A Passion for Truth, Part I
February 6, 2005
Video Illustration: “Is the Bible 100% True?” Sermon Illustrators, vol. 1, no. 4, Worship Films.com.
We can see from these “on the street” interviews that a lot of people, most people probably, are confused about whether God’s Word, the Bible, is really truth – whether they can trust it.
We further see that many people want to trust something, that they have a need to be able to trust something, and that it is hopefully God, but they are not quite sure.
Perhaps it could be said of our nation like God directed Jeremiah to say to the nation of Israel in his day – right before the exile to Babylon.
“Therefore say to them, ‘This is the nation that has not obeyed the LORD its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.” (Jer 7:28 NivUS)
The prophet, Daniel, certainly understood that in hindsight of that catastrophic event and yet still laments the place of truth in the hearts of the people.
“Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth.” (Da 9:13 NivUS)
Truth is hard to come by – or is it? Perhaps it is there but we would rather not believe it. The problem is us, not God, for God himself is truth.
King David believed in the God of truth. He passes his experience and faith in the God of truth along to us in the psalms. In fact, he so much believes in the God of truth he is willing to commit his most precious possession to him – his very spirit.
“Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.” (Ps 31:5 NivUS)
This same verse is quoted by Jesus upon the cross in Luke 23:46.
We see another statement about God’s truth in another psalm from the worship liturgy of the priests in the temple.
“For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” (Ps 33:4 NivUS)
God intends his attribute of truth to lead us to faith in him, for it is truth that validates faith. A faith in something untrue would not be a valid faith at all. It would instead be futility.
Jesus was not confused about truth – either the truth of God the Father or his own because he and the Father are One just like he said.
“I and the Father are one."” (Joh 10:30 NivUS)
This is why he calls upon us to have faith in himself.
“I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins."” (Joh 8:24 NivUS)
This is why he repeats 78 times in the gospel accounts, “I tell you the truth.”
Was this necessary, do you think? Listen to the condition of mankind as asserted by the apostle Paul in Romans.
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,” (Ro 1:18 NivUS)
“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie ---.” (Ro 1:25a NivUS)
Given this deplorable natural condition of mankind, no wonder Jesus repeatedly said, “I tell you the truth.” With his coming, there were no excuses left. Jesus was leaving no room for further confusion.
That is why he also said ---
“Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Joh 14:6 NivUS)
“"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” (Joh 15:1 NivUS)
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (Joh 17:3 NivUS)
Jesus had a passion for truth, and he calls upon us to come to him for that same passion – like Nathaniel, one of his chosen disciples.
“When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false."” (Joh 1:47 NivUS)
Let us take a look then at some of the “truth” statements Jesus makes to understand just what his passion for truth was all about – like Nathaniel seemed to understand.
“Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel."” (Joh 1:49 NivUS)
And then we, like Nathaniel, will become the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (Joh 4:23 NivUS)
What does Jesus want us to know about truth? What is it that he claims we need to know? Where does he want his passion for truth to take us?
We will concentrate on his truth statements in the gospel of John. Although the synoptic gospels have a number of truth statements by Jesus, mainly in Matthew, only John uses the double truth statement amhn amhn legw umin implying that behind the statement is the authority of the God whose name is Amen.
“"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.” (Re 3:14 NivUS)
It is a strong affirmation of what is declared, “Truly indeed it is true I tell you,” a prefix to a significant statement. The words are uttered as before God, indeed are uttered by the Son of God himself. This is truth that transforms.
1. Joh 1:51 He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
2. Joh 3:3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
3. Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
4. Joh 3:11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.
5. Joh 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
6. Joh 5:24 "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
7. Joh 5:25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.
8. Joh 6:26 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.
9. Joh 6:32 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.
10. Joh 6:47 I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.
11. Joh 6:53 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
12. Joh 8:34 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
13. Joh 8:51 I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."
14. Joh 8:58 "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"
15. Joh 10:1 "I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.
16. Joh 10:7 Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.
17. Joh 12:24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
18. Joh 13:16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
19. Joh 13:20 I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me."
20. Joh 13:21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me."
21. Joh 13:38 Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
22. Joh 14:12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
23. Joh 16:7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
24. Joh 16:20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
25. Joh 16:23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
26. Joh 21:18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."
This truth that Jesus tells us, this truth he has a passion for is the gospel. If you have a passion for truth like Jesus, you will believe him. He is the very embodiment of truth.
“"You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." "What is truth?" Pilate asked. --- ” (Joh 18:37-38a NivUS)
“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (Joh 17:17 NivUS)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (Joh 1:1-2 NivUS)
The passion Jesus had for truth was actually a passion for human trust – or faith. Do you believe in him today? Will you continue to believe in him tomorrow? You can, because he is the truth and he gave you the truth. And you can still hear his voice if you want to because truth can never be silenced for long.
Do you have a passion to believe his truth and be a voice for his truth in your generation? His truth is the same yesterday, today and forever. When Jesus comes will he find faith on the earth because you believed him?
“--- However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"” (Lu 18:8b NivUS)
“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."” (Joh 8:31-32 NivUS)