The Meaning of Truth

by J. D. Watson

Author's note: In an ongoing exposition of Ephesians I have been sharing with the sheep under my care, there is something in 1:13 that captured my attention: "In whom ye also trusted, after ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation." In this series, I would like to share a burden that has been on my heart for more than a year

We live in a day when the concept of Truth is more and more challenged. Never before has there been such a redefining of Truth. Many, in fact, deny that there is any Truth at all. In stark contrast, however, the Word of God makes it clear in no uncertain terms that there is Truth and that Truth is to be found only in God and His Word.

With this in mind, let us look at three principles that carry tremendous significance in our day: the Meaning of Truth, Inadequate Sources of Truth, and the Only Source of Truth.

The Meaning of Truth
In John 18:37,38, Pontius Pilate asked the Lord Jesus, "Art thou a king?" Our Lord responded: "Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." What a powerful statement! "If you would have Truth," He is saying, "you will hear Me." To that Pilate spoke three words-probably in at least a cynical if not contemptuous tone-that have echoed through the millennia: "What is Truth?" Countless philosophers have asked that question, but few have been able to answer it.

The most noteworthy thing about that scene is that while Pilate asked a legitimate and pivotal question, "What is Truth?" he did not wait for an answer. Instead when he had said this, he went out again." Think of it-he was standing in front of Truth Incarnate but walked away. And people have been walking away from Truth ever since.

Especially in light of the present day, it is imperative that we look at the meaning of the word "truth." Without going into detail, when one studies the word, both in the English (Oxford English Dictionary) and the Greek (ale theia), he finds that it means "what is real, what really is, what is factual." It's not opinion, it's not conjecture, it's not hypothesis or theory. Rather, it is, like the old expression, "telling it like it is." If something is true, it is absolutely reliable, totally secure. It cannot change, because to do so would mean it's not reliable, not true. Further, Truth refers to that which is absolute, that which is incontrovertible, irrefutable, incontestable, unarguable, and unchanging. If something is true, it is always true and can never be untrue, no matter what the circumstances. Poet Ted Olson puts the matter this way:

A lie, whatever the guise it wears, is a lie as it was of yore. But a truth that has lasted a million years is good for a million more. From "Things That Endure"

Where, then, can Truth be found today? Is there any source of Truth that matches the definition we just noted? There are numerous claims to Truth in the world, but are they really sources of Truth? Do they offer that which is sure, reliable, and unchanging? In the installments that follow, we'll take a brief look at three of the world's best claims of how to discover Truth: science, philosophy, and religion.

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