The Gospel Truth

Septuagenarians remember exactly where they were when they heard the news; JFK had been assassinated and with him the country’s Camelot empire. Quadragenerians remember where they were when they heard the verdict of “The Trial of the Century” and with it the questioning of our country’s criminal justice system. The lone gunman theory gave way to “if the glove don’t fit, you must acquit.” Both events damaged our national psyche and laid predicate to the adversarial atmosphere we now endure. Although John F. Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby and OJ Simpson have left for other pastures, their legacies remain and haunt us in many ways; the concept of “truth” is now a personal item… my “truth”, your “truth, their “truth”…they are all true.


The whole truth

A long, long time ago, while I was still playing “cops and robbers” for the feds, I became involved in an intricate drug case which involved dozens of major players from throughout the world. Many pled guilty both here and abroad, but some of the leaders decided to go to trial. I was assigned as case agent in one of these legal procedures, which meant close daily coordination with the Assistant U.S. Attorneys as well sitting with them throughout the trial as part of the prosecutorial team. In due time, I was called to testify, and the clerk dutifully read me the oath as I lifted my right hand…”Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” I had responded to this question dozens of times during my career, yet on this particular day it sounded invalid. What is the difference between the truth and the whole truth? What does “nothing but the truth” really mean?

Now, my approach to being part of the prosecutorial team was a tad different than most. I truly was not interested in the verdict; my job was to investigate and present…period. It was up to the jury to do their job. Which meant that I testified specifically to what I really knew, no shortcuts, no embellishments. Once the jury began deliberations, I left the courthouse and went home, much to the chagrin of the prosecutors. They wanted me around to await the verdict…sorry, not my job! So when the clerk asked me the question, my first reaction was not to answer “I do,” but rather to inquire if she had been in the courtroom with us all these days? Couldn’t she tell that a good portion of the witnesses that took that same oath couldn’t tell the truth if their lives depended on it? And she wanted me to tell “the truth?” I took very few things seriously at that juncture in my life, but testifying as to only what I knew to be true was one of my few attributes. 


Perception is reality

truthAt the turn of the century, I was invited to address a criminal justice convention in San Diego, California. Arriving early for my presentation, I was able to witness the remarks from the speaker slated before me. His presentation was entitled “Perception is Reality,” and as a successful attorney he began to unravel his theory about perception being the driving force behind most legal proceedings. He mentioned that “my truth” was a non-negotiable personal opinion; thus, people may contradict your opinion but not your “truth.” Many years have passed since then, but my basic take from the speech was that we should not only respect differing opinions, but we should disdain from challenging them for fear of disrespecting or hurting the individual. When my turn came to face the audience, I discarded my original planned remarks and spent the first few minutes discussing how could humans achieve any growth if they got stuck in “their truth.”


Relativism or truth

Today’s balancing act, it seems to me, is the juxtaposing of absolute relativism with absolute truth. Relativism is absolute because it rules every principle. However, the measuring stick should be how it stands relative to God’s truth. We as humans can never achieve total truth, yet EVERYTHING about Him is true, for He represents absolute truth. Christ himself reminded us in the Gospel according to John that “He is the way, the truth and the life and that NO ONE comes to the Father except through Him.” It is nothing novel to reject the truth of God. As Jesus stood before Pilate, Our Redeemer told him, “For this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” The Roman prefect responded for himself and for every non-believer by asking the Messiah, “What is truth?”



Moreover, given our sinful nature and the consequences of truthful behavior, we find ourselves surrounded by half-truths, not sure which half to believe. Half-truths avoid what is actually meant and live in technicalities and portions of truth. Our spiritual enemy is named “the deceiver” for a very good reason, and his repertoire is filled with these incomplete “facts.” Satan approached Eve in Eden and enticed her to eat the fruit by telling her that “God knows that the day you eat it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The devil concocted a cocktail with a hint of truth and lots of sinful ingredients, for although her eyes were opened, her experience of knowing good from evil would be far removed from that of her Maker. The tempter is not only the father of lies but the grandfather of half-truths.


John 4:24 tells us to “worship God in spirit and truth,” which is hard to accomplish utilizing only partial veracity. If we are to serve Our Lord faithfully, we must adhere to all His Word, not only those portions of Scripture that comport to our worldview. Federal investigators charged with the responsibility of investigating counterfeit currency must first become experts in identifying the marks of legal notes. By thoroughly knowing what real bills look like, they can easily identify the bogus ones. By immersing ourselves in Scripture reading, supplication and prayer, we are much more prone to understanding God’s truth and thus identifying when we are confronted with forgery. Thus, all we need to take to the bank is that He is the way and the truth…a lifetime investment that leads to everlasting life.

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