Summary: Exploring Jesus claim that He is "the Way, the Truth, and the Light" and that "no man comes to the Father except through [him]".
Last week we looked at the unquestionable and unavoidable claims of Christ…today I want to address a concern that often arises from the sidelines of such claims…
Is one way to God really fair?
It’s a big world…with many following religious traditions within their own culture…isn’t Christianity a bit too narrow-minded…exclusive? What about those who have never heard of Christ? Is it fair that those who live in certain times and places apart from hearing such good news about a savior should be condemned? These are not just the questions of resistant hearts but of faithful hearts as well.
I believe such questions reflect a natural and reasonable concern for fairness. Regardless of how true the claims of the Gospel may be, if they don’t seem fair…its hard for me to give myself to them…to Him.
Yet I also believe such questions are laid upon a backdrop of contemporary assumptions and misconceptions which can misguide our whole perception of fairness in relationship to God. I want to consider what the Gospel declares of God’ love for the world…in all its diversity…and help us to think clearly about the question of fairness.
…An appropriate starting place is that which the Apostle Paul declared as he entered the great city of Athens…stepping out of the Middle Eastern world into the mother city of the Western world.
Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28’For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ’We are his offspring.’
29"Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone--an image made by man’s design and skill. 30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."
Paul is addressing those of great religious and philosophical thought.
Implicit in Paul’s message…and even more explicitly from other portions of Scripture, there are particular points regarding the Gospel that help us to see the issue of fairness more clearly.
1. GOD IS THE PERSONAL CREATOR OF ALL AND DESIRES ALL TO KNOW HIM.
· In our current recognition and respect for being multi-cultural…and concerns for ethnocentrism…Paul reminds us that God is the most multicultural of all! His work is not an “East versus West” thing. God in his sovereignty chose a people…Israel…reflecting neither far East or West as we know it today, …but the Middle East. Began from the fringes, calling out a people who at that time were obscure…outsiders of world power…and in doing so he was preparing to “bless all nations” (nation is Greek “ethnos” i.e. ethnicities)
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (world =cosmos)
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
In this light, just as God is multi cultural…so are we to be, I have no desire to defend “Christianity” in all its Western clothing. There is much that would offend is all in terms of human practice. Rather the question must remain that of Christ’s uniqueness in the world.
…Paul goes on to describe our sin of essentially creating God in our own image.
2. OUR SIN IS ESSENTIALLY ONE OF REFLECTING THE KNOWLEDGE OF OUR CREATOR GOD.
Romans 1:20, 25
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse…. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.