• ericleerisner

Truth Is...


 

The argument has existed since the creation of humanity. What is truth? How do we determine what is true? What (or who) is the source of truth? Questions like these frame and fuel the argument. It first emerged in the Garden of Eden and the battle for truth has been a continually present reality in the lives of humanity ever since. Satan called into question the truthfulness of God’s Word and the benefits of believing Him. The father of lies approached our first parents and did what he does best—deceive. Since that tragic fall into deception, we have battled to understand what the truth is. And Satan is still deceiving.


Our current cultural landscape gives us a clear picture of the argument. Two sides clamoring about the lies of the opposition while portraying themselves as the truth tellers. Quite frankly, it has been difficult to discern what is true during this unique season in the life of our country. We have been given plenty of visuals that reflect the hidden battle that has existed in our souls since Eden—who can we trust?


Too Significant to Ignore


I’m not a philosopher, so I can’t present some of the nuance that is needed when thinking through such things. But from my context, the search for truth has shaped my life. It’s a battle I have fought time and time again. As someone who did not grow up in church, I wrestled with the truthfulness of the existence of God. For many years, I agreed with Marx—religion was simply the “opiate of the masses.” Faith was something fragile people used as a crutch because they couldn’t handle confronting the reality of suffering and death. So, when I first heard the biblical narrative, I wasn’t convinced. But I reasoned, “If this is true, I need to find out. It’s simply too significant to ignore.” Even now, in my vocation, I am tasked with finding, teaching, and preaching the truth. Finding out what the truth is has been the deepest longing of my soul. While it is correct that no human adheres to and understands what is true perfectly (especially me), God can graciously lead us away from deception. So, if you are tired of lies and find yourself looking for what is true, let me share four, let’s just call them ‘characteristics’ of truth that should help you in your battle.


Truth is essential. We live in a world that is filled with the meaningless. So much of the information we consume and subsequently talk about is downright frivolous. Meaning, it has little to no impact on our lives, decisions, and actions. We can also find ourselves simply following the crowd. We go a certain direction because others are headed that way (and we have been told to go that way). These two factors have been combined to shape the way a whole generation sees and responds to the world. It’s as if many dismiss the search for truth altogether. Or they turn it into some self-centered quest for personal happiness and esteem, an exercise in vanity. But what is true is not meaningless and much more important than we often treat it. Simply put, truth is essential. Without the truth, stability, comfort, and security are only mirages in our lives.

Without the truth, we can only obtain the illusion of stability, comfort, and security.

We can think we have such things, but that’s only because we are often ignoring the fact that we don’t have the answers to the genuinely significant questions concerning life, death, and everything in between.


We must understand that knowing what is true is the foundation we build our lives upon. Truth should be what guides our lives and informs our decisions. It shapes what we consider to be important. The truth tells us what we should focus on as we live our lives out on this earth. Truth is not something we shrug our shoulders at—it’s a battle that must be fought. Imagine living your whole life headed in the wrong direction. Think of how devastating it would feel to be overcome with regret because you refused to search for what is true. We should think deeply about our worldviews and how they were formed. Is how we are seeing the world and others true? Why are we making certain decisions? And taking certain actions? Have we allowed bias to shape what we consider to be true? Probing questions like these are necessary because truth is essential. To truly live a successful life, we must first answer what is true. If our worldview is not shaped by truth, we are simply letting culture (and people who honestly don’t care about us) define what success is. Talk about regret! Imagine thinking you have lived a successful life only to find out that it was all built on a deceptive worldview.


Truth is universal. If something can only be true in a specific context, we must ask ourselves if it is true at all. See, the authentic truth will be applicable and impactful despite the context someone finds themselves in. To suggest otherwise is to claim that truth is relative (which is illogical and foolish). Before you object to this, let me state that I do know some truth is relative. What is true for a middle-class American in the 21st Century is different than what is true for someone living in a nation classified as a third-world country. Let’s just use transportation as the example. For the middle-class American, it is true that they can travel hundreds of miles in a day. It’s easy. Just put gas in the car and hit the road. For someone living in a third-world country, traveling hundreds of miles in a day is laughable. It’s too far to walk. It simply cannot be done and, if someone claimed they did such a feat, they would be accused of not telling the truth. So, yes, I understand that some truth is relative.

But not when it comes to the big issues of life. The truth about these life-changing issues should be true regardless of when, where, and how someone finds themselves living.

We should use this as a lens to view the world through (and as a guide to understanding what truth is). Can what you hold as truth be applied universally across any and all contexts? If not, you should examine if you are holding to the truth. I could take shots at a lot of preposterous ideologies right now, but I will take a swing at my own tribe. Many charismatic Christians hold the belief that their faith in Christ grants them unprecedented access to health, wealth, and comfort. This supposed truth steers some believers to assume that acquiring material goods and divine healing is the goal of the Christian faith. Something like this is easier to believe in America. Health, wealth, and comfort are relatively uncomplicated to attain in our nation. But in other nations, those things are unheard of. Someone living in such a country could come to Christ and never acquire those things. They are simply not available to them. Which means, that belief is not valid because it is not true universally. Can what you believe about salvation be applied universally? What about what you consider to be the chief problem that exists in the world? Where does suffering come from? What is the answer to that suffering and how will justice be achieved? And I must mention this one—what is the ultimate goal of a human life? I could go on and on, but if we are interested in receiving and living out the truth, we should make sure our answers to questions such as these can be accepted and applied universally. I don’t know what you believe and what your answers are, but I know mine. The Word of God advises my answers to those questions and, unlike a lot of other popular ideologies and worldviews that are consuming a whole generation, the biblically-informed answers work universally.


Truth is a gift from God. Philosophers, scientists, poets, songwriters, and powerful leaders have contemplated for centuries about where truth comes from. The argument about what is true is really an argument about where truth comes from. Is the truth something that is told to us or do we need to figure it out for ourselves? Do we look to heaven for answers or should we look in the mirror?


One of the most striking concepts related to the Christian faith is revelation. Meaning, there is a God who speaks—who reveals. The Bible is referred to as God’s Word. Although written using a variety of human beings, God is the ultimate author. Contained within the Bible is the ultimate and absolute truth. But here is what I’m getting at with this characteristic. God didn’t have to reveal truth to us. He could have left us to wander aimlessly through life unaware of deception, darkness, and the consequences of sin. No one could have done anything to change it. But He didn’t—He revealed. Yes, the battle for truth can be somewhat discouraging at times. We will go through seasons of life where we doubt, get frustrated, or end up downright confused. But take heart. Truth is a gift given by God and quite honestly, we don’t deserve it. So often we view truth as something oppressive and burdensome. Such thinking is tragic. Why? Because truth is a gift.


Truth is unchanging. If something is true, it must withstand the test of time. The authentic truth will not cease to be true as the clock ticks forward.

Truth has no expiration date.

What is true can be applied to me, my children, my grandchildren, their children, and so on. The truths proclaimed and held to by the Christian faith are simple. They are easy to understand. Even a child can grasp the concepts. But those simple truths have remained unchanged since they were revealed to us. The truth of God doesn’t change depending on who is in the White House or because of something someone said. It doesn’t change depending on what language it’s written in. It doesn’t change when critics relentlessly attack and belittle it. It doesn’t change when it is unpopular. It doesn’t change when everything else seems to be changing. Why? Because it’s true—and truth is unchanging.


Ask Yourself

I’m not trying to convince you of anything by writing this. It may seem like I am attempting to persuade you to receive the Christian faith as true, but I’m not (even though I would like you to and would attempt to do just that given the right situation). I’m simply asking you to consider your worldview and the big questions that relate to our lives and existence. Are you building your life on the truth? Are you willing to stake everything on what you hold as true? Because you are. This should make you pause and think about your answers to the many questions posed in the paragraphs above. Do your answers hold up? How confident are you concerning them? Friends, truth is not elusive. There is truth to be found. His name is Jesus, and He holds up. With Christ by your side, you can be confident in the face of uncertainty.