What is the Truth?
For most people truth is a statement which expresses things which are not false. It represents an accurate statement of the facts concerning any particular subject. This definition of truth is useful and has its place, but there are several biblical references which clearly carry a different definition when they speak of what is true, or what is truth. These statements give a deeper understanding of truth which is extremely relevant and necessary for us to understand in light of the many confusing doctrines which are floating around in these last days.
Let us look at Hebrews 8:2 as an example of what I am trying to say. The verse says:
Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. (Hebrews 8:1-2)
Notice here that it says that Jesus is a minister of the TRUE tabernacle. Usually, we think of the opposite of “true,” as being, “false.” With this understanding we would have to conclude that the tabernacle pitched by Moses and the temple built by Solomon were false temples. But is this what Paul is suggesting when he refers to the heavenly temple as being the “true” tabernacle? The obvious answer is no, God did not instruct Moses to build something which was false. The comparison which Paul is making is between the reality versus the representation. The real thing versus the model, the antitype versus the type. He refers to the reality as “the true” tabernacle. The one built by Moses was not false, but it was not the true one, it was not actual reality, it was only a model. Clearly, this is what Paul is saying and he makes it even more clear in Hebrews 9:24.
For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: (Hebrews 9:24)
There are several other statements in the New Testament, concerning the truth, which carry the same meaning. We have often misunderstood these passages and missed the tremendous message in them because we have not understood what was meant by the “truth,” as referred to in those passages. As we look at these passages I would like us to substitute the word “real,” for the word “true,” and the word, “reality,” for the word, “truth.”
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)
Grace and reality came by Jesus Christ. The full impact of this statement can be grasped when we look at what this reality is contrasted with. The law was given by Moses (or through Moses), but was it the reality? Did the law deal with real things? This is the point of the passage and the answer is a resounding “no.” The law had “only a shadow of good things to come (Heb. 10:1).” The law was made up only of shadows and representations, things which were not the realities themselves. It was intended to point to greater realities. These realities (truth) came by Jesus Christ. So the law was not the truth (the reality), this reality only came when Jesus arrived as the fulfillment of the entire system of the law. With this understanding in mind we are better able to appreciate what Jesus meant when He said:
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
The Jews identified themselves by the law. It would not be too much of an exaggeration to suggest that they almost worshiped the law. Their entire relationship with God was defined by the law. This was the main reason why they scorned and despised the Gentiles and refused to believe that they could be saved. As Paul said of them,
Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, (Romans 2:17)
This was the picture into which Jesus stepped and declared, “I am the way, the REALITY and the life.” The full impact of His statement cannot be appreciated until we realize that He was declaring Himself to be the true avenue to God, the reality of the reconciliation with God which they had never possessed in the law! All they had ever possessed before He came was illustration, form, representation. He Himself was the reality, the truth to which all those illustrations had pointed.
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. (John 6:32)
This is why it is so disheartening to find professing Christians today, focused on the law and determined to bring Christianity back under the yoke of the law, seeking God by means of the illustration and type which was long, long ago replaced by the reality! This is amazing and heaven must be astonished to see it. Man’s condemnation is that light is come into the world, reality is come, but men love darkness and illustration more than they love the light and the reality. God is not pleased when we approach Him by means of the worship system of the former age. This was Jesus’ message to the Samaritan woman who had a difficulty in discerning the great difference between form and reality..
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. (John 4:23)
Notice His emphasis on worshiping in truth (in reality). God the Father is actually looking for people who worship in keeping with what is real. God is not a God of form and illustration although He used those things in a temporary system for a while. But it was never His ideal and when Jesus arrived, the hour had come when the TRUE worshipers, the genuine ones, would worship Him in spirit and in truth. They would worship in accordance with the reality of the omnipresent God they were worshiping, they would worship in truth. They would approach God by things which are real, not shadows and illustrations and types. These are the people God is seeking to worship Him, this is the kind of worship which pleases God.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)
It is the truth, or the REALITY which sets us free – free from sin, free from condemnation. The information which we often define as truth, does not really set people free. There are millions who have the theory of truth, the information contained in correct doctrine, but who are still enslaved by sin’s power. It seems as if Jesus’ statement is not true, but this is because we have misunderstood His statement. It is not doctrines which set us free from sin, it is the reality of those doctrines, it is “the truth,” which sets us free, and the reality of those doctrines, the reality of the truth is CHRIST HIMSELF. It is only when we know Him and possess Him, that the truth makes us free from sin, because it is only through He Himself dwelling in us that we possess true freedom from sin.
This is why we MUST understand that the holy spirit is the very life of Christ Himself. It is not simply the teachings concerning Christ, it is not just the information which Christ Has given us. If we do not receive the REALITY of new life itself by receiving the resurrected, redeemed life of Christ, then we can never be free from sin’s power and condemnation.
He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:4)
For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever. (2 John 1:2)
When a man does not walk in the commandments of Christ, what is His problem? Is it that he does not know the words of Christ? Is it that he does not know the doctrines of Christ? Not at all, he must know the commandments of Christ or else he cannot be blamed for not keeping them. But what is the problem of such a person? The problem is, “the TRUTH is not in him!” He does not possess the reality of what he professes to believe, he does not possess the reality of the commandments. The TRUTH (Christ) is not in Him! This is the bottom line.
Today, we are hearing that it is not Christ Himself who lives in His people. Some are insisting that it is pantheistic to suggest that Christ Himself lives in His people! This is amazing to the point of being frightening. What are we left with if Christ does not dwell in His people? We are left with doctrines and teachings, nothing more. We are left with the illustration, the form, the husk, but we are without the REALITY! This is a guaranteed formula for spiritual death, a guarantee that we will have nothing but dry legalism. The experience of the Jews will be our only legacy, that of a people who had all the information that heaven could give, but who neither knew, nor recognized, nor received their God, but instead, crucified Him in the person of His Son, and rejected Him in favor of a criminal.
There is much confusion in the Christian world today and unhappily, it thrives among those who claim to be “reformers.” But now, as always, the fact remains unchangeable: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” May Christ be all, and in all.