I’m reading Dr. Tony Evans’ book, The Kingdom Agenda. As with anything involving Dr. Tony Evans, he immediately captures your attention with simple language that opens the door to a much larger, deeper discussion. In this case, he’s examining the fact that in our culture today, truth is not considered to be absolute. We see this at all levels of our society and from a Christian perspective, it’s infiltrating the Church. There are many Christians who do not subscribe to the inerrancy of the Bible. The problem with this is that if parts of the Bible are in error, which parts? And if parts of the Bible are wrong, could it have truly been inspired by a perfect God? So when we start denying absolute truth, we actually undermine the tenets of our own faith. I know I’m simplifying the philosophical arguments quite a bit, but I hope you get the sense that truth is important. But the Bible says it’s more than just “important.” Truth is crucial, as shown by the following interchange between Pilate and Jesus:
Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him.”
– John 18:37-38, NASB
It was interesting that I found Dr. Tony Evans focusing on these passages because they are a central point of focus for Focus on the Family’s Truth Project. They also were the basis of a sermon I heard from Dr. Ravi Zacharias, one of Christianity’s foremost apologists. The point is that Christ states His reason for being in the world: “to testify to the truth.” Notice he doesn’t say the typical Sunday school lines that might come to mind. He then goes on to say, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate, of course, does not want to get into such a discussion and simply dismisses Jesus. He wants to get on with the fact that the Jews want Jesus dead and he really doesn’t want to do it. But in doing so he misses an opportunity to ask Jesus what He means and why truth was so important.
We should not miss such an opportunity. The Bible exists for us to discover God’s truth. Our preachers should preach on God’s truth and should do so unashamedly, as called by God to do so. But too often we’re like Pilate, we’re more interested in what is expedient or what is pleasing rather than what is truth. For instance, after standing at the doors of a church after giving a sermon, it’s not unusual for the preacher to hear, “Good sermon!” But that’s not what is most important. I was speaking with my pastor this past Sunday and his point keeps in line with what I’ll share from Dr. Tony Evans’ intro in his book. His view is how we rate the sermon should not be based on how it tickled our ears. It should be based on the truth contained within it and whether or not we applied it to our lives. Here’s what Dr. Tony Evans has to say on the matter:
Truth be told, if preachers are preaching the truth, some of their sermons are going to hit each of us hard. We all have sin in our lives. We all have things about ourselves that God wants us to correct. So a preacher who focuses his sermons on preaching the truth is at some point going to focus on us, albeit not directly. For instance, if we have a problem with anger and the preacher speaks about what the Bible says about anger, we’re not going to like that sermon very much. But it’s a sermon we need to hear because it is the truth. And only by facing the truth will we find impetus to change. And change we must if we want to be the people God wants us to be.
Over the next few devotionals we’ll delve deeper into what the Bible says about truth. We cannot dismiss absolute truth, for Jesus’ own words indicate how important truth is. And once we understand the importance of truth, hopefully we’ll change our view of the world, of our churches, of the sermons and Sunday school lessons we hear, of literally everything. And that’s where we need to be to change this world that doesn’t believe in absolutes.