Calvary Road Baptist Church

“TRUTH”

James 1.18

My text for this morning’s message is James 1.18: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”

Next week, Lord willing, the focus of my sermon will be upon God’s use of His Word, the Bible, as the central means used by the Holy Spirit to give spiritual life to the lost. This morning’s message will deal with the existence of truth. Why bring a message on the subject of the existence of truth? Because we live in what philosophers call the postmodern age, and two of the most prominent characteristics of postmodernism are the denial of absolutes and the rejection of authority. It may very well be that you are a post modernist without realizing it.

Allow me to illustrate postmodernism in a practical way. A woman is raised in church. Her whole life she embraces the notion that there are moral absolutes by which one governs one’s life. One of those moral absolutes is the imperative of worshiping God and faithfully attending church. This moral absolute is embraced by the woman who is raised in church until she decides for whatever reason she does not want to attend church faithfully, so she stops attending church faithfully. In one fell swoop she has exposed her postmodernism by simultaneously showing that she is all for moral absolutes until she has what to her is a justifying reason to cast off such restraints, and she utterly rejects the authority of God to govern her life, of Christ to call for her discipleship, and the church to instruct her in the ways of righteousness. She could not be more obviously postmodern if she was the painted guitarist of a heavy metal band.

Please direct your attention once more to our text, James 1.18, where our eyes light on the phrase “the word of truth.” Since the Bible is here termed “the word of truth” by the inspired writer James, that very phrase stands squarely opposed to all that postmodernism stands for. Or should I say, that phrase is predicated on the bedrock of what postmodernism ignorantly seeks to deny. How so? Consider the phrase “the word of truth.” Found a total of five times in the New Testament, the phrase embodies the central message of the Christian faith. If that phrase does not reflect reality, then there is no Christian message and there is no Christian faith, as some ignorantly presume. Besides James 1.18, let me read the other four verses in which essentially the same phrase is found:

Second Corinthians 6.7: “By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.”

Colossians 1.5: “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel.”

Ephesians 1.13: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.”

Second Timothy 2.15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Although the phrase “the word of truth” is generally taken by the casual reader of the Bible to mean the Word of God as a whole, closer examination reveals that both James (in our text) and the Apostle Paul (in his use of the phrase) are a bit narrower in their intended meaning. “The word of truth” is probably synonymous with the gospel message, or the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the substitutionary sacrifice for sinners and the justification of sinners by faith on the ground of Christ’s saving work.[1] That truth is “the word of truth.” For the phrase to mean anything, there are two facts about “the word of truth” which must be confronted: First, “the word of truth” is itself based upon truth. Secondly, “the word of truth” speaks authoritatively about God, about His Son Jesus Christ, about sin, about salvation, and such things as that. Thus, “the word of truth” is a truthful record that speaks authoritatively. No wonder Christianity and postmodernism are so antagonistic toward each other. They represent worldviews and belief systems that are diametrically opposed to each other. No wonder the post modernist virtually bristles with indignation when a preacher of the gospel sets forth the truth of God’s Word and man’s duty without apology.

Postmodernism is anti-authoritarian, while Christianity has to do with submission to divinely instituted authority in every area of life as unto God Himself; submission in the home, submission in the work place, submission in the spiritual realm, and of course submission to the gospel and Jesus Christ the Lord of the gospel. Postmodernism stands opposed to moral absolutes, meaning postmodernists do not admit to anything being always right or being always wrong, or to anything being always true or always false. They believe that everything, and I mean everything, is relative and dependent upon the situation you find yourself in. Thus, the post modernist can grow up in church, even being raised by genuinely Christian parents, and yet think nothing of attending church not at all and raising children without any real spiritual content in their lives.

This reminds me of a conversation I had when my family and I were in London some years ago. We stayed in an old missionary bed and breakfast boarding house where I met a wonderful Christian man who had been a professor of nuclear physics at the University of Wisconsin for many years. The conversation I had with him was very stimulating. He told me that university students, just about all of whom are postmodernists, are generally very anti-authoritarian and opposed to absolutes that interfere in any way with their personal goals and objectives. He said that they typically justify their promiscuous lifestyles and moral relativism by citing Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. I asked him how they did that. He said it was owing to their misunderstanding of what Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity actually meant, and their erroneous conclusion that Einstein’s theory suggested that nothing is absolute and that everything depends upon your frame of reference. Thus, depending upon your frame of reference, everything is relative (time, space and matter) and there are no absolutes. However, he quickly went on to say, such an understanding of Einstein’s theory is completely wrong, as well as being tragically misnamed. He suggested to me that Einstein’s general theory of relativity would be more aptly named the general theory of absoluteness, because Einstein’s theory is in reality predicated upon the assertion that there is a foundational absolute upon which our understanding of the physical world is based, that the speed of light is an unvarying constant. E=MC2 with C being the constant, the speed of light in a vacuum. Thus, he said, not only is it entirely inappropriate to make use of a theory in the realm of physics to justify sinful behavior, but postmodernists add to their blundering misconceptions by making use of a theory in the realm of physics that they completely misunderstand to justify sinful behavior. So, what was this retired professor of nuclear physics from Madison, Wisconsin, doing in London? He was scheduled to speak to a group of scientists and students at a nearby university that he said compared very favorably to Cal Tech and MIT, to challenge them to be more outspoken in the classroom about their Christian faith.

Back to our topic for this morning, which is truth. I assert that there is absolute and unalterable truth, and that such a view of truth requires that you admit to the existence of moral absolutes. Follow along as I build my argument.

First, THE EXISTENCE OF GOD ESTABLISHES THE EXISTENCE OF TRUTH

I am not particularly interested in trying to prove the existence of God to anyone, since it really is the burden and responsibility of atheists to prove that God does not exist. God’s Word declares, “The fool hath said in His heart, There is no God.”[2] That being true, what obligation do I have to expend my limited time with people declared to be fools? No, I will declare the truth of God’s Word to you who are not fools, in the hopes that the Spirit of God will deal with you about the spiritual realities and absolutes of life.

Why does the existence of God establish the existence of truth? Because God is true. Consider these declarations in God’s Word:

Exodus 34.6:   “And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.”

Deuteronomy 32.4: “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”

Psalm 31.5:   “Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.”

Psalm 40.11:    “Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.”

Psalm 51.6:      “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.”

Psalm 146.6:    “Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever.”

Daniel 4.37:  “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.”

Zechariah 8.8: “And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.”

Matthew 22.16:  “And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.”

Mark 12.32:  “And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he.”

John 1.14:  “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

John 1.17:  “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

John 4.23:  “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 4.24:  “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

John 8.32:  “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

John 8.44:  “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

John 14.6:  “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

John 14.17:   Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”

John 15.26:   “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.”

John 16.13:   “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”

John 18.38:   “Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.”

I realize that you may feel overwhelmed by the torrent of Bible verses I have presented to you, but the sum of what we have considered is this: God is true, His Son Jesus Christ is true, and the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the triune godhead, is also true. The reason there is such a thing as truth is that there is such a being as God, and each of the three Divine Persons who comprise the holy Trinity is clearly shown in the Bible to be true. Deny the existence of truth and you must also deny the existence of God, because God is truth.

Why does the existence of God establish the existence of truth? Because God’s Word is true. Consider these declarations in God’s Word:

Psalm 25.5: “Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.”

Psalm 25.10:    “All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.”

Psalm 100.5:    “For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

Psalm 117.2:    “For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.”

Psalm 119.142:   “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.”

Psalm 119.151:   “Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth.”

Daniel 10.21:   “But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.”

John 17.17:   “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

John 17.19:   “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”

Will I take the time to prove that the Bible is the Word of God? If you doubt that the Bible is what it has always been held to be, and what it internally declares itself to be, then you prove that it is not the Word of God. That is your burden, not mine. I will simply declare to you the truth that the Bible is true, that the Bible is shown by anyone who has studied the matter to be true, and that in the Word of God are testimonies by the Son of God, and by others, that this Book is true. Therefore, my friend, if God is true and if God’s Word is true, then truth exists.

As Well, THE EXISTENCE OF TRUTH ESTABLISHES THE EXISTENCE OF ERROR

Light in the darkness, right versus wrong, good in place of evil. Does two plus two actually equal four, or is that only in your reality? It cannot be that your reality is different from everyone else’s, or that you have a truth that is different from everyone else’s truth. Why not? Because, throughout this vast universe we live in, two plus two equals four every time two and two are added together.

If it were not so, computers could not work even when all the parts were properly assembled. If it were not so, automobile engines could not function. However, what is as equally true as two plus two equaling four is that two plus two does not equal not four. It is true that two plus two equals four. It is just as true that two plus two does not equal not four.

Consider what that means. It means that any answer other than four when two and two are added together is an erroneous answer, is wrong, and is false. Do you know what that certainty tells us? It tells us that there is an absolute right, two plus two always and in every case equals four. However, it also tells us that there are certain things that are always wrong. It is always wrong that two plus two equals not four. Thus, two plus two does not equal three, or five, or ten, and never will equal those numbers.

My friend, that means that just as surely as two plus two always equals four, there are things that are always true. As well, just as surely as two plus two does not equal anything not four, there are things that are always error. The existence of truth, then, establishes the existence of error. Therefore, while it is always right to tell the truth, it is always wrong to tell a lie. While the marriage bed is always right, premarital and extramarital sex is always and in every case wrong. While God is always true, anyone and everyone who disagrees with God is always and in every case a liar who is wrong.

Thus, And In Conclusion, THERE ARE MORAL ABSOLUTES

Truth is always truth. Error is always wrong. Right is always right and wrong is always wrong. To be sure, things can quickly get complicated and require wisdom to sort out what is right and what is wrong, but do not let anyone ever tell you that there are no moral absolutes.

“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all,” First John 1.5.

“. . . let God be true, but every man a liar,” Romans 3.4.

“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised,” Titus 1.2.

John 3.33, “God is true.”

Then, First John 5.20, which reads, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”

Therefore, God is true, and tells the truth, and cannot lie. Thus, what He says is right is right, and what He says is wrong is wrong. What He says is just is just, and what He says is sin is sin. Further, this one true and living God is immutable, meaning He never changes. “I am the LORD, I change not,” Malachi 3.6, and with God there “is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,” James 1.17.

To the satisfaction of everyone who is not a fool, I have shown that the existence of God establishes the existence of truth, that the existence of truth establishes the existence of error, and that therefore there are moral absolutes of right and wrong, truth and error. Truth does exist, and it is not just your truth or my truth, true just for you or true just for me. There are moral absolutes that extend to every person, that are applicable to everything, and that govern every life. There are things that are just true, whether you or I like it or not, because God says so, and because He backs up His truth with His authority.

Let me make two applications and then we are finished:

First, a man I once knew talked to his father and explained to him his sinful condition, his certain condemnation, and God’s provision of Jesus Christ to save him from his sins. His father responded to his grown son’s presentation of the gospel to him by saying, “Son, I am glad that you feel comfortable in your truth.” The son said, “Dad, it’s not just my truth. It applies to you, too.”

Next, consider Hebrews 10.25: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Missing church is not an option. Jesus died for the church, Ephesians 5.25. God is glorified in and by the church, Ephesians 3.21. Faithfulness to church is God’s will for you. That is a truth found in God’s Word.

My friends, truth has to do with facts and realities that hold sway whether you believe them or not. Truth is truth, even if you don’t believe it. You see, Romans 2.2 tells us that “the judgment of God is according to truth,” whether you accept the truth or not. Truth is. It can set you free. Or it will testify against you come Judgment Day. Know this to be true.



[1] John Gill, The Baptist Commentary Series Volume I, John Gill’s Exposition Of The Old And New Testaments, Vol 9 (Paris, Arkansas: the Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., reprinted 2006), page 500 and Joseph B. Mayer, The Epistle Of James, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1990), page (373) 63.

[2] Psalm 14.1



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