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Is There Any Absolute Truth? - Life of Christ Part 98

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
June 3, 2021 3:00 pm

Is There Any Absolute Truth? - Life of Christ Part 98

So What? / Lon Solomon

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There was a new CNN Gallup poll that was just done, and in this poll, among other things, they found that among Americans, 44% of Americans now say that they believe that homosexuality is an acceptable form of life for Americans.

This is up from 34% just over 12 years ago, quite a rise, and when they asked why people felt this, what was the rationale, here's what folks said. The overwhelming majority said that in their opinion, there is no absolute truth when it comes to how adults in America should run their sexual lives, and therefore, since there's no absolute truth that you can use as a yardstick, how can you say that any form of consensual sex is really wrong? I'm not here this morning to discuss homosexuality with you. I'm here to discuss truth with you. I mean, what about this position that so many of us Americans are now taking that there is no absolute truth on the key moral and social issues that are facing America? We want to talk about truth this morning and ask the question, are there certain things that we can say are right and wrong 100% of the time?

Are there certain morals and ethics that apply 100% of the time to everybody in the world and in our society? Because Pontius Pilate asks a very important question in the passage we're going to look at about truth, and Jesus answers it, and by answering it, he answers our question. So let's look together here in chapter 18 of John's Gospel, beginning at verse 28. Then the Jewish people led Jesus from Caiaphas, the priest, to the palace of the Roman governor.

By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness, the Jews would not enter the palace because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them, and he asked them, what charges are you bringing against this man? Jesus, of course. Well, they said, if he weren't a criminal, you nincompoop, we wouldn't have handed him over to you. Well, what would make you think we would come here if he hadn't done something wrong? And Pilate in response said, well, then take him yourself and go judge him by your own law.

Why are you bothering me? But we have no right to execute anyone, the Jews objected. This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled. See, they could have taken Jesus and killed him by way of a mob, but they wanted him formally executed, crucified. That was the way things were done then by execution, and the only way to get that done was to hand him over to the Romans. Jesus had predicted this weeks before when he said in Matthew 20, they're going to take me, they're going to hand me over to the Romans, they're going to beat me and whip me and crucify me.

And that's when John says, this just happened to fulfill what Jesus predicted was going to happen to him. Pilate went back inside, and he summoned Jesus and he said, hey, I need to know this. Are you the king of the Jews? Jesus said, was this your own idea? I mean, did you figure this out or did the people outside talk to you about me? Pilate said, am I Jewish? Do I know all the things that you people are doing?

Am I in touch with all the little petty squabbles you guys have? It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. Now, what in the world have you done? Jesus said, my kingdom is not of this world, Pilate. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest, but my kingdom is from another place. Pilate said, aha, so you're a king. Jesus answered and said, you're right. You're right in saying, I am a king.

Now, if you're a king, but you're the king of some other kingdom, it's a logical question, don't you think, to ask, well, then what are you doing here? And so Pilate wants to know that and Jesus answers his question. Look, in fact, Jesus says, middle of verse 37, for this reason I was born and for this I came into the world to testify to the truth.

Now, that's an interesting comment. To the truth about what? Well, what did Jesus testify to? He testified to the truth about God, the truth about himself, the truth about sin, the truth about salvation, the truth about eternal life, the truth about human relations, the truth about how to live and stay off, stay out of the ditch, the truth about all kinds of things, right? He testified to. And he goes on to say, everyone on the side of truth listens to me. Pilate responded and said, what is truth? There's no truth, Jesus. There's just politics. You know that. Truth.

What are you talking about? The truth. No truth.

And he went out and said again to the Jews, I don't find any basis for a charge against this man. Now, that was a pretty good question, Pilate asked, wasn't he? What is truth?

We don't know exactly how he asked it, whether he asked it cynically or whether he asked it genuinely, but however he asked it, it's a decent question. And Jesus gave him the answer. He gave the answer to all of us. And look back one chapter in chapter 17, and Jesus is going to tell us the answer to the question. What is truth? Is there any absolute truth? Where do I find truth? Here's what Jesus said, chapter 17, verse 17. He's praying to God the Father, and he's praying God, verse 17, set them apart, sanctify them by the truth. Now watch, your word is truth.

Man, that says it about as simply as it can be said. Your word is truth. You see, Jesus wasn't the only person that God had ever used to communicate truth to mankind. He'd used people like Moses. He'd used people like David. He'd used many of the prophets in the Old Testament. And yes, he used Jesus.

And then he took them all, everything they'd communicated, rolled it together, wrote it down in what we call the B-I-B-L-E. Real simple. And Jesus, in answer to Pilate's question, what is truth, Jesus said, I'll tell you what truth is. Your word, God, the word of God, is truth. So what's the answer Jesus gave? He said, the Bible is absolute truth from God that is timeless and cultureless and non-negotiable. That's the answer to your question, Pilate.

God's word is truth. Now I want to stop there in terms of our working through the passage and ask the really important question. And y'all all know what that question is.

What is it? So what? Right. So what? I mean, what does this really mean for our everyday life?

How does this change the way I live when I go to work tomorrow morning? Well, I'm going to answer that for you. How many of us here believe in poles?

Raise your hand. No, that nobody? Well, you may not like how this is going to go then for the next couple minutes because I didn't realize that there was that, you know, few. But anyway, Newsweek did a poll and in the poll they found that 76% of Americans believe that the United States is in moral and spiritual decline. How many of you agree with that? Now, see, you do believe in poles, right?

You just voted along with everybody else. Okay. Well, it's true. I think I agree with that statement. Michael Josephson who runs the Josephson Institute on Ethics wrote, there is a hole in the moral ozone of America. I think that's a pretty picturesque statement. There is a hole in the moral ozone of America and it's getting bigger.

And the reason? Listen to what Mr. Josephson says. He says, and I quote, it's because we live in a jungle of relativism where nobody believes they know anything for sure and where no one will impose values on anybody else, end of quote. Newsweek points out in an article on virtue entitled, What is Virtue? And I'm quoting, despite the call for virtue by politicians and others, we live in an age of moral relativism. According to contemporary thinking, since truth cannot be known absolutely, neither can anything be branded good or bad absolutely.

Do you understand what they're saying about where we are as a culture now? Nobody can tell anybody that anything is wrong anymore. Nobody can tell anybody anything's right anymore.

It may be right for you, but that doesn't mean it's right for me. I have my truth. You have your truth. And so as a result, Mr. Josephson says, nobody knows anything anymore. Nobody imposes values on anybody anymore. And the whole country, the whole country is in spiritual and moral decline.

Man, this works out in some really dangerous ways. I mean, many of us would say murder is wrong, right? But if you ask the Menendez brothers, they will tell you that that's somebody else's truth. That's not their truth. You didn't live with their parents. If you lived with their parents, murder's fine. Murder's right in light of the way their parents treated them.

And they went into court and tried to convince the jury that murder was right for them because of the kind of parents they had. What about when we say adultery is wrong? I think most people would be inclined to say adultery is wrong. Wouldn't they?

Maybe. Well, in a new book that's been done out by Robert Wright called The Moral Animal, Evolutionary Psychology in Everyday Life, he says, no, adultery being wrong is just Christian truth, religious truth, but there's all kinds of other truths on the subject like evolutionary truth. And he says, and I quote, he says, human beings are not designed by evolution to stay in love. It is natural for both men and women to commit adultery. It's natural because dogs do it, monkeys do it, gorillas do it, and so humans, we're just big gorillas and big monkeys.

We do it too. It's natural. This is just an imposed religious truth that's not true for everybody. How about cheating?

Cheating is wrong. Well, I know a lot of high schoolers who would say that's grown-up truth. That's not high school truth.

That's grown-up truth. You want to know high school truth? Here's high school truth question. What happens when you cheat in school? Answer, you make good grades. That's high school truth.

And another poll found that roughly two-thirds of American high schoolers admit that they cheat in high school and they don't see a thing wrong with it. Jesus once said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. Nobody gets into heaven unless they get in by way of me. You try to go out and lay that on some folks in this culture and see what you get right back in your teeth. They will say to you, hey, don't you be coming out here and laying that kind of truth on me.

That may be what? Your truth. That's not my truth. My truth is there's all kinds of ways to get to heaven. They're all equally just as good if you're sincere. So if you want to follow your truth, that's fine, but don't you try to lay your truth on me and the rest of the world.

Josh McDowell says, America is facing the greatest cultural shift in its history. There is no longer any hierarchy of truth. All beliefs are equal.

All values are equal. All truth is equal. And this mindset has now pervaded our entire culture. I know this is a little more of a cerebral message than I usually give you, but this is important, folks, to understand where we are. Now, how do we get here? How do we get here?

You say, I don't know. How do we get here? Well, it all began back in the mid-1800s with a philosophical movement called existentialism.

Now, you might not know much about it, but existentialism was founded by a German philosopher named Gunther Existential. And Gunther Existential—do you all know that's wrong? Does anybody know that's wrong? Folks, that's wrong. That's supposed to be funny.

But the fact you didn't laugh really worries me. Because some of you probably think that's right. That's wrong. Okay? I mean, I know you went to school.

I know you all went to school. Existentialism was started by a Danish philosopher named Søren Kierkegaard. And Kierkegaard's whole premise when he began this in the mid-1800s is this, that absolute universal objective truth is unattainable.

You can't get there. There is no absolute truth standards for right and wrong that you can make moral judgments by, so all truth is relative. All truth is subjective. And today, all we've done is given this a new name. We now call it relativism. It's just the same thing as Kierkegaard invented with existentialism, and we're teaching it in all the public schools of America, folks. We're teaching it to all our children as the way that intelligent, sophisticated people live. We're teaching them that to hold on to absolutes of right and wrong is antiquated and quaint and out of date and even prehistoric, that it went out with the dinosaurs. And this is what our media is preaching to us all the time and what the people who are big in the arts are preaching to us all the time. And what has come to dominate American society. And let me tell you something very interesting about relativism, existentialism. The guy who invented it, Soren Kierkegaard, went on to write in many of his writings about the outworking of this and listen to what he said. He said that this position, that there is no absolute truth, and I'm quoting, leads to seeing life as ultimately futile and absurd.

He goes on to say, it casts a dark shadow over all of life and results in high levels of anxiety and dread. The guy who invented it says that. I'm not saying that.

He said that. That this is where this takes us. Walk down the metro sometime.

Walk the streets of Washington sometime. Walk around your office sometime and look deep into the hollow eyeballs of all the people in our world who are living this way and you'll know Soren Kierkegaard was exactly right. This takes all meaning, all purpose, all sense out of life when you live this way.

It just becomes total chaos and confusion. Now, in direct contradiction to all of this, Jesus says there is absolute truth available to us. That we don't have to live in this your truth, my truth chaos, but that there is absolute truth available to us, truth upon which we can make stable functional decisions about how to live life, truth upon which we can make decisions about how to plan for eternity, truth that will keep us from self-destructing and ruining our lives. Jesus says that truth is available and it's found right here, right in the Word of God. That's what Jesus says. Now, if you go out and you take this position in our world, you're going to get challenged.

You're going to get ridiculed too, but you're going to get challenged. When I was a brand new Christian, I was living down Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and I'd just come to know Christ. I'd been a Christian maybe, I don't know, a couple of weeks. And, you know, I mean, I didn't look like I do now. I had hair out to my shoulders, love beads, tank tops. I wore bell bottoms and motorcycle boots, had a little goatee, and I smelled. But anyway, God loved me in spite of that. And I hung out with a bunch of people who looked and smelled just like I did and who took about as much dope as I took. And I remember when I first started telling these people that I had given my life to Jesus Christ and that I believed the Bible was absolutely true. These people ought to have thought I had dropped one too much LSD.

They're like, what? Are you crazy? Are you out of your mind? You know, this is so medieval.

This is so prehistoric. Didn't you take philosophy here? Didn't you learn anything? There is no absolute truth.

And they challenged me. They said, how can you be sure that the Bible is absolute truth? What proof, what evidence do you have? Ooh, that's a good question.

Huh? If we can't answer the question, then we're idiots for basing our faith on a book that doesn't have any evidence to back it up. So let's close this morning by talking a little bit about the evidence to back up what Jesus said. I want to give you four quick zingers.

I don't have long to develop them, but here we go. Number one, what proof does the Bible have? Our first proof I would suggest to you is archaeology and how the Bible stands the test of even the most intense scrutiny that everything it says lines up with everything we dig out of the ground. You know, a lot of people have said the Bible was wrong because Pontius Pilate never existed. Do you realize in all the records we had of the Roman Empire that Pontius Pilate's name never appeared one single time in any of those records except in the Bible? That is until the mid-1960s when an Italian team excavating at Caesarea. Caesarea is in Israel.

It's on the coast. It's about 100 miles from Jerusalem. It's where all the Roman officials lived. They didn't live in Jerusalem.

They lived in Caesarea. Excavating there in the 60s, they unearthed a big old slab of stone about the size of this plait for this pulpit I'm speaking on. And guess whose name was written right smack dab in the middle of that big old piece of stone?

You'll never guess. Pontius Pilate, except it was written in good old Latin. Pontius Pilatus is written right in the middle of it. You can go to the Israeli Museum in Jerusalem.

You can see the slab of stone for yourself. And suddenly, it wasn't the Roman records who for 2,000 years had lost his name that were right. It was the Bible that had been right all along. Then people said, well, you see, but that still proves the Bible's wrong because you yourself said that he lived in Caesarea, 100 miles from Jerusalem. And the story in the Bible is they took him a few hundred yards down the road to meet Pilate. Pilate didn't live in Jerusalem, so there. Well, you know what we do know from Roman records? We know that, yes, the governor, Pilate, lived in Caesarea all year long except for the three times a year that there were major festivals in Israel and one of them was Passover.

And whenever Passover came, we know from Roman records that the extra troops were sent to Rome to keep peace because of all the Jewish people who flocked into Jerusalem to pilgrimage that day and that as part of that, the governor himself would go and live in the city for several weeks at these three times a year so he could be there to command the troops when there was trouble. The Bible right or wrong? Absolutely right. I tell you, folks, and I keep telling you, the more we dig out the ground, the more the Bible's right. What's the second proof I could give you? How about some changed lives? There was an interesting article in the Los Angeles Times Magazine and the title of the article was Marketing that New Time Religion. It's by a gal named Barbara Bradley and what she did is she went and she interviewed some of the largest fastest growing churches in Southern California and she wrote the article.

And the article's about the different ways they market themselves and here's how she closes the article. She said, however, the most successful marketing tool that all of these churches have are the stories of changed lives. Nancy Ingold, a recovering alcoholic who now runs the Clean and Sober Program. Miguel Espinosa, a former addict who spent time in prison before meeting his future wife and now they're married and expecting a child. Ray Portillo, who shed his $300 a day heroin habit six years ago and now works with addicts for Christ and on and on and on the thing goes.

You know what she says? The most powerful marketing tool of these churches is changed lives. Friends, when you believe the Word of God just the way it's simply written as the truth, God transforms people's lives. I'm a living, walking people.

So are many of you. I tried to believe Buddhism. It was simpler. Didn't work. I tried to believe Confucianism.

It wasn't as much of a challenge. Didn't work. I tried just about everything.

I even went to the rabbi on campus and told him I thought God was calling me to be a rabbi. That didn't work. Not the way I looked. He said, son, I think you didn't hear God right.

Well, probably true. But I tried everything before this thing called true Christianity and none of it worked. You say you didn't try it with the same intensity and the same dedication.

Don't tell me that. Yes, I did. Oh, yes, I did. I tried drugs with that intensity, alcohol with that intensity, partying with that intensity. That's the only way I know how to do anything is to do it with that intensity. And I'm telling you when I came to the point that I believed that the Word of God was the truth from God, not a truth but the truth, and I embraced it, it changed my life and transformed me. And there's lots of you who can say the same thing. Third, how about the miracles that Jesus did?

Really interesting. Flip back with me to John chapter 14, if you would. John chapter 14, just a couple of pages back. I want you to see what Jesus said. John chapter 14, verse 10. Jesus said, John 14, verse 10, don't you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? Look what he says in verse 10. The words that I speak to you are not my own words.

Man, that's significant. He says, I'm just not talking to you off the top of my head and telling you what I think. I'm telling you what God says.

And look what he says farther down. He says, believe me, verse 11, when I say I'm in the Father or the Father is in me, or if you're not going to believe me because I tell you, at least believe me on the evidence of the miracles themselves. Why did God give Jesus Christ? Why did Jesus invoke the power to do all the miracles he did to impress us so we could write them down in the Bible and go, ooh, no. He did it to vindicate and validate and authenticate that he was from God and what he told us was directly from God.

Because he did miracles nobody's ever done before and he did them to authenticate that I'm in God and God is in me and the words that I'm speaking to you are not just my personal opinion, they are the word of God. Fourth and finally, I'll offer you the proof of the resurrection. Hey, if Buddha was resurrected, you ought to be a Buddhist.

Have a little old tummy, shave your head. If Confucius was resurrected, you ought to all move to China, friends. If Joseph Smith had been resurrected, you ought to all be Mormons and I'd recommend it highly if he had been. But none of them even claimed to be and none of them ever were.

Jesus Christ was. You say, how do we know for sure that really happened? Because all they had to do to stop the movement of Christianity in the early church was find the body or any evidence that there had been a body and the whole thing shuts down, friends.

It all comes to a stop. Don't you believe that there were people out there determined to stop the spread of Christianity? All they had to do is find the body, but they couldn't. You know why?

You say, because the disciples were clever and found a great place to hide it. Wrong. Because there wasn't a body.

There wasn't one. So these are some proofs that I'll give you. You say, do they lock it down airtight? No. No, there's still faith that's needed, but you know what? They lock it down airtight enough for me that I'll take this way of living as opposed to the relativistic way of living the world's off for me. I can tell you that'll self-destruct your life because I've been there and I've done that. There ain't nothing there for you.

I'll take this any day. So you're saying, Lon, the Bible gives us absolute answers to every single problem and issue in life? No. I'm not saying that at all. It won't tell you how much money to give to God. It won't tell you what college to go to.

It doesn't tell you whether to use birth control or not. But the Bible does speak to every major moral and ethical issue in life with absolute truth and gives us principles that we can use to apply to every other issue in life. And it's not a truth.

Jesus said, it's the truth. How many of you here own a boat? Anybody own a boat? Okay. If you own a boat, you know what it's like to own a real black hole.

True? It's a boat. How many of you have ever driven a boat? Okay. You're smart. You drive somebody else's boat, you don't own it. Good deal.

Okay. You're smart people. Now, you know when you drive a boat down a channel, what do you have when you come down the channel? You have buoys on both sides. And what's the purpose of the buoys? Purpose of the buoys is to keep you from running that boat on somewhere it's not supposed to go and putting a hole in some other guy's boat in the bottom of it. True?

Right. Now, why do they put buoys out there in the harbor? Because they love you.

That's why they love you. And they want the boat to stay where the boat will float and where the boat will arrive at the harbor safely. That's why they put the buoys out there for you to help you. Now, friends, life without some absolute truth is like a channel without any buoys. I mean, we have no place to know where the rocks are, nowhere to know where the channel is and where it isn't. And that's why so many people sailing around in that channel with no buoys end up punching holes in the bottom of their boat and sinking.

God loves you and me so much. He gave us some buoys. That's what this is all about. To keep us in the middle of the channel, to help us live a life that's functional and healthy and meaningful and fulfilling and to tell us how to arrive safely at the dock on the other side. If you want to, it's your boat. You can sail it wherever you want. If you want to forget the buoys and say the buoys don't count for me and I got my own buoys, don't give me your buoys, God, I know where the buoys ought to be and I'll put them where I feel like putting them and I'll sail where I want to sail. It's your boat.

It's your boat. I'm just telling you, that's a pretty stupid way to live, in my opinion. Seems to me when you go out in the world and you tell people that you're going by the buoys God gave us and they're absolute, people are going to call you all kinds of things. They're going to accuse you of being old-fashioned, prehistoric, bigoted, narrow, intellectually arrogant, quaint, and even unsophisticated.

But you know what? It seems to me the true mark of intelligence is how many people can sail up the channel and dock at the dock without punching a hole in their boat. Doesn't that seem to be the true mark of intelligence to you?

I don't care what people call me. If I get up the channel and dock safely, I've been pretty intelligent. Well, I sailed around all over everywhere and punched holes in my boat for 21 years. I decided that's not a very smart way to live.

And since I've been doing it the way God told me and living by His buoys, life's been going pretty good. I'd like to suggest to you it's not prehistoric to believe in absolute truth. It's not unsophisticated to believe in absolute truth. It's not intellectually arrogant or bigoted to believe in absolute truth. There's only one way to get to heaven, Jesus said. And if there is only one way to get to heaven and He told you the truth, we should thank Him.

That doesn't mean we're narrow. And I want to challenge you to reconsider how you define truth. You know, I landed on this aircraft carrier not too long ago. With this, I'm done. And great experience. In fact, I've done it twice. And you know, when I was on this aircraft carrier, I was watching them land. You know, they were practicing landings. And I was up with the air boss, you know. And this guy came in and he didn't do it the way the air boss wanted him to do it. And he threw him off the aircraft carrier.

I mean, not physically. I mean, he didn't take him, throw him over the side. But he said, get in your airplane and fly back to shore, which was 80 miles away in Norfolk.

And you're not here anymore. You know, he said, you get off my carrier. I didn't realize he owned it.

I thought we owned it as the people. But he thinks he owns it, which is, I guess, all right. He thinks he owns the aircraft carrier and he threw this guy off. And when I asked, I didn't have the courage to ask him. But later, later when I asked my tour guide, you know, that seemed a little crazy to me.

I mean, the guy was like going ballistic, you know. He said to me, sir, I hope you don't misunderstand this. But he said, there is only one way to land a plane on an aircraft carrier. It's the Navy way. There may be many ways you might think you can land a plane on the aircraft carrier, but there is only one way to land a plane on an aircraft carrier that's our way. If you don't land it our way, you don't land on aircraft carriers. I said, that's pretty clear.

I got that. Folks, do we call the Navy bigoted? Do we say the Navy is unsophisticated and prehistoric because they make you land the one way that'll work? The other ways don't work. That's why they won't let you land it the other ways. You get yourself killed. Do we say they're prehistoric and bigoted?

No. And God's trying to tell you there's only one way to land the plane. It's His way.

That's not unsophisticated, bigoted, or stupid. Thank God He told us how to land the plane safely. Smart people listen, and I hope you will.

Let's pray. Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us enough that you didn't leave us out in the Channel with no buoys, that you didn't leave us up in an airplane without telling us how to land it safely. And Father, for a world that's gone crazy, for a world that has no desire in many respects to know where the Channel is because they don't want any constraints, they don't want any limits placed on them, and for a world who as a result is sinking a whole bunch of boats and people are drowning, thank you that you gave us absolute truth, that teaches us how to go up the Channel safely and dock in heaven. And I pray that you would give us courage as your people not only to believe the Word of God as absolute truth, but to share it lovingly with others as absolute truth.

Whatever abuse we take, to be willing to take it, because we love people, we care about how their lives are going, and we know there's no way their lives can go right unless they're willing to run by your buoys. Thank you for the Word of God. Help us embrace it as wise, intelligent people, and help us live by it as absolute truth. We pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-11 08:38:24 / 2023-06-11 08:51:23 / 13

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