What is Truth? – Pontias Pilate

Language is truthful, not when the meaning attached to the words by the speaker, but when the meaning intended to be produced in the mind of the particular person addressed, is in accordance with the facts. – J. Gresham Machen

The context of this statement was dealing with liberal preachers who will gladly proclaim Jesus to be God. The problem is that the liberal and the Christian have two different meanings of the word of God. The phrasology is the same, the meaning could not be more different. I think that is interesting that as we enter the political season, we will have ever candidate at one time or another talk about Jesus and how they believe He is God. Let us be wary that that might not necessarily mean Jesus is Creator and Judge of the universe.

While I think it is important to discern what people mean when they claim Jesus as God, I want to approach the subject from a different angle. I want to talk about telling the truth. All through out Scripture, we are commanded to speak the truth. Psalm 15:1-2 states,

1 O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? 2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart

According to David, a Christian is marked by speaking the truth. God, through the prophet Zechariah, states,

16 These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace 

Paul gives this exhortation to the Ephesians at 4:25,

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 

Here, the command is obviously among Christians. While this seems like a “duh” statement, it was a problem among church at Ephesus. They weren’t telling the truth to their Christian brothers and sisters. Apparently, the Colossians were having the same issue. In 3:9, Paul writes,

9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 

Paul equates lying with the old self. There are echoes of Psalm 15 here. If a Christian is one who speaks truth, then an unbeliever is one who speaks lies. Falsehood is part of the old nature. Truth is apart of the new nature.

It is plain to see that truth is commanded of Christians. So what then is truth? I think Machen got it right. Truth is truth when the words we speak convey a meaning to our audience that is in accordance with reality. IF we say something and our audience takes that word to mean something different and our intent was to deceive, we have not spoken truth. We must be careful not to use language in such a slick way to appease our audience, but at the same time, mean something entirely different. I think that it could be very easy to speak in a way that conveys a sense of truth, but in reality is an out and out lie. I have been challenged to watch my phrasing so that all my words convey truth, not just the mere appearance of truth. I challenge you to do the same.


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