Christ’s Kingdom of Truth
What is Truth?
“What is truth?” Pontius Pilate’s infamous question to Jesus during his trial seems sarcastic, maybe even cynical. Was he asking to find ultimate truth? No, probably not. But it’s a legitimate question—what is truth? Is it real, or just an illusory concept? Are there really absolutes as opposed to just ideas? And what is Christ’s kingdom of truth?
When Jesus was being interrogated by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, he told him about his kingdom:
“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. (John 18:36-38)
Just before, Jesus entered Jerusalem and presented himself to the Jewish nation as God’s Messiah, his humble king. He now found himself describing his kingdom to a godless Roman ruler. Jesus was explaining to Pilate that those who know and love the truth will recognize his words and teaching as being true. As a Roman governor, Pilate knew the difference between guilty and not guilty. In his heart he knew Jesus was not guilty. He also knew the difference between true and false, but truth as a concept wasn’t important to him. Because of his weakness, he ultimately gave in to pressure from the religious leaders and had the King of truth executed.
Christ’s kingdom of Truth
Did Jesus’ death end his kingdom of truth? No, it ushered his kingdom in.
Jesus claimed that his kingdom was one of truth. This means that those that live in Christ’s kingdom live under his rule and teaching, which is characterized by truth. God is the ultimate source of truth, and as the Messiah, Jesus came to restore God’s rule over humanity. So, Christ’s kingdom consists of those who are on the side of truth, those who listen to his words, submit to his teaching, and put it into practice.
We all understand the difference between the truth and a lie. But there are truths that are deeper than just something that is true or false. When something is a universal truth, we say it is timeless, ancient, and enduring. It’s true for everyone. And knowledge of this kind of truth begins with God.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)
Christ the truth of God
Jesus himself came from God and revealed God’s grace and truth to us:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
John calls Christ the Word, which means he is the full expression of God’s mind and innermost thoughts. Jesus confirmed that he came into the world to bear witness to the truth. In fact, he is the ultimate truth, the eternal truth of God that transcends the physical world. Jesus told his disciples:
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
Christ is not only the source of truth, but the embodiment of the truth of God, the visible revelation of the invisible God. Through Christ we know not just truths about God, but God himself.
Principles of the Kingdom
Christ’s kingdom is based on the truth. But in his kingdom, truth is never alone by itself, but is combined with justice, mercy, grace, and love. Many of these kingdom principles are found in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10) where Jesus declares:
Blessed [happy] are:
… the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
… those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
… the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
… those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
… the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
… the pure in heart, for they will see God.
… the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
… those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Truth by itself, when it concerns people, can be harsh, demeaning, or damaging. It must be combined with love to be God’s truth. Much of the information from the world or the media that may be true is raw truth without love, given with the intent of tearing down people. Christians are to live in the truth and speak truth to one another in love.
… speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. (Ephesians 4:15)
In Christ’s kingdom, truth and love form a perfect union. In the church, this is expressed through word gifts (preaching and teaching God’s truths), and deed gifts (serving others in love). Though each of us have our own gifts and abilities, we are to practice both. Jesus himself had both, as he was “powerful in word and deed before God and all the people” (Luke 24:19).
We don’t make our own reality
Relativism is making a great comeback today. This is the belief that there are no moral absolutes, and that each individual, not God, determines right and wrong for themselves. Many relativists believe that truth is also relative, that each person makes their own reality. Young people today generally believe that there are no moral absolutes.
People many times believe something because they want it to be true. The belief that “we are what we think we are” is popular, but misguided, and frequently very tragic:
- A young man who believes he’s invincible and can take drugs to excess, but ends up addicted, ruining his health and his life.
- A young boy who thinks (or is told by others) he’s a girl and has irreversible surgery that negatively affects him for the rest of his life.
- A person who believes they are worthless, and ends up hurting or even killing themselves, when in fact they are valuable and loved by God.
The day of judgment
Projecting our own desires and wishes on the real world is deceiving and tragic. What we believe determines how we live, how we see ourselves, and how we see others. But it doesn’t determine who we really are. We don’t make our own reality. God wants us to live in the real world, not a world created by our own fantasies and desires.
The greatest tragedy is when people believe themselves to be good, but never see their own sinfulness. On the final day of judgment, they will make that false claim before Christ the judge, but he will say to them:
I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:23)
The day of judgment will expose whether we lived our lives in the truth, or in deception. And those who perish on that day will only perish because of the path they themselves took:
They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
Those who live in the truth find their home in the light.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. (1 John 1:5-6)
Lying is intentionally giving misinformation. It shouldn’t have any place in our lives. When Jesus was confronting the Pharisees and other critics, he told them:
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
Lying is one of the devil’s most effective tools. He inspires it, as it’s his nature, and it characterizes those who belong to his kingdom.
The use of lies to gain power
It’s a fact that people quickly lose confidence in someone after they have lied or exaggerated. This explains why confidence in journalism is at an all-time low. For centuries, politicians have used misinformation to discredit or impugn their political opponents to win an election, or to deceive people to gain or to maintain power. Despots and totalitarian regimes use lies and misinformation to control the masses. The Nazi’s became masters of the use of propaganda to sway their people.
“A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.” (Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Propaganda Minister for Adolf Hitler)
Lies are easy to propagate and can get traction quickly before the truth comes out. When the media are closely linked to those in power, people live under a cloud of propaganda, and truth becomes difficult to discern.
People frequently ask: Why do people hold to such differing views, especially on politics and religion? It’s because we receive information from different sources. When someone receives information on a topic, their first source leaves an impression on their mind. If they listen to that source often, they likely regard it as true and reliable. After they hear that viewpoint a number of times, their mind becomes impressed, and they begin to disregard other sources.
Beliefs are further cemented in our minds as we associate with others who think the same way. Once someone becomes attached to a belief, they may start to identify with people who hold to that view. Truth becomes secondary. In the political realm, this is called “identity politics.”
People who become thoroughly entrenched can be irrational and hateful in their support for their causes. Many today are in favor of suppressing discussion and differing opinions. They have no desire to rationally discuss issues. They only want to silence those holding to opposing views. This results in a “cancel culture” which shuts down any opinion that differs from the popular view. This should never occur in God’s people or his church.
This polarization of society indicates an overall decline in love for the truth and sadly for other people. Loss of love for the truth has so many negative effects on society. Corruption and dishonesty spreads to every institution: marriage, schools, government, journalism, and the church.
Loving the truth
We need to believe and love the truth for the sake of the truth, and not what is convenient or personally profitable. The truth is still the truth, regardless of how many people believe or don’t believe it. We shouldn’t be afraid of the truth, whether in Scripture, politics, history, or science. Since we all have bias from our own culture and worldview, it takes effort to consistently think about and seek the truth and not just accept what we’ve grown up with.
A person who loves God also loves his truth. They rejoice in it and find it comforting. It provides light to their path, especially in dark and difficult times. Loving the truth also promotes loving our neighbor, as we seek the best for others:
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:6-7)
Christians should promote the truth in love. And like Jesus before Pilate, we should unashamedly confess it and defend it, regardless of how the world treats us.
Those who belong to Christ’s kingdom need to progress in their understanding of the truth. We must consume God’s Word and become a student of it. His Word is truth—it’s pure, holy, and trustworthy, a reliable source for us to base our lives on. But one must read and study it to understand and obey it.
The kingdom of darkness
But those who reject God’s truth are susceptible to deception. And the enemy of our souls knows how to use falsehood to deceive.
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10)
Satan’s kingdom of darkness is characterized by deception. This goes way beyond just lies. It’s a system of falsehood and deception in which people live in an illusory world without God, without purpose, and without hope. And it’s the default system without God.
Ancient media bias
Credible accounts asserted that Roman Emperor Nero (54-68 AD) set fire to Rome so that he could rebuild a spacious palace for himself. When rumors circulated that he was the one who had the fire set, he blamed the Christians, and had them executed. Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus penned the following account:
Consequently, to get rid of the report [that he himself set the fire], Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus [Christ], from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome….
Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination … (Tacitus, Annals 15:44)
The persecution of Christians under Nero was one of the most cruel and demonic in all of history. Tacitus was a great and well-known Roman historian. Yet in his accounts he referred to the Christians as criminals, enemies of mankind. This was the official Roman position, and the belief accepted by the majority at that time.
Christ’s truth will triumph
But the truth will prove them wrong. The Christian account of the death and resurrection of Christ has withstood centuries. Today, almost 2000 years later, millions believe the gospel and anchor their lives to it. And all believers—those who died in the Roman persecution as well as believers today—will not perish but will inherit an eternal reward and live forever in Christ’s kingdom of truth.
The day is coming when Christ will completely destroy all falsehood and the kingdom of darkness ruled by the devil. People who refuse to love the truth will also perish, both soul and body. My sincere hope is that you are not one of those people. Jesus himself gave this promise to us:
If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:31-32)
If we believe his Word and continue in it, we will find true freedom: from darkness, condemnation, deception, and sin—a treasure worth far more than any earthly riches.
Do you desire to know the ultimate truth? Jesus Christ is the King of truth, the source of all spiritual wisdom and knowledge. His kingdom is a kingdom of truth. But to enter, we must trust his Word and believe in him. Trust in him today and know the truth of God for yourself.
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