The Wonder of His NameThe Truth
Leslie Basham: If you’ve ever been to the orchestra, you’ll hear them begin with an interesting sound.
(sound of an orchestra tuning) What are the musicians doing? And what does it tell you about your life?
Nancy Leigh DeMoss is about to talk about it. This is Revive Our Hearts for Monday, March 31.
For the last couple weeks, we’ve been in the series, “The Wonder of His Name.” We’re studying one name of Jesus each day. Today—Jesus is the Truth. This program was recorded at College Park Church in Indianapolis as part of the Revive Tour. To see the video version of this message, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Here’s Nancy.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I got my piano tuned at my house last week. I always like it when that happens. I wonder if you know how to tell if a piano is tuned? How do you know if it’s in tune? Well, you can’t trust your ear unless you’re one of those rare people who have perfect pitch, which I certainly don’t.
But there’s an objective standard for pitch that’s called “concert pitch.” In the U.S. that standard is called A440. Now that’s a technical term that means the A above middle C is tuned to a frequency of 440 Hertz which means 440 cycles per second.
So the tuner uses what’s called a “tuning fork” which is an external, objective standard that has been calibrated to that “fixed pitch” of A440. And then he tunes every key on the piano in relationship to that fixed pitch. And if he does it right and he does it well, then you’ll end up with beautiful music—if you can play the piano.
It’s the same idea with an orchestra. You hear at the beginning of a concert the orchestra instruments tuning up. They are tuning to a standard, fixed pitch. Apart from that absolute standard, if they didn’t have that, it would be just up to what every musician thought sounded “right” to him. And then you would end up with a harsh, dissonant performance.
Well, I was thinking about that as I was listening to the piano tuner in my house and how the concept of absolute, fixed truth, a standard of truth has been largely discarded today. Instead, every person has his or her own truth. And people are tuning their instruments to whatever pitch they happen to like. The result in people’s lives and in our culture is chaos, it’s discord, it’s confusion.
Are you finding as I am that it is becoming increasingly difficult to convince people that Jesus is “The Truth;” that He is the absolute unchanging standard of truth; that He is what He claimed to be: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”? (John 14:6). Well, today we want to look at that name of Jesus where He says, “I am the truth.”
Now the Old Testament paves the way for us knowing Jesus, who is God in the flesh, as the truth because it asserts that God is truth; that His ways are true; that His commandments are true. You see this all the way through the Old Testament. Let me just read you several phrases:
- "The Lord is the true God" (Jer. 10:10)
- "This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true" (Ps. 18:30).
- "The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever" (Ps. 119:16).
- Or as God says,"I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right" (Isa. 45:19).
Now in the Old Testament, when you see that word “true” or “truth” it’s a Hebrew word emeth. E-m-e-t-h. The basic meaning of that word is firmness or stability. It’s not something that’s shakable. It’s not something that easily changes or moves. It stands for faithfulness, sureness, reliability. And truth is a key attribute of God that we see all the way through the Old Testament and of course in the New as well.
- We see that God is true to His covenant.
- He’s true to Himself.
- He’s true to His word.
- He's true to His promises.
- You see that God is faithful.
- He can be depended upon.
- He’s reliable.
- He’s trustworthy.
- He’s honest.
- He’s authentic, genuine, real.
- There’s no deception, no hypocrisy in God.
- He is the “fixed pitch” absolute truth.
And that truthful character of God establishes the standard, the “fixed pitch” if you will, the concert pitch, for all of mankind. Psalm 51:6 says: “Behold, you desire truth in the innermost being.” So not only is God truth, but He says that’s the standard for all human beings is that we be reliable and firm and stable in truth.
Jeremiah 5:3: “O Lord, do not your eyes look for truth?” God is looking for truth. He’s in this place today looking for truth, truth in our hearts, truth where no one else sees and no one else knows. But God sees and God knows. He’s looking for truth.
This is an absolute standard, one from which there is no deviation. It’s like A440. It is what it is. It’s fixed. That is the standard that is absolutely required for anyone who wants to have fellowship with God.
If you deviate from that standard in the slightest little bit, and some of those deviations on the piano tuning thing human ears can’t hear. It’s so close sometimes, but just off. And if each key’s a little bit off, then you’re going to have a discordant sound when you put it all together. That standard, that perfect “fixed pitch” standard of truth is God’s standard that He requires if we’re going to come close to Him.
O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth [emeth] in his heart (Ps. 15:1–2).
Truth like God. His character is truth, and He requires that of us if we’re to come close to Him. If we’re off pitch, if we’re not completely walking in truth, not just outwardly, not just what we say, but in our hearts, then we cannot walk in one accord with God.
Now, that obviously creates a problem because we are fallen, and we are sinful. Scripture tells us over and over again that we don’t meet that standard. We’re off pitch. Psalm 5:9 says: “There is no truth in their mouth; . . . they flatter with their tongue.” They say things they don’t mean. Isaiah 59:14–15 says: “Truth has stumbled in the public squares . . . truth is lacking.” Jeremiah 7:28, “Truth has perished.”
Doesn’t that describe what we see in our culture today? Truth has stumbled. We hear all this talking. Is the government telling the truth? Are politicians telling the truth? Are actors telling the truth? Are public figures telling the truth? Are neighbors telling the truth? Are your kids telling the truth? And we see all the consequences of truth perishing in our culture.
They bend their tongue like a bow; falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land . . . Everyone deceives his neighbor, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies (Jer. 9:3, 5).
Here’s the fact, and here’s the problem. We are all liars.
- We’re all liars.
- We twist the truth.
- We reject the truth.
- We conjure up our own “truth.”
Sometimes we even think we’re being truthful and in our hearts we’re not.
- We lie to ourselves.
- We lie to others.
- We lie to God.
- We lie about ourselves.
- We lie about others.
- We lie about God.
- We are liars.
Toward the end of the Old Testament in the Book of Zechariah, God pleads three times for His people to return to truth: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, render true judgments" (7:9). "Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace"(8:16). "Love truth and peace" (8:19).
God is saying, “You need to be tuned up. You need to get on absolute concert pitch. You’re not tuned according to the truth.” But here’s the real problem. Not only are we liars, we don’t speak the truth, we lie, we deceive ourselves and others. But we can’t fulfill these commands. We do not and cannot be truth tellers because from our hearts we are liars. We are deceivers.
And so here you come to the end of the Old Testament, and you have this tension building for a long-awaited Messiah who will be God in the flesh; who will come to redeem fallen liars so they can become truthful as God is truthful, so they can have fellowship with God who is truth.
In the New Testament after all this bad news in the Old Testament, we have Jesus who comes to this earth—God in human flesh. John 1 says: “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world” (v. 9).
Jesus, the Truth. He’s the only Person who has ever perfectly fulfilled God’s standard of truth. Jesus is God’s A440, God’s “fixed pitch,” the pitch that tells us what all other pitches should be calibrated to sound like. He is God’s “fixed pitch.”
Now this theme of true or truth again we see in John’s gospel as we have some of these other words we’ve been looking at. There are almost fifty references to truth in the Gospel of John. And thirteen of those are in John 8. So if you have your Bible with you, let me encourage you to open it to John 8 and I want us to look at several verses there.
You remember that throughout Jesus time here on earth that the Pharisees had a problem with Jesus. They didn’t believe He was who He said He was. And they repeatedly, persistently challenged His truthfulness. They challenged the reliability of His claims. Verse 13 of John 8: “[They] said to him, 'You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.'” You’re not who you claim to be.
And listen to what Jesus says in response.
- "My testimony is true" (v. 14).
- "My judgment is true" (v. 16).
- "He who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him" (v. 26).
- "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (v. 32).
Jesus is introducing them to this fact that not only does He speak truth but He is the Truth. Because you see, Truth is a Person. It is Jesus.
And Jesus says, in effect, “If you don’t believe in me, that means you don’t believe in the truth. And if you don’t believe in the truth, that means you are believing lies. You who think you are the custodians and guardians of the truth, you are believing lies, and you’re perpetrating lies on your followers.”
Look at verse 43. Some strong words Jesus has for these religious leaders.
Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, [and you can imagine that caused some people to rock in their sandals when He said that to the religious leaders] your will is to do your father's desires.
He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? [Show me what I’ve said that’s not true.]
If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them [and implication the reason why you don’t believe them is because] you are not of God (vv. 43–47).
So we have a lot of people today who say, “I believe in God; I just don’t believe in Jesus.” And Jesus is saying, “No, if you believe in God, you believe in Me. If you believe in truth, you believe in Me. If you don’t believe in Me, then you don’t believe in truth. You believe in lies, then you are of your father, the Devil, who is the father of lies.”
So in John 14 now, verse 6, you remember that famous line where Jesus says to Thomas, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Now notice here that Jesus doesn’t just say, “I am speaking truth. I am being truthful.” He’s not using an adjective that describes Himself. He uses a noun. He says, “I am the truth.” He claims that His very being and essence is truth.
And who’s that like that we read about in the Old Testament? That’s God. God who is truth. Jesus is God in the flesh, and again He’s making a claim to be God, as is true with so many of these names we’ve been looking at. And those first century Jews would have known exactly what He was saying because they knew the Old Testament Scriptures. They knew God saying, “I am the truth. My word is truth. I am truth.” And when Jesus says, “I am the truth” they know He is claiming to be God.
When He claims to be “the” Truth, they know He is saying He is the exclusive Truth. He is not “a” truth for some, everybody else has their own truth. Anything that is not of Jesus is not truth. Anything that is contrary to Him is not truth no matter how true you think it to be. Jesus is the Truth and any belief, any religion, any worldview that does not embrace Jesus for who He says He is and what He said He came to do, then that religion, that worldview, that belief is false. There is no truth apart from Jesus who is the Truth.
Now, there are essentially two attitudes people have toward truth, two attitudes every one of us in this room has towards truth. The attitude of most, the majority in this world and all of us at times is to reject the truth.
The Scripture tells us in Romans 1 that those who are “ungodly deliberately suppress the truth.” In other words, they don’t want to believe that it’s truth. Romans 1 says they “exchanged the truth about God for a lie.” They said, “I’d rather have the lie than the truth.” And as a result they “worship, [and] serve the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:18, 25).
They don’t want to worship and serve the Creator, so they devise ways of thinking about the origin of life and about other aspects of their worldview so they can believe what they want to believe. They can worship and serve themselves and creatures rather than the creator because they’ve exchanged the truth about God for a lie. Romans 2 says these people “do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness” (Rom. 2:8).
So we can reject the truth, or we can receive the truth. Those who are godly love the truth. They embrace it. They uphold it. They defend it. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13, “We cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth” (2 Cor. 13:8). That comes from a heart that says, “I love truth.”
Now your attitude toward truth will be exactly the same as your attitude toward Jesus because Truth and Jesus are inseparable. Your attitude toward one reveals your attitude toward the other. If you reject the Truth, you will reject Jesus. If you love the Truth, you will love Jesus, and if you love Jesus, you will love Truth.
Our culture doesn’t get that. Our culture rejects truth wholesale. And our culture also considers it intolerant to insist on a “fixed pitch” that everything else and everyone else has to be tuned to. Right? “Oh, it’s okay for you to believe that. But how dare you say that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.” We have this great gospel of tolerance today until it comes to people who believe in the exclusivity of Jesu, and then all of a sudden that tolerance becomes very intolerant. There’s an intolerance to insisting on a “fixed pitch.”
But you know what? There are a lot of so-called “believers” who fall into this trap, too. There’s a tendency I’ve noticed in our evangelical circles today to pit truth against qualities such as love and mercy and grace. We tend to exalt one over the over. Some, it’s love exalted over truth, grace exalted over truth, mercy exalted over truth. And truth always loses out, it seems, in some of these circles.
There are other circles among Bible believing Christians who claim to love truth, but they show little love, little grace, and little mercy. Well, can I suggest that truth is not incompatible with love and mercy and grace? His truth is never at the expense of mercy, and His mercy is never at the expense of truth.
Both are necessary, and both are epitomized in Jesus. Proverbs 16 tells us, “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged” (v. 6 KJV). You want to have forgiveness, cleansing from your sin? It takes mercy and truth. And where do we find those in exquisitely perfect proportion other than in Christ.
Psalm 85 gives us a picture of this anticipating the coming of Christ:
Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven (10–11).
Where else did that happen other than at the cross where Jesus who is perfect mercy, perfect truth, gave His life for fallen sinners.
John 1 says it this way:
[And] the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (vv. 14, 17).
His grace, His mercy, and His love are always grounded in truth, and His truth is never separated from His grace, His mercy, and His love.
So watch out in the evangelical world today when you hear somebody saying, “Oh, it’s all love. It’s all grace. It’s all mercy.” But where’s truth? Nowhere to be found. “Oh, I know I can do this because God loves me or God’s forgiven me or there’s grace.” But where’s the truth? You’re violating God’s Word. There’s no truth there.
And then we have some of these great truth-keepers, truth police who show no mercy, no grace. That’s the Pharisees. Right? You don’t have truth if you don’t have grace, mercy, and love. Listen, truth matters.
I saw an interview with Charles Woods who is the father of that former Navy SEAL who was killed in Benghazi. And here is this man’s dad, Charles Woods, who was on talk shows pressing the government to give truthful answers about what actually happened. He was determined to find out the truth as he went on these talk shows. And I heard him say, “Truth is the best, most effective way to express something.” I like that. “Truth is the best, most effective way to express something.”
Listen, when God wanted to express His love and His heart for fallen sinners, what did He do? He sent Jesus, the Truth, to live among us, to die for us, and to be raised again. Jesus was the best, the most effective way to express what needed to be said to this world. Truth matters.
And there is absolute truth, just like A440. If I want my piano tuned, I want a piano tuner who comes with that tuning fork calibrated to A440, that fixed pitch. There is absolute Truth. His name is Jesus. To know and love Jesus is to know and love Truth.
Proverbs 14 tells us that, “A truthful witness saves lives” (v. 25). And what a great description of Jesus, the truthful witness sent from the Father to bear witness to the truth of God the Father and to His saving grace. Our lives were saved because Jesus is God’s truthful witness.
And then He says to us, “You are my witnesses.” So those who know Jesus as the Truth, are called to be faithful and true witnesses, pointing people to Jesus, unapologetically. Our culture’s made it real difficult for us to say, “Jesus is the truth. He is the only way to the Father.” We say it with love. We say it extending and showing the grace of God and the mercy of God shown at the cross of Jesus. But we don’t have to apologize for saying, “Jesus is the truth.” And if we are His truthful witnesses, lives will be saved by Jesus the Truth.
And let me just remind you as we close that Jesus is forever the Truth. He has a lot of detractors, a lot of critics, a lot of opponents, a lot of adversaries, a lot of people don’t believe that He is the Truth. But I’ll tell you a little secret. Jesus is going to outlive and outlast all His detractors and all His critics.
Revelation 19, the end of the story, when you get in doubt or despair or fear, anxiety, you need to go and read the end of the story. And one of my favorite chapters in God’s Word is Revelation 19 and from there to the end of the book.
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True [Jesus the Truth] and in righteousness he judges and makes war (v. 11).
He comes to save. He comes to judge in the final return when He comes back to this earth. The opportunity to have been saved by the Truth will be passed. And that day, those who have not believed the Truth will find themselves at the opposite end of His sword of judgment.
Listen, eternity is at stake. This isn’t just something that it’s okay for us to sit in our little churches and believe our little truths. No! Jesus is the Truth. And one day the man on the white horse, the One who’s name is Faithful and True, will return to earth and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is exactly who He claimed to be.
So until that day, let’s boldly, lovingly, winsomely, unapologetically believe and proclaim that Jesus is the Truth.
Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss, talking about an important name of Jesus. He is the Truth!
Today’s teaching is part of a larger series called “The Wonder of His Name: 32 Life-Changing Names of Jesus.”
To help remind you of the truths you’ve been hearing during this series, we’d like to send you a set of twelve note cards and envelopes. Each of these twelve different designs illustrates one of these names of Jesus.
Timothy Botts created the artwork for these note cards. A lot of our listeners are enjoying that artwork in the 2014 Revive Our Hearts wall calendar. Now you can share that artwork with your friends or family as you write to stay in touch with them.
When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount, we’ll say thanks by sending the set of note cards. Your gift will help us continue bringing you Revive Our Hearts each weekday. To donate online visit