Summary: Fourth in a five part series that attempts to answer hard questions about God, the Bible and faith.
Here in the United States we worship the ability to make choices. We choose our political leaders, the kind of movies and TV show we watch, the kind of music we listen to, the products we buy at the store and even the people we associate with. And if you have any doubts about our addiction with the ability to make choices, just go to the Cheesecake Factory. If you’ve been there recently you may have been overwhelmed by their menu, which is really not a menu; it’s actually a 21-page book with 250 different items to chose from.
So it’s not entirely surprising that when it comes to our religion that people want to make their own choices. Therefore, when Jesus claims that He is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him, most people find that to be “too exclusive” and “intolerant”. And surprisingly that is even true among some of those who claim to be born again believers in Jesus.
A Barna Group survey completed in 2011 found that 59% of adults agreed with the statement that “Christians and Muslims worship the same God even though they have different names and beliefs regarding God”. And 43% agreed that “the Bible, the Koran and the Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same spiritual truths”. But what is really troubling to me is the fact that 26% of those who identify as born-again Christians believe that it doesn’t matter what faith you follow because they all teach the same lessons and 40% indicated that they believe that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
That leads me to believe that in a group like the one we have assembled here this morning, there are likely many of you who are struggling with the question that I’m going to address today:
Is Jesus really the only way?
Like the question we covered last week – How can a loving God send anyone to hell? – I think we tend to ask that question, not so much because we don’t personally believe that Jesus is the only way to God, but rather because we think of all the people we know who seem to be really good people, but who have not put their faith in Jesus. And we just want to believe that for them that perhaps there is some other path they have taken that also leads to God.
Some of you may have heard of the parable of the blind men and the elephant. There are a lot of different versions out there, but they all tell basically the same story.
Six blind men visit the palace of the king and encounter an elephant for the first time. Each touches the animal and then announces what he has discovered.
The first blind man puts out his hand and touches the side of the elephant. "How smooth! An elephant is like a wall." The second blind man puts out his hand and touches the trunk of the elephant. "How round! An elephant is like a snake." The third blind man puts out his hand and touches the tusk of the elephant. "How sharp! An elephant is like a spear." The fourth blind man puts out his hand and touches the leg of the elephant. "How tall! An elephant is like a tree." The fifth blind man reaches out his hand and touches the ear of the elephant. "How wide! An elephant is like a fan." The sixth blind man puts out his hand and touches the tail of the elephant. "How thin! An elephant is like a rope."
An argument ensued, each blind man thinking his own perception of the elephant was the correct one. The king, awakened by the commotion, called out from the balcony. "The elephant is a big animal," he said. "Each man touched only one part. You must put all the parts together to find out what an elephant is like." Enlightened by the king’s wisdom, the blind men reached agreement. "Each one of us knows only a part. To find out the whole truth we must put all the parts together."
This story is often used to illustrate the idea that every religious faith represents just one part of the larger truth about God. Each one has only a piece of the truth that ultimately leads to God by a different route. On the surface that sounds very reasonable, but this morning we’re going to see the obvious flaws in using the parable in that way and show why it is just not possible for many different paths to lead to the same God and why, in fact, Jesus is the only way to God.
6 REASONS I CAN BE CONFDIENT JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY