When propositional truth becomes personal truth, it's important, powerful

by Kyle
published June 21, 2014


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What is truth?

The question was not sincere. It was sarcastic, proffered by a frustrated bureaucrat stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Pilate, stuck between the decision to risk a rebellion or execute an innocent man, completely ignores the opportunity standing in front of him. John 18:38 says immediately after his sarcastic question, Pilate left the room without even sticking around to hear the answer.

Do you care about the answer?

Truth, in one sense, is simply a statement whose meaning reflects reality. It is congruent with objective facts. If asked to tell the truth, you would be expected to make such a statement.

We call this propositional truth. It proposes something, and it only reflects how things are. It is not reality itself. It is possible to be wrong about it. We might perceive reality differently, and thus make different statements about it.

On the one hand, part of Jesus’ job on earth was to make the most reliable truth claims ever. Pilate’s sarcastic remark was in response to Jesus’ claim that he had come to “bear witness to the truth,” John 18:37.

Simply knowing this truth doesn’t mean a hill of beans, however. I firmly believe that there will be people in hell who know that Jesus died for their sins as a matter of propositional truth. I was almost one of them. At the very least, we know the demons know the gospel, and it doesn’t do them a lick of good (see James 2:19). Knowing it as a fact cannot save you.

That’s because propositional truth, though important, is weak. Not only did Jesus come to testify to the truth, but he is, in himself, the truth. He is the God who named himself, “I Am.” There is nothing that is that exists apart from him. He is the ultimate reality. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” John 14:6. When we approach Jesus as a person and as God rather than as an historical fact, propositional truth becomes personal truth, and that kind of truth is not only important, but powerful. It’s at least powerful enough to save you.

So how do you know Jesus? Is he an historical fact? Someone you know for sure lived?

Or is he at the core of who you are? Is he the source of who you are? Is he someone you know for sure lives?

A poor, outcast Samaritan woman asked Jesus a similar question by a well in John 4. If Pilate had stuck around for an answer, I believe Jesus would have told the proud, confused and desperate governor the same thing he told that humble, confused and desperate woman. What is truth? Jesus says, “I am.”

What do you think?

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