no neutral ground

Where do you find truth? Truth matters. It’s the foundation to how you live. Why? What you believe is what you do.

It’s important to understand the difference between Grace and Truth.  Grace is God’s gift to us to wipe our slate clean.  So no matter what we have done, what we are doing, God’s grace is there to heal us.  We will talk about this later on.  Truth is from God to help us live our lives.  His truth leads us away from everything that will damage us, including ourselves.  So as a church, we always talk about God’s grace because that is the foundation of God, His love.  Today we talk about truth because truth leads us into lives that are whole and healed.

I was road biking last year with a group of guys. As we were starting the ride, one guy asked me a question for everyone to hear. Now, before I tell you his question, his family attends a church in another town and everyone in the group knows I’m a pastor. He asked, “So Ken, what do you think about homosexuality?” He went on to explain that at his church, the female pastor, at the church picnic, came out as a lesbian and it has wounded a lot of people in the church.

My answer to him was very simple. I said that my opinion on that subject really doesn’t matter much. I said that he should care more about what scripture says. I love that because to me, truth is in scripture. When you read scripture you read about God’s love and grace and the boundaries God put into place when He created us.

Why would I answer the question like that? Because there is a battle for truth in our culture and churches. Truth matters. Truth is a foundation to our lives. Truth determines how we live. What most people do in our culture and churches is backwards. We look at a subject or a moral/ethical issue and share our opinions on what we feel about it. What people don’t normally do is read scripture and make decisions based on what scripture says. Why do we get this backwards? Because it’s easier to hear what people think, go with the flow and confront no one. I also believe, we don’t believe that scripture is our source of truth. We believe that truth is discovered in our feelings.

So my question for you, for us, is: where do you find truth? Why do you believe what you believe? Is truth found in God or is truth found in your feelings?

God says, I am truth. When He walked on this earth in the form of Jesus, He said the following:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ” NIV John 14:6-7

So as disciples of Christ, we base our truth on the words of Jesus recorded in scripture. We believe God. We believe He is the only way to God. We believe that He is truth and the bible is the foundation of understanding truth.

For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are. 13 Nothing in all creation can hide from him. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes. This is the God to whom we must explain all that we have done. NLT Hebrews 4:12-13

So as a disciple of Christ, we want to know what God thinks by reading the bible. Why? It is our source of truth. It determines how we live.

Now, this can make us feel uncomfortable. Why? Because reading scripture exposes our rebellion to God. It reveals that we think differently than how God thinks. It shows us how we need to change. The point is we have to change to get on His page and live out God’s truth. That process of change, we call; discipleship.

Example. I’m married. Now and then, my wife and I disagree. And in those moments, she doesn’t understand how right I am and how wrong she is – Ha. I can walk away very angry. Then I read scripture.

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church – a love marked by giving, not getting. MSG Ephesians 5:25-26

I hate that verse. It’s good for weddings but in real life, it confronts my attitude, my heart and my actions. That’s what scripture does. It exposes my selfish my godless ways of living. Scripture can offend you. And it should, if you are not walking in the ways of God.

When I invite God into my life and make changes, we call that discipleship or walking with God. Let’s read what happens when we walk with God.

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, 23 not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. MSG Galatians 5:22-23

Here is the bottom line: When we believe God is truth, we change and God places strength in our lives.

Where does our culture find truth? The world we live in, and many people who attend church, believe, ‘Truth is inside us all. Paul says this about that way of living.

What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. 22 They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. 23 They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand. MSG Romans 1:21-23

Our culture is busy taking God out of every decision we make. As a culture, we think we are pretty brilliant and anyone who would need God is childish. As a result, when we remove God from our lives, how do we decide what is truth? Simple. We base truth on our feelings and what other people feel. Think about this. If you remove God from life you also remove sin. Instead of confronting sin, confessing sin, repenting from sin, our culture embraces sin and celebrates it. And, we kinda like it, it’s nice. Everyone gets along. We like it because we don’t have to change. As a disciple of Jesus, we call that; rebellion. I know what God says, I know I feel, I’m going to base my life on my feelings.

Example. Think about this. This impacts every area of your life. How do you handle sexual issues in your life? Do you live together? Do you have sex before marriage? Is pursing a same sex relationship holy?

How do you handle money issues in your life? Is your money yours? Is it God’s? Do you go into debt to get things you want? Do you manage it to provide for your family, retirement and the advancement of God’s kingdom?

How do you handle stress and worry in your life? Does your faith in God lead you to be relaxed? Do you continue to live a busted up, stressed out, burned out life?

Truth matters. In those issues, do you search out scripture for truth to change or do you take opinion polls?

When we believe that we have truth in us and don’t have to change, there are ramifications. This way of living, ‘Truth is in my feelings so I will get my way all the time,’ is explained in scripture.

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; 20 trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; 21 the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. MSG Galatians 5:19-21

There is a battle in our culture and in our churches. That battle is over truth. If we believe God is truth, we walk with God by reading scripture and we change. The result, God plants strength in our lives.

If we believe we are truth, we avoid scripture and we don’t change. The result, we are selfish and life falls apart.

Where do you find truth?

Today, I want to share with you the first and greatest truth. We couldn’t start this year in a better way. This truth is available to everyone. It’s free. It can transform your life. When this truth transforms your heart it changes how you deal with God and everyone in your life. And, most people I know struggle to remember this truth every day. Here it is: We are incapable of being the people we want to be, so God did it for us. It’s called grace.

The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. 23 Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, 24 God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. MSG Romans 3:22-24

That means we are a mess. Have you ever come to a point in your life where you think, ‘I can’t do this anymore’ or ‘I just don’t add up’ or ‘I can’t be who I want to be’? That’s what scripture is saying. We are a mess. We can’t do it. We don’t add up. We can’t be who we want to be. Here is the first and greatest truth: so God did it for us. It’s called grace.