KNOWNIN’ WHERE YOU ARE GOIN’
(I began this sermon by flipping a coin several times asking folks to guess if the result would be heads or tails. After several tosses, only a few people had been right ever time.)
There is much in this world that is uncertain and unpredictable. Will the value on the markets go up or down? Which team will win the ballgame? What is the weather going to be?
We have been talking recently about dealing with our honest doubts, but today I want to talk about assurances and absolutes. About what in your life are you most certain? Are you certain that you are going to heaven?
When it comes to religion, it is increasingly difficult to convince folks of absolutes. This is because people today don’t necessarily embrace absolute truth, when it comes to religion and when it comes to eternal issues here is what you are often going to hear today. It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere. What is true for me may not be true for you. The only important thing is that you believe in God.
Barna Research Group recently offered some survey statistics that back that affirms this cultural mindset. Their website states that 43% of Americans said it doesn’t matter what religious faith you follow because they all teach the same lessons. In addition, it concludes that 50% of Americans believe that all people are eventually saved or accepted by God no matter what they do. While these reflect disturbing trends, lets begin by conceding a couple of acknowledgements.
Acknowledgement: There are similarities in many world religions
Most religions teach that there is a divine creator. Most religions hold that human life is sacred. Most religions affirm basic moralities (such as faithfulness in marriage and our responsibility to our family.) The Biblical principle to Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:31) will resonate across religious lines. Also, most religions teach that there is an afterlife
Acknowledgement: Do not confuse this to mean religions are all essentially the same.
Buddists don’t believe in a God and they don’t believe in any type of final or eternal existence. Buddha taught nothing is permanent. Buddists believe enlightenment is achieved by good deeds (karma). Hindus do believe in a god but their god is impersonal and can be approached through countless sub-deities, smaller gods (300,000 of them) and through statutes or through idols. They hold to no literal “heaven” after death but reincarnation until a state of enlightenment is attained. Muslims believe in a single personal God, Allah, but Allah has no secondary deities and has a total ban on idols. Their aim is to reach heaven and avoid hell.
Christians believe in the Trinity, a three in one God who is very personal. Our salvation is possible as a gift that forgives our sins through Christ, there is the potential of supernatural help and the God is a very personal God with a promised and real afterlife.
So while we can acknowledge that different religions have similarities, at their roots, they cannot all possibly be true. And, as we see next, truth matters.
TRUTH MATTERS AND IS NOT “RELATIVE”
Something “relative” means it changes and is conditional. Truth, however is reliable, trustworthy, accurate, and dependable. We understand this in other disciplines. In music, the note “A” is always an “A” no matter what else you may want or need it to be. In math two plus two equals four no matter how much you want it to equal five.
Truth Is Not Relative To My Sincerity.
To those folks who profess, It does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere, remember this: You can be sincerely wrong. I was driving to a local business recently and when I got to the place I was sure it would be…it wasn’t there! But I was sincere in that I really believed THAT was the location.
Truth Is Not Relative To My Desires
To those who believe that, if you just believe something enough, it will come true, or you act like something is true because I want it to be true, remember this: truth does not conform to our desires.
Let me illustrate what I mean: Let’s say that you’re going to get on an airplane this week and you’ve got a pilot who has been trained by the best and he gets in and he looks at the cockpit and there’s all of these buttons everywhere and he is thinking okay, I know that I have been instructed that this one does this and this one does this and I’m supposed to do this. But, I’m thinking today that all buttons are the same. I mean I know you tell me there’s a difference but in my mind they’re all equal. It doesn’t matter which one you push. And, there’s a guy I’m supposed to listen to at the control tower and he’s telling me I’m supposed to take off to the north, but you know what I’m not feeling north today, I’m feeling a little more southeast. You will get off that plane as quickly as possible.
The end of the book of Judges describes God’s people in these words: In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. (Judges 21:25 NLT) I admit that sounds good and we affirm giving people the right to make free choices, especially in matters of faith. But that is a formula for considering truth to be only what I want it to be.
JESUS CLAIMED TO BE THE SOURCE OF TRUTH
Someone once observed that there was exceptional comfort in the red letters of his Bible. Among those words of Jesus include these strong claims about truth.
In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." John 18:37
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life John 14:6 NIV
In that same passage He said some things that we can believe as absolute truth with regard to heaven.
TRUTH – HEAVEN IS REAL
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. John 14:1-2 NIV
Jesus assures us that when it comes to the matter of our eternity, we need not be troubled. A troubled heart is one that does not have the question of eternity settled. A troubled heart is one that tries to navigate through life without knowing where its going to spend eternity. Jesus loved, respected His disciples enough that he would have told them to stop believing in heaven if it were not real. But it IS.
People are free to choose to follow a religion that does not believe in a heaven. They may hold that there is no God and that all we have is this earthly life. But lets be clear that the claim that there is no heaven is in direct contradiction to what Jesus said.
Last year I read the book Heaven Is Real. It is the story of Colton Burpo written by his father Todd. I cannot explain all this little boy says he saw in heaven during a near death experience. Still, I believe heaven is real ultimately not because a little boy said so, but because Jesus says so.
TRUTH – HEAVEN IS PERSONAL
I am going there to prepare a place for you John 14:2b NIV
I love to travel. But it does not take too many days before I long to get to my place.
It is nice to have your own place prepared for you. I have stood over the grave of many Godly saints and quoted this promise, affirming that Jesus completed for them an eternal home that is even more fitting than those here on earth.
Heaven is also personal in that we have personal contact there with Jesus.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3 NIV
One of my earliest memories is my mother explaining to us children in the car what happens to us when we die. She put it this way: Jesus takes us to live with Him. I cannot think of a better way to explain it.
Being in Jesus’ presence is what makes heaven heaven. Not pearly gates nor golden streets nor angels song, but being absent from the body and present with the Lord. Remember that to the thief on the cross dying next to him Jesus said, Today you will be with me in paradise.
TRUTH – HEAVEN IS AVAILABLE THROUGH JESUS ALONE
Here’s what Jesus claimed. You don’t have to agree, you don’t have to believe, but he claimed this
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 NIV
You have to admit that that is a very exclusive claim from Jesus. Mohammad didn’t make this claim, Buddha didn’t make this claim, Confucius didn’t make this claim, Jesus made this claim.
Let me borrow some logic used by C.S. Lewis to apply to this claim:
If Jesus made that claim that but really didn’t believe it – He was a liar. And if he was Liar, He was a good liar. He fooled all the disciples into leaving their homes or family. And if they were in on the lie, then they knowingly died for a lie. If Jesus made that claim, really believed it, and it is not true – you can get to heaven…you can come into a relationship with God without Him, then Jesus was some kind of a lunatic, out of touch with reality. If Jesus made that claim and it is true, bow down to Him as Lord.
So, here are your options about Jesus: You can write him off as a bold faced liar. You can dismiss him as a crazy lunatic or You can bow at his feet and call him Lord. Before the religious leaders Peter preached, Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12 NIV
Put your faith in Jesus so you are Knowin’ where you are Goin.’ Trusting in Him is the way of truth and, as Jesus said, Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32 NIV There is great freedom and peace with the assurance that you are knowing where you are going.
Jesus asked his disciples: Who do you say that I am? Matthew 16:15 NIV I do not know how you may say that today, but one day I know exactly how you will answer that question:
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11 NIV
There are those of you that God has been working in your life long before this hour together today and that circumstances and situations have been moving and you’re asking some real questions and today, by faith, you are ready to say something that you have never really said before and that is “Jesus I want you to be my Lord, I believe that’s who you are”. Surrender to Him. Tell Him that He can transform your life in the way He desires. Call on the name of Jesus and say I believe you are who you say you are, forgive me.
Many of you are believers in Jesus, you are Christians, you are disciples of Christ and you have a lot of friends or family members, maybe your spouse, maybe your kids, maybe some siblings, maybe your parents, maybe someone that you work with, maybe a sorority sister, maybe someone in your science class, maybe someone at the gym, someone that you love that believes:
There are many ways to God. All paths lead to God. or
Doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.
You know somebody like that, that you really love and they’re special to you and you want to pray for them today. Speak their names before God right now and in your own words just ask God to reveal himself. If you are really bold, ask God to use you to help that person understand and trust in Jesus. For all things are possible with God