One of the most famous quotes in history is Pilate's famous word's to Jesus, "What is truth?" (John 18:38). His remark was in response to Jesus' frank declaration that "...everyone who is of the truth hears my voice" (John 18:37). In today's world, it seems Pilate's words have become a cultural rallying point while Jesus' words...well, not so much.
For instance the result of Pilate's words echo loudly over the megaphone of mixed messages that hammer us through non-stop liberal media productions, hopeless political distractions, and drastically liberal theological positions which bring the Christian faith into mockery. All of these, and more, have created a kind of alphabetical soup culture replete with chaos and mixed messages. No wonder so many people live with depression. Unless you are a hermit on a deserted island you will never escape the crescendo of voices pushing, ramming, and clamoring for us to hear and accept their point of view.
Being ever aware of that, Truth Inspires, and other biblically based sites like it, seek to bring the Bible to life and present the only timeless view worth hearing...which are the words of truth found in Scripture. Yes, you could say we are just another of the voices on the airwaves spouting our point of view clamoring for your attention; and in some ways we are, but it is not our words that drive us but His.
Jesus' words are comforting and yet, they are hard-hitting and heart rendering as well. For instance we love Him when He speaks of peace: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27). But we cringe when He speaks of the sword. "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword" (Matt. 10:34). But as we shall see the two are inextricably linked. There are some prerequisites that must be in play before His peace begins to flow like a river. They involve the wielding of the sword—not the stiff shining steel kind but the sword of the Spirit, the word of God (see Eph. 6:17). But before we wander there consider that Jesus also spoke of love. We like that too...a lot! But let's not forget He also spoke of hate; not the hate the world dishes out against others—the hate that scars—but a righteous hatred toward anything that does not bring glory to the Father. Jesus taught we should hate anything that is in direct opposition to the will of God.
We could go on to mention other things that seem to be in direct opposition to the preconceived (love all things-accept all things) Jesus we fluff up in our minds but those will suffice. Why? Because in love and hate, and peace and the sword we learn things about the Lord Jesus that reveal His true nature and His purpose. If we place them into the correct contextual setting we can get a more rounded view of what endears the Lord and what also induced Him to go to the cross.
Peace and the Sword—Love and Hate
It is worth asking, how can Jesus come in peace or wish peace on humanity when He is also bearing a sword? How can Jesus speak to us words of love and grace and yet tell us we must also hate or sever ourselves from those things that offend or those things garner our loyalty over Him? Maybe this will help. It is a prophecy found in Psalm 40:6-8 (also found in the book of Hebrews) that models the devotion Jesus had toward the Father—a devotion we should model for Him. It goes like this:
Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. Then I said, "Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart." I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness In the great assembly; Indeed, I do not restrain my lips, O LORD, You Yourself know. I have not hidden [kept to self] Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth From the great assembly. Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O LORD; Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me. ( emphasis mine Psalms 40:6-11NKJV)
The scroll of the book is the Old Testament and it is in those pages that we learn about who the Messiah would be, how He would come into the world, of His dividing words and His tenacious purpose. He came to do the will of the Father, and like a servant who pierced his ear (signifying eternal servitude to his master) so Jesus' ear was opened (pierced) in determined devotion to His Father. But we also find that it was patience (lovingkindness) and truth that drove Him and patience and truth that preserved Him. Patience is an interesting word. It can only be used correctly with reference to a future accomplishment. We tell our children "be patient." and "to wait" until their expectation occurs. In context, Jesus would wait patiently till the truth He declared—truth that came from His oneness in heart with the Father—would come to fruition. We can understand then that truth has a consequence—an accomplishment to complete.
When we return to the immortal words of Pilate who said, "What is truth?" we can better understand the words of Jesus. Truth is accepting and heeding all that "IS" the life of Jesus. He came to proclaim the piercing truths of righteousness to the great assembly of humanity. He came to proclaim that the will of God for humanity was to live in accordance with the righteousness of God. A person who heard, or one who took to heart with full acceptance, the words Jesus spoke, would conform their lives to what those words of truth meant—allowing the sword of the Spirit to have its perfect work. Jesus told Pilate, "everyone who is of the truth hears my voice." It's really a powerful statement—one fully in keeping with His revelation of the holiness of God. Truth, to Jesus, meant submitting and being faithful to God the Father for it was His word and His will He came to proclaim.
Today, we are living in an awfully sad period of history when it comes to truth. I say awfully sad because so many who claim to hear the truth of the Lord are only hearing part of it if any at all. The truth Jesus came to proclaim was truth that transformed the mortal life into Christ-like life. But it seems that much of humanity only wants to pick and choose what they will accept from Jesus' words. Honestly, what has happened to the truth Jesus heralded? What has happened to holiness? Are there no more God-fearing righteous men and women of God to proclaim it? Why is so much of the so-called church of God sacrificing His truth on the altars of Baal for self profit and preservation?
Since the SCOTUS legalized "Same-Sex-Marriage," (June 2015) the ramifications of their decision are being felt in the church, Christian colleges and universities, Christian schools, and Christian ministries. The legalization is causing changes to be enacted to avoid or limit lawsuits on those who stand for the truth.
Truth and righteousness tell us to stand before God with clean hands and a pure heart. They tell us to weigh all things in the scales of God's proclamations and institutes of righteousness. They tell us to never compromise and bring shame to the character of God. They tell us to place our faith in Him at all costs.
Jesus spoke of peace, and even desired peace, but it would be in patience that He would wait to see it come to full and complete fruition. The truth He proclaimed got Him crucified on a cruel and bloody cross. (click to tweet) Today He bids us to hold up that same banner, even if it goes against the tide of culture. Yes, His words could bring peace but they also cut like a sword as their intent was to slice away the unrighteousness in our lives that what remained would be a reflection of God—the city set upon a hill.
I would like to close with a passage from Isaiah. Please read it carefully knowing that the destruction that came upon the "so-called people of God" twenty-six hundred years ago came because they did not heed the word of truth. This is an example for our instruction:
The earth mourns and languishes, Lebanon is shamed and shriveled; Sharon is like a wilderness, And Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits. "Now I will rise," says the LORD; "Now I will be exalted, Now I will lift Myself up. You [the unfaithful] shall conceive chaff, You shall bring forth stubble; Your breath [your worldview], as fire, shall devour you. And the people shall be like the burnings of lime; Like thorns cut up they shall be burned in the fire. Hear, you who are afar off, what I have done; And you who are near, acknowledge My might." The sinners in Zion are afraid; Fearfulness has seized the hypocrites: "Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, He who despises the gain of oppressions, Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, And shuts his eyes from seeing evil: He will dwell on high; His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; Bread will be given him, His water will be sure. Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; They will see the land that is very far off. Your heart will meditate on terror: "Where is the scribe? Where is he who weighs? Where is he who counts the towers?" [All references to those in wisdom heed God's truth] You will not see a fierce people, A people of obscure speech, beyond perception, Of a stammering tongue that you cannot understand. Look upon Zion, the city of our appointed feasts; Your eyes will see Jerusalem, a quiet home, A tabernacle that will not be taken down; Not one of its stakes will ever be removed, Nor will any of its cords be broken. But there the majestic LORD will be for us A place of broad rivers and streams, In which no galley with oars will sail, Nor majestic ships pass by (For the LORD is our Judge, The LORD is our Lawgiver, The LORD is our King; He will save us)... (emphasis mine Isaiah 33:9-22 NKJV).
"Life is short, eternity is long. Let us remain faithful to God no matter the cost."Erwin Lutzer, NDP 2015