Sermon for 11/23/2003
Lost in the jungle, a man sought desperately to find his way to safety. His strength was ebbing fast as the insects and stifling heat did their deadly work. Suddenly he heard what he thought to be a bell tolling in the distance. Believing he was nearing civilization, he struggled bravely onward; but he never seemed to draw closer to the sound. Finally, he fell to the ground exhausted, never to rise again. The mysterious bellbird had claimed another victim! This story is related in detail by G.B. Robeson. He says many a traveler in the heart of the rain forest of Central and South America has been led to his death by the bell sounding call of this seldom-seen bird. Many times this bird with its call entices people to get off of the path to seek out the sound.
Similarly Satan employs subtle devices to ensnare the human race. As souls seek to free themselves from the vines of sin, they are lead astray by the tempter’s “bell” ringing in the distance. “At last,” They think, “I’ve found a way of escape,” and so, following the call of the evil one deeper and deeper into the jungle of despair, they are eventually lost for eternity.
Many are following the deceptive call of the devil’s “bell-bird” because it seems right to them. However, Christ, who declared that no man comes to the Father but by me, is the only One who can lead poor wanderers to the promised land of salvation and safety!
A. People are throwing around the term tolerance. There are no absolutes. We are bigots if we claim that Christianity is the only true faith.
B. Our society can tolerate any view as long as it is not absolute. “Some beliefs are true and good while others are false and wrong.”
C. WE live in a pluralistic society. This is true. People come from many different cultures and lifestyles. In 1994 there were 22.5 million foreign-born people. We are a land of immigrants and it has always been this way. We need to be accepting of other cultures and societies. We do not need to be prejudiced or bigoted against other cultures or people groups. This is anti-Christian.
D. We need to distinguish between cultural and theological pluralism. Theological pluralism says that all religions and all faiths lead to heaven, lead to salvation. Reject the idea that one religion is absolute. All religions lead to the same God.
E. When I go to Indiana there are several ways….
F. However, God has made it plain that there is only one way to get to Him. How could he be so mean as to only have one right way? WE should thank Him for his mercy and grace that there is one way. There could be no way.
G. Christianity has taken a bad wrap for saying that the Christ way is the only way. Many faiths, not just ours, hold quite specific doctrines and stand in firm disagreement with one another. Most major religions claim that they are the way. Muslims claim that the infidels (those outside their faith) will have no place in paradise. The Koran is the only rule of faith and practice. Jewish people claim that only those who adhere to the teachings of the Old Testament will be saved. The Old Testament is the only rule of faith and practice. Hindus will not compromise upon the idea of karma, the authority of the Hindu scriptures called the Vedas, and reincarnation. And the list could go on and on.
H. Really when it comes right down to it, the pluralist is saying that anyone who takes any faith in God seriously is an idiot. How ridiculous it can become! Should we accommodate those prisoners who came up with a religion that had as one of their rituals to eat grade A steak after dark. Should we allow the religion of the ancient Aztecs to be practiced in our land? They burned human hearts before their idols. All beliefs are equally valid so we should allow this practice because it was part of a religion and it must have some value. Now who is the idiot!
I. I read recently where a religious leader in a major denomination said, “Why do so many Christians think they need to convert people in other religions to Christianity?” He then proceeded to compare evangelism and missions to ethnic cleansing. (Rodney Buchanan, SermonCentral.com)
Thesis: We have one guide, one traveler, one path, and one life. VS. 11
I. One guide.
A. Our guide is Jesus Christ. He is the only guide. Guides take us to different destinations. Tour guides.
1. If we follow Mr. Materialism, he will take us to money and possessions.
2. If we follow Mr. Good Time, he will take us to a big party
3. If we follow the artist…
4. If we follow the builder…
5. If we follow the historian…
6. Our guide makes all of the difference in the world.
B. Our guide goes before; he will lead the way himself. (John 14:6 NIV) Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
C. If we have a guide before us and we do not follow, we will be left behind.
D. (Luke 9:23 NIV) Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
E. (John 10:27 NIV) My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
F. Christ has blazed this trail for us. Read Acts 2:23-32
G. If we follow this guide, one day we too will be raised from the dead. Yes, our bodies will decay if our Guide doesn’t come before our death, but one day we also will be raised. (1 Cor 15:51 NIV) Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed--(1 Cor 15:52 NIV) in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.(1 Cor 15:53 NIV) For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.(1 Cor 15:54 NIV) When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."(1 Cor 15:55 NIV) "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"
H. Not a word was heard from the tomb that day
Just the soldiers feet as they guarded the grave
One day, two days, three days had past
Could it be that Jesus had breathed His last
Could it be that the Father had forsaken Him
Turned his back on his Son, despising our sin
All hell seemed to whisper, "Forget Him He’s dead"
But the Father looked down on His Son and said
Arise My Love, arise My Love
The grave no longer has a hold on You
No more death sting, no more suffering
Arise, arise My Love
I. Christ is the best guide because he has blazed the trail. He is the best guide because:
1. He is holy, set apart for the task. He lived and died for this task and now is at the right hand of God.
2. He is able. He is not a young buck who doesn’t have experience or know what he is doing. (Jude 1:24 NIV) To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy--
3. He is willing. (Luke 5:12 NIV) While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."(Luke 5:13 NIV) Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" And immediately the leprosy left him.
4. He is diligent. He pays attention to all of the details.
5. He is constant (1 Cor 1:9 NIV) God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
J. (Psa 49:15 NIV) But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.
II. One traveler
A. The one traveler is me.
B. Each of us are travelers through this world. We are strangers, aliens, pilgrims on a journey. This world is not my home, I’m just a passin through, my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue, the angels beckon me from heaven’s open shores, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.
C. It is a personal decision. He will not take us through the path in big groups, each one personally.
D. I must walk with him alone; believe for myself alone; and be saved by Him alone. The biggest step many take is to make their faith their own.
E. It is like going through a cave or a narrow path. Only one can pass at a time.
III. One path
A. I am a wonderer and I love to get off of the path.
B. Dorothy on the yellow brick road.
C. I love hiking. I wish I could hike more. I don’t get off of the path there.
D. But no matter which of these trails you might be talking about today, history clearly shows us again and again that it is wise to stay on the trail. If you were headed to Oregon it was wise to stay on the Oregon Trail instead of trying to blaze a trail of your own. It doesn’t take a lot of brains to figure out why. It took countless heartbreaking trips down dead-end trails before the right one was established in the first place. But those who had gone on before had finally found a trail that had all the essentials that would be needed for the journey.
E. (Deu 5:32 NIV) So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left.
F. We must stick to the path. (Mat 7:14 NIV) But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
G. (Prov 14:12 NIV) There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
H. Our path is bloody; his path unpolluted; our path is crooked, his path is straight; our path leads to hell, his path leads to heaven.
I. I will follow my heart. It leads to death.
J. What is the path?
1. Believe that Jesus is the Christ
2. Repent of your sins. The law is the light along the path.
3. Confess your faith in Christ. Whoever acknowledges…
4. Be baptized for the remission of your sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
5. Live the Christian life- Love the Lord, love others, and make disciples.
K. What about people who have not been baptized? I don’t know. What about people who have believed in Jesus wrongly? What about people who have never heard the gospel? I don’t know.
L. I do know that this is the path and we must stay on the path.
IV. One Life
A. This is what he is leading us to. True life in this world and eternal life in heaven.
B. (John 10:10 NIV) I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
C. (John 16:20 NIV) I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
D. You see the joy we experience in Christ is nothing like the world has ever known
- It is not based on circumstances but on relationship
- As such we as we live our lives following the Path of Life, we live a life of constant relationship with God through Christ. Our joy is the product of that relationship.
- Our relationship should cause us to look forward and to anticipate with joy all that awaits us in eternity
E. - For you see our Joy does not originate in circumstances but in the relationship we have with God through Christ and as such we recognize that what we have enjoyed thus far in Christ is merely a token of that which awaits us. For…
"...in thy right hand there are pleasures forever"
- That which God offers us through Christ has permanency.
- God says they are pleasures forever
- Some people think God doesn’t want them to enjoy life. That He wants then to give up all pleasure in life and live a dull and dreary existence. (I wonder who gave them that impression)
- It’s just the opposite, God wants us to have a life that is Full of Joy, and the pleasure he desires for us, unlike the pleasure of sin that is but for a season (Heb 11:25 ) are forever
- Vance Havener said it this way "There is something wrong with our Christianity when we have to beg most of our crowd to come to church to hear about it."
Some people develop a “loophole mentality” in their relationship to God. I’ve heard that when W.C. Fields was on his deathbed, a visitor found him reading the Bible. Asked what he was doing, he replied, “Looking for loopholes, my friend. Looking for loopholes.”