Summary: No amount of perfection can secure our place in heaven, because we all fall short of the glory of God. But Jesus, the only perfect One, stands before us to show us the way, the truth and the life.
Mrs. Fisher was recovering from surgery and received a card from the fourth grade class: “Dear Mrs. Fisher, your fourth grade class wishes you a speedy recovery, by a vote of 15 to 14!”
Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything!”
Speaking the truth. This morning we are going to look at familiar Words of Jesus that speak of the truth, that speak in confidence of our salvation secured.
How much attention do we place on doing good works to secure a place in heaven? We say, “the better person I am or the better person that I can become, the more good works I do, all combined will allow me to earn my way into heaven.”
In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin listed the names of thirteen virtues to ultimately achieve a perfectly moral bearing in his life. He was obsessed with obtaining perfection at this time of his life. Virtues such as temperance, silence, order, frugality, sincerity, justice, moderation and humility, in his words “to imitate Jesus and Socrates in his life.” He kept a daily journal to chart those times when he fell short and those times when he felt he achieved perfection – but he never did, none of us ever can.
Jesus said in the Gospel of John, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” The scene was the upper room where Jesus served Holy Communion to His disciples. Judas was already gone, already on his way to betray his Lord and Savior. This was during the last week of Jesus’ life. And the disciple Thomas – we know him as doubting Thomas – asked Jesus where He was going, and how can we know the way?
And Jesus simply answered him with these words. Jesus said I am the way. I represent the way to the Father – if you know who I am, you know who God the Father is, and from now on you know Him and have seen Him. Jesus said, I am the truth - the whole truth and nothing but the truth. There can be no misunderstanding. All the words that Jesus spoke during His ministry on earth, all of His actions, all of His teachings represented nothing else but the truth. And Jesus said, knowing and understanding this truth, in John chapter 8 verse 32, “If you abide in My Word, you are my disciples indeed and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” We are set free when we know the truth. And Jesus said, “I am the life.” Jesus meant that we can have a rich, full and rewarding life only through Him.
We can never achieve perfection in our lives because only Jesus was without sin, but if we abide in God’s Word we do not become a slave to sin. Will there still be sin in our lives? Yes, but with a repentant heart our sins are forgiven.
Jesus said in the same chapter 8, verses 34-35; “Most assuredly I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a Son abides forever – meaning if we habitually sin, then we become a slave to that sin, and we serve it instead of serving God, that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In verse 36, Jesus finishes His thought by saying, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
And Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through me. Pretty crystal clear. Not too much room for interpretation or misunderstanding. Jesus said “I am the way”, not one of many. He never said, “I am just a way.”
In a wonderful little book entitled “A Life God Rewards” by Bruce Wilkinson, He addresses this very point through a rather vivid illustration. You’ll remember Bruce Wilkinson as the author of “The Prayer of Jabez” and “Secrets of the Vine” from a few years back. Allow me to share this story from this book:
Rudy had that look. His wife had just introduced him to me at the front of the church, than “unexpectedly” left to attend to other matters. Rudy stood there awkwardly, hands shoved in his pockets. I’m sure he would have given half his life’s savings to be delivered from my presence. I smiled and asked how I could help.
“My wife wants me to get religion” he said scuffing the carpet with the toe of his shoe. I asked him why. He grimaced. “So I don’t go to hell.”
“Are you planning to go to hell sometime soon”, I asked?
He looked at me and burst out laughing. He seemed relieved to find that a Bible teacher might have a sense of humor.