Summary: All religious paths do not converge at the same place, rather they diverge and end at different places... the only path that leads to salvation is the Jesus path.
Title: All Paths Lead to God… Not!
Thesis: All religious paths do not converge at the same place, rather they diverge and end at different places… the only path that leads to salvation is the Jesus path.
Imagine one of our staff of teachers in Friends and Followers this morning talking to the students about how one gets to go to heaven. Imagine the teacher asks, “If I sell my house and my car and have a huge garage sale and then give all my money to the church, would that get me into heaven?” The class in perfect unions relies with an emphatic, “NO!” “Okay then, the teacher asks, “if I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard and kept God’s house all neat and spiffy, would that get me into heaven?” And once again the emphatic, “NO!” “Then how about if I was kind to animals and gave candy to all my neighbor children and loved my wife and kids and was a great neighbor, would that get me into heaven?” And once again, “NO!” “Then,” the teacher asks, “how DO I get into heaven?” And one deep thinker among them answers, “First, you gotta die!”
We understand that what the teacher wished to hear was the students affirming faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ as being the correct answer.
As we open our text today we immediately see that Jesus was a polarizing figure.
I. Jesus is polarizing… Jesus is a polarizing figure!
While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the leading priests, the captain of the temple guard and some of the Sadducees came over to them. They were disturbed… Acts 4:1-4
I was disturbed to learn that a survey conducted by the Christian Science Monitor found that atheists and agnostics and Jews and Mormons were among the highest scoring groups who took a 32 question survey of religious knowledge. On average Americans scored 16 of 32 correct. Atheists and agnostics averaged 20.9 of 32 correct. Jews scored 20.5 and Mormons scored 20.3 correct out of 32. Protestants averaged 16 correct and Catholics scored 14.7 correct answers. It is actually a pretty simple quiz… I scored 31 out of 32 so it can’t be too tough. Non-the-less the quiz focused on one’s knowledge of different major religions and the major distinctive of each.
One question asked, “Which of these major religious groups traditionally teaches that salvation comes through faith alone?” “Only Protestant Christians” was the correct answer.
Obviously Christ is a polarizing religious figure in the world. Then and now, some people are receptive to Jesus and others are not in the least.
In his sermon “The Great Polarizer,” Kent Edwards says, “Like a magnet, Jesus will attract or repel people.”
A. Some people are receptive to Jesus
• Those who believed and were baptized and added to the church… about 3,000 in all. Acts 2:41
• But many who heard believed, so the number of believers totaled about 5,000 men, not counting women and children. Acts 4:4
B. Some people are resistant to Jesus
• They were very disturbed that Peter and John were claiming, on the authority of Jesus, that there is a resurrection of the dead. [So] they arrested them and since it was already evening they jailed them until morning. Acts 4:2-3
The people in our text today were resistant to Jesus because Jesus was perceived as a threat.
II. Jesus is a threat… Jesus is a threat to established power!
They brought in the two disciples and demanded, “By what power or in whose name, have you done this?” Acts 4:7
The religious leaders responded by hauling Peter and John into religious court and essentially demanded to know why they thought they had the right to turn the town upside down.
The Sanhedrin was the Jewish version of our Supreme Court. The Sanhedrin was every bit as partisan as is our Supreme Court. While the intent might be the constitutional upholding of the law we know that in a perfect partisan world the stars line up and the Congress, Executive and Judicial Branches of Government agree in ideology.
Currently our Supreme Court is embroiled in the constitutionality of mandated healthcare in our country and the constitutionality of Arizona’s immigration law. Of late the overt biases of the justices are clearly partisan. The court is divided along partisan lines. Justice, so to speak, is always tempered by ideological biases.
When Peter and John were hauled into court the court was clearly and overtly biased. The Sanhedrin was not an objective court anymore than our Supreme Court is an objective court. The members of the priesthood who sat on the Sanhedrin were members of a prestigious few families who passed down power from generation to generation. The Sadducees on the Sanhedrin were the keepers of the status quo. And the Pharisees on the Sanhedrin were the legal fanatics who were sticklers about the fanatical observance of every detail of the law.