Warren Christian Apologetics Center
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Articles - Miscellanea

Defining Truth

Pilate’s question to Jesus, “What is truth” (John 18:38) has given men opportunity to define truth. As a consequence, many definitions abound and are often contradictory. How do you define truth? You must. Does the definition matter? Is truth absolute and non-contradictory or can it be ever changing and ever contradictory? Consider:

Definitions of Truth. The need to know the nature of truth is important. Men wrestling with Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” in John 18:37 have produced definitions with great variation. Ravi Zacharias wrote of the compelling need of knowing “the nature of truth because if truth dies, even at the altar of cultural sensitivities, then so does the Gospel in the listener’s ear.” A simple workable definition of truth is “that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. Even more to the point: truth is the self-expression of God” (MacArthur 2). This definition states several things, but of importance is thattruth is God expressing Himself.

Another definition of truth that is simple, accurate, and workable is “Truth consists of statements that accurately correspond with reality. . . . Correspondence to reality makes truth independent of individual or cultural preferences. Thus, truth is absolute” (Nelson 24). This definition, agreeing with the first, states that God is the ultimate source of all truth. “Truth, whatever field (e.g., theology, philosophy, science, history, etc.), originates with God. If something is true, it is true because God makes it true” (24).

God is Truth. Moses states that God is the “God of truth . . . just and right is He” (Deuteronomy 32:4). David wrote, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit: You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth” (Psalm 31:51). Isaiah twice in one verse declares God as the God of truth (65:16). A serious search of the Bible reveals that when it comes to truth, God is the Author, Source, Determiner, Ultimate Standard, and Final Judge of truth. Truth means nothing apart from God.

Jesus is Truth. With God as the God of truth (Isaiah 65:16), then what about Jesus? When Jesus profoundly declared His Deity, He stated, “I am . . . the truth” (John 14:6, emp. added). Truth came by Jesus (John 1:17) who is “the brightness of His [God’s] glory, and the express image of His [God’s] person” (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus is the Incarnate God; i.e. He is the embodiment of all that is true.

The Bible is Truth. Jesus declared, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32) and then identifies truth with the word of God, “Sanctify them through Your truth: Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Truth is absolute and therefore free of error. God uses the Bible to shape our minds, our lives, and our hearts to overcome sin and to transform us into the kind of people God wants us to be (Romans 12:2; Acts 20:32; Titus 2:11-13).

Someone asks, “Does the Bible contain the word of God?” The answer is NO. The Bible is the Word of God and free of error. Jesus declared just this sentiment when He stated, “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35); i.e. the Scripture is pure, unchangeable, and inerrant. Inspiration reveals that Scripture “lives and abides for ever” (1 Peter 1:23, i.e. its nature is eternal).

God Who is truth has revealed Himself to man both through His word (Scripture, the Bible) and through His Incarnate Son (Jesus). Since the Bible is the standard by which truth is measured, it would bode us well to read, to study, and to obey the truth of the Bible.

 

Works Cited

MacArthur, John. The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception. Nashville: Nelson, 2007.

Nelson, Randy W. “What is a Worldview?” Christian Contours: How a Biblical Worldview Shapes the Mind and Heart. Ed.  Douglas S. Huffman. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2011.

Zacharias, Ravi. “Living an Apologetic Life.” RZMI.com. 2011. Web. 17 July 2012.