Jesus, on the day he was to be crucified, was taken to the Roman Prefect, Pontius Pilate, who asked if Jesus was a king.
“For this I have been born,” Jesus answered, “and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”
“What is truth?” Pilate retorted.
Having stated the obvious—that he, himself, was truth, Jesus provided no answer. Neither did Pilate await one.
But truth must be understood from an eternal perspective. Apart from the Creator, all existence is created and therefore finite. To answer the question of truth, our finite and imperfect minds must defer to God. Not only is the Lord the fountain of life and the genius behind all being. He is also the source and originator of truth.
It’s like this: I’ve heard my mother tell me about the day when I was born numerous times. Obviously, I don’t remember that day very well. Therefore, every fact I obtain about my birth—from the months leading up to it to the initial years that followed—must be derived from my mother. She was there before I was born. She was there after I was born. My mother, therefore, is the world’s foremost authority on the subject of Brad Keena’s birth.
On a larger scale, God is the foremost authority on the subject of creation. “By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,” Proverbs 3:19 tells us, “by understanding He set the heavens in place.”
God knows everything because he created everything there is to know. Nothing created can fathom the knowledge of the eternal Creator. As a result, the knowledge we possess is nothing more than a small, poorly understood portion of God’s knowledge. What we think we know about truth is hindered by several things, such as our limited reasoning capacity, our inability to interpret facts – even the state or our emotions.
As humans, we tend to gravitate toward the simple. Throughout history society has settled for “black and white” explanations when searching for truth. But truth isn’t always simple.
When the Pharisees challenged Jesus’ authority, he said “Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going” (John 8.14). The Pharisees were both unwilling and unable to comprehend the answer to their question. Jesus, however, had all authority because he was with the Father in eternity past. “For in Him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2.9).
Instead, the unbelieving scribes and Pharisees sought a black and white answer. “Show us a sign,” they demanded. But they wouldn’t have believed Jesus even if he did show them a sign. “Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him.” In the end, Jesus’ proclaimed himself as the ultimate authority of truth by rising from the dead.
Armed with the truth of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, his apostles literally grew a church overnight. The people “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” God authenticated the teaching of his servants of truth through “the many signs and wonders performed by the apostles.”
Today, we have that same teaching at our fingertips. Steeped in the inspired words of the Old Testament, the apostles preserved their teaching in the inspired record of the New Testament. As with the early church, Acts 2 calls us to boldly devote ourselves to that same teaching, the Scriptures, which contain everything we need to know about the meaning of life.
The word of God is the highest authority on the subject of reality. Only in the Scriptures can we find the answer to the question “What is truth?”