Sermons by Marlin Harless

HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH

"WHAT IS TRUTH?"
(DID YOU KNOW THAT "TRUTH" IS A PERSON?)
(Texts: John 14:6; 18:38a)
By Marlin L. Harless

INTRODUCTION: This question had long agitated the world. It was the great subject of inquiry in all the schools of the Greeks. Different sects of philosophers had held different opinions, and Pilate now, in derision, asked the Lord, whom he esteemed an ignorant fanatic, whether He could solve this long agitated question. But Pilate left before he received an answer. As a matter of fact, truth stood before his very own eyes…And Pilate, like many today, never realized it!! Of course, we can't see Jesus' person, as Pilate did, however, we can see Him through the eye of faith!!

I. WEBSTER'S DEFINITION OF TRUTH:

I am convinced that there is no question more challenging to the religious world today, than the question: "What Is Truth?" Webster defines "truth" as a "quality or state of being true; hence, fidelity; constancy. That which is true: that which is or is characterized by being in accord with what is, has been, or must be; as, to seek the truth."

II. WEBSTER'S DEFINITION NOT ADEQUATE:

But this definition is not altogether adequate, and will not, therefore suffice. More specifically, there is no truth that is separated from God! Truth is not something that is found, or discovered, or invented, or produced! It is that rhythmical harmony that exists between all logical facts, when lubricated and regenerated and immortalized by the personality of the Son of God! Consider this: Jesus is the quintessence of truth, the word is defined, as "the pure and concentrated essence of anything; the most perfect embodiment or manifestation of a quality or thing; (in ancient and medieval philosophy) the 5th element or essence, ether, supposed to be the constituent matter of the heavenly bodies, the others being air, fire, earth and water." The Quintessential Dictionary, I. Moyer Hunsberger, page 347, column 1. Therefore, Jesus is truth personified!!

III. CONSIDER JESUS' OWN STATEMENT

Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me" (John 14:6). Jesus is the source of truth: all the fundamentals of any truth, are embodied in Christ! Christ once said to certain Jews: "…If ye continue in my word, then are my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32).

IV. WHAT OF OUR INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY?

Each person owes to himself, the price, whatever it might be, or involve, to know and love the truth of God's word! Moreover, those who become responsible, should be taught to seek, and endeavor to know the truth of God's word. (See Thompson Chain-Reference Bible Text Cyclopedia # 3697).

V. THE DANGERS OF FRAGMENTARY KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH

Too many people are contented with only a rudimentary or basic knowledge of God's word. Such will likely, and often do, act upon a partial knowledge of the truth. They base their convictions upon that part of the truth that they know, and act accordingly. Moreover, we say this should never be done in the civil courts, yet in religion the vast majority of people say it is permissible. Whereas, if they knew the whole truth, and acted upon it, their convictions, actions and decisions would be very different! (See Text Cyclopedia # 3698).

VI. PARTIAL, FRAGMENTARY KNOWLEDGE IS THE PRIMARY CAUSE OF DEMONINATIONALISM.

This principle is, perhaps, more responsible than anything else, for the denominationalism and religious confusion in the world today! The psalmist said, "The sum of thy word is truth" (Psalm 119:160 ASV). Since the word "sum," as used here, means the whole amount, the aggregate: as, within the sum of human experience: it could be said: the whole of thy Word is truth. (See Text Cyclopedia # 3700).

For example, (John 3:16) is not the whole truth regarding God's plan of salvation, it is only part of the truth! Please note that nothing is said in (John 3:16), about calling upon the name of the Lord; yet in (Romans 10:13), calling upon the name of the lord is directly concerned with God's plan of salvation. Moreover, calling upon the name of the Lord is not prayer, as many think it is! It means to follow God's instructions---to do what he says, for example, to become a Christian! When one learns what God requires of man, he must act, or obey, (Cf. Romans 1:5; 16:26). No one shall be saved ultimately, by doing just part of the Lord's will, but, rather, by doing the Lord's will fully, completely!!

VII. PEOPLE ARE CRYING FOR THE ANSWER TO PILATE'S QUESTION: "WHAT IS TRUTH?"

When the Lord Jesus, in explanation of His claim to kingship, declared Himself a witness to "the truth," the turn to the conversation between Him and the Roman governor was to all appearance very abrupt. Government, royalty---these were ideas with which Pilate was familiar, in which his position found him to take interest. With regard to truth, he might or he might not concern himself. In any case it would scarcely occur to him that there was any special connection between kingship and that witness to the truth that the accused one professed that it was His mission to bear. Whether Pilate asked the question from mere curiosity, from real interest, in ridicule, or in cynical unbelief, we cannot confidently say. The possibility that any one of these motives may have influenced him, suggests the various attitudes of mind with which the truth of God is regarded by men.1

In (John: 14:6), it is not easy to say why our Lord should have added "the truth and the life." The two further terms used by Himself are probably introduced to throw light upon the way to the Father. Thus their numerous assurances that He is the Truth itself, that is, the adequate and sufficient expression of Divine thought. "All the promises of God are Yea [that is, are uttered] and Amen [i.e. confirmed] in Him. "He is the absolute Truth (1) about God's nature; (2) the perfect Exponent of God's Idea of humanity; (3) the light of the world; (4) the expression of the reality touching the relations between moral beings and God---all the relations, not only those of saints and holy angels, but those of rebels and sinners, whose destiny He has taken upon Himself.

He is the Way because He is the Whole Truth about God and man and concerning the Way to the Father. More than this, and because of this, He adds, "I am the Life"---"the Life eternal," the Possessor, Author, Captain, Giver, and Prince of Life---the Life in the heart of man that can never die; the occasion, germ, condition, and force of the New Life. It was impossible to imagine Higher Life. But He leaves His hearers without any doubt as to His personal and conscious identification of Himself with the Father. Hitherto He had not so clearly unveiled Himself as in that which He has here said and is now doing. Hence His nearest only partially knew Him. If they had seen all they might have seen, they would have seen the Father also. 2

VIII. I SUGGEST WE ROMANCE THE QUESTION: "WHAT IS TRUTH?"

Let's consider it from several different vantage points, and, thus, enhance our appreciation of it! To the Pilate minded souls there comes no reply to the light, flippant, caviling, concerning ethereal verities. Pilate's cry is in the air today. It is repeated on every side, in Treatise, Novel, Poem, Magazine, and Journal. What is God? What is Christ? What is man? What, then, is the spirit in which the question must be asked to obtain a reply? (1) IT MUST NOT BE IN PILATE''S SPIRIT---SCEPTICISM OR SCEPTICAL INDIFFERENCE. Such a spirit is wanting in the very first element to ensure success. If Pilate were sincere, he would have given Jesus the opportunity to answer his question!

(2) IN THE SPIRIT OF AN EARNEST SEEKER OF TRUTH. "Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." Every one wishes to have Truth on his side, but it is not every one who wishes sincerely to be on the side of Truth. Beloved, this was Pilate's problem; he was on the wrong side of Truth, as millions are today! He that does shall most surely find the Precious Pearl! "Buy the Truth, and sell it not…" (Proverbs 23: 23a)

(3) IT IS IN A SPIRIT OF WILLINGNESS TO FOLLOW IT, TO OBEY ITS VOICE, TO SUBMIT TO ITS GUIDANCE. Men, it is to be feared, are too often afraid to know the truth, lest it prove a hard master. They "love darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19d). "What is Truth?"---A question.

(4)Important. Nothing is more necessary for the mind to know. Not to ascertain what is truth relative and ephemeral, but what is Truth Absolute and Eternal!3 We should realize that Christ has answered Pilate's question, by His miraculous birth; by the way He lived; and by the way He died!!! He is closer to you than the air you breathe; Moreover, He is closer to you than the blood that flows in your capillaries, veins, and arteries!! My friends, hear me, are you listening? "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22:16, 17).

IX. "AM I THEREFORE BECOME YOUR ENEMY, BECAUSE I TELL YOU THE TRUTH?" (Galatians 4:16).

Beloved, this question is very timely, here, and now; and you can be assured that I have no intention of abusing my privileges as a writer! I often think how very nice it would be to just write about things that are right and good! However, it is very apparent that, in the course of time, we also must get involved with the negatives. Beloved, to put it succinctly, the truth of God's Word, the Bible, has been a battleground for a long, long time; and the enemies of the Sacred Volume, called The King James Version of the Bible, are attempting to dismantle it completely!! Accordingly, I shall endeavor to present to you a very disturbing attack on the Grand Old King James Bible.

The following article was printed in the "Gospel Minutes," P.O. Box 50007 Fort Worth, Texas 76105-0007, Vol. 46, No 33, Aug. 15, 1997, Editor: Clem Thurman - Associate Editor: David Thurman.

WHICH BIBLE VERSION IS BEST?

"Dear brother Clem: Some in the church feel that the King James Version is the inspired word of God. I believe the original writing was inspired, but translations and versions done by men are not. I don't want to violate (1 Cor. 1:10 and Gal. 1:8-9). So, which translation does the church feel is the most accurate, and why? -B.B., TX" I agree that, "the scriptures are inspired of God" (2 Tim. 3:16). The apostle Paul describes what inspiration means, as he tells how the word came from God through the apostles as they were guided by the Holy Spirit: "We received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth" (1 Cor. 2:12, 13). He then called the message the apostles preached, "The word of the message, even the word of God" (1 Thess. 2:13). I also agree that inspiration, involving the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit, was limited to the giving of the original message. That means in the Greek language, with regard to the New Testament. But few of us speak Greek today. Thus we need a version in our language.

There have been many versions of the Bible, each attempting to translate the scriptures into language which people can read, and understand. Wycliffe's Version and Tyndale's Version preceded the King James Version, and the KJV followed them very closely. When the King James Version was brought out, it was roundly criticized for a variety of reasons, and for at least thirty or forty years. Gradually, with the insistence of the Anglican church which produced it, the King James Version became the "standard" for English speaking people. It has undergone seven major revisions, all of which are still called the King James Version. These revisions vary from one another in more than minor ways, with some fundamental doctrinal differences. No one today uses the 1611 version, for it isn't available in bookstores. For the past two hundred years, English speaking people have cried for a new version which would "put the scriptures in the language of the common people"-- which was exactly the stated purpose of the King James Version when it was originally produced. But any new version met with opposition -- just as the King James did.

In the past fifty years, there have been dozens of different versions produced. Some were blatant attempts to "re-write" the Bible in order to promote some false teaching. But many other versions were the [earnest attempts by honest scholars to give us a reliable version, which is easy to read and understand]. (Emphasis, mine, MLH). How good any version is depends on many factors: the intent of the ones producing it, their ability to accurately translate from the original languages, the "checks" and "cross checks" of the scholars as they critique each others' work, etc. While some brothers in the church seem to oppose any version which is not the King James, most I know will acknowledge the need for other versions.

Which version is the best? That is strictly subjective, and opinions vary considerably. As to which one "the church feels is best," that is unanswerable, for there is no one in the church with authority to decide that for the church. I will give my opinion, and that is all it is. I think it is a mistake to use any one version to the exclusion of all others. For fifty years of preaching, teaching and writing I have studied from and taught from the American Standard Version and the King James Version. Over the past several years, I have also used the New International Version and the New American Standard. I also have about a dozen other versions to which I sometimes refer in my study, some of which I do not consider reliable as versions but still offer insight into specific passages.

[I consider all four of the versions named above to be reliable,] (Emphasis, mine, MLH). But, again, I don't think any one of them should be used as an "authoritative version" that nullifies the others. They each have their strengths and weaknesses. They each have their mistakes. And they each have some wordings that can be used by false teachers to pervert the truth. [For three hundred years the King James has been the most popular version by far, outselling all others], (Emphasis, mine, MLH). But within the past three years, the New International has surpassed it in sales and in use. For a modern speech version, the New American Standard is probably the most accurate.

Which version should you use? Use the one that is easy to read and understand, then read it for that purpose. But use one or more of the other versions with that one, to compare wordings of various passages. You will find it helps you to understand the passages much better. [But when you find someone using a different version than you use, don't make the mistake of dividing the church over your subjective opinion about which version is best]. 4 (Emphasis, mine, MLH)---Clem Thurman.

[Beloved, I submit to you, that, the church today is being divided over, or because of, the subjective opinions, doctrines, and commandments of men, which are being interpolated into the texts of scripture, by the so called translators, and revisionists of the new translations, and versions!! Emphasis, mine, MLH]. Brethren, please consider the following: "For three hundred years the King James has been the most popular version by far, outselling all others. But within the past three years the New International passed it in sales and in use." From the vantage point of popularity, the King James Version reigned for three hundred years; and during this period, the church of Christ was growing numerically! Accordingly, The KJV is 300 times more beautiful, glorious, powerful, and true, than the NIV!!!

Why? Because God's Word, in its pure, unadulterated form, as we have it in the King James Bible, and the gospel message convinced, and convicted the people that Jesus Christ is the Son of God!! When preachers preached the gospel the people recognized it for what it was, and is, the Word of God!! Today, with all the New Versions, reading from them, reminds me of the "comic strips," each competing with the other, trying desperately to make every one laugh!! As far as I am concerned, and almost without exception, all the new versions put together, wouldn't make good trash!!! "They are Spiritual Poison!!!

Men who use the new versions, are permitting the devil to preach their message! The Old King James Version portrays Jesus, our Savior as reaching with one hand toward heaven, and holding to the Father's hand, and, with the other hand, reaching down to humankind, and bringing God, and man together!! My friends, hear me, are you listening? The new versions and translations are not picturing Jesus as reaching for God, nor man, therefore, God, and man can never be united; because the new versions and translations destroy that vital unity, and God's Plan of Salvation!! At least for themselves!!

Brother Gary L. Grizzell said, "To state that the New International Version is a reliable translation is to imply that what is taught in the NIV---in the above instance, "Faith Only" is reliable. If not, why not? So, when Brother Clem Thurman stated in his "Gospel Minutes" that the NIV is a reliable translation, he implied that the false doctrine of the NIV is reliable. If not, why not? Yet, many brethren today cannot be warned about such error in "Gospel Minutes," but insist on bringing bundles into the church on a weekly basis for the members to take home. As Brother Ira Rice once said, "You just can't warn some brethren."

X. BELOVED, BROTHER CLEM THURMAN'S RESPONSE TO "WHICH BIBLE VERSION IS BEST?"---Is to say, "Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits" (Isaiah 30:10). This text speaks to us about what truth is not, and never can be!! (See Text Cyclopedia # 36990.)

XI. TRUTH IS A DIVINE, AND IMMORTAL PERSON

If truth were a book, they could burn it! If truth were a mere man, they could, and probably would, kill him! If truth were a system, they could kill the citizens who are loyal to that system!! He is the same person who could not be reached by Herod's slaughter-bund!! He is the same person who could not be liquidated by the conspiracy of the Jewish high priest!!! He is the same person who could not be permanently sealed in a borrowed tomb, even though guarded by the soldiers whom the Jews bribed!!! My friends, hear me, are you listening? "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).

CONCLUSION: Are you absolutely sure of your soul's salvation? Have you been born again, in the New Testament sense of that word? Beloved, in order for one to become a Christian, he MUST DO THE FOLLOWING: (a) Hear the gospel, (Romans 10:14); (b) Believe the gospel, (Romans 10:14); (c) Repent of past sins, (Luke 13:3, 5); (d) Confess faith in Christ, (Matthew 10:32, 33); (e) Be immersed or baptized into Christ, (Acts 2:38); (6) Be faithful until death, (Revelation 2:10). Beloved, will you do it today, today, today? .

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

1. King James Version of Bible, Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, Fifth Improved Edition

2. The American College Dictionary

3. The American Heritage Dictionary

4. The Expanded Vines, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

5. Theological Dictionary of The New Testament

6. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology

ENDNOTES:

1 The Pulpit Commentary, (John 18:38), page 409, Homilies by Various Authors, T. Croskery

2 The Pulpit Commentary, (John 14:6), page 222, Exposition, by H. R. Reynolds

3 The Biblical Illustrator, (John 18:38), Volume # 3, pages 262 & 263, by Joseph S. Exell

4 Gospel Minutes, "Which Bible Version Is Best?" Page # 3, Aug. 15, 1997, P. O. Box 50007, Fort Worth, Texas

E-Mail Address: (mlharless@kvinet.com). Dear reader, in the event you find errors or mistakes in this sermon, spelling, scripture references, etc., please inform me of same!! Thank you! (MLH)

Telephone: (304) 247-6895



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