Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Liberating power of Truth

The Liberating power of Divine Truth

Truth purifies human thought

Truth destroys illusions

Truth set you free

 “Jesus said to the people who believed in him, "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."(John 8:31-32 NLT)

There is a humorous tale about a young lad who approached his father and asked, “Dad, why does the wind blow?” to which the father responded, "I don't know, son." "Dad, where do the clouds come from?" "I'm not sure, son." "Dad, what makes a rainbow?" "No idea, son." "Dad, do you mind me asking you all these questions." Not at all sons, if you don’t ask question, how else are you going to learn?” The father was honest to admit his ignorance but encouraged his son to keep asking question. But a parent with knowledge is a blessing for their children. "Research shows that children of educated parents are healthier, perform better academically, and are more likely to attend higher studies themselves than children of those with lower educational background and the same truth applicable to the knowledge of God.

We cannot give someone what we don’t have ourselves and we can’t teach someone what we don’t know ourselves. Sincerity is the foundation of our humanity. Sincere inquiry leads to successful investigation. Successful investigation adds value to our knowledge. Truth tests our reasoning and improves our minds. We must anticipate Truth is leading to a better society and a better world. Self-transformation leads to world transformation. Learning truth is the beginning of freedom and action. Free Action is the completion of learning truth. Truth shapes your world view. Your world view shapes life. Knowing the truth and practicing it is the key to the freedom.

Edward Everett said "Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army." "Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”  Education of Truth is a companion which no misfortune can depress, no crime can destroy, no enemy can alienate, no despotism can enslave. Look at the words of Jesus in John 8:31 and 32 that..."If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."The truth is there at all times – whether or not we recognize it – but unless we know the truth, and apply it, truth itself is helpless. The Bible is full of truths, but you must be careful that the "truth" you follow is a original and Biblical truth and not an interpretation from man, specially a man with an agenda. Once you know what the Bible actually says, then you can apply that truth to your life.
We credibly often use the expression "the truth will set you free" because we live in a society where freedom and truth are cherished more than anything else. Yet many people do not really know the truth and enjoy no freedom. They are slaves to their own sinful desires. They are enslaved by the fear of guilt, death and condemnation. The man set canon and Constitution cannot make us free from this kind of bondage. But Jesus can set us free from the bondage of sin and death. James 1:25 tells us that practicing God’s perfect law gives us freedom. 

"What is truth?” Truth is one of the central subjects in philosophy. It is also one of the largest. Truth has been a topic of discussion in its own right for thousands of years. Moreover, a huge variety of issues in philosophy relate to truth, either by relying on theses about truth, or implying theses about truth. It would be impossible to review all there is to say about truth in any coherent way. Instead, this sermon will concentrate on the Biblical themes in the study of truth.

Almost 2,000 years ago, a Roman governor (Pilate) chose to ask a profound and significant question to “The Lord Jesus” —the man who handed over to be executed — “What is truth?” It was a rhetorical question, a cynical response to what Jesus had just revealed: “I have come into the world, to testify to the truth.” Pilate didn’t realize that he was talking to the Truth. He was talking to God in the flesh -- the One through whom the worlds were created. The Old Testament refers to the Almighty as the “God of truth” (Deut.32:4; Ps 31:5; Is.65:16).  Jesus said in John Gospel chapter 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He was thereby making a profound claim about His own deity. He was also making it clear that all truth must ultimately be defined in terms of God and His eternal glory. After all, Jesus is “the brightness of [God’s] glory and the express image of His person” (Heb 1:3). He is truth incarnate—the perfect expression of God and therefore the absolute embodiment of all that is true.

“What is truth” Most people ponder that question at some time in their lives, especially at critical points when they are struggling with the question of the meaning of life. After all, the need for meaning is a basic human need, and there can be no meaning without some ultimate truth. We seem to know instinctively that ultimate truth is somehow related to the existence of God. In fact, it is interesting that those who deny the existence of God are the same ones who say there is no absolute truth and that everything is relative. But something deep within us says this is not so -- something tells us that God exists and that He holds the key to truth. However, that raises another question. If there is a God, a creator, as evidenced by creation, how do we know who He is? How do we know what He's like? Has He revealed Himself and His truth to the human race? The answer is yes! He has revealed Himself to all mankind and He has authenticated His communication to us in such a way that it is clear that it is His word and no one else's.

Truth is that which conforms to reality, fact, or actuality." Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. Even more to the point: Truth is the self-expression of God. Because the definition of truth flows from God, truth is theological. Truth is also ontological—which is a fancy way of saying it is the way things really are. Reality is what it is because God declared it so and made it so. Therefore God is the author, source, determiner, governor, arbiter, ultimate standard, and final judge of all truth.

Jesus also said that the written Word of God is truth. It does not merely contain nuggets of truth; it is pure, unchangeable, and inviolable truth that “-and the Scripture cannot be broken-” (John 10:35). Praying to His heavenly Father on behalf of His disciples, He said this: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). To recover man out of his fallen state, the Holy Scripture is of much greater aid to us than the air we breathe, or the light of the sun. There is need of the word of God to enlightening the eyes - Showing men what they should do and what they should avoid. It is by God's commandments that we see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the necessity of redemption, so that we may love the Lord with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves. For this is the end of the commandment, and thus to enlighten the eyes is its use.

Hence David said  “Let me understand the teaching of your precepts;” Psalm 119:27, Precepts are breaking scripture down into micro chunks, word by original word and then building it back up. It is a style of teaching that believes that they cannot do better than to teach the Bible the way it was originally written in other word David prayed Lord teach me your “original idea” he says “How I long for your precepts” Psalm 119:40 David also prayed “Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees” Psalm 119:33- we need the guidance of the  Spirit of wisdom in the heart  to understand the way of God’s  precepts, the meaning of them, to have a more comprehensive, clear, and distinct knowledge of them; and to be led into the way they direct unto, and walk therein; not the mere words, but the way of applying them to our life daily. God, by his Spirit, gives a right understanding and puts his Spirit within us, causing us to walk in his statutes. The statutes of the Lord - The word here rendered statutes properly means mandates, precepts - rules given to anyone to guide him.
Moreover, the Word of God is eternal truth “which lives and abides forever” (1 pet 1:23). Of course, there cannot be any discord or difference of opinion between the written Word of God (Scripture) and the incarnate Word of God (Jesus). In the first place, truth by definition cannot contradict itself. Second, Scripture is called “the word of Christ” (Col 3:16). It is His  message, His self-expression. In other words, the truth of Christ and the truth of the Bible are of the very same character. They are in perfect agreement in every respect. Both are equally true. God has revealed Himself to humanity through Scripture and through His Son. Both perfectly embody the essence of what truth is.
Remember, Scripture also says God reveals basic truth about Himself in nature. The heavens declare His glory (Ps 19:1). His other invisible attributes (such as His wisdom, power, and beauty) are on constant display in what He has created (Rom 1:20). Knowledge of Him is inborn in the human heart (Rom 1:19), and a sense of the moral character and loftiness of His law is implicit in every human conscience (Rom 2:15).
 If there is such a thing as truth, then we should be able to find it.  If truth cannot be known, then it probably doesn't exist.  But, it does exist.  For example, "Something cannot bring itself into existence."  This is an absolutely true statement.  In order for something to bring itself into existence, it would have to exist in order to be able to perform an action.  But if it already existed, then it isn't possible to bring itself into existence since it already exists.  Likewise, if it does not exist then it has no ability to perform any creative action since it didn't exist in the first place.  Therefore, "Something cannot bring itself into existence" is an absolute truth. Therefore, we can say that truth conforms and affirms reality. God would be truth, the absolute and true essence of being and reality who is the author of all truth.  If you are interested in truth beyond yourself, then you must look to God. For the Christian, the ultimate expression of truth is found in the Bible, in Jesus who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." (John 14:6)

"The truth will set you free" is a commonly used phrase, in the world today. Many would consider it one of the great laws of life. Only those who study the scripture carefully have an idea about the source and the real meaning. Even people, who don't believe in Jesus, believe in this phrase of His, not knowing the source and practical application. So Let us consider to give some attention to the context of our text.
John chapter Eight begins with a beautiful expression “But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.” “At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts; where all the people sat gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.”

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, and there he knelt down and prayed, as it was his normal custom. As we know that usually, Jesus prayed there all night, and then from the early morning Jesus came in the temple court and begins to teach them the word of truth. The word of God and prayer were the two basic ingredients in Jesus’ daily life. Suddenly a group of people stormed into the temple courts, interrupting Jesus’ teachings. They were few self righteous religious people. They were not alone. They dragged in a woman caught in the act of adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” As usual, they didn’t ask Jesus this question to learn from him. Verse 6 says that they used this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Jesus. In fact, they thought this was a perfect time to entrap Jesus. If he answered “yes” he would get in trouble with the Roman authorities as the Jews did not have the right to carry out a death sentence (John 18:31). He would also contradict his own teaching of forgiveness and mercy. On the other hand, if he said “no” he would oppose the Law of Moses which was a serious transgression to the Jews.

“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground.” We don’t know what Jesus wrote on the ground. Most likely he wanted to give them a few moments to reflect on what they were doing and come back to their senses. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” The religious frauds were self-righteous and dragged the woman around with their hands. But Jesus challenged their consciences and their consciences were pierced. They could not deny their sinfulness before the holy God. What did they do? Look at verse 9. “At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. They tried to condemn Jesus as well as the woman. Instead, they were condemned by their own evilness. We see that the world is filled with condemnations

Look at verses 10, 11. “Jesus straightened up and asked her, `Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ `No one, sir,’ she said. `Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. `Go now and leave your life of sin.’” In these verses we learn two things about Jesus. First, Jesus did not condemn, but saved her. Second, Jesus gave her a new life direction. Jesus also said to the woman, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Jesus not only saved her from condemnation; he also commanded her stop sinning and start a new life -- life based on God’s word, not on her sinful desires. Jesus saves a woman from the hands of religious hypocrites and gives her a new life direction.

Jesus knew that the religious people were also slaves to their own sinful desires, even though they looked religious outwardly. As he was preaching the word of God, many of them opened their hearts and believed. After this liberating encounter. Jesus said, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” Truth is a very powerful force. It brings light where there is darkness. It brings clarity where there is confusion. It can impact an entire nation just as easily as it can impact a single individual. Truth enables us to discern and reject the lies of the enemy.  Truth demolishes arguments and pretensions that are at war with the knowledge of God.  Truth, will “take captive every thought” and make it obedient to Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:5 ).

It isn't just the truth that sets you free, it is first knowing the truth and then applying it that sets you free. The truth is original information and it is there at all times – whether or not we recognize it – but unless we know the truth, and apply it, truth itself is powerless. Jesus said to the people who believed in him,"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."To enjoy real freedom we must :( a) Believe that Jesus is the son of God and savior. (b) Hold on to the teachings of Jesus (c) know the truth, (d) truth will set you free. – more than just a student who learns about His teachings, but a follower who emulates Him in all that you do In verse 34, Jesus tells us "everyone who sins is a slave to sin" so, if you are a slave, then you are not free. In verse 36 He says that if he sets you free, then you will be free indeed.

Our freedom therefore requires that if we believe that Jesus is our savior, and hold to His teachings in all things, then His truth will set us free. It is not enough to receive God's truth - we must retain and walk in it. And it is only when we receive the truth, love it, keeps it, and walks in it, and then we are the genuine Disciples of Christ. The service of God is freedom from degrading vices and carnal propensities; from the slavery of passion and inordinate desires. It is a cheerful and delightful surrender of ourselves to Jesus whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. No man is truly free, but he in whose heart the power of sin is destroyed, and who has received the Spirit of adoption, through which he cries, Abba! Father!”Romans 8:15 says “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The bondage of sin is the most grievous bondage; and freedom from its guilt and influence is the greatest liberty.

Theologically, Real freedom is the ability to function the way God designed us to function. This is the reason why freedom and truth are so intertwined; we need to know what our purpose and design are before we can exercise the freedom to fulfill our mission on earth. That is also true of things we ourselves make. A meticulously manufactured car is a marvel on the road, is completely useless in the water. Similarly, we function at our best when our lives measure up to our creator’s prerequisite.

Anyone with a bit of knowledge, and any experience at all with today’s world, is aware of the fact that the people of today is facing a time of great crisis. Fundamental reason is that Basic truth has been thrown to the wind. God said in Hosea chapter 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being my priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”  Why are things in such a state of chaos? One of the reasons is ignorance of God’s truth. There probably has not been a time in this century when Bible truths even among the Believers have ruined to such a base level. Let us be more precise. We suffer a leadership crisis. Where are the godly leaders who know the Bible from “cover to cover”? You probably heard the old story about the judge who couldn’t find a Bible in his courtroom with which to swear in a witness; so he simply called for a Christian man and had the witness place his hand upon the brother’s head. The days are gone when God’s people were known as a “Bible-toting, Bible-quoting “or people living in submission to God’s word. Many members of the church never carry a Bible to worship, and they could not cite scriptural references on the most fundamental of doctrinal issues.

The majority of churches are not the solid Bible teaching centers, a few they used to be. The time was when the leaders and pastors of our churches were great Bible teachers who knew how to powerfully proclaim the truth. They were rich in Bible knowledge. The Bible teaching seminar and convention that we have seen in recent decades is sadly feeble. It is hard to find serious and deep Bible teaching that is spirit filled, strong in doctrine and life changing. The current professional and lively seminars are filled with case-study/story telling- scenarios and role-playing exercises that rely more on human wisdom than a respect for the authority of God’s Word. The supreme concern within God's heart in giving us the Bible has been, through the centuries that we might understand what goes on in the human spirit, affecting everything we do. He has deliberately made the physical to correspond to the spiritual in such a way as to illustrate to us what is going on within.
One of the keys to triumphant Christian life is a persistent and continual pursuit of scriptural truth for freedom in the Spirit. Passion for precepts will drives everyone to extend and expose to new initiatives and create a new spiritual environment. The desire to keep growing in knowledge of god will inspire us to stretch beyond our fears and self-imposed boundaries. God’s Truth are essential in real, lasting, life-changing experience and genuine freedom.

There are two kinds of knowledge. These are the head knowledge and the revelation knowledge of Jesus Christ. Head knowledge of Jesus Christ is more of intellectual assent rather than experiential encounter with the Lord. A person may know all the great doctrines of the Bible, can give beautiful insights of biblical verses, but may not actually know God or have not personally experienced God in his life. Knowledge of God and knowledge about God are two different things.

For example Paul’s experience with the Lord is revelation knowledge. One of the distinguishing marks that a person's experience with the Lord is revelation knowledge is the revolutionary transformation of such person and that is exactly what happened to Paul. Prior to his conversion Paul was a very different person and pursuing an entirely different direction in life. Formerly he was the persecutor of the Church of Jesus Christ. He was a violent man, a persecutor. .He did everything to oppose the followers of Jesus Christ. He was extremely fanatical for his religion. He had been a member of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of their religion. He is also filled with head knowledge about God, but he was alienated from the life of God. A person could be filled with so much theology, doctrine but still very much alienated from God. He thought he was living inside the will of God but actually outside of it.

But when the Lord Jesus was revealed to him the truth, one day while he was on a mission to Damascus, a dramatic transformation happened to his life. There is a radical revolution that happened to him, and the course of his life was totally altered. The Faith that he once tried hard to destroy became now the one he bravely proclaimed and he even risked his life for this faith. He became a radical preacher of the gospel.  To achieve a Freedom in one's life, the “Truth” (CHRIST) must first be revealed to that person. We should never settle for anything less, we must crave for the revelation of the Son of God in our life.  Paul said “But I make known to you brethren that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ."

Without exception, Deceptive knowledge elevates the self and lowers God. It always, no matter how seemingly sincere and objective and scholarly, caters to human self–will, pride, fleshly inclinations, and independence. Those are the basic characteristics of the unredeemed, and they always direct and determine the unredeemed thinking, desires, and conclusions. The reason people love complex, elaborate philosophies and religions is because these appeal to human ego. They offer the challenge of understanding and doing something complex and difficult. For the same reason some people scoff at the gospel. It calls on them to do nothing—it allows them to do nothing—but accept in simple faith what God has done. The cross crushes human sin and crushes human pride. It also offers deliverance from sin and deliverance from pride.

Becoming a Christian does not give us all the answers to everything—certainly not in the areas of science, electronics, math, or any other field of strictly human learning. Many nonbelievers are more educated, brilliant, talented, and experienced than many believers. If we want our car fixed we go to the best mechanic we can find, even if he is not a Christian. If we need an operation we go to the best surgeon. If we want to get an education we try to go the school that has the best faculty in the field in which we want to study. As long as they are used properly and wisely, medicine and technology and science and all such fields of human learning and achievement can be of great value. Christians should thank God for them.

But if we want answers to what life is about—answers about origin, purpose, meaning, relevance, morals  and destiny where we came from, where we are going, and why we are here, about what is right and what is wrong—then human learning cannot help us. If we want to know the ultimate meaning and purpose of human life, and the source of freedom, happiness, joy, fulfillment, and peace, we have to look beyond what even the best human minds can discover. Human attempts to find such answers apart from God’s revelation are doomed to fail. Jesus said in Luke 16:15 “And he said to them, You are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knows your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”

The above Scripture is followed by the literal account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).  The Bible contrasts the extravagant and pleasurable life of a rich man verses the sorrowful existence of a poor beggar named Lazarus.  In the end, the Bible tells us that the rich man went straight to Hell to be tormented in flames; but Lazarus was escorted by angels into Abraham's Bosom (i.e., Paradise).  There is not a clearer passage of Scripture in the Word of God, testifying to the vanity of earthly fame and fortune.  The rich man had it all―wealth, health, power, security, friends, and the respect of his peers; BUT, he didn’t have Jesus.  In sharp contrast, Lazarus had nothing except Jesus.  He was sick and the Bible says that dogs came and licked his wounds.  Lazarus ate from the rich man's garbage, whatever he could scrape together.  The Bible tells us that the rich man was consumed in his mind concerning building bigger storage barns for his grain, and laying up massive wealth for his old age; BUT, his retirement never came because God ended his life.  The selfish rich man never gave thought to helping Lazarus in any way, nor did he think about God or the eternal destiny of his soul. 

The world measures greatness by many standards. At the top are intelligence, wealth, prestige, and position—things which God has determined to put at the bottom? - "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.” God reveals the greatness of His power by demonstrating that it is the world’s nobodies that are His somebody. According to Jesus, the greatest man who ever lived, was John the Baptist. He had no university education, no money, no military rank, no political influence, no social position, no prestige, no impressive appearance or oratory. Yet Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11). This man fit none of the world’s standards but all of God’s. And what he became was all to the credit of God’s power. Why Because John was A BURNING WITNESS TO THE LIGHT-John 1:6-8-There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. Jesus Said He Was Born to Bear Witness to the Truth "You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. (John 5:33)  Jesus also said "For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice."John 18:37

Knowledge of Divine truth is the fundamental factor of all meaningful relationships. Truth means is love and justice in action -- the action of selflessness, of esteeming others above ourselves. All interpersonal problems could be solved with a faithful, mutual expression of divine love. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone acted in truth and love. No war. No divorce. No evil, No AIDS. No murder. No rape. No tears. No sin. We want to be appreciated, loved, treated with dignity, and esteemed. This, then, is the way we ought to treat others. The double benefit is that when we treat others that way, they begin to treat us the same and our relationships are characterized by God’s truth, divine love, transparency, trustworthiness, respect and faith.

The more you know the truth of God the more powerful you are to change your world. There is no excuse for not being the best you possible. Now is the time to change your life, regain the power you have given away because you are waiting for someone else to fix things for you, and get what you know you deserve. So what are you waiting for? Truth is liberty in many ways. It has the power to eradicate ignorance, sin; poverty, bondage and make individuals become free indeed.

Bible is God’s liberating power of Divine Truth. THIS BOOK contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword and the Christian's charter. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object; our good is its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened in the judgment, and will be remembered forever. This why ““Jesus said to the people who believed in him, "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

God Bless you.

+ Bishop Lalachan M A