Your Word is Truth pt 2

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17 NIV)


This is part two of a two-part post. In part one, we looked at the second have of John 17:17, “your word is truth.” In this part, we’ll look at the first half of the verse, “Sanctify them by the truth.”

Sanctify them by the truth

I recently watched Billy Graham: An Extraordinary Journey, a documentary about Billy Graham on Netflix. I didn’t know this, but in the 1940s, a few years into his preaching ministry after he’d already started to become famous, Dr. Graham had a minor crisis of faith. In those days, the progressive theologians, Bible scholars, and pastors who were up with the times were abandoning the truth of God’s Word. The popular opinion among many mainline Protestant church leaders was that the Bible really wasn’t “truth.” It was full of myth, legend, error, morality stories, etc., but it couldn’t be considered “God’s Word.”

Dr. Graham described how he began to doubt the authority and truth of the Bible, but then made a decision to accept it on faith. He said, “I got on my knees and told God, ‘Just as I accepted Jesus on faith, so now I accept the Bible as Your Word on faith.'” From that moment on, he said there was a power, an authority, and confidence in his ministry that hadn’t been there before.

God’s Word is powerful and effective. As Jesus said in John 17:17, God’s Word is truth. He didn’t say, “Your Word is true,” but rather, “Your Word is truth.” The Bible isn’t just a book of true statements, facts, and historical information. It certainly is true, but it is more than that. It is truth, and truth has the power to change lives. That’s what Jesus was talking about when He said, “Sanctify them by the truth…” (John 17:17a NIV). The word sanctify means “to make holy” or “to purify or free from sin.” God’s Word sanctifies us–it makes us holy, it purifies us, it sets us free from sin; it is the truth that changes our lives forever.

Here is just a sliver of the truth that God’s Word reveals. Accepting this as the defining truth of our lives will transform us and make us holy as we live according to it (over time, of course).

  • Every inclination of the human heart is evil, even from childhood. (Gen. 8:21)
  • There is no one on earth who never sins. (Eccl. 7:20)
  • Every human being is sinful and has committed sins. (1 John 1:8-10)

We have to acknowledge that we have a problem, namely, sin. Only then can we receive the Savior. Jesus doesn’t just save us from our hurts, our pain, and our sorrows. He saves us from our sin. Yet, so many today don’t want to confess their sin. The problem is, we can’t be sanctified by the truth unless we accept the truth–we are sinners. But God’s truth doesn’t end with revealing our sin. Jesus saves us from our sin in what has come to be known as the Great Exchange:

  • “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

The Bible teaches many things about how Jesus changes us. Believing these statements will transform our relationship with God, with ourselves, and with others. Here are just a few points:

  • I am God’s child. (John 1:12)
  • I belong to God. (1 Cor. 6:20)
  • God will complete the work He has begun in me. (Php. 1:6)
  • I am a citizen of Heaven. (Php. 3:20)
  • I am forgiven. (Eph. 1:8)
  • I have a purpose. (Eph. 1:9)
  • I have a hope. (Eph. 1:12)
  • God desires me to be fruitful. (John 15:5)
  • I am invited to be God’s co-worker. (2 Cor. 6:1)
  • I am a dwelling for the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 2:22)
  • I am not alone. (Heb. 13:5)
  • I am victorious. (1 John 5:4)
  • I am no longer condemned. (Rom. 8:1)
  • I have been chosen and appointed by Jesus. (John 15:16)

There are so many more things the Bible has to say about who we are, what happened to us when we accepted Christ, and what God wants for us. And there is even more truth about who God is, what He’s done, and what His plans are for the world! Allowing the truth to penetrate your heart and mind will change everything about you. For our church this next season, we are internalizing this truth:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20 NIV)

The life we live is Christ’s life. My prayer this week is that God will show us all where our lives are not aligned with His so that we can die to our false understanding of the world and come alive to the Truth in Christ.

Your Word is Truth pt. 1

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17, NIV)


This is a two-part post. In this first part, we’ll look at the second half of John 17:17, “your word is truth.”

Your Word is Truth

We live in a culture that is constantly asking, “What is truth? You have your truth, I have my truth. That’s true in your eyes, but something different is true in my eyes. This is how I feel, my feelings are real, and therefore this is what is true to me.” We have lost the concept that truth is an objective correspondence to reality. We have replaced it with the idea that “truth” is my perspective of reality and my feelings about reality.

The implications of this are massive and damning.  For one thing, if truth is defined by what we feel or from our perspective, how can we ever be wrong? Who can contradict how I feel? If I am living true to my feelings, how can I be convicted of sin? It is impossible for me to lie because I’m simply telling “my truth.” It’s impossible for me to do anything wrong because I’m simply living out of “my reality.” And if I can’t sin, I can’t acknowledge sin because there’s no sin to acknowledge. And if I can’t confess my sin, I can’t repent because there’s no sin to turn away from. I don’t need Jesus to save me from my sin that doesn’t exist.

Additionally, our popular thinking about truth means there is no solid foundation on which to build our lives–there are only the shifting sands of feelings and perspectives. Remember the children’s song? If our houses are built on the sand, when the rains come down and the floods come up our foolish lives go splat.

Thirdly, often our feelings don’t correspond to reality. We start to believe things about ourselves that aren’t true, even though it’s how we feel at the time. This is very evident with eating disorders. I’m told that people who are anorexic look in the mirror and see an overweight reflection even though they are often dangerously underweight. They feel like they are “fat,” and they believe their feelings rather than reality. But this isn’t just a problem with eating disorders. People believe all kinds of things about themselves that are not true. I’m ugly. I’m stupid. I’m awkward. No one could love me. I’ll never amount to anything. I’m too far gone for God to want me. I have nothing to offer. All my friends on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram have it together more than me. If I can’t be like _________________ (fill in the blank), I’ll never be accepted. If this is how you feel, your feelings are lying to you!

In John 17:17, Jesus said a single sentence that will change everything we know. In fact, just the second phrase, “your word is truth,” is a paradigm-changing, profound statement that will literally turn your world upside down. Truth is not what we feel. Truth is not what I see from my perspective. Truth is not what popular opinion says it is, or what the majority vote says it should be. Truth is revealed in God’s Word. God is the Author of truth. What He says is not only real but true–regardless of how I feel about it or what I think about it; whether I like it or not.

My prayer for this week is that God will show you something you have been believing that isn’t truth, and that He will help you find the truth that He has spoken over you.

Light and Truth

“Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling place. Then I will come to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy.” (Psalm 43:3-4, HCSB)

How often do I pray this? How often do I ask for God’s light and His truth to guide me in the decisions I make day in and day out? I’ve found that when I’m faced with a large, life-changing decision (like whether to move my family to a new community and take on a new role as a lead pastor) I tend to ask for wisdom more often. But in those in-between-years, when life seems manageable and there are no world-altering decisions staring me in the face, my tendency is to run with my own ideas, thoughts, and plans without asking for light and truth from God first.

And, even when I do ask for wisdom from God, do I seek it? Do I ask God to just download light and truth into my brain like an app update, or do I ask God for guidance as I seek His light and His truth in His Word? Sometimes we ask God to speak or give us direction and wonder why He doesn’t answer when in reality, He put that wisdom just in front of us if we’ll look for it. Have your kids ever asked you for something, and you put it just out of their reach, so they’ll have to work to get it? Why do you do you that? Because when they work to get what you have given, it’s more meaningful; and sometimes it sticks more than if you just hand it to them.

God has given us tools to seek His wisdom. He has given us His Word. He has given us the ability to reason and think rationally. He allows us to have experiences that shape us and should teach us more about life. And, most importantly, He has given us His Holy Spirit who will “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). But that truth doesn’t just come as an update or a new operating system. It’s not downloaded and installed in our brains while we sleep. When we pray for light and wisdom, we need to look for God’s answer using the tools, gifts, and opportunities He’s blessed us with. And as we seek Him, He will guide us into all truth.

My prayer for us this week as that God will send His light and His truth to lead us each day, and that we will have the discernment to see and hear His voice.

 


Photo by Himesh Kumar Behera on Unsplash

Can a Homosexual Be a Christian?

Sermon delivered at Pontiac Bible Church on 5/3/2015.

Homosexuality has become an explosive and divisive issue in our society. Culture demands full acceptance and legitimization, claiming that homosexuals are born that way and have a right to live however they want. Conservative Christians are attacked as bigots and homophobes, and in response many congregations and denominations have redefined Scripture and what the Church has taught on this issue for thousands of years. But what does the Bible really say about homosexuality? And what should our response be? We’ll find out as we continue the Too Hot To Handle series.