Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 27, 1951

What Is "The Truth?"

W. S. Boyett, Altus, Oklahoma

If we turn to the common use of the word "truth," with but a few exceptions we apply it to speech. We "tell" the truth. If we look into the dictionary for a definition, it is "That which is according to fact or reality; that which is genuine and in harmony with fact." In the Bible we find the term so used in several passages; but there is also a higher use of that term in the sacred volume.

The widow if Zarephath said unto Elijah after he had raised her son from the dead, "Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth." (1 Kings 17:24) She had seen Elijah do that which no mere man could have done; she knew therefore that he was a "man of God." And since a man of God would not speak something that was not true, she knew that "the word of the Lord" in his mouth was "truth." It was so then, and has been so ever since, that the "man of God" speaks only that which is "truth;" he does not teach falsehood.

"The Truth"

When Jesus stood before Pilate, he was asked by the Roman procurator, "Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the TRUTH. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, "e;What is truth?" (John 18:37-38) Pilate recognized that Jesus did not use the term "truth" in his statement in the sense of "that which is according to reality or fact." He saw that instead that some special or particular sense was being given the word; hence, he asked, "What is truth?" Jesus did not on this occasion reply to Pilate's question, but his gospel is filled with abundant information as to what "the truth" really is. In his great prayer to his Father, Jesus implored, "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth." (John 17:17)

That prayer did not mean simply that God had spoken truthfully; Jesus was not testifying as to God's honesty or veracity. But rather the passage means that the message of salvation, the gospel revealed by God in his word, is THE TRUTH. Over and over again Paul emphasized that fact, "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 the Holy Spirit of promise." (Eph. 1:13) The same apostle declares, "For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which is come unto you even as it is also in all the world bearing fruit and increasing, as it doth in you also, since the day ye heard and knew the grace of God in truth." (Col. 1:5-6) There can be no mistake in these passages: the Ephesians had heard "the word of truth" and that word of truth is clearly defined as "the gospel of your salvation."

"Truth" In The Old Testament

Of the law which was in effect prior to Christ it is said, "Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth." (Psalm 119:142) Again, "Thou art near, 0 Lord, and all thy commandments are truth." (Psalm 119:151) During the Mosaic dispensation the law of God was the standard of truth in religion. It was the only standard of truth. There were those who prophesied falsely, and spoke that which was not the word of God. "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so; and what will ye do in the end thereof?" (Jer. 5:31) The word of these men was false because it was contrary to the law of God, which was the standard of truth. The people had so far apostatized that they "loved to have it so." Like Ahab, they wanted a prophet who would not tell them of their sins, and who would not prophesy "evil" concerning them.

Peter declared that just as there were false prophets then, so shall there be false prophets in our time. (2 Peter 2:1) The false prophets of our day are those who teach that which is not according to the standard of truth, which is the gospel. Of such Paul said, "For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but after their own lusts, shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall be turned unto fables." from the TRUTH, and shall be turned unto fables." (2 Tim. 4:3-4)

Jesus, "The Truth"

Jesus claimed to be the truth. He said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life, and no man cometh to the Father except by me." (John 14:6) A little reasoning on this passage will make it clear just how, in what way, Jesus is the Truth. John's first declaration concerning Christ is, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." (John 1:1) Then in that same chapter he states, "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." Hence, Jesus is the word INCARNATE, or in human flesh. This explains the cryptic saying in verse 17: "For the Law was given by Moses; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."

The Holy Spirit is also called "the Spirit of truth." Jesus said, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; 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 14:16-17) The things said here were said only to the eleven apostles, and were for them alone; not for all men. It was in the upper room where the last Passover supper had just been eaten. Judas had gone out on his mission of betrayal; Jesus reveals these things to those remaining, and then he prays the beautiful petition in John 17 in their behalf. It was while gathered together with them on this solemn occasion that he said, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 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 show you things to come." Thus it was that the Holy Spirit was promised to the apostles to "guide" them into "all truth."

The Holy Spirit was the revealer of the gospel. This glorious message of hope and salvation came to the apostles under his direct and supernatural guidance. That gospel they wrote down for all time to come. We this day have the gospel, "the truth," and by it, and it alone, we have hope for eternal life.