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Can We Really Claim to Know the Truth?

Written by Nate Irwin on

A few years ago, a Vision Trip team from College Park Church was driving in Dubai when we realized our vehicle was almost out of gas.

We Googled the nearest gas station and headed that direction. But just when we saw the gas station on an adjoining street, I noticed a very disconcerting sign at the intersection: “ONE WAY”

Of course, the one way was directed the wrong way… the opposite of the way we needed to go. So, our group faced a dilemma: do we just cut up the wrong way on a one-way street, as is perfectly normal in many Asian cities, or do we obey the traffic signs?

Well, we were foreigners in Dubai. We wisely knew it wasn’t a good idea to mess with the traffic police and risk being detained in the country for weeks. So, we turned away from our desperately needed destination and tried to find an alternate route to the gas station before we ran out of gas. By the grace of God, and with blood pressures rising, we did.

Is There Another Way?

We are conditioned in western societies to always think that there are alternative ways to reach any destination or goal. “Always think outside the box,” we’re taught. On top of this, in the last generation or two, our postmodern culture has ingrained an idea within us that everyone’s truth is their own and is as valid as the next person’s. There is no Truth with a capital “T”. In fact, we have moved so strongly in the direction of political correctness that it has become tasteless and even offensive to claim that you know the right way to do something or have a corner on the truth. It is seen as rude to assert that you know the truth. Such a statement implies that someone else is wrong.

As a follower of Jesus, you have probably faced this internal tension when you have thought about witnessing to others—“If I say something about Jesus or the Bible, they will think I’m an old-fashioned, religious bigot. And I’m really not. And I don’t want them to think that about me. So I’ll just keep my mouth shut and avoid creating a scene. Nothing to see here.”

Can We Really Claim to Know the Truth?

Is claiming to know the truth bigotry? It all depends on what you’re talking about. Nobody objects to claiming that 2+2=4. Similarly, diabetics take insulin on the advice of their doctors without even thinking about an alternative. Math is math, and science is science.

But what about when we consider the invisible world (if one even exists!)? God, angels, heaven, hell. What about when we consider these things that we can’t necessarily see or prove empirically? Is there one true religion? Our culture has trained us to think that in these matters, there is no absolute truth. The prevailing message is, “You’re free to believe what you want; just leave me alone to believe what I want.” A claim to know the truth about the invisible world is controversial.

For example, to claim that you, as a Christian, are right and that a Buddhist, for example, is wrong is the height of arrogance in today’s culture.

Within this turmoil of fallible human opinion, Jesus’s words in John 14:6 sound a clear call: “I am the way, and the truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me.”

Wow, that’s a mic drop moment. Did he really just say that? Did Jesus say, “I’m right” which means, by implication, “Every other idea and solution is wrong”?

Yes, if you believe the biblical record, that’s exactly what he said.

But here’s the thing. What Jesus said in John 14:6 was the exact opposite of arrogance. It was, rather, the greatest reflection of mercy. It was the most loving thing he could have said—that he not only knows the truth but that he is the Truth.

The Cure for Our Brokenness

Why is this the case? Think of it this way: A person bitten by a poisonous snake wants nothing to do with vitamins and aspirins and antibiotics. The person is dying; they only want one thing: the exact antidote for the poison in their body. This is what Jesus offers the world—the only cure for the deadly poison of sin. The cure is not self-righteousness, not philosophical mumbo jumbo, not self-proclaimed leaders. But the blood of Christ which alone can heal the disease of sin by nailing it to the Cross. Jesus, Revelation 1:5 says, has “freed us from our sins by his blood.”

Has that truth changed your life? That’s what Jesus is offering the world. He’s offering the lost, both in your world and around the world, the only cure for the sin that is killing them. Will you take it to them?  

Soon, College Park Church will gather for a two-week mission-focused event we call REACH. This year, our theme is “One Way.” We will look more closely at this astounding claim of Jesus and see why he could make such a claim. We’ll see how such a claim—to know the truth and to be the Truth—impacts our lives.

Nate Irwin

Nate joined staff at College Park in 2002 as the Pastor of Global Outreach. He is also an elder for the North Suburbs Parish. Drawing on his own experience having grown up, and then serving as a missionary in, Pakistan, Nate works to challenge, prepare, and enable cross-cultural messengers of the gospel from College Park and to cast a vision for reaching unreached people groups through strategic partners. He is passionate about “finishing the task” of making disciples of all 17,000 nations in the world.

Prior to coming on staff, Nate served with TEAM as the principal of Zarephath Bible Institute in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Nate and his wife, Marty, have three adult children and two grandchildren. He enjoys spending time with his family, travel, and sports of all kinds.

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