November 19, 2023 Faith and Truth

Faith & Truth

November 19, 2023

1 Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of God’s elect and the full knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,

    2      in the hope of eternal life, which the God who cannot lie promised from all eternity,

    3      but at the proper time manifested His word in preaching, with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,[1]


Many Bible translations have “servant of God” rather than “slave of God” at the beginning of verse 1. But the proper translation is “slave of God,” because there are two different words in the original language that ought to be translated as either slave or servant. The word is doulos, which means slave, not servant. There is a different word for servant.


The difference between servant and slave is that a servant can leave his master’s employ. A slave cannot, at least not without being in violation of the law. A slave is not his or her own. He or she belongs to their master. And this is our relationship to God. We belong to him. Yet, we belong to him gladly and joyfully because He is the best Master that could ever be, having redeemed us from the powers of darkness. Thank you, Lord, for redeeming us!


The purpose of Paul’s ministry is for the increase of our faith and knowledge of the truth. We must know what faith and truth are in order to appreciate Paul’s ministry.


If I asked you to define faith, could you? The idea of faith is so fundamental to our lives that, if we cannot define faith, then we are of all people the most miserable. Faith is something that we learn about at the beginning of our Christian life. If you have been a Christian more than a year and you still cannot define faith, then something is very wrong with your dedication to Christ. We must take our allegiance to Christ as primary above all else. This means we must apply ourselves to knowing what we believe.


The author of Hebrews writes this:


  1. Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to cmaturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,[2]


The inspired author commands us to leave the elementary teachings and he includes faith as one of those subjects that we ought to leave and press on to maturity. Thus, if we still are not clear on what faith is, then we are immature.


I think I must revisit faith because I do not have confidence that you can all define it.


For those who memorize Scripture, some may quote Hebrews 11:1.


11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. [3]


We cannot go wrong by quoting a verse that tells us what faith is! Yet, as Watchman Nee has pointed out in his book, The Normal Christian Life, although this definition is certainly true, it is somewhat vague and hard to grasp. I do not think the author of Hebrews is attempting to give a definition of faith so much as he is telling us what accompanies faith. That is, if we have faith then we will also have an assurance of what we hope for.  The second part of the verse gets closer to a definition. Faith is a conviction!


A few years ago, I preached a sermon on faith.[4] In that message I provided a definition of faith based on Scripture. It is:


“Faith is knowledge held with certainty whereby we recognize all that God has revealed to be true, with a heart-felt trust in Christ and his work.”


Now, that definition, although scriptural and true, is kind of long. So, I will make it simpler:


            Faith is certain knowledge accompanied with resolute trust.


That is an easy definition to memorize. Only eight words.


Previously, because of the nearly ubiquitous misunderstandings of faith, I have talked about what faith is not. It is good to rehearse what it isn’t in order to dispel false notions:


[1.] Faith is not wishful thinking. This is the concept that so many have about faith. If something about a belief system makes a person feel good or if it gives hope then they choose to have “faith.” In return for their faith they get to feel good or have a hope for the future. Under this idea, everyone gets to choose what they believe because it provides them something. And, it is impolite to question anyone’s “faith.” This is not the biblical, meaning true, definition of faith. Faith is not wishing.


[2.] Faith is not just a preference. If faith is not grounded in anything, which is the popular notion, then it becomes just a preference. You like chocolate ice cream and I like pistachio. It’s not too important who likes what. It just happens to be what we prefer.


[3.] Faith is not separated from facts or evidence. The idea that many have is that we know things based upon facts and then, for those things that we don’t know, we just have faith. That is not what faith is at all!


[4.] Faith is not just agreement or mental assent. It is not enough to simply believe the facts about who Jesus is and what he accomplished on the cross. It is not enough to believe that he rose from the dead. Now, one must believe those things. If you do not believe those things then you do not have faith. But just believing those things does not constitute saving faith. The demons believe all those things. Faith is far more than agreement.


So, faith is not:


  • Wishful thinking
  • A preference
  • Separated from facts and evidence
  • Agreement


What is it?


Faith is certain knowledge accompanied with resolute trust.


I think that this is what the author of Hebrews means by conviction!


Let us return to the first verse of the epistle to Titus:


1 Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of God’s elect and the full knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, (LSB)


The apostle then states that he is a slave and an apostle for the full knowledge of the truth. So, what is truth? If I asked you for a definition of truth, could you give it to me?


If anything, truth is a more fundamental concept than even faith!


When the Lord Jesus was being interrogated by Pontius Pilate, he replied this way:


For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.[5]


The very purpose that Jesus was born, the very reason that He came to the earth, was to bear witness to the truth!


This statement informs us how important truth is! One could say that there is nothing as important as truth. If this is the very reason that Jesus came, to bear witness to the truth, then we must take truth to heart, we must understand it, and we must love it.


Maybe you are feeling bad right now because I asked for a definition of faith and you may not have been able to answer. I asked for a definition of truth and maybe you couldn’t answer that either. Don’t feel too bad. You are not Pontius Pilate! Can you imagine what it will be like for Pilate on Judgment Day? Oh! We cannot imagine how terrible it will be for him! Or Judas? Better not to have been born!


If you have become a follower of the Lord Jesus then you are, of all people, the most blessed!


So, what is truth? It is actually easier to define than faith:


Truth is what corresponds to reality. This is the simple, common-sense definition of truth. Aristotle said that when you say something about a matter and it is really that way, then that is truth. Of course, everyone knows this already. It is not a difficult concept by any stretch of the imagination.


Truth can be known. We live in a skeptical age. In a recent survey only 28% of the people asked believed there was such a thing as absolute truth. In other words, a large majority believed that truth was relative, rather than absolute. Amazingly, this same question was asked of Evangelical Christians and only 23% believed in absolute truth! But a relative truth is no truth at all. Because if something can be validated for one person and not true to someone else, then truth loses its meaning.


Truth is objective and truth can be known. The reason we know that truth can be known is because Jesus came to bear witness to it. Our Lord is not going to waste his time telling us the truth if we can’t know it. More, Jesus promised that we could know it.


So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”[6]


The condition for knowing the truth that Jesus promised is abiding in his word. If we abide in his word we will know the truth! Because all truth originates with God and because the Scriptures are the very words of God, the more accurate our knowledge of the Bible is then the more truth we will know.


Doesn’t it always seem to come back to the Scriptures? It does, doesn’t it? How important the Scriptures are to us! We must know the Scriptures if we are to know the truth!


The questioning of truth was Eve’s problem in the garden. It soon became Adam’s problem. Then it became a problem for the entire human race! The devil denied the truth that God had revealed and Eve fell into his deception.


The devil is still deceiving the nations of the world. He denies the truths of God and influences the unsaved to believe lies. He promotes lies about sexual morals. He promotes lies about gender identity. He promotes lies about the integrity of the family. He promotes lies about human life in the womb. His lies are everywhere!


The final thing I must say about truth is this: We must love the truth. It is so important to love the truth!


8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.[7]


The unbelievers will perish because they do not love the truth. But believers will have their lives severely diminished if they do not love the truth. We will miss out on the good things that the Lord has for us if we do not love the truth.


  • If we do not love the truth then we will not abide in his word.
  • And, if we do no abide in his word then we will not be set free from worthless things.
  • If we are not set free from worthless things then we will waste our time,
  • We will lose happiness now,
  • and we will lose rewards at the Judgment Seat.


[Repeat, because important!]


There was a boy who loved to tell the truth. But it is easy to tell the truth when things are going well. It is not so easy when things go wrong. This boy’s family worked in the service of a king and lived in the palace. His friend, another boy, also lived in the palace, his family also being servants there. So, the boy was walking along with his friend and was telling him about a girl he liked. He wanted to give her a present but he had no money. As they were walking and talking down the main palace hall he saw a large vase filled with many beautiful flowers. “This is the perfect gift!” he said. So he took one and gave it to the girl. She was very pleased. The next day he was strolling down the same hall and thought, “I’ll take just one more. There are so many.” So he did. The girl was quite pleased to receive another beautiful flower. He did this again the next day and the next and the next.


One day, the King noticed how few flowers were left in the vase. He was so angry that he called everyone in the palace to assemble. When they were all before the King, the boy thought he should say it had been him who took the flowers. However, his friend told him to be quiet, because the King would be terribly angry with him. The boy was paralyzed with fear, but when the King came near he decided to confess.

As soon as the boy said that he had done it, the King went red with anger, but on hearing what the boy had done with the flowers, a smile appeared on the King's face, and he said,


"I couldn't have thought of a better use for my flowers."


And, from that day, the boy and the King became great friends. They went to the vase and took two of those wonderful flowers, one for the girl, and the other for the Queen.


This boy loved the truth and spoke the truth even though he thought it would get him into trouble. Because he loved the truth he became friends with the king. You too can be friends with the king. Love the truth and speak the truth.


The apostle concludes his introduction in his letter to Titus in verses 2 and 3 by affirming our mutual hope of eternal life. And this eternal life has been made known through preaching, according to verse 3. That is, eternal life is made known by proclamation.


How will your family members know their need for eternal life without you telling them? How will your neighbor know? How will the people you interact with each day know about eternal life unless you tell them?


What have we learned today?


1. We were reminded what faith is.


Faith is certain knowledge accompanied with resolute trust.


What ought we to do? We should know what faith is! And, exercise it. Simply put, we should memorize the definition of faith and then trust in the Lord.


2. We were taught what truth is.


Truth is what corresponds to reality.


3. We must love the truth wherever it is found. But, it is found abundantly in Scripture. So, what ought we to do? We must abide, that is, live in the word of God!


4. We must proclaim our need for eternal life and how to obtain it. Of course, we obtain eternal life by believing the gospel. So, we must proclaim it!


You have in your possession both faith and truth! What will you do with them? Will you keep them to yourself? Or, will you share them?


“Lord, we ask that you will enliven us by your Spirit to proclaim the faith and the truth that you have entrusted us with! Help us not to sit on them. But to let them be known! We look to you for this, Lord! Amen.”


[1] Legacy Standard Bible (2022). (Tt 1:1–3). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Heb 6:1). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Heb 11:1). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] See

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 18:37). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 8:31–32). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Th 2:8–10). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.