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The Certainty of Truth #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
May 21, 2024 12:00 am

The Certainty of Truth #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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May 21, 2024 12:00 am

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Welcome to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, Founding Pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hello, I'm Bill Wright. Thanks for joining us as we continue teaching God's people God's Word. Don begins a new message today, so without further delay, let's join him right now in the Truth Pulpit. I invite you to turn to the book of 1 John chapter 5 as we continue our series, Building a Christian Mind, which is kind of a combination of several micro series into one mega series, helping us to think through the fundamental matters of Christian thought, of truth, and having a mind that operates properly in this fallen and wicked world.

There's no question that we need this. It's just a question of whether, if I can be so blunt and direct, you will respond to it, and I pray and entrust that you will, and I'm encouraged by the many that have said that they are benefiting from this series. I'm going to read at the end of chapter 5, verses 18 through 21, 1 John chapter 5, verses 18 to 21, and beginning a brief series that I've titled, How to Know that Truth Exists. How do we know that there is such a thing as absolute truth that is transcendent over men, transcendent over time, that applies throughout all of the ages to all men everywhere, regardless of their race or geography or all of those matters?

We need to know that. We need to be able to answer that question and understand that deeply. So we're going to look at that today and next week, Lord willing, and so we're going to look at verses 18 through 21, and as we do, as I read this text, and I'll point this out later, take special note of the phrase we know. We know as we go through the text here together this morning, beginning in verse 18. We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one, and we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true and we are in him who is true, in his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Now, I suppose we could start at this point, is that you really cannot understand the Bible at all unless you have an appreciation for the absolute nature of transcendent truth, that truth actually exists, and that it not only exists, but that it can be known, it can be understood, and that we are to understand it. God created us in his image, which means, among other things, that he gave us a rational mind which is sufficient to comprehend the truth that he has revealed. The knowledge and the understanding and the arrival at truth is possible because there is a God of truth, and he has created us in his image with a mind capable of receiving truth, and he has revealed truth in a way that addresses our minds and so that we are to understand. And so that is the starting point of human knowledge, and I'll build on that hopefully more next week. We cannot know truth, or better stated, the starting point for knowing and understanding absolute truth is by recognizing that there is a God of truth who is there in the universe and who is not silent. He has revealed himself. He has made himself known, and those things that we have just said are matters of great and far-reaching consequence. Now, you cannot understand the Bible apart from an embracing of the principle of absolute truth.

Now, that is countercultural. That is a minority opinion in our current day and age because in our day and age, people are conditioned, they are taught, and they love to think subjectively, not objectively. They feel, and therefore they believe based on their shifting feelings, and of course they have no established convictions because feelings come and go. They rise and fall like the waves of the sea. They come in, they go out like the tides of the sea, and so it's no wonder that people wander about in a moral abyss without any clarity, without any sense of direction, and just going from thing to thing, from event to event, from idea to idea, without anything to anchor their lives.

It's a sad way to exist, and my friends, this is not how God created us to exist, how to live. Jesus prayed that we would know God, the true God in Jesus Christ whom he had sent, that we would know. Now, what does it mean to know? Well, I want to give you a bunch of synonyms and a bunch of perspectives on knowledge just to give you a sense of what we're talking about because we live and we swim in an environment, we swim in water of subjectivity and even a hatred for the idea of truth. If you say that there is truth, and even more if you say I actually know the truth and I can tell you the truth, you are set aside as a bigot and ridiculed as somebody that's arrogant and all of that. Beloved, understand that arrogance is not found in knowing the truth and insisting upon the truth. That is not arrogance. What is arrogant is to say that the God who is the God of truth, who has revealed truth in his word, in his creation, in Christ, in conscience, in conversion, that that God who has made himself known in so many ways that a God like that cannot be known and his truth cannot be known. That's arrogance. To speak against God, to speak against his truth, and to make obscure that which he has made clear. That's arrogant.

That's rebellious. And so we do not accept the terms of that the world would give to dictate the terms of conversation. We submit to the revelation of God and act accordingly. What does it mean to know the truth? Well, we see this word we know many times in the text that we just read. Think about it this way and I'm just I just want to give you a sense of what we're what we're trying to drive at when we say to know something, to know the truth exists.

Just give you a few different phrases to think about it. Clear perception. Have a clear perception of what God has made known, what God has revealed, what truth is. To understand it. To have conviction about it that is unshifting.

To be sure. To be confident about knowledge and what we understand the word of God. To not accept contradictions against these things. All of those matters give us a sense of what it means to know that there's clarity, that there is conviction, that there is a sureness about about these things that is settled into our minds so that so that we do not move from that, that we stand there and we not only stand, we we assert it. We defend it against attacks and that there are there are certain things and again this is just so contrary to the spirit of our age that God intends for us through his revelation. God intends for us to to study, to understand and to come to convictions about what he has said in his word and what he has revealed in his world in such a way that they are not subject to negotiation.

It is not subject to change. As Luther said, here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.

I stand on this and I will not move. That's what we mean by knowledge in these things. Scripture gives us a really good picture of what God is intending to build into us through his word. If you'll turn to Ephesians chapter 4, this is this is an illustration, a picture of knowledge, of maturity, of spiritual maturity.

And this is where this is the whole purpose of biblical ministry is to build people into these kinds of pictures that we see in Ephesians chapter 4. And beloved, let me just say this and I say this by way of sympathy and encouragement to you. If the things that I've just said are foreign to you, I'm glad you're here. If what I've described is different from the way that things are inside your soul, you know that you're tossed back and forth and it's hard to know what's true and you know, what am I supposed to do with my life and what do I believe? Beloved, God doesn't intend it for you to live in the darkness of that uncertainty.

The darkness of that uncertainty comes from the prince of darkness himself. God is light and in him there is no sin at all. In him there is understanding, as we read in 1 John. And you can see this picture of stability and established understanding in Ephesians chapter 4. Let's look at verse 11. God gave certain men over the course of the history of his revelation and has given men to the church to build us up and to help us understand so that, so that, here's the point, so that we would become a particular kind of person, a particular kind of man, a particular kind of woman. And what he's done in verse 11 and as he's done this, he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.

See that word knowledge again? That's why we're talking about building a Christian mind and have been for 12 months. It's because it's biblically important. This is not an incidental matter that we could have dispensed with so that we could have done something else.

No, this is central to everything. And so in verse 13, till we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head into Christ, from whom the whole body joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Now, beloved, all I'm using this text for here this morning is to just give you a sense of the establishment that truth is meant to have on us. And Paul, in rapid succession, gives us a number of metaphors, a number of pictures for us to see what that is like. So in verse 14, he says we're not meant to be children. What marks children except their changeable nature and the fact that they're small and they're immature and they need to grow up in the course of natural life, they grow from children to being adults.

Paul says in a spiritual matter, in spiritual matters, you're not to be children, but you're to grow up and to be an adult and to know why you exist and why you believe and what you believe and how you believe. He goes from that metaphor to the shifting nature of the waves of the sea and the waves that toss boats to and fro and there's nothing established. One moment it's here, one moment it's there, and the mere force of nature moves things around. We're not to be like that. We're not to be so easily moved, so easily changed.

He uses the wind to describe it, the wind that blows things in different places. And all of this, he attributes the shiftiness and the instability of it all to human cunning, to craftiness, to deceit. Now beloved, if we're not going to be like that, the whole point that Paul is making is, is that it is truth that establishes us into that kind of maturity that God intends. And so what God has done, again over the course of his blessing to his people, is that he sent first, he sent apostles to lay the foundation of New Testament revelation. He had prophets in the Old Testament. He had evangelists. He gives shepherds and teachers the idea of pastors there.

He gives to his people these men who help them understand the truth. And what we are to do is to not rebel against that, to resist that, but to be appreciative of the fact that God over the centuries has given men to us who can help us understand his truth so that we can grow up and be what he intended us to be. Now, that's the purpose of the church and that's the purpose of ministries, to develop men and women that are like that. The church is not here to entertain you. The church is not here to be your social club. You know, I'm not talking about legitimate fellowship, but the church has a far greater purpose than just mere human social activity. In Colossians chapter one, the apostle Paul said, we proclaim Christ warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom that we may present everyone mature in Christ for this I toil struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. And so that's the goal. And the goal to that kind of spiritual maturity and spiritual stability is through the knowledge of what God has revealed in his creation and in his word.

Now, I realize that the script has been completely flipped and that the people who are committed to the things that we're talking about here this morning are considered arrogant, boastful, whatever. And by contrast, those that do not live and believe that way are so tolerant and and peaceable and we just all we all just want to get along. But beloved, that's not reality.

That's not true. And the truth of the matter is, is that the the wishy washy nature of the society in which we live and the spirit that has overtaken the evangel evangelical church, it actually does the exact opposite. It actually makes people hard hearted. It makes them unteachable because when you reject authority and when you reject absolute truth, then you are your own authority. No one has the right to speak any kind of thing into your life. No one has the right to speak truth into your life because after all, you're the authority. What you feel is what what's real. And so it actually makes people unreceptive, unresponsive, and sadly that unresponsiveness is too often a condition of spiritual death because they've never been born again.

No one can tell them anything. Now listen, beloved, I'm speaking sympathetically. I'm speaking clearly to you because I love you, because I care about you, because this is what scripture, this is the direction that scripture points us to. What you need to understand as you hold and thank God that you do, as you hold an open Bible in your hands and on your lap and as you're looking at it, wanting to understand scripture, that's why most of you are here because you want to know the truth. That's why you've come from other places.

It's because you're thirsty. You want to hear. You want to know. Well, God bless you. Here's what I want you to see and to understand is that there is a fundamental presupposition of scripture that is utterly against the spirit of the age and the spirit that I've been describing and declaiming against here already this morning. The fundamental presupposition of scripture is that God exists and that truth exists. And God can be known and truth can be known. He created us in his image.

I'm repeating myself because it's so important. He created us in his image so that we would know him and that we would know the truth that he's revealed. You cannot understand scripture apart from that. If the idea is that no one can know the truth, if the idea is that truth is unattainable and that we're not smart enough, and I haven't even mentioned the presence of the Holy Spirit who helps us understand all of these things, God made us in his image and he sent Christ and he provided the Holy Spirit all with a goal so that we would know that we would understand and that we would grow.

We would know and we would grow in it. Truth exists. And as you go back to 1 John chapter 5 verse 18, you'll see that this passage is incoherent.

Indeed, the entire Bible is incoherent apart from the presuppositions that I've been laying out to you for the past year and reviewing here this morning. So let's look at 1 John 5 18 to 21 here this morning, and I've titled today's message, The Certainty of Truth. The certainty of truth. It is sure. It is reliable.

You can count on it. It is real. It is objective.

It is outside you. Truth existed before you were born. It exists now. It will continue on after you have died. It's transcendent. And scripture everywhere assumes that principle. So that what I want to do here today is just take you through this passage quickly and show you two certainties of truth and then a corresponding responsibility. First of all, our first point for this morning, let's look at the certain realities of salvation. The Certain Realities of Salvation. Now John opened this letter with a certain reality about the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle John knew Christ.

He was with Christ during his earthly ministry. He was a direct personal eyewitness of the realities to which he now testifies. And he opens on that premise, this was real, I saw it, and I experienced it, and now I am speaking from that direct personal knowledge. So look at chapter 1 verse 1, where he says, that which was from the beginning.

I'll give you a moment to turn there. Chapter 1 verse 1, that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands concerning the word of life. Look at what he says, we heard it with our ears, we saw it with our eyes, we touched it with our hands.

This is real. This is not abstract philosophy. This is not theoretical speculation like the Gnostics did back then, and the people do today in the name of philosophy courses that only confuse everything. John's saying this is all real. Direct eyewitness speaking to you here, and speaking so that this is something that would be shared by those who read what he has to say. Verse 2, the life was made manifest and we have seen it and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us. That which we have seen and heard, we proclaim also to you so that you too may have fellowship with us, and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Look at what he's saying here, beloved. He's saying I'm certain of these things because of my personal experience with Christ. Now, he says I'm writing these things so that you can have a like certainty in fellowship with me. That we would share this fellowship, this certainty about Christ, this knowledge of him, this truth about him. He's writing for the whole purpose of making that a shared experience with even with those who have not seen and believed. Now, that may sound like an insuperable barrier. Isn't the direct eyewitness in a better position than we are 2,000 years removed?

No, quite to the contrary. Go to John chapter 20. John chapter 20, where you can see this point. You beloved, you do not have to see Christ with your own eyes and hear his human voice with your own ears in order to have a like certainty that the Apostle John had.

That's not the way that God designed this to work at all. Remember how Jesus interacted with Thomas at the end of chapter 20 in John, the Gospel of John chapter 20. You remember Thomas was reluctant to believe. He hadn't seen it with his own eyes, and he insisted that unless he saw Christ and put his hand on his body that he wasn't ever going to believe.

He was adamant about that point. Verse 25, he said, the other disciples told Thomas, we've seen the Lord. But he said to them, unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails and place my finger into the mark of the nails and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. And although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, peace be with you. Now beloved, watch what happens in these next three verses, because it's so critical for you to understand that truth is attainable to you, and you can have the same certainty of knowledge that the Apostle John described as he wrote his letter.

That's what Christ intends for his people to have. So verse 27, he said to Thomas, who said, I must have physical proof. He said to Thomas, put your finger here and see my hands and put out your hand and place it in my side. Thomas, don't disbelieve, but believe. Thomas answered him, my Lord and my God. Finally, Thomas believed. Finally, the Spirit had opened his eyes.

Finally, the reality dawned on him in an unchangeable way, and he went from that boat being tossed about wave to wave to being a mature man, established, rooted in the faith. You are my Lord. I submit to you. You are my God.

I worship you. Now watch what Jesus says and think through the implications of what Jesus' subsequent words are for us today. Jesus said to him, have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

You do not have to see in order to believe. We walk by faith, not by sight, and we we know these things through what God has revealed in his word. These are the realities of our Lord. These are the realities of our salvation, and we are meant to know them, to be certain about them, to be convicted about them, to be unmovable about them.

That's what it means to have a Christian mind. And so we look at the certain realities of salvation, and we see that the Apostle John opens and sets the whole context for the letter on the certainty of what he has seen so that he could recreate that same certainty in you even though you have not seen and have not had the same experiences that he did. So when we come to these final four verses in 1 John, we are seeing the closing summary of everything that John has said. And you can spend 20 messages going through 1 John, you can spend 40 messages going through 1 John, and in order to get and understand the fullness and detail of everything that he said, I don't want to do that.

I just want to hit the high points for you here today and consider his closing summary. And here's what you need to see, my friends. My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and those of you that are still standing on the outside of Christ, somewhat looking in with your nose pressed against the window, trying to straddle the fence.

So sad. Trying to straddle the fence and simply going in the route of Thomas and just saying, my Lord and my God. Everything essential to your salvation depends upon the existence of absolute truth that is not subject to change based on the opinions of men.

Everything depends on it. And so let's look at that. Let's look first of all at what John talks about the certainty of our sanctification. As Christians, the certainty of our sanctification. As John is writing here in verse 18, he emphasizes that holiness will always mark the true Christian. That there is no such thing as a true Christian who is utterly indifferent to God, indifferent to his truth, indifferent to righteousness.

There is no such Christian like that because it is a contradiction in terms. And so he says in verse 18, we know that everyone who has been born of God, born of God, one whom the spirit has imparted new life to, born of God, that one that has God has opened his eyes to Christ, to his work on the cross, and it's led them to repentance and faith in Jesus for their eternal salvation. Everyone that's been born again like that has a new nature. The old man has passed away.

Behold, new things has come. And the one that is like that, verse 18, everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning. He does not keep on sinning.

John allows no exceptions. He says no one who is born of God, no one who is born of God keeps on sinning. God changes the relationship of his people to sin. He breaks the power of sin in their lives. He imparts a new nature to them so that they desire new things of righteousness rather than the old ways of sin. And that, you know, and that's why God has the power to break us from sinful habits, to break us from sinful patterns of thought, to deliver us from wrongheaded philosophies, from false religion, from the thinking of the world, and to be changed into someone new who thinks God's thoughts after him.

It's because salvation is a supernatural act by God where he acts on the soul of an individual, gives them new life, and changes them into someone new. Have you, my friend, have you been born again like that? Do you know something of having a breaking with the old life and new things, all things have become new?

Do you know something like that? Is it your heart's desire to enter into those things more fully, to know them more clearly? Because this is what it is to be a Christian. Now John is not teaching that a Christian never commits an act of sin. He's saying that true Christians who have been born again don't live in an unbroken pattern of sin. A Christian desires righteousness as the overall mark of his life. This is a certainty, he says.

And he can say that it's a certainty. He can be dogmatic without allowing for possible exceptions of someone who walks an aisle, makes a profession, and then just continues living the same old way that he always had. John says that's not conversion, that's not a true Christian.

And how can we be so dogmatic about that? It's because salvation is an act of God. It's something that God does to accomplish his purposes, not simply an act of the human will. Salvation changes the man's nature. God makes us new.

He adopts us into his family. He imparts and the Holy Spirit indwells us. And as a result of that, we then live according to that new nature that God created in us when we were born again. Beloved, what I want you to see for this morning is that all of those things that I just described, and if you've been a Christian for any length of time you've heard these things a lot, hopefully.

You believe them, you accept them. What you need to see today is that the reality of the new birth, the reality of the new man in Christ, the reality of the change that that produces, it all presupposes that there is truth to what we say. Truth unchanged, truth unchanging. And though the centuries come and go, though you go through different seasons in life, the truth has not changed. And it is that that we anchor everything that we assert about Christian salvation. If these things were not fixed, if these things were not true, if these things were not absolute, we could not talk in such terms.

And we talk in these terms only because Scripture does. And so the reality that truth exists undergirds everything that we say about Christian salvation. If you sacrifice the principle of truth, we might as well turn off the lights right now and everybody get out and go home, because we're wasting our time if truth does not exist. That's Don Green here on The Truth Pulpit. And here's Don again with some closing thoughts. Well, my friend, thank you for joining us for yet another podcast from The Truth Pulpit. And we wanted to let you know that in addition to these audio resources that you are enjoying, that there are also written resources from my ministry. The Lord has given us opportunity to put some of the things that I've taught over the years in print.

And I have one book in particular that I would want to call your attention to. It's the most popular book that I've published so far, called Trusting God in Trying Times. It's a book born out of deep personal sorrow and is brought into context, you might say, through the Word of God. How to trust God when you are going through the deepest valleys and the most sorrowful things in life. How do you trust God through those times when you can't see your way forward?

I've been there, my friend. And the book Trusting God in Trying Times speaks to that spiritual experience in the life of the believer. You can find all of my books at That's Just click on the link there.

You'll find links to different books and you will find that they take you to an easy place to purchase them for your reading enjoyment. So thank you once again for joining us on The Truth Pulpit. We'll see you next time as we continue to study God's Word together. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank you so much for listening to The Truth Pulpit. Join us next time for more as we continue teaching God's people God's Word.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-21 04:55:47 / 2024-05-21 05:07:44 / 12

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