(This post is the manuscript for a sermon on Truth preached at Anchor Church on August 12, 2016)
For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” Jn 3:16–21.
Illustration: Colored paper.
What if I were to tell you that this yellow piece of paper was actually red? Would it make it red?
What if I were to tell you that 2+2=5? Would it be true that it would equal 5?
What if I believed it with all of my heart and it made me feel good to believe that? Would it change anything?
Why not? Because it just isn't right. There are things that are facts, concrete, firm. We call them truths. You can think what you want but it will never be true because there is a standard of right and wrong. There is what we call truth.
Honestly, most people understand truth when you give examples like color or math, but there are a lot of other issues in the world where it isn't so easy.
What if I were to tell you that I believe that lying is ok, or that murder is perfectly fine?
It's a little different that 2+2 isn't it? What if I said that I think murder is ok because I was really angry with that person and they had it coming. Or that it is a part of my religion. What if I told you that I like to lie because it honestly really helps me in some situations? What about that?
Can you still tell me that it is wrong? Why? How?
Can you tell me that one religion is more true than another? Can you tell someone that their religion is wrong? How?
Can you tell me what I should and should not do with my body?
We live in a world where, sadly, people really don't know the answer to these questions. We don't all see that there is a standard of truth, but we live in ways that simply make the most sense to us, or what feels the best to us. We say things like "all religions are true" without really knowing that they can't be. We say sing anthems like "no right no wrong, no rules for me, I'm free." I'm joking, but is she right? Are you free if you think there are no rules or standards or truths? One of the great anthems of our time is this, you might have heard it. 'What is true for you may not be true for me!' But is that true? Does that work? Can 2+2 ever be right for someone?
Let's give some illustrations to help clear this up.
Imagine a car driving straight for a cliff, but the driver doesn't think that it is there - he thinks that it is just a mirage so he keeps the pedal down, but the passenger is scared to death because he sees it coming. Well, if there really is a true cliff there does it matter if the driver believes it or not? No. It changes nothing, but if that driver does't see the error of his ways then it will have deadly consequences. Just because the driver didn't think that it was true, did that mean that it wasn't true?
I met a very nice lady the other day who told me that she believe that Atheism is just as true as Theism. Is that true? Can there be a god and no god at the same time? No. Something there isn't true.
That's what we are talking about this weekend. What is truth and how do we know for certain that it is true?
Let's define truth:
- Truth applies at all times to all people.
- Truth corresponds, or agrees, with reality or how things really are.
Remember our green piece of paper?
The paper is yellow. Our eyes and cameras pick up the electromagnetic waves at between570-590 nm (nanometers)
which is green. There is a standard. It applies at all times and in all places. If I call it red does is agree with reality? No.
The Value of Truth
Truth is a holy standard, a precious and sacred thing. Without it we are like a lost ship in the night on a black ocean without a working compass, a truth to tell us where to go. Truth hurts. It bites and cuts like a sharp-edged sword as it tells you the difference between right and wrong. It never changes but always remains the same. It is why murder was wrong from the beginning, still is wrong, and will forever be wrong. Truth isn't swayed by feelings or changes in culture. It is, rather, an immovable boulder which you can live your life safely on. Under the weight of a false accusation it is the truth that can bring you justice. It is the source of hope for every human who has ever asked the question of why do you exist? Where do you come from? What's next after this short life? Truth is a fixed and sturdy place to grab in the midst of ever changing ideas and philosophies. Truth brings peace and life-giving joy.
Jesus all through scripture is laying out the Truth.
- He says in Jn. 14:6 that he is the truth.
- In Jn. 1:14 it says that, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."
- Psalm 19:10 says that, "The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;"
Let's look at this statement by Jesus tonight and just do an experiment and see if it is true. Our best question to ask is this: Does it agree with reality? Does what he says line up with the way that things really are?
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
- Does this correspond with reality? Does this agree?
- Well, the question is, does God really love the world? If so, has he proven it in reality?
- Yes! He has proven that he love the world so much that he would even give his Son, Jesus.
Gave him to do what?
- To teach us. To live a holy life that we should have lived, and to die a death payment for sin that we should have died. He loves us at the highest cost to himself. He gave it all to save us.
- The Bible that you hold in your hand is proof.
- He laid his life down so that we would not perish.
- Question: Do our lives perish? Do they have and earthly expiration date?
- What if someone were to conquer the grave? What if someone came back to life, would that give us real hope?
- Jesus has and there were witnesses. We're still talking about it.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
- When Jesus came did he come in judgement or did he come to serve and to lay his life down?
- This is how you come to trust in Jesus over other "gods". What he says and what he does matches up.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
- If you believe, trust, depend that God loved you so much that he would send his son to pay for your sins then you will be saved.
- If you don't believe, you distrust, and you depend on yourself for salvation then you are condemned.
- Did you know that there are two options to pay for sin? Either you pay it or Jesus pays it for you.
- On which do you depend?
- How much do you depend on yourself? Can you give your next breath? Can you stop sinning for a minute? How about an hour? Days/years?
19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
- Who is the light that came into the world? (Jn. 8:32)
- Jesus - The Truth (Jn. 14:6)
- Jesus is holy - he is perfect and he made the people he was around uncomfortable.
- It's like this: What if you were with your friends and you were doing something that you knew that you shouldn't be doing and your Mom or Dad was in the room. Would you be uncomfortable? Yeah!
- But this is saying that we love our sin so much but it still makes us so uncomfortable when someone says that we shouldn't do it, but instead of saying that we are sorry and repenting or changing, it's like looking over at Mom or Dad and saying," Get Out! Go Away!"
- But this is much worse because we say it to God. The people in the Bible tried to stone Jesus to death a few times before they finally nailed him to the cross.
- His purity exposes us. Have you ever felt that? Have you ever felt guilty before God? That's a good thing, but how did you respond?
20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
- They hate the truth.
- They hate knowing that they are wrong.
- They don't want to be exposed.
21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” Jn 3:16–21.
- But if you come to Jesus, the truth, he will set you free.
- Jn. 8:31-32 says this, "If you abide in my word then you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Friends, Jesus is claiming this as true, which means that at all times and in all places this is true, that if you come to him you will see before a holy God that we ll have sin, but you will also find that Jesus did not come to condemn you but to lay his life down in his love for you.
Friends, this is the truth. And if you come to the truth it will set you free. If you take this truth to others in your families, schools, and to the nations, it will set them free. It is for Asia, Africa, South America, North Korea, your mailman, your best friend, and it is for you.
Now you need to ask yourself does this agree with reality? If I come to Christ will I be truly set free? Will I be forgiven? All I can say is what the Psalmist said in Psalm 34:8 - "Taste and see that the Lord is Good!"