Summary: An apologetic response to pluralism that affirms Jesus as the only way to God.
- Following the attacks on September 11th, New York Mayor, Rudy Guilliani spoke before the United Nations. And in his speech he mentioned that on a typical weekend he will visit an Islamic mosque on Friday and a Christian Church on Sunday. Then he commented that both groups worship the same God, but in different ways.
- Is he right? Do we worship the same God in different ways? I guess what I am trying to ask it this... Is Jesus the only way? Or is there more than one way?
- Well, in John 14, Jesus offers some assurances to his disciples. The cross is not far away, and he has already warned Peter of his betrayal. The time is near when Jesus will be arrested, tried and sentenced to death. And in a moment of pastoral care, Jesus offers these comforting and confusing words for his disciples.... 14:1-4
- Actually they didn’t know the way. It still had not crossed their minds that Jesus would leave them. Although he has told them a number of times, they still don’t get it. And finally, Thomas breaks the silence. You remember this is the same Thomas who doubted. The same Thomas who after the resurrection said, "You guys are crazy. I saw him, he was dead, and now you say he is alive. I won’t believe it until I see the marks on his hands, and can put my finger where the nails were."
- This same Thomas speaks up. "Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" That’s the question! How can we know the way to God? What is the way? What path must we take? Whose directions must we accept? And here it comes, the answer to that difficult question.... "Jesus answered, ’I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
- Jesus makes it pretty clear, doesn’t he? The one and only way to God is through me. I am the way. There may be many paths, but I am the only one that leads to God. It’s the same claim that Peter makes in Acts chapter 4, after healing a crippled beggar, Peter says this to the religious leaders of the day...
- Scripture clearly teaches that God saves the world, saves you and me through Jesus Christ. He is God’s way of forgiving us of our sins. Jesus is the cleansing agent. He is the One Way ticked to paradise. He is the "way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through him." End of discussion, question answered. Let’s go home and eat some lunch now.
- But before we do that, if you’re like me, you still have some more questions. And if Jesus were here this morning in bodily presence, perhaps you would want to ask him a few things. For example, if Jesus were here with us, I might get his attention and say, "Now Jesus, you claim that you are the only way to God, and even your Apostle Peter makes it clear that your name is the only one that can save us, but Jesus, I’ve got to ask...
1. What About Other Religions?
- Is the "mountain analogy" of God true. Where God is pictured at the top of the mountain, and man at the base. And religion is man’s way of carving his way up the mountain, some take the direct route, others take wind their way up, but all eventually reach the top in their own way. Is that analogy true of God? One mountain top, many paths.
- After all, aren’t there many good religions out there, and aren’t there good intentioned people who are a part of those religions or who were brought up in those religions. What about them? Is Christianity the only religion that is true?
- Or are all other religions describing the same God in different ways? Is there really any difference between us and, say, Islam, or Buddhism, or Judaism. Many people claim that all of these religions are valid. But often those who claim that all religions are valid and true have not really looked closely at the truth claims involved. Because when one looks closer, we find that often these different religions contradict Christianity in many important ways. And it becomes clear that both of them can not be true, that one has to be right and the other wrong.
- For example, Buddhism teaches that the ultimate goal is Nirvana where all pain and suffering exist no more. And the way to reach this Nirvana is by following the 8-Fold Path to Enlightenment, and then you reach that place of total nothingness.