The DaVinci Inquest part 7
How Can I Know the Truth?
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
July 2, 2006

 

Main Passage: Ephesians 6:11-18 (NLT)

 

Well, we’ve come to the final week in our series on The DaVinci Code. And over these seven weeks, we’ve covered a lot of territory. We looked at several of the claims in the book and in the movie, and we’ve tried to respond to them by simply looking at the facts. And we’ve found time and time again that the claims Dan Brown makes in his book aren’t just against Christianity… they’re against historical facts.
 

  • Dan Brown claims that Christianity has oppressed women, but we found that whenever Christianity has been introduced into a culture, women have been elevated.
     

  • Dan Brown claims that Christianity has demonized sex, but we discovered that Christianity actually celebrates sex, within the marriage relationship.
     

  • Dan Brown claimed that the Roman Emperor Constantine organized the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 AD, and he says that in a close vote at the Council, Jesus was declared to be divine. But we saw that Jesus Himself declared to be divine, his disciples and early followers believed he was divine, and Christians throughout the first three centuries all understood Jesus was divine. Whether Jesus was divine or not was not even on the agenda at the Council of Nicaea. His divinity was already firmly established.
     

  • Dan Brown also claims that Constantine used the Council to collate the Bible and in essence determined which books were Scripture. But we saw that the Old Testament was regarded as Scripture centuries before the birth of Jesus, and that the books which we have in our New Testament today were treated as Scripture very early on… some dating all the way back to the first century.
     

  • Dan Brown says that there were 80 other Gospels included in the Nag Hammadi library of Gnostic Texts, which the early Church rejected because they told the true story of Jesus’ bloodline. But we uncovered that there were actually only 5 gospels in the Nag Hammadi collection, they were all written between one and four centuries after the crucifixion, and they have no credibility as historical documents. And they don’t even say what Dan Brown says they say.
     

  • Dan Brown says that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. But we saw how there is absolutely no evidence to support this. Would make a whole lot of difference if they were married, but they weren’t. Not even the Gnostic gospels say they were married, contrary to what Dan Brown claims they say.
     

  • Dan Brown claims that the Bible we have today is drastically different from what it was originally, because of revisions, additions and translations. But we saw that the Bible we have today is incredibly accurate simply by the wealth of ancient manuscripts we have… some dating back to the first century. In fact, we saw that the Bible is simply the most accurate historical book in existence.
     

  • Dan Brown lumps the Gnostic Gospels in with the Dead Sea Scrolls and claims they are the earliest Christian records. Well, we’ve already said that the Gnostic gospels were actually written much later. And as for the Dead Sea Scrolls, they were Jewish writings which pre-dated Christianity.
     

Those are some of the issues we’ve addressed during this series. And along the way, we also touched on mistakes Dan Brown made regarding architecture, and artwork, secret societies—all of which he claims are accurate—and even the man the book is names after, Leonardo da Vinci. And if you missed any week during this series, then you can read the manuscripts or listen to the mp3s on our website.

But basically, we discovered that even through Dan Brown seems to build a case for all of his claims and presents them in a convincing way, and in interviews maintains that they are true, that doesn’t mean that the claims actually are true. In fact, with just a little bit of investigation, all of those claims fall apart. As one professor of ancient history said about The DaVinci Code

“It’s the only book I know that after you’ve read it, you’re dumber than you were when you started.”
~ Paul L. Maier, Professor of Ancient History, Western Michigan University

So that’s The DaVinci Code. It’s a fictional novel that’s packed full of literally hundreds of errors, most of which are obvious if you just take the time to look.

So why all this time dealing with a fictional book? If the claims in the book really have no substance and can’t withstand even a little scrutiny, then what’s the big deal? That’s a fair question. And there are several answers.

First, a lot of people are reading the book and watching the movie, and they’re not taking the time to check it out to see if it’s true or not. In fact, one third of Canadians who have read the book believe it. Even if they don’t believe all of it, they believe some of it. And as a result, they have been turned off of Christianity and the Church and may be lost to an eternity in Hell because of it. And I don’t want that to happen. Do you?

Second, there are a lot of believers who are being confused by all the issues and they feel unequipped to respond. I was there. There were so many claims in The DaVinci Code that seemed to come out of nowhere that I didn’t feel like I was ready to respond. Now I do.

Third, even though these claims seemed to come out of nowhere, they didn’t. And they’re not going away. The truth is, there’s been a resurgence of ancient Gnostic beliefs and Pagan religions over the past twenty years or so, we’re going to see these types of claims becoming more and more common. We could ignore it all and hope it goes away, or we could prepare ourselves to deal with it. Which sounds better to you?

And fourth, and this is perhaps most serious, there are more and more people who look at all the religions and belief systems of the world, and they’re treating them like a buffet. They’ll take a little of this and a little of that, and they’ll just leave what they don’t like. Let me give you an example. Sarah Michelle Gellar who you may know better as Buffy the Vampire Slayer has said…

“I consider myself a spiritual person. I believe in an idea of God, although it’s my own personal ideal. I find most religions interesting, and I’ve been to every kind of denomination: Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist. I’ve taken bits from everything and customized it.”
~ Sarah Michelle Gellar, in Christianity Today

Sorry, but it doesn’t work like that. Either Jesus Christ is the one and only way like He claimed to be, or He was a liar and should be rejected. Those are the choices. Jesus claimed to be the one and only way to God the Father. Either that’s true for all, or it’s not true at all. But He cannot be the only way, and then there be other ways, too. If Jesus was telling the truth, then He alone is the hope for all of us. He alone is the one and only Saviour. And if that is true, then it is true whether you choose to believe it or not.

But some people would argue, “There are many ways to God. Whatever way a person chooses is right for them. It doesn’t matter which road you take up the mountain as long as you get to the top.” But I would say it sure does matter if you’re heading up the wrong mountain.

Here’s a great cartoon…

[SPEARTOON – Man climbs mountaintop to guru, who tells man (while pointing to a distant mountian with a cross) “Hmmm… I don’t know the meaning of life either! Did you try that hill over there?”]

There are many ways to try to find God, but there’s only one way to actually find Him, and that way is Jesus Christ.


So in your notes, you’ll find the question…

 

Isn’t it enough to be sincere in your beliefs, regardless of what those beliefs are?

And a lot of people are asking that question in one form or another. You see, we put a premium on sincerity in our society. We like to think we’re tolerant and open-minded, and what’s more tolerant and open-minded than saying that “it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere”?

That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Everyone likes sincerity. What’s more compelling than sincerity? As long as you’re sincere in your beliefs, what does it really matter what those beliefs are?

[Light a Candle.] Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to fire. Fire is hot. If you don’t believe that, then come up here and hold you hand in the flame for a couple minutes. You’ll quickly discover that fire is hot whether you want to believe it or not.

There is truth that is true, even if nobody believes it. And there are lies that are lies, even if everyone believes them.

Was there a time when the earth was flat? Oh, there was a time when people believed it was flat. But was it really? Of course not. It was always round, even when nobody believed it. There is truth that is true, even if nobody believes it. And there are lies that are lies, even if everyone believes them.

Let’s look at what the Bible says…

Acts 4:11-12 (NLT)
“For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures…
There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them.”

Underline the words, “no other name.” That sound pretty exclusive. Let’s look at another passage…

1 John 5:11-12 (NLT)
And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. So whoever has God's Son has life; whoever does not have his Son does not have life.

Those verses make it clear that Jesus is our only hope. And they certainly aren’t all that concerned about being politically correct. They don’t say that Jesus is one option; they say He is the only option. They make it clear that if your faith and hope is placed anywhere other than in the person if Jesus Christ, then you’re going to be burned. The result will be tragic. And it doesn’t matter how sincere you are. In your notes…

You can be sincere… and be sincerely wrong.

So yes, it’s important to be sincere. But it’s also important that what you sincerely believe is actually true. You don’t want to be so open-minded that your brain leaks out.

And you need to be able to tell the difference between tolerance and validation. We live in a pluralistic society where there are lots of conflicting belief systems existing side by side. We claim to have religious freedom, and that’s a good thing. We can be tolerant of other beliefs, and we can even befriend and care for those who hold to opposing beliefs. In fact, that’s what we should do. But that is very different from accepting those beliefs or condoning them or validating them. Everyone has the right to make up their own mind about their beliefs, and we need to respect that. That’s tolerance. But that does not mean that their beliefs are true or that we should accept them as our own or that we shouldn’t share our hope with them.

But the truth is, there are a lot of different beliefs out there. And many of them are wrapped up in very attractive packages and enlightened-sounding language. How do you know what is true and what isn’t? How can you guard yourself from believing in lies? Earlier, the puppets sang about searching for truth and answers. Where can they be found? In your notes…

 

How Can I Know What Is True and Avoid What Is False?

1. Keep your brain on

That’s something we said when we embarked on this journey through The DaVinci Code. But you know, God gave you the ability to think. And He gave it to you for a reason. He doesn’t expect us to turn off our brains when it comes to matters of faith and belief. Jesus Himself said…

Mark 4:24 (NIV)
"Consider carefully what you hear…"

Underline the word, “consider.” That means, “Think about it. Test it. Is it really true?”

Or how about the apostle Paul? Paul was an educated man. He was a scholar. And he often used logic to show people the validity of who Jesus was. You can see examples of that all through the Book of Acts and throughout his letters. To the Church in Corinth, he emphasized the importance of thinking things through logically when he said…

1 Corinthians 14:20 (CEV)
My friends, stop thinking like children. Think like mature people and be as innocent as tiny babies.

Underline, “Think like mature people.” Again, engage your mind. I like how The Message paraphrase of the Bible puts this verse…

1 Corinthians 14:20 (MSG)
To be perfectly frank, I'm getting exasperated with your infantile thinking. How long before you grow up and use your head—your adult head? … Only mature and well-exercised intelligence can save you from falling into gullibility.

As a believer, I do not have a blind faith. The truth is, faith has its reasons. There is plenty of evidence that supports my faith in God, in creation, in the resurrection, and in the Bible. Oh, there will be things I’ll never fully understand. But my faith does not go against logic; it goes beyond logic.

I think a lot of people dismiss God because they think faith in Him is illogical. And I am convinced that many of them would be forced to re-evaluate their beliefs if they knew the facts. The sad thing is, though, that some people are so entrenched in their cynicism that they will never believe. That's their choice. But if you actually engage your mind, you’ll see that faith in Jesus makes sense.

By the way, do you know the difference between a skeptic and a cynic? A skeptic will ask honest questions. A cynic won’t accept honest answers. A skeptic will ask honest questions, and that’s okay. They have questions that need real answers before they can place their trust and belief in something or someone. A cynic, on the other hand, aren’t looking for answers. They are only looking to complain and attack. And it doesn’t matter if you give the best answer ever to their questions… they won’t accept them.

But the fact is, there are real answers. There are real answers to the honest questions that people have. Faith in Jesus is not blind or illogical… it is a reasonable faith. We’ve talked about that before. And if you want to explore this any further, then I’d recommend that you check out any book by any of the authors that are listed in your notes.

[For further study, check out some books by C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, William Lane Craig, and Ravi Zacharias.]

 

2. Check out the facts

Here’s where a lot of people have made a mistake with The DaVinci Code. They’ve read the book, they’ve read the claims, and they’ve accepted those claims without checking out the facts. Dan Brown makes some pretty convincing arguments in the book. His claims sound plausible. Problem is, they’re not even remotely substantiated by reality. And just a simple check of some of the facts would have revealed this to them.

Even in the first century, shortly after the birth of Christianity, there were those tried to twist the facts and began to preach a message other than the one that Jesus brought. That was the very beginning of Gnosticism. And John’s letters were written specifically to address these false teachers who were deceiving many people. And he instructed the people to check out the facts. Test what they’re saying against what you already know to be true. This is what he wrote…

1 John 4:1 (NLT)
Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.

And that’s still true today. In that verse you can underline, “You must test them.” And here are a couple verses written by Paul that I recommend you memorize…

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 (NIV)
Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.

Good advice.


And third, if you want to avoid being taken in by lies, then you need to…

 

3. Immerse yourself in the Truth

Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right.

The best way to discern what is false is to know what is true. And what is true? Well, the Bible teaches that God is Truth. That’s a theme found throughout the Bible. And Jesus, who is God in the flesh, said…

John 14:6 (NLT)
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

So if you want to know the truth, you’ve got to know Jesus. You’ve got to spend time with Him in prayer and in reading His Word. And in worshipping Him and growing alongside other believers.

John 8:31-32 (NIV)
Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Free from what? Free from bondage to lies and the consequences of those lies. To avoid being deceived by lies, immerse yourself in the truth. Because when you do that… when you become very familiar with what is true… it becomes easy for you to identify what is not so true. Paul specifically told us why he wrote his letter to the Colossians. He wrote to them so that they could understand the truth and be strong in their faith. This is what he wrote…

Colossians 2:4 (CEV)
I tell you these things to keep you from being fooled by fancy talk.

And you know, The DaVinci Code is some fancy talk. It’s intriguing literature, and if you’re not careful, you’ll be fooled by it.

Proverbs 15:14 (NLT)
A wise person is hungry for truth, while the fool feeds on trash.

Immerse yourself in the truth. Be hungry for it. Pursue knowledge. And that will go a long way in protecting you from the lies.

 

4. Be alert and ready at all times

[Ephesians 6:11-18 (NLT)
Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.
Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared. In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.]
 

Earlier, we saw that video clip which contained the words from Ephesians 6 about putting on the armor of God… the belt of truth, the body armor of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. We don’t have time this morning to look at each of those individually. But I would encourage you to read through those verses again later this afternoon and consider what each part of that spiritual armor means for you.

But understand, we are in a battle. Why else would we need armor? And it’s not a physical battle; it’s a spiritual battle. It’s a battle between Truth and lies. It’s a battle against all the tricks and schemes of the Devil. Check out the first paragraph in that passage from Ephesians 6…

Ephesians 6:11-12 (NLT)
Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.

And so we need to be ready at all times, equipped with this spiritual armor. Because the enemy could attack at any given moment. That’s why Paul told Timothy…

1 Timothy 4:16 (NIV)
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Don’t allow for any lies to enter into your beliefs. Be alert and ready at all times for any spiritual attack which may seek to destroy you or lead you astray.

 

You know, we started this whole journey with The DaVinci Code by talking about truth, and we've finished up with it, too. On that first week, we even saw how the trailer for the movie ended with the phrase “Seek the Truth”. And that’s what we strived to do. We have sought the Truth.

And I hope that you have seen that there are real answers to the real questions that people have. You don’t need to fear challenges to your Christian faith, because the Christian faith is real. It can withstand challenges, because it is based on truth. All you need to do is seek out that truth.

 

 

 

Copyright © Greg Hanson, 2006 SunriseOnline.ca