What is the Truth?
Dr. Angelo Dart
Fact and truth can almost always be synonymous with each other. Facts for instance, can be verified. Until they are, they remain theory, or an opinion, or just wrong. We conclude, in many cases that a thing is fact based on something that is known to be true. Scientifically, therefore, facts are established on experience and observation. Additionally, verification of certain principles that can be measured in a specific way, contribute to ratifying facts. The notion concerts with absolute truth. A thing is going to be true at all times and in all places. A square is never going to be round.
Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy notes that understanding truth is determined by what truths are and what (if anything) makes them true. Most, if not all of us, desire to know the truth. We want this simply because we don't want to be on the wrong side of things. We do not wish or choose to be deceived by something we know to be harmful to ourselves, our families, or each other. We want truth and we want to understand it in our humanness. Science proves gravity and proves it to us. It is a scientific fact. We experience and observe gravity within the context of our humanity – even though we cannot see it.
For decades, we were told by the scientific world there could be no God, because we could not factually prove it. Until recently, we were told that black holes and dark matter/energy is there – even though we could not observe, or experience them. The math and the physics pointed to the phenomenon of something that existed unobserved and unexperienced. We were asked by the scientists to believe the possibility that such things exist or existed. They offered, in essence, a faith defense for their argument. In this same vein, if truth cannot be observed or experienced, how do we determine what is truth and what is not?
St John 8:27 notes the following; Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." In this verse, the Greek verb (meno) links itself as a dwelling place. It is from this dwelling place that Christ continues by stating, "you shall know the truth". What truth is he speaking about? Concerning such truth the verb (lanthano) means to escape notice, to be unseen, to be unknown about, but with a clear implication of being very much there but somehow hidden from direct sight or otherwise not noticed. In later Greek texts (including the New Testament) this verb began to assume the meaning of forgetting something, that is: the slipping out of sight or awareness of something that was previously seen or known about, and which is still very much there.
We know the truth of things if we allow ourselves into the truth of things. Paul's letter to the Thessalonians describes who we are in God's sight: "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. While Paul is inclusive of body and soul, important to note is the "spirit" or pneuma that Paul describes. This pneuma of us, even in a secular context knows the truth of us. It is this so-called seat of the consciousness that directs us not to steal, or lie, or do harm to someone else. It signals a "something is not right" to us concerning dark alleys or a creepy individual. This part of us, knows the truth even when we are untrue to ourselves. Something inside your consciousness, your being, convicts you about committing adultery. Your spirit informs you of the truth. Such absolute truth is true no matter the circumstances. It cannot be exceeded. The square is never going to be round. You can place the square in a different location, provide a subset, or a different context, it remains a square and you cannot change the truth of the square. Conversely, the square can never change you. It is true- but only in itself. The spirit or a person's spirituality invites the truth.
So what happens when absolute truth is introduced the intangible "spirit" part of us. That part of us that present the truth of a thing. In John 14:6, Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. Jesus states here that He is this absolute truth for every part of a person's being. He never changes. He remains consistent in all circumstances. It is difficult at best then to argue that Christ was true sometimes but not all the time. How could he have been a great teacher – and yet claim to be God? When Christ says that He is the way, truth, and the life, He is not speaking relatively. He speaks of His totality. Therefore, when Christ comes into your heart, He is a truth that changes you – completes you. You embrace the totality of absolute truth. Nothing can change that, no matter the circumstances.
John 18 describes one of the most famous interrogations in history as Jesus being brought before Pilate. His "what is truth" question is answered before it is asked. "Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." The crime (as far as Pilate is concerned) is not a crime. Pilate's judgment: "I find no fault in the man". The final verdict, however, is crucifixion. Christ could have renounced who He claimed to be. He could have taken a position to use His influence to raise money for the temple or co-join Himself with the Roman government. This truth would have set Him free and He could have escaped the cross. Nothing about absolute truth, however, changes. It is consistent in all circumstances and cannot exceed itself. Christ testified of the truth and is that truth. He could say no more than what He said.
What is your truth? Where is your truth? It is possible that your truth might be that addiction. It could be thoughts of suicide. It could be the pain of a divorce, or the bitterness of abuse or an assault. Your truth could be the freedom that only Christ can give. John 14:7 states, "Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you". Yet there is more. "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come". What should be determined in our hearts is the truth that Christ brings which is greater than your current truth. It is a free gift. Revelation 21, provides a summation; "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new."
n [John 14:15, 23]
o [John 1:14, 17; 14:6]
p [Rom. 6:14, 18, 22; James 1:25; 2:12]
l [John 14:6]