By Omolola Oriogun
I often heard statements like this: “I’m telling you the truth; the truth of the matter is; GOD knows I’m saying the truth.” When I hear such, I wonder what truth is?!!!
Ask anyone today, “What is truth?”, and you’re sure to start an interesting conversation. Try it on a university campus and you’re likely to receive laughter, scorn, and derision. The concept of truth has clearly fallen on hard times, and the consequences of rejecting it are ravaging human society. So let’s go back to the starting point and answer the question: What is truth?
One of the most profound and eternally significant questions in the Bible was posed by an unbeliever. Pontius Pilate, the man who handed JESUS over to be crucified, turned to JESUS in HIS final hour, and asked, “What is truth?” It was a rhetorical question, a cynical response to what JESUS had just revealed: “I have come into the world, to testify to the truth.” Two thousand years later, the whole world breathes Pilate’s cynicism.
Now, here are some school of thoughts about truth. Some say “truth is a power play, a metanarrative constructed by the elite for the purpose of controlling the ignorant masses; another set thinks, truth is subjective, the individual world of preference and opinion; others believe truth is a collective judgment, the product of cultural consensus; and some flatly deny the concept of truth altogether.”
Therefore, what is truth?
Here’s a simple definition drawn from what the Bible teaches: “Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of GOD. Even more to the point: Truth is the self-expression of GOD.” That is the biblical meaning of truth. Because the definition of truth flows from GOD, truth is theological.
Someone once said to me, truth is also ontological, i.e., an abstract, a fact, a fancy way of saying it is the way things really are. But I told him that “reality is what it is because GOD declared it so and made it so.” Therefore GOD is the author, source, determiner, governor, arbiter, ultimate standard, and final judge of all truth.
The Old Testament refers to the Almighty as the “GOD of truth” (Deut. 32:4; Ps. 31:5; Is. 65:16). When JESUS said of Himself, “I am…the truth” (John 14:6, emphasis added), HE was thereby making a profound claim about the fact that truth is a person, HIS own deity. HE was also making it clear that all truth must ultimately be defined in terms of GOD and HIS eternal glory. After all, JESUS is “the brightness of [GOD’s] glory and the express image of HIS person” (Heb. 1:3). HE is truth, the perfect expression of GOD and therefore the absolute embodiment of all that is true.
JESUS is also making it known that the written Word of GOD is truth. It does not merely contain nuggets of truth; it is pure, unchangeable, and inviolable truth that “cannot be broken”– John 10:35. JESUS prayed to HIS heavenly Father on behalf of HIS disciples, HE said: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth”- John 17:17. Moreover, the Word of GOD is eternal truth “which lives and abides forever”- 1 Pet. 1:23.
Of course, there cannot be any discord or difference of opinion between the written Word of GOD- Scripture and the incarnate Word of GOD- JESUS. In the first place, truth by definition cannot contradict itself. Second, Scripture is called “the word of CHRIST”- Col. 3:16. It is HIS message, HIS self-expression. In other words, the truth of CHRIST and the truth of the Bible are of the very same character. They are in perfect agreement in every respect. Both are equally true. GOD has revealed Himself to humanity through Scripture and through HIS Son. Both perfectly embody the essence of what truth is.
An obvious corollary of what I am saying is that truth means nothing apart from GOD. Truth cannot be adequately explained, recognized, understood, or defined without GOD as the source. Since HE alone is eternal and self-existent and HE alone is the Creator of all else, HE is the fountain of all truth.
If you don’t believe that, try defining truth without reference to GOD, and see how quickly all such definitions fail. The moment you begin to ponder the essence of truth, you are brought face to face with the requirement of a universal absolute, the eternal reality of GOD. Conversely, the whole concept of truth instantly becomes nonsense (and every imagination of the human heart therefore turns to sheer foolishness) as soon as people attempt to remove the thought of GOD from their minds.
That, of course, is precisely how the apostle Paul traced the relentless decline of human ideas in Romans 1:21-22: “Although they knew GOD, they did not glorify Him as GOD, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.”
There are serious moral implications too, whenever someone tries to dissociate truth from the knowledge of GOD. Paul went on to write, “Even as they did not like to retain GOD in their knowledge, GOD gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient”– Rom. 1:28. Abandon a biblical definition of truth, and unrighteousness is the inescapable result. We see it happening before our eyes in every corner of contemporary society. In fact, the widespread acceptance of homosexuality, rebellion, and all forms of iniquity that we see in our society today is a verbatim fulfillment of what Romans 1 says always happens when a society denies and suppresses the essential connection between GOD and truth.
In conclusion, I believe truth is both the person of GOD and the word of GOD, i.e., a person– JESUS said: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life…- John 14:6a; a word– But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil- Matt.5:37 and James 5:12- But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” Equate truth with GOD, you have Peace but separate truth from GOD, you have Problems.
For more Studies on truth:
John 8:32; 16:13; 17:17; Eph. 6:14; Psa. 145:18; 119:160; 1Jh. 5:20; Jam. 1:18.