_I am not talking about genetically enhanced super-Pomeranians. I am talking about something much more dangerous.
Life and death depend on what people are doing with truth. We take this for granted with health truths, traffic truths, and safety truths. (If you don't get enough of the right nutrients, you will slowly or quickly die of malnutrition. If you drive recklessly, you could kill yourself or someone else. If you don't obey the safety rules at work, you could kill yourself or someone else.) However, we tend to not take this so for granted with spiritual truths.
In sharing the Gospel, if we are not careful, we can leave people thinking that we have offered them nothing more than an alternative lifestyle, which they can examine at their own leisure to see if it will make life more pleasant for them - one lifestyle option among many - not an option that could actually determine eternal life or death. This is because they are inundated with a way of looking at truth, which is purely personal. We need to understand that they have planted their own tree of truth, so to speak, so that they can branch off their own shoots and prune as they will. If we don't understand the way people think about this, we will be handicapped in sharing the Gospel with them. We need to understand the true nature of today's false "truth" so that we can effectively share with them God's true truth, which their lives really do depend on.
“My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. As it is, My kingdom does not have its origin here.”
“You are a king then?” Pilate asked.
“You say that I’m a king,” Jesus replied. “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”
“What is truth?” said Pilate. (John 18:36–38)*
Today's false "truth" is unclear - undefined. The lines of reality are blurred and even adjustable. Just as we live in our own homes on our own lots or acreages, dressing our yards or land and designing our homes pretty much however we want to, so, too, we all live in our own realities. Since no one can define ultimate reality for us, it's up to each of us to build our fences around our own realities to live inside as we see fit, and to make sure we don't trespass on one another's realities. The fact is that the boundaries around our properties are more distinct and definite than the boundaries of today's "truth".
Many people, living in our muti-deity, spiritually diversified world, can relate to Pilate as he walked away from Jesus with a wave of his hand as he asked, "What is truth?" Pilate himself lived in a world of spiritual plurality, in which spiritual consumers could shop at the spiritual marketplace. Truth was a marketable commodity for people to dress up their personal lives with. So it is today.
If we are going to claim to tell the truth of the Gospel, as Jesus claimed to Pilate, we need to understand how they are going to interpret that claim. We must realize that the word "truth" itself is up for grabs, meaning a preferrential, personal, shapable view of something, rather than an objective, searchable, discoverable, definable fact about something. So, a lot of people are instinctively going to think like this when we claim to tell them the truth of the Gospel: "Well, that's the truth as you see it." Many, many people do not take it for granted that we might actually be offering them an alternate perspective on reality, which might actually be right, while their perspective on reality might actually be wrong. And if we press this, it is at this point that many will press back and shut the conversation down, because they like "truth" being fuzzy.
I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of His appearing and His kingdom: <Preach the word [ESV]>; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. But as for you, <keep a clear head about everything [HCSB'03]>, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1–5)
The convenience of today's "truth" is that it is fully adjustable for maximum comfort. People want places where they can try "truth" on - have a seat in it and see if it suits them. They have itching ears, and they want to feel the pleasant flow of lyrical ramblings from men and women who make preaching a performance. They are willing to pay good money for philosophical decorations to go on the walls of their personal comfort zones. They are consumers who want what they pay for. Their demand raises up the supply. They give up see-God truth for feel-good myths - see-God theology for feel-good philosophy. They don't want to be edified - they want to be entertained.
Things haven't changed much in a few thousand years. The prophet Ezekiel must have been very gifted at preaching, even while being faithful to preaching God's Word:
“Now, son of man, your people are talking about you near the city walls and in the doorways of their houses. One person speaks to another, each saying to his brother, ‘Come and hear what the message is that comes from the Lord!’ So My people come to you in crowds, sit in front of you, and hear your words, but they don’t obey them. Although they express love with their mouths, their hearts pursue dishonest profit. Yes, to them you are like a singer of love songs who has a beautiful voice and plays skillfully on an instrument. They hear your words, but they don’t obey them. Yet when it comes —and it will definitely come—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.” (Ezekiel 33:30–33)
He wanted them to get right - all they wanted from him was to feel good. They had no grasp on what they were headed for.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (Proverbs 16:25)
In spite of its convenience and comfort, today's "truth" is ultimately and fatally catastrophic.
It is a different way than God's, which is a road leading to destruction: "Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it." (Matthew 7:13) It is a super-highway of self-determination with no speed-limit and every kind of indulgence along the way, leading to one, final little rise on the beautiful horizon, the other side of which drops off a sheer cliff into the Grand Canyon of final judgment.
It is outside the will of God, which is sin ending in death:
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from allegiance to righteousness. So what fruit was produced then from the things you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. But now, since you have been liberated from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification—and the end is eternal life! For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:20–23)
The fact is that whatever we come up with ourselves, we destroy ourselves with. Whatever comes out of us turns back on us, because it all comes out of sinsistent sindependence from God: We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way... (Isaiah 53:6 NIV)
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31–32)
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)
How do we counter today's false "truth"? Well, we do not do it with a philosophy - we do it with a Person - not with the philosophy of Christianity, but with the Person of Christ.
Jesus is the Way - not necessarily comfortable but clearly marked:
How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it. (Matthew 7:14)
“If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9:23–25)
Jesus is the Truth - clearly ultimate and unambiguous: All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him. (Colossians 2:3)
Jesus is the Life - there is no life to live without living His life:
Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. (John 1:4)
"I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life. “I assure you: An hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, so also He has granted to the Son to have life in Himself." (John 5:24–26)
Our witnessing is not about showing ourselves to be smarter, wiser, or better than the ones we are talking to. It is about introducing them to Jesus Himself - telling them the true truth of Who He is, what He did for us, and why He did it - that they might be saved for the glory of God. Saved. That is not a mere spiritual label to tell what spiritual brand we have bought into. That is what we actually are in the hands of the One Who came to rescue us from sin and the fatal judgment to come on it. Go tell the truth today.
*Scripture quotations in this article are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, HCSB®, and Holman CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
May we aspire to understand the times and what we
(1 Chronicles 12:32)