  those absolute standards. If there are no absolutes, no reality, chaos ensues.  Take the law of gravity, for instance. If it were not an absolute, we could not  be certain we could stand or sit in one place until we decided to move. Or if  two plus two did not always equal four, the effects on civilization would be  disastrous. Laws of science and physics would be irrelevant, and commerce would  be impossible. What a mess that would be! Thankfully, two plus two does equal  four. There is absolute truth, and it can be found and understood.

To  make the statement that there is no absolute truth is illogical. Yet, today,  many people are embracing a cultural relativism that denies any type of absolute  truth. A good question to ask people who say, “There is no absolute truth” is  this: “Are you absolutely sure of that?” If they say “yes,” they have made an  absolute statement—which itself implies the existence of absolutes. They are  saying that the very fact there is no absolute truth is the one and only  absolute truth.

Beside the problem of self-contradiction, there are  several other logical problems one must overcome to believe that there are no  absolute or universal truths. One is that all humans have limited knowledge and  finite minds and, therefore, cannot logically make absolute negative statements.  A person cannot logically say, “There is no God” (even though many do so),  because, in order to make such a statement, he would need to have absolute  knowledge of the entire universe from beginning to end. Since that is  impossible, the most anyone can logically say is “With the limited knowledge I  have, I do not believe there is a God.”

Another problem with the denial  of absolute truth/universal truth is that it fails to live up to what we know to  be true in our own consciences, our own experiences, and what we see in the real  world. If there is no such thing as absolute truth, then there is nothing  ultimately right or wrong about anything. What might be “right” for you does not  mean it is “right” for me. While on the surface this type of relativism seems to  be appealing, what it means is that everybody sets his own rules to live by and  does what he thinks is right. Inevitably, one person’s sense of right will soon  clash with another’s. What happens if it is “right” for me to ignore traffic  lights, even when they are red? I put many lives at risk. Or I might think it is  right to steal from you, and you might think it is not right. Clearly, our  standards of right and wrong are in conflict. If there is no absolute truth, no  standard of right and wrong that we are all accountable to, then we can never be  sure of anything. People would be free to do whatever they want—murder, rape,  steal, lie, cheat, etc., and no one could say those things would be wrong. There  could be no government, no laws, and no justice, because one could not even say  that the majority of the people have the right to make and enforce standards  upon the minority. A world without absolutes would be the most horrible world  imaginable.

From a spiritual standpoint, this type of relativism results  in religious confusion, with no one true religion and no way of having a right  relationship with God. All religions would therefore be false because they all  make absolute claims regarding the afterlife. It is not uncommon today for  people to believe that two diametrically opposed religions could both be equally  “true,” even though both religions claim to have the only way to heaven or teach  two totally opposite “truths.” People who do not believe in absolute truth  ignore these claims and embrace a more tolerant universalism that teaches all  religions are equal and all roads lead to heaven. People who embrace this  worldview vehemently oppose evangelical Christians who believe the Bible when it  says that Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life” and that He is the  ultimate manifestation of truth and the only way one can get to heaven (John 14:6).

Tolerance  has become the one cardinal virtue of the postmodern society, the one absolute,  and, therefore, intolerance is the only evil. Any dogmatic belief—especially a  belief in absolute truth—is viewed as intolerance, the ultimate sin. Those who  deny absolute truth will often say that it is all right to believe what you  want, as long as you do not try to impose your beliefs on others. But this view  itself is a belief about what is right and wrong, and those who hold this view  most definitely do try to impose it on others. They set up a standard of  behavior which they insist others follow, thereby violating the very thing they  claim to uphold—another self-contradicting position. Those who hold such a  belief simply do not want to be accountable for their actions. If there is  absolute truth, then there are absolute standards of right and wrong, and we are  accountable to those standards. This accountability is what people are really  rejecting when they reject absolute truth.

The denial of absolute  truth/universal truth and the cultural relativism that comes with it are the  logical result of a society that has embraced the theory of evolution as the  explanation for life. If naturalistic evolution is true, then life has no  meaning, we have no purpose, and there cannot be any absolute right or wrong.  Man is then free to live as he pleases and is accountable to no one for his  actions. Yet no matter how much sinful men deny the existence of God and  absolute truth, they still will someday stand before Him in judgment. The Bible  declares that “…what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has  made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible  qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being  understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although  they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but  their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although  they claimed to be wise, they became fools” (Romans  1:19-22).

Is there any evidence for the existence of absolute truth?  Yes. First, there is the human conscience, that certain “something” within us  that tells us the world should be a certain way, that some things are right and  some are wrong. Our conscience convinces us there is something wrong with  suffering, starvation, rape, pain, and evil, and it makes us aware that love,  generosity, compassion, and peace are positive things for which we should  strive. This is universally true in all cultures in all times. The Bible  describes the role of the human conscience in Romans  2:14-16: “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature  things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do  not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written  on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now  accusing, now even defending them. This will take place on the day when God will  judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.”

The  second evidence for the existence of absolute truth is science. Science is  simply the pursuit of knowledge, the study of what we know and the quest to know  more. Therefore, all scientific study must by necessity be founded upon the  belief that there are objective realities existing in the world and these  realities can be discovered and proven. Without absolutes, what would there be  to study? How could one know that the findings of science are real? In fact, the  very laws of science are founded on the existence of absolute truth.

The  third evidence for the existence of absolute truth/universal truth is religion.  All the religions of the world attempt to give meaning and definition to life.  They are born out of mankind’s desire for something more than simple existence.  Through religion, humans seek God, hope for the future, forgiveness of sins,  peace in the midst of struggle, and answers to our deepest questions. Religion  is really evidence that mankind is more than just a highly evolved animal. It is  evidence of a higher purpose and of the existence of a personal and purposeful  Creator who implanted in man the desire to know Him. And if there is indeed a  Creator, then He becomes the standard for absolute truth, and it is His  authority that establishes that truth.

Fortunately, there is such a  Creator, and He has revealed His truth to us through His Word, the Bible.  Knowing absolute truth/universal truth is only possible through a personal  relationship with the One who claims to be the Truth—Jesus Christ. Jesus claimed  to be the only way, the only truth, the only life and the only path to God (John 14:6). The fact that  absolute truth does exist points us to the truth that there is a sovereign God  who created the heavens and the earth and who has revealed Himself to us in  order that we might know Him personally through His Son Jesus Christ. That is  the absolute truth.

“What is truth?”

Almost two thousand years  ago, Truth was put on trial and judged by people who were devoted to lies. In  fact, Truth faced six trials in less than one full day, three of which were  religious, and three that were legal. In the end, few people involved in those  events could answer the question, “What is truth?”

After being arrested,  the Truth was first led to a man named Annas, a corrupt former high priest of  the Jews. Annas broke numerous Jewish laws during the trial, including holding  the trial in his house, trying to induce self-accusations against the defendant,  and striking the defendant, who had been convicted of nothing at the time. After  Annas, the Truth was led to the reigning high priest, Caiaphas, who happened to  be Annas’s son-in-law. Before Caiaphas and the Jewish Sanhedrin, many false  witnesses came forward to speak against the Truth, yet nothing could be proved  and no evidence of wrongdoing could be found. Caiaphas broke no fewer than seven  laws while trying to convict the Truth: (1) the trial was held in secret; (2) it  was carried out at night; (3) it involved bribery; (4) the defendant had no one  present to make a defense for Him; (5) the requirement of 2-3 witnesses could  not be met; (6) they used self-incriminating testimony against the defendant;  (7) they carried out the death penalty against the defendant the same day. All  these actions were prohibited by Jewish law. Regardless, Caiaphas declared the  Truth guilty because the Truth claimed to be God in the flesh, something  Caiaphas called blasphemy.

When morning came, the third trial of the  Truth took place, with the result that the Jewish Sanhedrin pronounced the Truth  should die. However, the Jewish council had no legal right to carry out the  death penalty, so they were forced to bring the Truth to the Roman governor at  the time, a man named Pontius Pilate. Pilate was appointed by Tiberius as the  fifth prefect of Judea and served in that capacity  A.D. 26 to 36. The  procurator had power of life and death and could reverse capital sentences  passed by the Sanhedrin. As the Truth stood before Pilate, more lies were  brought against Him. His enemies said, “We found this man misleading our nation  and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a  King” (Luke 23:2).  This was a lie, as the Truth had told everyone to pay their taxes (Matthew 22:21) and never  spoke of Himself as a challenge to Caesar.

After this, a very  interesting conversation between the Truth and Pilate took place. “Therefore  Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him,  ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are you saying this on your own  initiative, or did others tell you about Me?’ Pilate answered, ‘I am not a Jew,  am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You  done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of  this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed  over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.’ Therefore  Pilate said to Him, ‘So You are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say correctly that  I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world,  to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’ Pilate  said to Him, ‘What is truth?’” (John  18:33–38).

Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” has reverberated  down through history. Was it a melancholy desire to know what no one else could  tell him, a cynical insult, or perhaps an irritated, indifferent reply to Jesus’  words?

In a postmodern world that denies that truth can be known, the  question is more important than ever to answer. What is  truth?

A Proposed Definition of Truth

In defining truth, it is first helpful to note what truth is not:

• Truth is not simply whatever works. This is the  philosophy of pragmatism – an ends-vs.-means-type approach. In reality, lies can  appear to “work,” but they are still lies and not the truth.
• Truth is not simply what is coherent or  understandable. A group of people can get together and form a conspiracy based  on a set of falsehoods where they all agree to tell the same false story, but it  does not make their presentation true.
• Truth is  not what makes people feel good. Unfortunately, bad news can be true.
• Truth is not what the majority says is true.  Fifty-one percent of a group can reach a wrong conclusion.
• Truth is not what is comprehensive. A lengthy,  detailed presentation can still result in a false conclusion.
• Truth is not defined by what is intended. Good  intentions can still be wrong.
• Truth is not how  we know; truth is what we know.
• Truth is not simply what is believed. A lie believed is still a lie.
•  Truth is not what is publicly proved. A truth can be privately known (for  example, the location of buried treasure).

The Greek word for “truth” is  aletheia, which literally means to “un-hide” or “hiding nothing.” It  conveys the thought that truth is always there, always open and available for  all to see, with nothing being hidden or obscured. The Hebrew word for “truth”  is emeth, which means “firmness,” “constancy” and “duration.” Such a  definition implies an everlasting substance and something that can be relied  upon.

From a philosophical perspective, there are three simple ways to  define truth:

1. Truth is that which corresponds to  reality.
2. Truth is that which matches its object.
3. Truth is simply telling it like it is.

First,  truth corresponds to reality or “what is.” It is real. Truth is also  correspondent in nature. In other words, it matches its object and is known by  its referent. For example, a teacher facing a class may say, “Now the only exit  to this room is on the right.” For the class that may be facing the teacher, the  exit door may be on their left, but it’s absolutely true that the door, for the  professor, is on the right.

Truth also matches its object. It may be  absolutely true that a certain person may need so many milligrams of a certain  medication, but another person may need more or less of the same medication to  produce the desired effect. This is not relative truth, but just an example of  how truth must match its object. It would be wrong (and potentially dangerous)  for a patient to request that their doctor give them an inappropriate amount of  a particular medication, or to say that any medicine for their specific ailment  will do.

In short, truth is simply telling it like it is; it is the way  things really are, and any other viewpoint is wrong. A foundational principle of  philosophy is being able to discern between truth and error, or as Thomas  Aquinas observed, “It is the task of the philosopher to make  distinctions.”

Challenges to Truth

Aquinas’  words are not very popular today. Making distinctions seems to be out of fashion  in a postmodern era of relativism. It is acceptable today to say, “This is  true,” as long as it is not followed by, “and therefore that is false.” This is  especially observable in matters of faith and religion where every belief system  is supposed to be on equal footing where truth is concerned.

There are  a number of philosophies and worldviews that challenge the concept of truth,  yet, when each is critically examined it turns out to be self-defeating in  nature.

The philosophy of relativism says that all truth is relative and  that there is no such thing as absolute truth. But one has to ask: is the claim  “all truth is relative” a relative truth or an absolute truth? If it is a  relative truth, then it really is meaningless; how do we know when and where it  applies? If it is an absolute truth, then absolute truth exists. Moreover, the  relativist betrays his own position when he states that the position of the  absolutist is wrong – why can’t those who say absolute truth exists be correct  too? In essence, when the relativist says, “There is no truth,” he is asking you  not to believe him, and the best thing to do is follow his advice.

Those who follow the philosophy of skepticism simply doubt all truth. But is  the skeptic skeptical of skepticism; does he doubt his own truth claim? If so,  then why pay attention to skepticism? If not, then we can be sure of at least  one thing (in other words, absolute truth exists)—skepticism, which, ironically,  becomes absolute truth in that case. The agnostic says you can’t know the truth.  Yet the mindset is self-defeating because it claims to know at least one truth:  that you can’t know truth.

The disciples of postmodernism simply affirm  no particular truth. The patron saint of postmodernism—Frederick  Nietzsche—described truth like this: “What then is truth? A mobile army of  metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms … truths are illusions … coins which  have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.”  Ironically, although the postmodernist holds coins in his hand that are now  “mere metal,” he affirms at least one absolute truth: the truth that no truth  should be affirmed. Like the other worldviews, postmodernism is self-defeating  and cannot stand up under its own claim.

A popular worldview is  pluralism, which says that all truth claims are equally valid. Of course, this  is impossible. Can two claims – one that says a woman is now pregnant and  another that says she is not now pregnant – both be true at the same time?  Pluralism unravels at the feet of the law of non-contradiction, which says that  something cannot be both “A” and “Non-A” at the same time and in the same sense.  As one philosopher quipped, anyone who believes that the law of  non-contradiction is not true (and, by default, pluralism is true) should be  beaten and burned until they admit that to be beaten and burned is not the same  thing as to not be beaten and burned. Also, note that pluralism says that it is  true and anything opposed to it is false, which is a claim that denies its own  foundational tenet.

The spirit behind pluralism is an open-armed  attitude of tolerance. However, pluralism confuses the idea of everyone having  equal value with every truth claim being equally valid. More simply, all people  may be equal, but not all truth claims are. Pluralism fails to understand the  difference between opinion and truth, a distinction Mortimer Adler notes:  “Pluralism is desirable and tolerable only in those areas that are matters of  taste rather than matters of truth.”

The Offensive Nature of  Truth

When the concept of truth is maligned, it usually for one  or more of the following reasons:

One common complaint against anyone  claiming to have absolute truth in matters of faith and religion is that such a  stance is “narrow-minded.” However, the critic fails to understand that, by  nature, truth is narrow. Is a math teacher narrow-minded for holding to the  belief that 2 + 2 only equals 4?

Another objection to truth is that it  is arrogant to claim that someone is right and another person is wrong. However,  returning to the above example with mathematics, is it arrogant for a math  teacher to insist on only one right answer to an arithmetic problem? Or is it  arrogant for a locksmith to state that only one key will open a locked door?

A third charge against those holding to absolute truth in matters of  faith and religion is that such a position excludes people, rather than being  inclusive. But such a complaint fails to understand that truth, by nature,  excludes its opposite. All answers other than 4 are excluded from the reality of  what 2 + 2 truly equals.

Yet another protest against truth is that it  is offensive and divisive to claim one has the truth. Instead, the critic  argues, all that matters is sincerity. The problem with this position is that  truth is immune to sincerity, belief, and desire. It doesn’t matter how much one  sincerely believes a wrong key will fit a door; the key still won’t go in and  the lock won’t be opened. Truth is also unaffected by sincerity. Someone who  picks up a bottle of poison and sincerely believes it is lemonade will still  suffer the unfortunate effects of the poison. Finally, truth is impervious to  desire. A person may strongly desire that their car has not run out of gas, but  if the gauge says the tank is empty and the car will not run any farther, then  no desire in the world will miraculously cause the car to keep going.

Some will admit that absolute truth exists, but then claim such a stance is  only valid in the area of science and not in matters of faith and religion. This  is a philosophy called logical positivism, which was popularized by philosophers  such as David Hume and A. J. Ayer. In essence, such people state that truth  claims must either be (1) tautologies (for example, all bachelors are unmarried  men) or empirically verifiable (that is, testable via science). To the logical  positivist, all talk about God is nonsense.

Those who hold to the  notion that only science can make truth claims fail to recognize is that there  are many realms of truth where science is impotent. For example:

• Science cannot prove the disciplines of mathematics and  logic because it presupposes them.
• Science cannot prove  metaphysical truths such as, minds other than my own do exist.
• Science is unable to provide truth in the areas of morals  and ethics. You cannot use science, for example, to prove the Nazis were  evil.
• Science is incapable of stating truths about  aesthetic positions such as the beauty of a sunrise.
•  Lastly, when anyone makes the statement “science is the only source of objective  truth,” they have just made a philosophical claim—which cannot be tested by  science.

And there are those who say that absolute truth does not apply  in the area of morality. Yet the response to the question, “Is is moral to  torture and murder an innocent child?” is absolute and universal: No. Or, to  make it more personal, those who espouse relative truth concerning morals always  seem to want their spouse to be absolutely faithful to them.

Why  Truth is Important

Why is it so important to understand and  embrace the concept of absolute truth in all areas of life (including faith and  religion)? Simply because life has consequences for being wrong. Giving someone  the wrong amount of a medication can kill them; having an investment manager  make the wrong monetary decisions can impoverish a family; boarding the wrong  plane will take you where you do not wish to go; and dealing with an unfaithful  marriage partner can result in the destruction of a family and, potentially,  disease.

As Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias puts it, “The fact is,  the truth matters – especially when you’re on the receiving end of a lie.” And  nowhere is this more important than in the area of faith and religion. Eternity  is an awfully long time to be wrong.

God and  Truth

During the six trials of Jesus, the contrast between the  truth (righteousness) and lies (unrighteousness) was unmistakable. There stood  Jesus, the Truth, being judged by those whose every action was bathed in lies.  The Jewish leaders broke nearly every law designed to protect a defendant from  wrongful conviction. They fervently worked to find any testimony that would  incriminate Jesus, and in their frustration, they turned to false evidence  brought forward by liars. But even that could not help them reach their goal. So  they broke another law and forced Jesus to implicate Himself.

Once in  front of Pilate, the Jewish leaders lied again. They convicted Jesus of  blasphemy, but since they knew that wouldn’t be enough to coax Pilate to kill  Jesus, they claimed Jesus was challenging Caesar and was breaking Roman law by  encouraging the crowds to not pay taxes. Pilate quickly detected their  superficial deception, and he  never even addressed the charge.

Jesus  the Righteous was being judged by the unrighteous. The sad fact is that the  latter always persecutes the former. It’s why Cain killed Abel. The link between  truth and righteousness and between falsehood and unrighteousness is  demonstrated by a number of examples in the New Testament:

• For this reason God will send upon them a deluding  influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be  judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness”  (2  Thessalonians 2:9–12, emphasis added).

• “For the  wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness  of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18, emphasis added).

• “who will render to each person according to his deeds; to  those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and  immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do  not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation” (Romans  2:6–8, emphasis added).     • “[love] does not act  unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into  account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices  with the truth” (1  Corinthians 13:5–6, emphasis added).

What is truth? –  Conclusion

The question Pontius Pilate asked centuries ago  needs to be rephrased in order to be completely accurate. The Roman governor’s  remark “What is truth?” overlooks the fact that many things can have the truth,  but only one thing can actually be the Truth. Truth must originate from  somewhere.

The stark reality is that Pilate was looking directly at the  Origin of all Truth on that early morning over two thousand years ago. Not long  before being arrested and brought to the governor, Jesus had made the simple  statement “I am the truth” (John 14:6),  which was a rather incredible statement. How could a mere man be the truth? He  couldn’t be, unless He was more than a man, which is actually what He claimed to  be. The fact is, Jesus’ claim was validated when He rose from the dead (Romans 1:4).

There’s  a story about a man who lived in Paris who had a stranger from the country come  see him. Wanting to show the stranger the magnificence of Paris, he took him to  the Louvre to see the great art and then to a concert at a majestic symphony  hall to hear a great symphony orchestra play. At the end of the day, the  stranger from the country commented that he didn’t particularly like either the  art or the music. To which his host replied, “They aren’t on trial, you are.”  Pilate and the Jewish leaders thought they were judging Christ, when, in  reality, they were the ones being judged. Moreover, the One they convicted will  actually serve as their Judge one day, as He will for all who suppress the truth  in unrighteousness.

Pilate evidently never came to a knowledge of the  truth. Eusebius, the historian and Bishop of Caesarea, records the fact that  Pilate ultimately committed suicide sometime during the reign of the emperor  Caligula—a sad ending and a reminder for everyone that ignoring the truth always  leads to undesired consequences.