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Some years ago Prince Charles caused quite a stir in Christian circles when he said that when he ascended the throne he would prefer to be "The Defender of Faiths" - the word "Faiths" being in the plural. The addition of the "s" makes all the difference because the historic title of the Sovereign is "The Defender of the Faith". Some Christians were upset but perhaps he did have a point. A fundamental human right is that everyone should be able to hold and practise their religion according to their conscience but it carries the responsibility of making the right choice.
The non-Christian religions may well have some insights to offer but this is quite different from saying that all religions lead to God, although by different paths. Those who accept that say: "Itís not what path you choose, but how you pursue it." Christians believe that the truth is to be found in what God has revealed by His intervention in human affairs as recorded for us in the Bible and supremely through His Son, Jesus Christ. We need to remind ourselves of the uniqueness of the revelation that Jesus offers. The apostle Jude urged the Christians to whom he wrote: "to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints" (3).
As Jesus came to the end of His great Sermon, He wanted to drive home the message of the Gospel. He did so by portraying it in a series of alternatives. He presented the Kingdom of God in terms of choices and he made perfectly clear the choice which would lead to eternal life and which would result in spiritual loss. We see that there are:
When you sit an examination you often find on the exam paper a multiple-choice question. You can choose the part that suits you best. Itís up to you; the examiner doesnít mind. But I have to tell you that this doesnít apply in the question of entry into Godís Kingdom. What is immediately striking is how fixed and defined is the choice offered. Yes, Jesus presents two choices but only one of them leads to life eternal. Many people would prefer a greater spread of possibilities of entry in Godís Kingdom. Prime Minister Tony Blair had a clever strategy in making his party electable after many years in the political wilderness - he pointed to a "third way".
Thereís a widely accepted school of thought that claims there are many ways to gain acceptance to God, thus eliminating the need of choice between Jesus and all others. But Jesus cuts across this easy way out. He rejects this comfortable solution. Instead he insists that, of the two possibilities, thereís only one real choice. Certainly, in our text thereís Two Choices, but they are poles apart in the end result.
Letís see whatís on offer. Listen to the uncompromising words of
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