by Mike Ratliff
They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:5-6 ESV)
A few years ago I had a fellow with whom I work, when he found out that I was a Christian, demand that I listen to his “reasoning” why “everything is relative.” I told him I would listen to him if he could refute the following statement, “Aren’t you making an ‘absolute statement’ when you say, ‘there are no absolutes’?” He chuckled nervously and left my cubicle. I still pray that God will save him. My brethren, the scourge of relativism is a blight within the visible Church. It causes people to flee from the absolute. When truth is seen as relative then in what or whom can anyone have faith and trust? Do we read the words of our Lord in Sacred Scripture ever saying, “Well, it depends?”
So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. (John 18:33-38 ESV)
This is, of course, the Apostle John’s version of the trial of our Lord before Pilate. Pilate asks our Lord if He is a king. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world-to bear witness to the truth.” Notice how our Lord ties His Kingship or Lordship to His bearing witness to the truth. The Greek word translated as “bear witness to” is “μαρτυρέω” or “martureō.” It means to be a witness or testify. Our Lord’s purpose was to testify to what? It is the truth. This Greek word is “ἀλήθεια” or “alētheia.” This word denotes the reality clearly lying before our eyes as opposite to a mere appearance, without reality. It is used in the New Testament as truth as opposite to falsehood, error or insincerity. When our Lord told Pilate a few sentences earlier that His kingdom is not of this world…” He was explaining the truth to him.
Jesus’ Kingdom is not in any way connected to the world system. This system is in rebellion against God. What do Kings in this world system do when their kingdoms are threatened? They fight! However, our Lord’s Kingdom does not originate by the efforts of people, but with the Son of Man forcefully and decisively conquering sin in the lives of those who are of the truth and listen to His voice. Our Lord’s Kingdom was no threat to Rome or any other earthly kingdom at that time. Oh yes, He will end all those Kingdoms when He returns, but while He was on trial by Pilate He was no threat to him or Rome.
He then tells Pilate that everyone who is of the “ἀλήθεια” listens to His voice. The Greek word for listens in this verse is “ἀκούω” or “akouō.” It means to hear and understand. In this passage, this verb is in present tense, indicative mood, and active voice. This means that the hearing and listening to Jesus’ voice is taking place as He was speaking. What does it mean that those who are hearing Jesus voice are of the “ἀλήθεια?” These are the ones the Father had given to Him. In John 10:1-5 our Lord had taught on Him being the Good Shepherd.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:1-5 ESV)
Here we have the same word for hear, “ἀκούω,” in the same grammatical structure. Those sheep who belong to the Good Shepherd are hearing His voice right now.
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:37-40 ESV)
Those of the truth who hear our Lord’s voice “will come to Him.” All who come to our Lord are His forever. He will lose none of them because He is the Good Shepherd. All who belong to Him, He will raise up on the last day.
What is truth? Pilate asked this rhetorical question sarcastically. Jesus told him the truth, but since he was not “of the truth” he did not hear it. If you are in Christ then you are of the truth and you have heard our Lord’s voice and are hearing it right now. The Holy Spirit is bearing witness with your spirit right now. You are held firm in His hands. He will lose none the Father gives Him. This is the truth.
Soli Deo Gloria!