2,000 years ago Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor who sentenced Jesus to die on a Roman Cross, asked Jesus: “What is truth?” (John 18: 38) Jesus had previously claimed of himself: “I am . . . the truth.” (John 14: 6) Speaking about truth on another occasion, Jesus emphasized that when people embrace and come to know truth, they become genuinely, wonderfully free! (John 8: 32) Truth alone doesn’t set people free; rather, it’s knowing the truth that sets people free. Let’s consider Pilate’s question, “What is truth,” and attempt to answer it—at least in part.
We can begin with a simple dictionary definition: “truth (trooth) n. the quality of corresponding to, or being in accordance with, experience, actual existence, facts, or reality.” That’s an acceptable working definition for most purposes but it doesn’t go far enough for what we need to understand about truth for this teaching. By means of God’s gift of faith to us, we who are followers of Jesus believe He is truth. We do not magically convince ourselves He is the truth. We do not self-hypnotize ourselves into believing He is the truth. We do not grit our teeth and somehow force ourselves to believe He is the truth—thus causing Him to become the truth because we want very much to believe it. No, God gives us a gift of faith so that we experience Jesus as truth.
Outside of God’s giving a person a gift of faith to believe Jesus is the truth, that person cannot simply decide of his or her own will that Jesus is the truth. It doesn’t happen that way. Yes, because Jesus resides permanently in me I believe He is the truth, the entirety of truth, and nothing may be found in Him which is not truth, but I cannot convince you of that; only God can do that. Jesus is “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” In Jesus, there are no half truths, no partial truths, and no “false” truths.
A person first believes by faith that all truth “resides” in Jesus—that all truth is embodied and personified in Him (Ephesians 4: 21)—and having first believed it to be so, then one experiences it to be so. After a person initially encounters the Living Jesus and comprehends by faith that He is the truth, then all genuine truth a person subsequently encounters will merely substantiate Jesus’ sweeping claim to be the truth.
In addition, the Bible claims of itself that it is truth (for example, Psalm 119: 142; John 17: 17). The Bible claims that as it “enters” our minds and spirits (by hearing or reading), it enlightens us for our journey through this life. (Psalm 119: 105) Furthermore, the Bible claims the Author of the Bible, Holy Spirit, guides us into all truth (John 16: 13). The Bible is the complete, final, written Word of God; Jesus is the Living Word of God. (Revelation 19: 13); the two can never contradict one another because they are one.
We see a great circularity in these matters. When we receive Jesus (the Living Word) into our lives by faith, we begin to experience truth; we experience truth by means of Holy Spirit (Jesus’ “unbodied other self”) enlightening us with the truth contained in the book of which He is the author. As we incorporate into our lives more of the truth found in the Bible, the written Word of God, we come to experience more of Jesus, the Living Word of God. And so the circle of our growth and development—and our comprehension of truth—continues . . .
Since Jesus is the truth (which we believe by faith), it logically follows then that any “portion” or “type” of truth must ultimately find its source, substance, and consummation in Him and be an integral, intrinsic, and inherent part of his person, character, and nature. He is the whole of truth. Any truth, no matter where or in what guise or under what “label” it is found, whether it be major or minor, secular or religious—that truth is but part of the whole and must ultimately point to and find its source in Jesus in all aspects and in all respects.
Whether it be religious truth, political, medical, scientific, historical, business, industrial, astronomical, educational, psychological . . . whatever—if it is “true” truth, somehow the discoverer of that truth will find a way in which it points to Jesus . . . always. If it cannot be found to point to Him directly—or perhaps in some inexplicable indirect way that only God’s Spirit of Truth can make happen—then it is not authentic truth, no matter how good it may sound, no matter how “true” it may look, or how plausible it may seem to be.
But if it is authentic truth, it will ultimately point to Jesus—and glorify Him. And . . . it will serve to truly emancipate the person who has found—and has come to know—the truth!
There is one major challenge to this matter of knowing the truth. I can best illustrate it in the following manner. Let’s say, for example, that all truth in existence “weighed” 1,000,000,000 tons and could be gathered together and placed in a single, gigantic box. In such a case, at best any individual human or group of humans could know only an infinitesimally small “portion” of the whole. For illustration, let’s say one person could know perhaps a quarter pound of that entire 1,000,000,000 tons of truth.
Challenges occur when one person (or group of persons) takes their small portion of the entirety of truth and claims that wee portion constitutes the entire 1,000,000,000 tons of truth. That can never be—simply because we humans are finite and limited in our capacity to understand and comprehend infinite truth. 1,000,000,000 tons of truth simply cannot be “fitted” into a “container” designed to hold only a quarter pound.
I realize this is a faulty illustration and could be challenged in many ways; I use it merely to point out the folly of any one person or group of persons claiming the have a “corner” on the truth or claiming they somehow possess all the truth. No, only Jesus embodies the entirety of truth in his own infinite person, nature, character, and being.
Let us never be afraid of “new” truth simply because it does not seem to “fit” into our current “truth container.” If the new truth is “true” truth, it will find it’s own way to become clear to us and “fit” into the person of Jesus. If it is untrue, it will dissipate before the enlightenment of truth. We must not feel we are “God’s guardians” to protect and preserve truth; truth has inherent power and strength which will always prevail over that which is untrue. In the end, truth wins!
While it is true we can know Jesus personally and intimately, we can never know all there is to know about Him because He is infinite and limitless—whereas we are finite and limited in our comprehension and understanding of the truth. He is—and always will be—the unlimited Creator. We are—and always will be—limited created beings. The unlimited truth found in Jesus will always be beyond our limited comprehension and understanding.
Let us never judge one another in matters of the limited truth about God each of us understands and comprehends; we each possess only an infinitesimally small portion of the whole. Rather, let us listen to one another, share with one another, and accept one another—letting our shared and pooled truth lead us to Jesus, and through Him, to God the Father.
I encourage you always to seek out and find truth wherever it may be found; the more you discover, the more you will come to know Jesus whom to know is Life—true LIFE—and the more emancipated you will become in your journey toward being all God created you to be!
Your life is a journey. Embrace Jesus who is the truth and you will discover that God has wonderful purposes in store for you as you walk hand in hand with Him from truth to truth toward your bright, golden future.
Revised and Updated March 2023