Jesus’ Mission to Tell the Truth (Sermon Backing)

I’ve been hearing from a number of people that they appreciate the sermon recap and additional thoughts that are added here. So, here we go with this week’s sermon backing for Sunday’s sermon.

Here is what we say in a court of law if we are on the witness stand:

I swear by Almighty God that I will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

And here is a version without reference to God:

I solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Imagine if we instead said, “I am going to spin things the way I want them to be and whether you agree with me or not simply does not matter.”

Wedding vows typically have strong statements of commitment. Whenever I perform a wedding ceremony, I always talk a bit about the meaning of binding commitments, where two people, in the presence of God and their family and friends, make an unconditional commitment for lifelong fidelity.

Imagine if couples instead said, “I am going to stay in this relationship as long as you meet my needs and I get the benefits I want from this relationship… or until a better option comes along that I prefer more than this one.”

Our social world, in every aspect, is built on commitments (last week’s message). Those commitments are built on the integrity of the people making the commitments. And integrity is based on shared understandings of TRUTH.

So, that was the first part of the message:

TRUTH MATTERS IMMENSELY!
TRUTH MATTERS IMMENSELY TO JESUS!

Therefore, Jesus was on a mission to tell the truth, to witness to the truth, to bring truth to the world.

I relied heavily on the Gospel of John, which uses the word TRUTH 23 times and TRUE 15 times. John uses these words much more than the other three gospels combined.

The passages on Sunday were, in order of use: John 1:1-5, 14; 14:6; John 18:37-38; Matthew 22:16, 29; John 8:31-32; John 6:60-69; Hebrews 4:12; James 1:22; and Matthew 7:24-27. This mission of truth-telling is more important than ever because:

Truth is in real trouble in our culture.

Spin doctoring, or seeking to give a favorable “spin” on unfavorable things, entered our national awareness in 1984 during the presidential debates between Reagan and Mondale.

In 2006, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Word of the Year was truthiness. Truthiness is when something sounds like it is true, feels like it is true, but is not true. But if you can present it so it feels true, then it is.

In 2016, the Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Year was post-truth. Post-truth means that the actual facts are not as important as your opinion or interpretation of the facts. Actually, post-truth means there are no facts, only interpreted facts. Don’t we hear this in every political debate today?

More recently, the word fake news entered our cultural vocabulary, and now everyone on every side accuses the other side of creating and pushing “fake news.” This meant that fact-checking websites became increasingly important to reveal whether news was fake or true. But fact-checking sites themselves are regularly accused of being spin doctors about the facts.

I can only say it again: Truth is in real trouble in our culture!

Jesus came on a mission to the world to be the Way, Truth, and Life. Standing before Pilate, Jesus said, “In fact, for this reason I came into the world, to witness to the truth.” I believe that part of the mission of Jesus is profoundly needed in a truthiness, post-truth, spin-doctoring culture.

Here are a few things I said in the sermon.

Jesus always tells the truth, even when it is an inconvenient truth.

We often don’t like the truth Jesus is telling us. We are bothered by the “hard teaching” of Jesus.

Jesus doesn’t accommodate or adjust truth to the preferences of his audience.

We must choose to follow Jesus, who is the WAY of TRUTH. When we do, we find LIFE. When we don’t, we find pain, hurt, damage, and eventually destruction.

We can’t afford to be in error (or off base, as The Message translation says) about TRUTH. When we are off base and in error about TRUTH, then we make choices that are not based on the truth, and those choices will always lead to bad consequences (again, the message of a previous week).

The second part of the Sunday sermon was simply, if truth matters so much, then HOW DO WE FIND AND LIVE THE TRUTH OF JESUS?

Living Word has a very intentional process of truth that emerges right out of the Bible.

Truth involves a four-step process.

First, you need what the Bible calls knowledge, or the core ideas and information. For example, God is love is an idea. If you don’t “know” about that idea, then we need to introduce you to the idea.

The Sunday morning sermon is when we sow the first seeds of knowledge. In the sermon we introduce you to just a few of the most important pieces of knowledge you need to have. We also work to help you understand those core ideas.

Second, you need what the Bible calls understanding about the knowledge/idea. You have to make sense out of it. You must find the meaning in that idea. So, who is God and what is God like is the search for understanding. And what is love like? What is meant by that word love? Again, the need is to understand ideas.

The devotional resource is not designed to give much more information. It does give you more personal time so you really understand those most important ideas from the sermon. We create a process for you to think and consider those ideas. The devotional resource is vital to deepen your understanding.

Third, you need what the Bible calls belief. Belief is much more than intellectual knowledge or even understanding. With belief you move to the level of commitment to the idea. You have accepted and embraced the idea. You are now a lover of that idea. Your heart, mind, soul, desires, intentions, will, and more are holding fast to the truth.

The devotional resource also creates a prayerful, reflective process with penetrating questions for you to consider: Have you embraced this truth? Do you really believe? Do you really wrestle with the greatest implications of the truth and commit to those things?

Finally, you need what the Bible calls wisdom. Wisdom is when you activate into your life the truth you understand and believe. You are now a doer of the Word (James). You put the words into practice (the Sermon on the Mount). You now walk the talk, or better, you walk the Way of Truth, and as you do, you find Life.

And the devotional, along with small group conversations, advance understanding, true belief, and then wisdom. So then, how shall we live? What will you do now? What does it look like to follow Jesus along this Truth-Way? Let’s do this together.

In this process, the further you go into it, the more transformation takes place. The sermon starts the process, but for transformation and flourishing, the process (Way) must be walked.

This is the Way of Truth at Living Word.

We are committed to walking the Jesus Way of Truth that leads to a life of flourishing.

In grace and truth,
Pastor Brian

 

Brian Rice