Summary: Jesus is the only way to heaven and all other avenues to truth are counterfeit.
Is Jesus Really The Only Way To Heaven?
Text: Gal. 1:1-10
1. Illustration: Since the death of Jesus Christ, 2000 years ago, 43 million Christians have become martyrs. Over 50% of these were in the last century alone. More than 200 million Christians face persecution each day, 60% of whom are children. Every day over 300 people are killed for their faith in Jesus Christ.— World Evangelical Encyclopedia
2. Now the question I want to ask you today is why would anyone be willing to do that for a lie?
a. If the Gospel of Jesus Christ were not the truth why would anyone be willing to lay down their life for it?
b. My contention with you today is that these scores of people are willing to lay down their lives because the know that Jesus is who he said he was, the Son of the Living God, and that he is the only way to heaven.
3. The Gospel is true because...
a. The Gospel Is Given By God's Authority
b. Jesus Is the Only One To Give Up His Life To Pay For Sins
c. All Other Avenues of Truth Are Counterfeit
4. Let's all stand together as we read Galatians 1:1-10
Proposition: Jesus is the only way to heaven and all other avenues to truth are a lie.
Transition: The first thing we learn from our text is...
I. The Gospel Is Given By God's Authority (1-2).
A. An Apostle
1. The year was probably a.d. 49. Paul and Barnabas had just completed their first missionary journey (Acts 13:2–14:28).
a. Following a brief stay on the island of Cyprus, they had visited Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, cities in the Roman province of Galatia (present-day Turkey).
b. In their travels they had met with both wholehearted response and deep-seated resistance.
c. Shortly after their return to Antioch, some Jewish Christians arrived from Judea.
d. These Judeans claimed that the Antioch church and its missionaries were diluting Christianity to make it more appealing to Gentiles, and they challenged Paul’s authority as an apostle (Life Application New Testament Commentary).
2. Paul opens this letter in a very unusual way. He begins, "This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead."
a. Like many polite ancient letters, Paul’s letters characteristically include a thanksgiving at the outset, but Galatians lacks one.
b. This lack suggests that Paul is angry, and following the proper rhetorical style for a letter of blame, he does not mind expressing his anger explicitly.
c. Letters normally opened with the sender’s name; less often, they included a description of the sender, where that was necessary (The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament).
d. The issue in the Galatian church was they had allowed themselves to be duped by false teachers, and these teachers had also convinced them that Paul was the false teacher and not really an apostle.
e. Paul's world was more hierarchical and authoritarian. To understand this we must sketch what an apostle was in the Jewish and early Christian world.
f. The Greek term for "apostle" (apostolos) is parallel to the Hebrew word shaliach.
g. This Hebrew term was used to describe a personal agent, representative, or ambassador.
h. With this in mind, we can clearly see that Paul saw himself as an official representative of Jesus Christ.
i. He knew he had been called by Jesus Christ and been appointed an official apostle of Jesus Christ, and he knew the implication of being called an apostle.
j. Paul, then, writes as an apostle—as one who has been called personally by Jesus Christ, who therefore represents Jesus Christ, and who has a crucial role in the history of the church.
k. He claims at least that much in the second word of this letter. He expects the Galatians to listen (NIV Application Commentary – Galatians).
l. The great Reformer, Martin Luther, had this to say about the term, "'Apostle' is a modest name but one that expresses both humility and grandeur at the same time. The humility is found in the fact that he is sent as an obedient servant, and people's attention is directed to the sender" (Luther, Reformation Commentary, 7).
m. The point that Paul is trying to make here is that the Gospel that he preaches is the true Gospel, and he is a true messenger of that Gospel, because Jesus Christ himself gave it to him.
3. What Paul writes next is also significant. He says, "All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia."
a. Paul probably wrote from Antioch of Syria. Antioch was the hub of Paul's ministry and the earliest center of Gentile Christianity.