What is truth?

Pilate looked at Jesus and said, “What is truth?”

As silence filled the room, Pilate went back out to where the Jewish leaders were waiting and said to them, “He’s not guilty. I couldn’t even find one fault with him.

John 18:38 (TPT)

What is truth? could very well be the most imperative question in society today. In a world of my truth and your truth, what is the truth?

TRUTH: Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be.

Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language

The fact that Pilate felt the need to pose his question before Jesus leads me to believe that truth was as difficult to find in ancient Jerusalem as it is today. Many people will tell you what they believe the truth to be, but how much of that believe system is actually true?

It is the personal responsibilty of each individual to discover truth for ourselves. We cannot depend on what others may know or think they know or even want to know. In the end, we are all accountable for what we know—intimately experience.

Truth goes beyond fact. Jesus declared Himself to be the Truth.

Jesus explained, “I am the Way, I am the Truth, and I am the Life. No one comes next to the Father except through union with me. To know me is to know my Father too.

John 14:6 (TPT)

The Passion Translation footnote says that the Truth is the True Reality. What we see and experience in this plane of existence isn’t Truth. It’s a shadow. Jesus, the Light of the World, is the lamp that guides the way to Truth—Himself.

Pilate may have been sarcastic in his question, he may have just thrown it out there, or maybe he really wanted to know. We cannot know his attitude, but we can (and should) know our own. Do we really want to know the Truth? Or are we content in our blindness? We need to be willing to let go of what we think we know if we ever expect to know the True Reality.

If anyone comes to Me (responds to the good news of the kingdom), and does not hate (release attachment to) his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sistersm, yes, and even his own life (all the masks we cling to in relationship to others and ourselves), he cannot be my disciple. (Cannot follow Yeshua into an experience of the kingdom now present within all.)

Luke 14:26 (NASB), amplification by Ted Dekker, Rise of the Mystics

As a bit of a celebration for my first post in this new season, readers can download for free my visual commentary page for John 18:38. One day there may be a complete commentary, but for now, it’s simply verse-by-verse.

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No place to hide

Read: Genesis 3-5, Matthew 2

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Genesis 3:9-10 (NIV)

We can all look at this verse and have a bit of a chuckle. Who does Adam think he is to try and hide from God? Did he really think that God wouldn’t know what was going on? That he wouldn’t be found out? It’s almost like a toddler trying to play hide and seek. When someone calls out their name, they’re conditioned to answer and when they do, they give away their hiding spot. Adam is trying to hide and gives himself away all at the same time.

Cain tried something similar after killing his brother, Abel.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother, Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Genesis 4:9 (NIV)

It seems so silly, trying to hide things from God. We know that He knows everything. But there are still things we try to hide, to cover up. We keep secrets and, even though deep down we know that God knows, it’s almost as though we hope He doesn’t.

Doing what is right may sometimes seem difficult in the moment, but even more difficult are the consequences of doing wrong. After God refused Cain’s offering, He had a little chat with him.

Geneses 4:7

Obviously, Cain did not take the conversation to heart because he went out and brutally killed his own brother. His reason? Abel’s offering was accepted and his was not. Cain opened the door to sin and allowed it to get a foot inside.

If you’ve already opened the door to sin, there is a way to shut it again—Jesus.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 (NIV)

And if the door is still closed, keep it that way. In just the first four chapters of the Bible, we learn that it is much easier to have everything out in the open rather than try to hide things from God. Would God have responded to Adam differently if he’d gone to Him immediately after realising his mistake? Maybe. We’ll never know. But we can learn from it.

Our approach to God must be on His terms. But they are not difficult terms and He’s promised to help us when we reach out to Him. There is no place to hide with God. And that’s a good thing.

 

In His own image

Read: Genesis 1-2, Matthew 1

Genesis-1-27

Reading through the account of creation, we see that man is the only thing God created in His own image. Man is the only being that God breathed His own life into. Though they were made on the same day, man was different from the beasts of the field.

Man was made upright. His understanding saw Divine things clearly and truly; there were no errors or mistakes in his knowledge; his will consented at once, and in all things, to the will of God.

Matthew Henry

Before Adam made the worst decision in the history of humanity, he was at one with God. He knew no separation from his Creator and lived in perfect communion with Him. We know, that at the moment Adam chose to eat from the forbidden tree, that unique relationship was severed. While that relationship can never be fully restored on this side of heaven, God made a way for us to still have communion with Him. But it takes work. It’s not an instant fix; it is a lifelong effort on our part.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2 (NIV)

The only way to gain back even a portion of what Adam experienced with God in the garden is to continually renew ourselves to His will. You truly to become like the people you most spend time with, so spend time with God. Become more like Him—the way we were all created to be. This process of renewal must be constant and consistent. always moving forward and never looking back.

Paul said we need to be forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13). We have a decision to make. We can continue to live in separation from God and do as we please. Or we can approach Him through the grace provided through Jesus’ sacrifice and get to know Him and His will for us. We can live as we were created to live in perfect harmony with our Father.

He knows

When everything around us seems to be going wrong, sometimes it can be difficult to believe in a good God. Where is He when children are starving? Where is He in the violence? Where is He in the political turmoil?

He’s right where He’s always been. Waiting.

Many people are inclined to believe that a God that would let the world destroy itself is either one that doesn’t care about humanity or one that doesn’t exist at all. But that’s not how this faith thing works. You see, God first loved His creation so much that He let them choose whether or not they would love Him back. He still lets us make that choice.

Picture a person you barely know. Maybe someone you’ve heard something about. Now imagine finding yourself in trouble. You know that person has the ability to help you, but you don’t know them. They don’t know you. Would you expect that person to come to your rescue? When that person doesn’t come to your aid, would you be angry with them? Of course not! So why would anyone make the same demands of God?

God is more than able to help anyone in any situation. He knows your circumstances better than you do, but He is not going to step in uninvited.

The Lord is good. When trouble comes, he is a strong refuge. And he knows everyone who trust in him.

Nahum 1:7 (NLT)

A person who takes refuge is a person who flees a distressing situation and runs toward a place of safety. In order for anyone to take refuge in God, we must go to Him.

God knows your struggles. He knows every difficult situation you have to face. He also knows your joys and your triumphs. He knows you. So, if you ever wonder why you can’t find God in your situation, perhaps it’s time to bring your situation to Him.

Daily Bible reading: Nahum 1-3, Revelation 13

More important

Every Sunday before church starts, we encourage our volunteers to join in corporate prayer. I sometimes feel like a broken record calling people to stop what they’re doing and come and pray. I’d rather our hearts and spirits be joined together in prayer than have every technical aspect of the service perfect.

Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him! Then he will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.

Hosea 6:3 (NLT)

Oh, that we might know the Lord! Is there any better or more significant that we can strive toward in this life? Is there anything more important than knowing the very One who created us?

Anyone who has spent a long time serving in church may find themselves in a circle of service. Your spiritual life may be lacking and yet you try to convince yourself that what you do in the church makes up for it. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. We must all find a balance between service and relationship. I believe we all need both. But service without the relationship is empty.

I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices. I want you to know God; that’s more important than burnt offerings.

Hosea 6:6 (NLT)

More important than our offerings is knowing God. And not just knowing about Him. Truly knowing Him. Understanding His love and grace. Passionately pursuing Him. Serving is an important part of our Christian walk. But it is more important to know Him whom we serve.

Daily Bible reading: Hosea 5-8, Revelation 1

Everyone else was doing it

Who never used the excuse that “everyone else was doing it” when you were a kid? It was a pretty simple go-to reason for why you did something your parents explicitly told you not to to. But did it ever work? If you tried it, you may have received “if they all went and jumped off a bridge, would you jump off, too?” as a response. Of course you wouldn’t. You’re smarter than that. Yet you did do something for which your only reason for doing it was because everyone else was.

John warns against following evil influence. The influence he’s talking about has far greater repercussions than getting your bicycle taken away or being grounded from the internet for a week. It’s your eternal soul at stake.

Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.

3 John 1:11 (NLT)

The evil influence John is talking about here is that a man, Diotrephes, is going around telling the church that they don’t need to welcome or care for travelling ministers—a teaching that is completely contrary to the example Jesus set. But we can take this word of advice and apply it to far more than just travelling ministers. It is advice for life.

Influence comes at us from all directions—all day, every day. It’s unavoidable. It comes from Christians as well as unbelievers. It is up to us as individuals to determine how we let it affect us. In this passage, John gives us a pretty simple answer—know God. When we know and love God, good deeds will be the visible byproduct. If we don’t know God, evil deeds will be the byproduct. And we cannot assume that everyone who calls himself a Christian knows God (John’s warning here was against someone in the church).

It’s all so confusing! How am I supposed to know what’s what?

It’s a good thing that God doesn’t expect us to know it all. And it’s a good thing that He does know it all. And it’s an even better thing that He gave us His Holy Spirit to guide us in that regard. The closer we are to God, the more in tune we will be with His Spirit and can allow ourselves to be influenced by Him rather than those around us. And the stronger God’s influence is in our lives, the more of a good influence we will be on those around us.

If you need an influence to follow, Jesus is your prime example. Get to know him. Don’t do something just because everyone else is doing it (even Christians), do it because Jesus did it.

Daily Bible reading: Daniel 11-12, 3 John 1

That is the way to know

I believe that there’s more wisdom in Disney movies than we give credit for. In the 2007 movie, Enchanted, the displaced Giselle breaks out into song and dance with That’s How You Know—a song all about how you can tell if a man truly loves a woman. In the end (and after a lot of lyrics), the gist of the number is that he’ll find a way to show the girl.

You’ve got to show her you need her
Don’t treat her like a mind reader
Each day do something to lead her
To believe you love her

Imagine that. The way to make sure that someone knows that you love them and that you belong to them is to do things for them—to show them.

And how can we be sure that we belong to him? By obeying his commandments. If someone says, “I belong to God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and does not live in the truth. But those who obey God’s word really do love him. That is the way to know whether or not we live in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did.

1 John 2:3-6 (NLT)

As Christians, we should never have to go around telling people who and what we are. Our actions, our obedience to the Word of God, should give us away. While God knows your every thought, He shouldn’t have to read your mind to assure Himself that you belong to Him. Your words and actions should tell the world.

What words? What actions?

Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment, for it is an old one you have always had, right from the beginning. This commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before.

1 John 2:7 (NLT)

There is no excuse a believer can make for living a life outside of love. For if God—who is love—lives within us, there is no room for hate. And if we hate while claiming to love, we are liars because both darkness and light cannot exist in the same space.

You either love or you don’t. You either belong to God or you don’t. There is no place in between. No grey area. You’re one or the other and that is the way to know whether or not we live in him.

Daily Bible reading: Daniel 1-2, 1 John 2

I know how you feel

I know how you feel.  These are probably some of the most difficult words to hear. Not because they’re meant to bring comfort, but because they don’t. Odds are that the person who’s saying them to you doesn’t really know how you feel. They’re just trying to sympathize. But because you know that they don’t know how you feel, the words become empty and even more hurtful.

But there is someone who truly does know exactly how you feel.

Since he himself has gone through suffering and temptation, he is able to help us when we are being tempted.

Hebrews 2:18 (NLT)

In order to be the perfect sacrifice for all of our sin, hurt, and pain, Jesus had to have been exposed to everything we are exposed to. The only difference it that, he didn’t deserve any of it. So that he could be the one to legitimately express that he knows exactly how you feel, he went through it all. For you.

While you may not find much comfort in a stranger or even a friend offering sympathy, find comfort in Jesus. He really does know how you feel and, because he knows, he also made a way for you to get through it. Whatever your struggle is—sin, addiction, pain, mourning, sickness—Jesus is the one who can bring you through when no one else can. He knows how you feel.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 40-42, Hebrews 2

Never be ashamed

If you’re afraid of the dark, if you’ve encountered a scary situation, if you can’t seem to put your mind at ease, 2 Timothy 1:7 may have been a verse that came to mind or one that someone has given to you. I don’t want to burst your bubble—because we shouldn’t be fearful when God is on our side—but in context, that verse really doesn’t have much to do with being afraid and has more to do with being bold.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

That’s a great verse and I know it’s helped many get through some pretty intense situations, but take a look at what Paul tells Timothy next.

So you must never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.

2 Timothy 1:8 (NLT)

That doesn’t sound much like Timothy was struggling with night terrors or paranoia. It sounds as though Timothy was having trouble finding his voice when it came to sharing the Gospel.

I don’t want to make light of those who genuinely deal with fear. It’s something we all deal with at times in our lives, but I want to be sure that we really understand what these verses are talking about.

Preceding these passages, Paul reminds Timothy to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave him. Then he tells him that God hasn’t given him a spirit of fear.

God has given all of us—yes all—spiritual gifts. And sometimes it can be difficult to step out in these gifts. What if I’m wrong? What if I’ve missed God? What if someone makes fun of me? What if people don’t understand? There is nothing wrong with having these questions. The error comes when we allow them to control when and how we use the gifts God has given us. This is why Paul tells Timothy not to fear. He says, I am not ashamed, because I know Jesus, the One in whom I have believed (NCV).

There is a boldness that comes when we know Christ, I mean really know Christ. He gives us the power, love, and self-discipline to step out in the gifts that he has given to us. And then it is up to us to use, to refine, and to protect those gifts.

Protect the truth that you were given; protect it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

2 Timothy 1:14 (NCV)

The more you use your gift—whatever that gift may be—the more confident you will become in it. Never be ashamed to use what God has given you, but be confident in the One who gave it to you.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 20-22, 2 Timothy 1

Boast

Boast is a strange word. We don’t use it often and when we do, it can have negative connotations. Pride. Arrogance. Biblically speaking, the root word translated to boast can also be translated to shine.:

SHINE: To emit rays of light; to give light; to beam with steady radiance; to exhibit brightness or splendor.

Now that changes things a little bit, doesn’t it?

This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise man gloat in his wisdom, or the mighty man in his might, or the rich man in his riches. Let them boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who is just and righteous, whose love is unfailing, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NLT)

As humans, we cannot truly boast. We cannot truly shine. While we are made in God’s image, we are meant to reflect His glory, His light. We have no light of our own. Anything that we reflect other than God’s glory is a counterfeit.

But God, in His love and kindness has given us the capacity to know Him. And not just know about Him, but to truly know Him.

KNOW: To perceive with certainty; to understand clearly; to have a clear and certain perception of truth, fact, or any thing that actually exists.

God has given us both the capacity and the right to know Him, with clarity and certainty. And He delights in us when we do what He has allowed us to do. God loves it when we get to know Him. He’s not hiding from us. He doesn’t hold back from himself. He gives. Freely. This is what we should boast in—the truth that should radiate from us: that God knows us and that we can know the Creator of the universe, that He doesn’t want us to just know about Him, but that He wants us to know Him intimately and without doubt.

The more time you spend with someone, the more you reflect that person’s attitudes, ideals, and even mannerisms. It’s the same with God. Our time with Him should be so influential that we imitate Him in every way. Like a proud parent when their child mimics their (good) behavior, so God also delights in us when we act like Him.

So go ahead, boast. Shine.

Daily Bible reading: Jeremiah 9-10, 1 Timothy 3