August 26, 2012

More Than One Way - Aug 26, 2012

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Thematic Introduction:

Today we've come to the eighth message in a series of ten titled, "The Lies of Satan". Today's lie is this: "There is more than one way to heaven."


Our sermon reading comes from John, chapter 14. These words were spoken by Jesus to His followers on the night He was arrested, the night before He was crucified to death.

John 14:1-6 (ESV)

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

The Bible is absolutely clear about this point. There is only ONE way to heaven, and that is through the Savior that God the Father sent, Jesus Christ.

Some people may try to muddy the water a bit when it comes to this passage. They may say, "You have to take the passage in context. Jesus had just told them that He was leaving and they were freaking out! He's not making a broad statement that no other religions are valid, He's just comforting His disciples."
But all you have to do is read the rest of verse six. Not only does Jesus state what he's saying in the positive, He also re-states it in the negative. He says, "I'm the way" (positive) and then He restates it "No one comes to the Father except through me" (negative).

You might say the same thing when giving someone directions to a town. Take Maple Road, it's the way . Don't take any other roads, because there aren't any other roads that go through that town.

It's pretty simple. And John 14:6 isn't the only passage in the Bible that says that Jesus is the only way to heaven. There's also passages like...
" 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:11-12 ESV).

" 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also" (1 John 2:23 NIV).

"5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all..." (1 Timothy 2:5-6a ESV).

There is only one mediator between God the Father and the human race, one go-between, and that is Jesus Christ. There is only one way to heaven.

The Bible teaches that ever since Adam and Eve sinned, people have been born sinful and thus disqualified from living beside God in heaven. IF sinners could somehow earn heaven, then there would be many different paths to heaven. Your path of good works would be different than mine. Your neighbor's path would be different than ours, an so on. But the Bible is clear on this point also. Good deeds simply can't erase past sins.
" 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin" (Romans 3:20 NIV).
Again, if heaven could be earned, there would be different ways to get to heaven. But if salvation is a gift from God, given through Jesus, then there is only one way to heaven. And that's exactly what the Bible says salvation is, a gift.
" 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV).

It seems to me that this lie of Satan only works on people who have stopped reading their Bibles. This lie is also easier to accept if you've already absorbed the lie that we can actually earn our way to God. If I can earn my way to God, what do I need Jesus for?

May God keep us from ever drifting away from the sure teaching of salvation through faith in Christ alone. May God help us never to lean on our own works as a way of trying to reach Him, but instead trust in the Lord's promise and in His gift.

Now, there's a little bit of static that comes along with this lie from Satan. And maybe that's why Satan likes to use this lie - not so much to tear Christians away from Christ but more to make Christians look arrogant to other people. If Christians are seen as arrogant, then people won't enter into conversations with them in the same way. They'll enter with their guard up.

Plenty of people think it's just plain arrogant to claim that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. All the other religions of the world are wrong? Christianity is the only one that got it right? That sounds arrogant in their ears.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there aren't arrogant Christians. There certainly are, and we all need to pray for a spirit of compassion, understanding and love when it comes to sharing the message of Christ. But to put it plainly, the claim that Christ is the only way to heaven isn't arrogant in itself, it's just a truth claim.

Think about it like this. Something is wrong with your car. You take it to a garage where two mechanics have a chance to look at it. One says, "It's your fuel line. It's plugged up and not letting gas get to the engine properly." The other says, "It's your spark plugs, they're corroded and not firing properly." Are these arrogant statements? Is one of these mechanics more arrogant than the other? No. They simply hold different beliefs. Holding something to be true is not inherently arrogant. So don't let the Devil make you feel guilty for sticking to your guns, holding onto your beliefs, especially when it comes to the Gospel of Christ.

Another bit of static that comes with this lie from Satan attaches itself to God Himself. This bit of static goes like this, "What about all those other people who just don't believe in the God of the Bible? They're not going to heaven just because they don't believe something? That's just plain mean."

But when you look at what the Bible says about God, He's not mean. He's anything but mean.
" 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3-4 ESV).
The truth of the matter is that God's message of salvation is incredibly inclusive. God holds out salvation through Christ to every sinner. But there's only ONE way to receive this salvation - through the Savior that God provided.

If you think about it, it's actually extremely arrogant for sinners to demand heaven on their own terms. It's as if the lifeguard holds out the life preserver to a drowning man only to hear, "Excuse me? That's a red preserver, I want a blue one."

Satan appeals to man's huge ego with this lie that there is more than one way to heaven. If you think about it, this lie from Satan says more than the surface tells. It really isn't just saying that there is more than one way to heaven, you know, like maybe there's two or three ways. The underlying implication is that there are MANY ways to heaven, and MY own way, whatever it might be, is certainly valid.

In the end, Satan's lie claims that God's Word is wrong. And when the lie of "many paths to God" is accepted by sinners, it leads people to devalue the Word of God. The message of Christ isn't all that important in a sea of different ways to reach God. And that's exactly what Satan wants. He wants us to devalue God's clear message. That way we'll discard the truth for a lie, and reject both God's plan of salvation and God's plan for our earthly life.

And here's the irony of the whole situation, if it weren't for God's love, there wouldn't be ANY way for sinners like us to reach heaven. We're all born sinful, and sinners can't enter heaven. But through Christ Jesus a new way is opened up for us. Like Jesus said,
" 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Matthew 7:13-14 ESV).
Through the Gospel of Christ's sacrifice in our place, we have found the narrow way. The Holy Spirit placed our feet on this path when He worked faith in our hearts. May God keep us on this singular path, this only sure path, until we reach the promised land of heaven. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

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