When the man of the five senses talks of truth, he regards it but as a predicate of something historical or scientific proved a fact; or, if he allows that, for all he knows, there may be higher truth, yet, as he cannot obtain proof of it from without, he acts as if under no conceivable obligation to seek any other satisfaction concerning it. Whatever appeal be made to the highest region of his nature, such a one behaves as if it were the part of a wise man to pay it no heed, because it does not come within the scope of the lower powers of that nature. According to the word of the man, however, truth means more than fact, more than relation of facts of persons, more than loftiest abstraction of metaphysical entity—it means being and life, will and action; for he says, “I am the truth.” I desire to help those whom I may to understand more of what is meant by the truth, not for the sake of definition, or logical discrimination, but that, when they hear the word from the mouth of the Lord, the right idea may rise in their minds; that the word may neither be to them a void sound, nor call up either a vague or false notion of what he meant by it. If he says, “I am the truth,” it must, to say the least, be well to know what he means by the word with whose idea he identifies himself. And at once we may premise that he can mean nothing merely intellectual, such as may be set forth and left there; he means something vital, so vital that it includes everything else which, in any lower plane, may go or have gone by the same name. Let us endeavor to arrive at his meaning by a gently ascending stair.
by Dave Roney
The Ultimate Truth...
"I am the truth" (John 14:6)
How many times has the truth as known by the empirical process of the sciences required revisions, if not alterations then outright abandonment in light of newer, better, knowledge? There is no truth that men find which is ultimate, nor can man trust in it fully, for he never knows when the foundations of what he believes to be true will be ripped from under him and supplanted by a newer, greater, truth. Perhaps the most basic and widely believed physical “law” is that of gravity; but a law of any kind is a universal, and to prove it absolutely true, a law must be tested in every conceivable situation with the exact same results; but to prove the law of gravity would, then, require that we test it everywhere in the cosmos and do so in the past, the present, and the future; this impossible test would need to produce the exact same results in every place for all of time. And we have no guarantee that gravity has, or does, or will, work in precisely the same manner uniformly throughout the universe; there may be a galaxy where gravity works entirely differently from what we have come to know. Therefore, even though the probability would suggest a “law,” we can only consider the law of gravity as a hypothesis or perhaps a theory at best due to our inability for universal testing.
Every truth in the realm of men is subject to this same problem of ultimate proof because “for all he knows, there may be a higher truth, yet, as he cannot obtain proof of it.” And the conjunction “yet” in this sentence means “up to this time,” or, “based upon what we've been able to determine up to this point.” MacDonald says “When the man of the five senses talks of truth, he regards it but as a predicate...” and thus the “truth” of men is always an extrinsic evaluation of a subject; a thing said, a thing done, but is never the thing itself. Now note an entirely new thing is said by our Lord in the above passage; for He does not here say “I speak the truth,” or, “I speak of the truth” as would any other man, but declares “I am the truth.” If He speaks the truth it is a predicate; if He is the truth, it is Him as the subject; more, it is Him as both predicate and subject. Romans 11:36 can be stated in another way, to read “All truth is from Him, and all truth is through Him, and all truth is to Him: To Him be the glory forever!” This is no trifling with the Scripture, for the verse reads “All things,” and certainly the Truth must be included in the “all things;” more, because all truth is from, through, and to Him, He is then the very embodiment of truth; Thus He rightly declares “I AM the Truth!”
“According to the word of the Man [i.e. Christ Jesus], however, truth means more than a fact, more than the relation of facts of persons, more than the loftiest abstraction of metaphysical entity—it means Being and Life, Will and Action; for He says 'I am THE truth'.”
In the above I said that Jesus is not the predicate of truth, nor only the subject, but that He is both predicate and subject; but how so? He is Truth, as subject; but the truth in Jesus is that He ever and always pointed men to His Father and theirs by His example, obedience, and command, and so also is become also the great Predicate; for the predicate always points to the subject and describes it. And this relationship with the Father shows both aspects of the truth in Jesus: As to Predicate, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38) and “I have not spoken on My own, but the Father who sent Me has commanded Me what to say and how to say it;” and as to Subject, “I and My Father are One” (John 10:30). The truth of Jesus is, then, the Father's truth to which He bears witness, and it is also He Himself, grand Predicate and Subject in One.
“If He says 'I am the truth,' it must, to say the least, be well to know what He means by the word with whose idea He identifies Himself. And at once we may premise that He can mean nothing merely intellectual, such as may be set forth and left there; He means something vital, so vital that it includes everything else which, in any lower plane, may go or have gone by the same name.”
When men speak of truth, or speak the truth, it is always with reference to and concerning some fact, and as a fact is then of an intellectual nature. But when our Lord speaks truth, and He speaks only truth because He is Truth personified, it is always of something richer, deeper, more profound; the Truth of Jesus is “vital” because it is Life itself which He both speaks and does, and which He is, and is no mere academic enterprise. The old question recurs: How have we learned Christ?
There are those, many in fact, who are content with what they assume to know of The Truth, and in whose minds have a clear blueprint of the truth drawn by specific interpretations of certain passages of Scripture (as though the ultimate Truth could be bowed down to such interpretations—as those who would understand the Savior in light of Scripture rather than understand Scripture in light of the Man), who are not willing to go beyond the confining walls of staid theology, of doctrines long taught and believed without question, who are quick to the defense of their gospel, which is no gospel but a fetter strangling the imagination and stunting growth: But to those willing, of open mind, this claim:
“I desire to help those whom I may to understand more of what is meant by the truth, not for the sake of definition, or logical discrimination, but that, when they hear the word from the mouth of the Lord, the right idea may rise in their minds; that the word may neither be to them a void sound, nor call up either a vague or false notion of what He meant by it.”
Our Savior told us that man ought not to live by bread alone but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of the Father; and Jesus the Son of God is the final, absolute, perfect Word of God which has come from His mouth, i.e. His Heart, to us. The truth in Jesus includes all truth, including factual and intellectual; but the “vital” force of His truth is that first of the heart and not the mind. By the intellect we may come to know some of the truth academically, which is a dry and impotent knowing; but by the heart we can become participants in the very truth itself, the Truth of Christ, the visceral Truth of all truths, of then very Life itself. To the degree we turn our wills, our lives, and our hearts over to Christ He, His truth, shall live itself out through us in our world. It is to us the Light of men. Pray, then, faithfulness to Him Who IS Truth, and Light, and Life...