There is an attack on our faith that is so central, so foundational, that to threaten it is to threaten the very core of who we are as Christians. Truly, it is an attack on Christ Himself. This threat is causing an erosion of both our faith and our culture, and it is leading to the massive youth exodus from the faith that we have been discussing since episode one of my parenting podcast, CHRISTIAN PARENT/CRAZY WORLD.
I’m going to leave you in suspense, though, as to what that threat is. First, I need to set the stage for the preeminence of this issue.
Over a decade ago, I was doing a course through my church from Focus on the Family. It was a 12-part series that digs into the most central issues of our faith. In the very first episode, the professor, Dr. Del Tackett, walks into a classroom of about three dozen students and asks this question:
Why did Jesus come into the world?
That is a very important question, especially if you are a Christian. Some of the answers from the class were:
- To redeem us.
- To save us.
- To set us free.
- To become the sacrifice for our sin.
- To conquer death and Satan
- To reconcile us to the Father.
These are all great answers. And they’re all wrong. To be clear, Jesus certainly accomplished all of these things by coming to earth, but that is not why He came. It was not his primary purpose.
What was Jesus’ primary purpose for coming into the world?
In John 18, Jesus answers the question of the ages. Why did He come? He says:
“For this reason I was born and have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to My voice.” (verse 37)
Jesus came to testify to the truth. Truth was Christ’s primary purpose for coming to the world.
You see, truth has been on trial since the beginning. Since the garden. Since that sly snake said, “Did God really say…” (Gen. 3:1) Jesus came to set the record straight. The snake challenged the Word of God, the instructions that He gave to Adam in the garden about what is right and wrong. So, the Word of God became flesh. (John 1:14) Jesus is the Word of God in human form, and His primary purpose for coming to earth was to crush the lies of the enemy by testifying to the truth.
But why was Christ’s primary purpose truth and not all that other good stuff?
I answer this critical question in the latest episode of CHRISTIAN PARENT/CRAZY WORLD. I also examine what our culture believes about objective truth and how those beliefs are mirrored in the church. Then I offer seven attributes of truth that every Believer needs to know.
I will highlight some of these vital points in this article.
Truth is the prerequisite for every good thing that Jesus accomplished.
So why is testifying to the truth the primary reason that Jesus came to the earth, and not redemption, salvation, the atonement, conquering death and evil and Satan, setting us free, and reconciling us to God?
Please pay attention here.
Because you cannot experience any of those things until you first understand what is true. If you believe a lie, you can’t receive salvation. You can’t experience redemption. You can’t appropriate the atonement. You can’t conquer death and evil and Satan. You can’t be free. And you can’t be reconciled to the Father.
THAT—is why truth is preeminent.
All the good stuff that Jesus accomplished by coming to earth and dying for our sins will have no effect in your life if you believe the lies of the enemy.
That is why the attack on truth is the biggest threat to our faith and to our culture today.
Where is our culture on the issue of truth, and where is the church?
A recent study released by Barna found that 58% of Americans believe that moral truth is up to the individual. So nearly six in 10 Americans believe that your truth is your truth and my truth is my truth and never the twain shall meet. According to the survey, they believe, “there are no moral absolutes that apply to everyone, all the time.”
Surprisingly, and here’s the shocker—48% percent of adults who identified as born-again Christians agreed with that statement, that there are no moral absolutes that apply to everyone, all the time. That is nearly half of all born-again Christians.
The report goes on to say:
“The pull of secularism is especially strong among younger Americans, with those under age 30 much less likely than older adults to select God as the basis of truth (31% compared to 45%), and more likely to say that moral standards are decided by the individual (60%).”
Young people are abandoning the foundation of absolute, universal truth at an alarming rate. The same study found that a record low 6% of Americans adhere to a Biblical Worldview.
These statistics show what you probably already know—the numbers aren’t going in the right direction. The culture is abandoning truth, and so is the church.
So, to summarize: nearly half of born-again Christians do not believe in objective moral truth, and yet this was Christ’s primary purpose in coming to the world. He came to testify to the truth.
Please ponder the ramifications of this reality.
If Christ’s primary purpose in coming to earth was testifying to the truth, how can half of Christians not believe in objective truth?
In other words, how can someone believe in Christ and yet not believe in the primary thing He came to do?
Scripture tells us that Jesus is the truth (John 14:6), and 48% of born-again Believers don’t believe in a truth that applies to everyone. So essentially, they don’t believe in Christ, at least not as Christ defined Himself.
We’re taking on water in the church, and I would suggest to you that the biggest hole in the boat has to do with this issue of truth. This is the hole we need to plug first.
Here are some vital attributes about truth that we need to know as Christians:
1. TRUTH is a PURPOSE.
I have already established this point by quoting Jesus’ own words, which tell us His primary purpose for coming to earth—to testify to the truth. This is what Jesus said His purpose was. Those were His words.
But let’s accept also that if this was Jesus’ purpose in living here on earth, it should be our purpose as well. As Believers, we must accept truth as our primary purpose. And we must teach this primary purpose to others, especially our kids.
2. TRUTH is a PERSON.
In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” This is how Jesus defined Himself. Those are red-letter words. Truth is a Person. And that Person is Jesus. If we want to know truth, we’ve got to know Jesus—not as we want to define Him, but as He defines Himself in Scripture.
If you want to understand Jesus in His own words, the best book to study is the Gospel of John. In this book, Jesus makes all of His truth claims and tells us exactly Who He is.
He is the Son of God. (John 10:36)
He is God. (John 10:33)
He is the only path to salvation. (John 3:16)
And He is Truth. (John 14:6)
3. TRUTH is a WORD.
Truth is a Book—it is the Bible. God’s Word is truth.
How do we know this?
John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This means that God was in more than one form in the beginning. But the Word takes on yet another form in verse 14, which says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The Word of God, which was there from the beginning, became a human being. It became a person. This is talking about Jesus.
Jesus is the walking manifestation of God’s Word. He is the Bible in flesh form. Scripture is more than a Book—it is Jesus, so it is truth. That Word which Satan denied in the Garden, God’s Truth, God’s instruction to us, became flesh. It became a human. It became Jesus, who came to earth to testify to the truth.
4. TRUTH is UNIVERSAL.
Now, because of these first three attributes about truth—truth is a purpose, it is a person, and it is a Word—we know that truth is universal.
Jesus didn’t have a different purpose in coming to earth for you than He did for me. His purpose is the same for everyone—to testify to the truth. So that purpose is universal.
And Jesus is a person, one person. He’s not a different person for you than He is for me. And we don’t get to define who Jesus is. Jesus defines who He is Himself, in Scripture.
And Jesus is the Word. There is one Word for everyone. Scripture is not just my truth or the truth of those who believe it any more than gravity is a reality that only some people experience. Gravity applies to everyone. And so does truth.
Scripture is God’s truth for the world. For everyone. You don’t have to accept it for it to be true. But one day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, universally, that Jesus is Lord. (Phil. 2:10-11) We would do well to accept this universal truth now.
5. TRUTH is DIVISIVE.
I almost reworded this attribute to make it more positive. Nobody wants to be divisive. That’s a bad thing, right? Not really. God is a fan of dividing things. In the entire creation account, God divides light from darkness. Heaven from earth. Land from water. God creates by separating, or dividing. And in the Old Testament, God draws more than one line in the sand. (See Exodus 32:26, Deuteronomy 30:19-20, and Joshua 24:15.)
With that in mind, let’s visit Jesus’ words one more time in John 18:37. He says, “For this reason I was born and have come into the world, to testify to the truth.”
But pay close attention to what Jesus says next: “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to My voice.”
Jesus is drawing a line here. He is dividing truth-lovers from non-truth-lovers. So we’re either on the side of truth, objective moral truth, or we aren’t. And if we aren’t on the side of truth, we aren’t on the same side as Jesus. It’s that simple.
Truth divides. Jesus is truth, and He is on one side. And we’re either on that side, or we’re on the other one. Which is the side of lies. And Satan. And Death.
If we want to be on the side of truth, we must accept these attributes. And most of all we must accept the One who is Truth. That is Jesus. We must accept Jesus Christ as He defines Himself in Scripture.