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Today I want to talk about something that is very basic; something that each and every one of us knows. I am not going to tell you anything that you don’t know. But I am going to say it anyway! Because it is important; in fact, vital! You have probably noticed a new trend – well newish; it used to be if someone was preaching, that they would cite Scripture or perhaps quote a Church Father, a famous preacher, or quote a renowned authority. Or if you were writing a scientific paper you would do a literature search in the library and reference your sources. But now, we quote Google. [P] “I Googled it! I looked it up on U-tube!” As if this is the great authority! We bow down, and worship this vast repository of human learning. Google has become the ultimate authority! If you want to find out about anything; be it cooking, knitting, fixing cars, making musical instruments, atomic bombs, medical diagnoses – Google has the answers! Google is “all knowing”! It is amazing, and seemingly limitless, what you can find out. It used to be that if you were curious about something that you would just let it ride, or if you were really keen, you might go to the library and find out. But not now – the answers are at our finger-tips! The internet gives access to a vast store of knowledge. [P] You can find information, you can find facts. You can also find a huge variety of opinion. [P] It used to be that you had to have your sources verified before you could publish. But now you can put your view-point on-line, no matter how weird or crackpot. On Google you will find every opinion under the sun. But do you know what you will not find? … TRUTH! [P] I have a real concern that we are deifying Google. We bow down and worship this vast source of data. But you know the source of that data, don’t you? Its source is human! [P] – it is a collection of man’s ideas and knowledge. We are worshipping man!! His knowledge, his wisdom. It is idolatry! [Jeremiah 17:5 Thus says יהוה, “Cursed is the person who trusts in humankind and makes flesh his strength, and turns aside his heart from יהוה.] Man is not the source of truth! Google is not omniscient; God is!! Furthermore; truth is more than mere knowledge. In fact, man has an extremely difficult job even defining “truth”. Philosophers have struggled to define the concept. What is truth?! One thing about the truth is THAT IT IS! It remains. It doesn’t alter; you can deny it, tell lies against it, deceive, ignore it, hide your head in the sand; but it doesn’t change. It doesn’t alter truth! It still is! Just like God Himself! In: [Exodus 3:13–14 Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”] “I AM” – He is! Eternally past, present and future [Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.] He just IS; ever the same. No matter what you do, or say or think doesn’t alter the fact. HE IS! That is the truth! Rock solid, unalterable, totally dependable and to be relied upon. It is not going to vary or be something other at some other time. And that is the most wonderful thing about the truth you can depend upon it, rely upon it, it is a foundation that you can count on because it is TRUE. It is this essential quality of dependability that causes some differences in translation of the word for “truth”. For instance: when יהוה met Moses on the mountain and declared His Name to him and he saw His back; this is what יהוה said: [P] [Exodus 34:6 Then יהוה passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “יהוה, יהוה God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;] That is what my NASB says, it is also what the KJV and NKJV say. But if I read the ESV: [P] [Exodus 34:6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,] “Faithfulness” is also what the NIV and Good News say. The word for “truth” also means “faithful” [P] – same word for both and translators have to decide how they will render it. They will translate it either way, depending on the verse. [P] Because, to the Hebrew mind there is not a lot of difference. What is faithful, reliable, dependable is true. What is true can be depended upon, is faithful. It is much the same thing. There is a rather enigmatic verse in Ecclesiastes, sometimes used at weddings: [P] [Ecclesiastes 4:12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.] It has been talking about two people being better than one, how the second can help and support the first. But then it talks about three strands – and so people have used it in the context of marriage: two people are better together than one person alone, but if Jesus is the third one in the relationship; then it is super-strong. It is probably as good an interpretation as any; but we are not told what the three-stranded cord is all about. So, if you will permit me to wrest the verse from its context and just use it as a peg; I would like to talk about a super-strong three strand cord of truth that can be relied upon. Because, remember? That is the essence of truth it is faithful, it can be relied upon. I mean if you are abseiling down a cliff you want to know that cord will not break. You are entrusting your life to it! That is truth – you are depending your life on it panning out to be true! You have got to be sure. And there are three strands to the cord of truth. You don’t want to rely on just one! When you are at sea in a boat, you take bearings and then you know the truth of where you actually are – you are no longer “all at sea”. If you take a bearing on a light-house – you could be anywhere along that line. But if you take a second bearing, say on a headland, then you have fixed your position along that line. But if you want to be sure, ensure you haven’t made a mistake, then you take a third bearing and all three points intersect. Then you know for sure, for certain, without a shadow of a doubt, where you are. You have found the truth of your position. So, it is with the truth. We have three coordinates that confirm each other so that we can be absolutely sure. One of the reasons that people have had such difficulty trying to define truth and find out what it is; is that they have been looking for a concept, an idea, a statement of fact. Famously Pilate asked: [John 18:37-38 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. (Pilate knew the facts but not the truth) For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice. Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”] When all the time there was the TRUTH standing right in front of him!! The truth was in hearing His voice. You see, the truth wasn’t a statement, some facts, a concept; the TRUTH is a Person! We all know the verse [P] [John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.] There is the first strand, the first coordinate: [P] Jesus Himself, claimed to be the truth. This is why so many don’t find the truth – they are not looking for the person, they are looking for some abstract metaphysical concept. Paul said: [2 Timothy 1:12 I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed (not believing a principle but a Person) and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.] The truth is real, concrete, incapsulated in a person; One who is utterly and completely faithful. You can count on Jesus, rely upon Him. People believe in many things. They rely on all sorts of things, their philosophy, their wisdom, their money and resources, their wits, their personality, their knowledge – but they all let you down. They cannot be relied upon. They cannot be guaranteed. They change, they fail – they are not true. When Jesus calls us to believe in Him, it is the most sensible thing to do. Because He of all, alone, can be depended upon, will not change, is faithful, is true. [P] [Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.] – utterly unalterable – truth! He is not of earth, which is temporary and fading but from heaven itself. He came down from heaven: [P] [John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.] Full of truth. Sometimes you can get a clearer idea of something if you consider the opposite. What is the opposite of truth? A lie? Deceiving. Something that is false; that does not really exist; trying to fool you into accepting something that is not really the case. And you know where lies and deceit come from, don’t you? To the Jews Jesus said: [John 8:44–46 “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (but in utter and absolute contrast, Jesus is the truth) “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. (the truth is faithful, reliable; therefore, you should rely upon it, put your trust in it, believe; not it, but Him) “Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?] Truth should be believed. Why believe what is not true?! – it will only prove false. It is leaning on a broken stick. The total opposite of the liar, the devil; is Jesus, of whom Peter said: [1 Peter 2:22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit (or lie) found in His mouth;]. Jesus is the truth. There is the first strand of our rope. [P] The rope of truth. The truth is absolute, it is not a subjective – you know: “you have your idea of what is true, and I have mine”. It has come to be known as post-modernism: “everyone has their own concept of what is true. What is true for you is not necessarily true for me; so, you cannot judge me or tell me what is right. How dare you say that this is true, it is just true for you. Everyone has their own opinion, their own reality. The truth is essentially unknowable!” With this wishy-washy thinking; nothing is certain, there is no solid ground to stand upon – there is just a mass of conflicting opinions. The Bible stands utterly opposed to this, increasingly common, idea. The Bible tells us that there is truth, furthermore it asserts that that truth is knowable. The Word became flesh, full of grace and truth. A Person, Jesus, and you can know Him. John said: [1 John 1:1–3 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, (real, tangible, knowable!) concerning the Word of Life— and the life was manifested, …. — what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.] You may not know the structure of DNA and the intricacies of nuclear physics; but you can know the Person of Jesus Christ! Hallelujah! [John 8:31–32 So Jesus was saying…. you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”] Yes, the Bible tells us that you can know the truth. Fuzzy human thinking tells us that the truth is unknowable, or at least subjective. The Bible says that the truth is objective, absolute and knowable. I said that Jesus is the truth; but there are many ideas about Jesus, how do you know that you have the right one? I mean some say Jesus was a political revolutionary – particularly popular in South America; some say that He was a good man, a fine example, a teacher; but just a man. There is the hippy Jesus, of few years back: “love and peace brother”. Some say that He was Divine, but never really became a man. There is the Mormon Jesus, the Roman Catholic Jesus. Which is the right one? Some regard Him as a moralist, some as Jewish rabbi, some as a social reformer, some as a religious reformer. Some say He was a king. Is He a political figure, a religious figure, a philosopher, a moralist? Some see socialist elements, a communist, sell all you have and give to the poor. There is a multiplicity of views. How do you know that you have got the right Jesus?! It is like taking that bearing from your boat. You are fixed on Jesus – but you could be anywhere along that line. Jesus is the truth, but how do you know that you have got the true Jesus! You need another bearing – another cord to your rope. How do we know Jesus? The record of how He actually is, is found in Scripture. [John 5:39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;] [Luke 24:27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.] This is the second strand of our rope. [P] Jesus Himself took Scripture as absolutely authoritative: “these things speak of Me.” When satan tempted Him, he repeatedly answered: “It is written!” Scripture was His authority, and interestingly, satan himself accepted it as so. To the Pharisees Jesus repeatedly said, “Have you not read?” – seven times it is recorded in the Gospels. Jesus Himself said: [John 10:35 “If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken) ,….] The Scripture cannot be broken – it is unalterable, forever the same, truth. David said: [2 Samuel 7:28 “Now, O Lord יהוה, You are God, and Your words are truth, and You have promised this good thing to Your servant.] [Psalm 119:160 The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.] The word of God doesn’t change. We revere science, but science books are out-of-date as soon as they are published, because our knowledge is forever changing. Therefore, it is not true! The Word of God does not change or alter. Jesus Himself said: [P] [John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.] Paul said: [Colossians 1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the Gospel.] To Timothy he said: [2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.] They all refer to Scripture as being the “word of truth”. James did too: [James 1:18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.] Proverbs says: [Proverbs 30:5–6 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.] God’s word is true; if you add to it, then it is no longer true. All we know of Jesus comes from the Scriptures. How do we know whether it is the true Jesus? Is it the Jesus of the Bible? It is not Jesus how we would like Him to be, or imagine Him to be. The true Jesus is the Jesus of the Bible. There is the second strand of our strong rope; [P] which we can entrust our very life upon. But, as there are many ideas about Jesus, there are also many interpretations of the Bible. I mean, the devil has read the Bible, he quoted it at Jesus; yet he is the father of lies! There are men who have made the study of the Scriptures their life work; they know the Bible an awful lot better than I do, and probably you too; but they do not know Jesus! It is just an academic exercise. Think about it for a moment; in the Scripture God has unfolded His whole plan – yet His enemies can read it! Who would give enemies access to their inner-most plans?! But they can read and read and they will not get it …. without the third strand: the Holy Spirit. [P] Because the truth does not come from knowledge, analysis, concepts and theology. It comes by revelation. Derek Prince read the Bible as a book of philosophy. He started at the beginning and had got all the way to Job. He couldn’t understand it, categorize it, get what it was on about. Then one night in an army barracks he had a personal encounter with Jesus – the Holy Spirit revealed to him the Person of Jesus. Speaking about the Jews of His day Jesus said: [Matthew 13:14 “In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, ‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;] They just didn’t get it! Paul said: [2 Corinthians 3:15–18 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; (they cannot see!) but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (who is the “Lord”?) Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.] I remember the Bible being boring and hard to understand; but when there is revelation it is most vital and interesting and life-giving! It thrills your heart! Remember those on the road to Emmaus? Jesus explained the Scriptures to them; they knew them, but now [Luke 24:32 They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”] Now there was revelation! There are so many interpretations to the Bible! How do you know what is right what is true?! Well, we have a Person, the very Person who wrote it, alongside us to guide us!: [P] [John 16:13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.] The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. Jesus promised to send Him, He said: [John 14:17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.] The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth because He testifies concerning the truth, that is: Jesus! [John 15:26 “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,] The Holy Spirit is the truth: [1 John 5:6 It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.] How do you find the truth? You find it in the Person of Jesus. But how do you know Jesus? You know Jesus from the Bible. But as Peter said: [2 Peter 1:20–21 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.] So, you need the Holy Spirit, who wrote it, to reveal it to you; give His interpretation, the true interpretation: revelation! The truth! All this we know so well. It is nothing new; but I thought that I would illustrate it with a bit of personal testimony; testimony that I have never shared in public before. [P] The TRUTH sets you free. Jesus liberates! Praise His Name! And I was in bondage, held captive to futile human philosophy. When I was in my late teens, I had the misfortune to read Bertrand Russell’s “A History of Western Philosophy”; and I was particularly taken by the ideas of men like Berkeley, Locke and especially David Hume. You’ve heard the idea: “if a tree falls without anyone to hear it, does it make a noise?” Foolishness, you say; and you are right! But I got taken up with this idea that all I took to be real, true; was merely a product of my mind, a firing of synapses and chemical reactions, if those things existed except as some idea in my head, if that existed. The product was hopelessness, nihilism; you didn’t know if anything existed, and if it didn’t, there was utterly no purpose. Just as there is no purpose if we just happen to be the product of some chance mutation of pond scum. But, praise God, Jesus revealed Himself to me personally, He spoke to me! And I was set FREE! Liberated from utter despair and pointlessness. Perhaps the reason I don’t talk about it, is the horror of what that place was. Well, some years passed and then I had a dream. Not like Martin Luther King, some vision of how things should be; this was a real dream. I seldom remember a dream past breakfast time, and they never make any sense; but 30 years later this one still remains. It was a pleasant dream; and in my dream, I was aware that I was dreaming, I could change the pleasant situation I was in for another dream which was also pleasant. But I knew it was a dream – IT WAS NOT REAL! In my dream I changed from one dream to another but I could not stop dreaming. I was trapped in my dream! I wanted reality, I wanted truth, not some imagined scenario, something that just existed in my mind, no matter how pleasant! Then, in my dream, I recalled that the truth was Jesus! There was reality! There was truth! But it was here that the dream turned to a nightmare! Because, in my dream, I realized that Jesus was just another dream! A reality that existed just in my mind! Where was the TRUTH?! Where was reality?! Not in my mind! I desperately wanted to get out of the dream, be awake, find the truth and not some product of my mind. I was desperate. I tried to wake up and I could not. All was a dream! All was just in my mind! I WAS TRAPPED! Captive! I desperately wanted to be free, but could not! The philosophy that I had embraced had come back to haunt me! I had found Jesus, but what if He is not real, true?! That is the greatest horror that I can conceive!! Yes, it was just a dream; but reality was a dream! It was a nightmare and I couldn’t wake up! I tried and tried with increasing desperation and panic, but all I could do was exchange one dream for another! Then from somewhere came the words: [P] “The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me!” I clung to it like a life-line. I permitted no other dream, no other false reality, no idea; I shut out everything, except: “the Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me!” I repeated it over and over, shutting out everything else that sought to come into my mind. Over and over again: “The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me!” “The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me!” Until I woke up, like coming from the depths of the diving pool I broke the surface, saying out loud the words: “The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me!” “The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me!” I guess that is why Galatians 2:20 is one of my favourite verses. Perhaps analytically, not the most appropriate verse for my situation; but effective! The word quickened by the Holy Spirit worked! Do you see the rope that pulled me out of the pit? [P] It was Jesus, the Son of God who loved me, [P], but not a Jesus of my imagination, a dream, but a Jesus based on the truth of God’s Word [P] that said: “The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me!” It was not by some analysis of Scripture, thinking out what verse fitted my situation. The Holy Spirit [P] quickened that word to me and threw it like a life-line to a drowning soul. Revelation from heaven! You say, “Hey Paul, it was only a dream! Don’t get so worked up” – but that dream reflected where I had been. It was the story of my life: without truth, in utter despair and pointlessness! That is where all are, who do not know Jesus as revealed by the Holy Spirit in Scripture. But you can know the truth. Be sure of it by the triple confirming coordinates. Later that day I read [Psalm 56:9–13 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; This I know, (certain, sure) that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, In יהוה, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? Your vows are binding upon me, O God; I will render thank offerings to You. For You have delivered my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling, so that I may walk before God In the light of the living.] You won’t find the truth on Google, from man’s ideas. I was set free from man’s ideas, they could do nothing to me! The truth had set me FREE! The truth of Jesus, the truth of His Word, the truth of revelation by the Holy Spirit had set me free! Free from the empty philosophies of men that had me ensnared. May you too know the truth that sets you free indeed!