Summary: • Belief is both subjective and objective. It’s subjective when you believe it. It’s objective when someone else doesn’t, and . . .their objective is your silence.
Let’s imagine dialogue between Abraham and God. “Abraham, this is God speaking. I want you to leave everything and go to the land I will show you.” “Where’s that?” “If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.” “Try me.” “It’s 1500 miles from here in a place called Canaan.” “Never heard of it.” “I know, and guess what else?” “What?” “I’m going to make you the father of a great nation.” “That’s impossible. I don’t have any children.” “Don’t worry.” “What do you mean, don’t worry?” “Just trust me.” “Let me see if I’ve got this straight. You want me to leave everything, travel across the desert to someplace I’ve never heard of, and become the father of a great nation.” “Right.” “Is this some kind of joke?” “No.” “What am I supposed to tell my wife?” “That’s your problem.”
Hebrews 11:8 puts it this way: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (from Sermon Central, thanks to Ray Pritchard)
• Belief is both subjective and objective. It’s subjective when you believe it. It’s objective when someone else doesn’t, and . . .their objective is your silence.
In the ancient world, there were all manner of Greek and Roman gods and philosophies one could believe in, not to mention Celtic, Germanic, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian. Greek Epicureanism, for instance, was a common philosophy that promoted the pursuit of pleasure as the wisest use of a man’s life. Stoicism, on the other hand, promoted abstinence from pleasure. There were many others as well; mystery religions full of secrets; and pagan worship full of some really bizarre idols and imaginings. It was a virtual smorgus board of gods! There were all kinds of things one could believe in . . . just like today.
There’s six points that many polls and surveys have found characteristic of Americans today.
#1: there is a God; but is God “the Creator” or “the created?”
#2: Jesus is God’s Son . . . but then, aren’t we all?
#3: The Holy Spirit is Alive & Well. But then they’ll add, “What is the Spirit, anyway.”
#4: The Bible is the Word of God; we consider it holy; we place our right hand on it make pledges; we even quote from it . . . when convenient; but we argue constantly if it’s trustworthy or just a collection of philosophies.
#5: The church belongs to God; even if we experience it in imperfect ways.
#6… THIS is where people tend to call others all sorts of names if you actually tell them this: …that Salvation is found in Jesus Christ… alone! I’ve even found this to be a sticky point with some faithful church goers. I’ve been called intolerant, close-minded, backwards, old-fashioned, un-enlightened, bigoted, etc!!!! Just imagine the gall! How dare you suggest that there is only ONE way to Heaven. Maybe you’ve experienced it also.
We’re drowning in choices today. All kinds of religions… from Christianity to Islam to Taoism! All kinds of philosophies from Humanism to Scientology. We’re told that it doesn’t matter what you believe. We’re told that, “We’re all on the same journey. We’re just taking different paths, right?”
That’s what our world wants us to believe. But what Peter told that panel of religious leaders in Acts 4:12 has never been more true: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
This great statement comes in the midst of a wonderful story in Acts. Peter and John had been continuing the ministry of Christ . . . teaching the good news and healing the sick. In chapter 3, they came across a man crippled from birth.
Scripture says, “Taking him by the right hand, Peter helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him . . . they recognized him . . . and they were filled with wonder . . . and came running to (Peter and John) in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade.”
Peter knew a good opportunity when he saw it, and so he started preaching to the crowd in vs. 12. But all this preaching got them into trouble, and they were thrown into prison. While I’m sure that didn’t make Peter very happy, I’m also sure that it didn’t surprise him a lot.
• Preaching God’s Truth has never been very popular in this world.
When Jesus described his own mission in Luke 19:10, he said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”