Why the Truth Question Still Matters

C. S. Lewis emphasized in his essay on Christian apologetics that “one of the great difficulties [in sharing the Gospel] is to keep before the audience’s mind the question of Truth. They always think you are recommending Christianity not because it is true but because it is good. And in the discussion they will at every moment try to escape from the issue ‘True or False’ into stuff about the Spanish Inquisition [or the Crusades]… or anything whatever. You have to keep forcing them back… to the real point. Only thus will you be able to undermine… their belief that a certain amount of ‘religion’ is desirable but one mustn’t carry it too far. One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance.”-[C. S. Lewis, “Christian Apologetics,” in Walter Hooper, ed., God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970) p. 101.]

Do you know how important truth is to your daily existence? Think about it for a minute:

You rely on truth every day of your life! For example:

  1. You rely on your people to tell you the truth every day. If they tell you the bus arrives at 6:30 and it really arrived at 6:10, you probably will miss the bus.
  2. You rely on your teachers to tell you the truth. If they tell you that you will have a quiz on chapter 2, but you arrive the next day to find out that the quiz is on chapter 4, you may flunk the test. Whether it was a lie or a mistake, you really needed the truth.
  3. People rely on banks to be truthful about how much money they have.
  4. When we buy a car, a computer, or a phone, we rely on those that sell us these items to be truthful with us about whether it works or not.
  5. We attempt to rely on politicians to tell us the truth about what policies they want to have Congress pass so that our country will be a better place to live.

“Is it arrogant to say I think what I believe is true?”

In a culture that is highly divisive, polarized, and pluralistic, many professing Jesus followers have opted for an ultra-humble approach to truth which means they think it is offensive or divisive to proclaim that Jesus  as the only possible Savior for humanity (Matthew 11:27; John 1:18; 3:36; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 John 1: 5:11-12). We need to remember we are called to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).

What Does the Bible Say About Truth?

True and False Doctrine: The core of our doctrine is what Jesus taught to and through his apostles. Remember that the truth that sets us free (John 8:31-32; Acts 2:42). Although God does not expect us to attain perfect understanding of this truth, he does expect us to understand sound doctrine—so we live as fruitful and discerning talmidim of Jesus (1 Tim. 4:6; 6:3; Titus 1:9; 2:1).

True and False Spirits: We need to remember the following verse: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus the Messiah has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus  is not from God” (1 John 4:1-2). Jesussaid the Ruach Ha Kodesh would be another “Parakletos” or “Advocate” (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7), who testifies to the truth about Jesus (John 16:13-14). The Bible gives us two ways to test spirits to see whether they are from God. The first is to ask whether the spirits teach the truth about Jesus (1 John 4:1-6). Also, any message about the Good News that presents a different message than the message that the Messiah himself gave through Paul and the other apostles is a false message or a false gospel (Gal. 1:6; see 2 Cor. 11:4).

Remember: God does expect his children to grow in the exercise of discernment—recognizing the difference between truth and error (1 Thess. 5:21-22). Also, one aspect of spiritual maturity is that we are more skilled in our discernment (Heb. 5:14).

The Difference Between Objective and Subjective Truth

Now when it comes to spiritual beliefs, people might say “Well, if you think it is true, that’s good for you. But it is not my truth.” Therefore, we need to explain the difference between ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ truth.  You rely on objective truth every day. Objective truth is something that’s not based on your feelings, emotions, or preferences. It is something that is true whether you believe it or not.

Let’s give some examples:

  1. “Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, and George Washington was our first president.”
  2. “Donald Trump is our current president.”

These statements are objectively true. It has nothing to do with how you feel about it. These are ‘facts’ of history.

Subjective truth is based on your personal preference or feelings. You might say, “Chocolate ice cream is the best ice cream in the world.” This is all based on our personal likes.

All religions claim to teach the truth. And since they all contradict each other at some level, they can’t all be true.  Thus, while it is true they may have similar view of morality and how to treat our fellow man, at their very core, they all can’t be true.

Something else that needs to be remembered: “Truth is not just what works.” Some people may say to us the following: “If believing in the Messiah works for you and makes a difference in your life, that’s all that matters.” We already discussed the shortcomings of this approach in our introduction.

Therefore, when it comes to truth, we need to ask if it is based in reality. Thus, if we say God exists and the Messiah is the Son of God, the first question is not whether this “works” for the person and makes a difference. The first question is whether it is based in reality. NOTE: To see whether or not our beliefs are based in reality, see our chart on God’s existence.

Think about this! The God of the Bible cares about truth. God’s truth must be learned (meditated upon (Psalm 119) and defended (1 Peter 3:15-17; Jude 3).