Summary: An apologetic sermon defending the assertion that Jesus is God’s unique provision for salvation.
The Exclusive Claims of the Inclusive Jesus
INTRODUCTION: You know that I teach OT and NT at our local college. Being in that setting enables me to encounter a lot of different people and to get a sense of the way people inside as well as outside the church think.
One of the things I’ve noticed recently is that MOST people believe that truth (and morality based on that truth) is relative and not absolute. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about:
Recently I was talking with some about morals and in the course of our conversation I asserted that all claims to truth are NOT equally valid. I went on to maintain that there exists an external, absolute truth by which we measure all other claims to truth. So just because someone maintains that an idea about God is true or that a moral decision is truly good DOES NOT mean that this is actually the case.
Immediately someone objected: "You’re being so JUDGMENTAL! What are you to say that one claim to truth is superior to another? What’s true for me is true for me and what’s true for you is true for you." This is the argument we hear all the time and it is called "relativism". Relativism maintains that there is NO SUCH THING as an ABSOLUTE, IMMUTABLE TRUTH that is the same for all persons, everywhere and at all times.
What really was disturbing these folks and what disturbs a lot of people is the claim that some things are EXCLUSIVELY TRUE. (In fact the word "truth" has no meaning unless there is the possibility of something being false in comparison.) We’ve seen this kind of reasoning a lot lately in the public discourse as our President tries to avoid the truth by relativizing and deconstructing language. The view that truth is relative is a cornerstone of popular culture today. Pollster George Barna indicates that nearly 75% of Americans do NOT believe in an absolute truth.
I want to assert that this presuppostion is possibly one of the most dangerous qualities of our postmodern world. It is dangerous because if we let it go unchallenged then there is NO REASON to evangelize because all other truth claims made by other religions are equally true!
Furthermore, all moral action is based on what people believe to be true. The world we live in says that morality is RELATIVE and the it is SUBJECTIVE, with each individual person choosing right and wrong based on their own inner desires and preferences.
We have been talking in recent weeks about the all-inclusive love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ invites all humanity into the family of God. No one is excluded from this invitation to relationship. Now God won’t force us into a relationship w/ him, but he has never excluded anyone. Jesus shows this inclusive love in John 6:37b -- Whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
But in spite of the world’s claim that truth and morality are relative there is A REALITY we confront in the PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST who maintains that there are absolutes of morality and truth. This same inclusive Jesus makes some exclusive claims.
I. John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
A. THE WAY: Jesus is the moral absolute. The way implies action. Actions consistent with the Truth are moral acts.
B. THE TRUTH: Truth is a person we can know and embrace, not some abstract philosophical concept fit only for the minds of choicest scholars.
John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 18:37b "Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
Since truth is wrapped up in the VERY CHARACTER OF GOD, an ATTRIBUTE OF GOD, it is:
1. OBJECTIVE: Exists outside of me. God is real and exists independently of me. Not just something in my head.
2. REVEALED: God reveals himself perfectly in Jesus Christ. God wants us to know him and thus God wants us to know the truth.
3. IMMUTABLE: The truth revealed in Jesus Christ is absolutely trustworthy and unchanging. As Hebrews says: Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
C. THE LIFE: Without centering your life in Jesus Christ you are living a false, empty existence. Like drinking seawater when dying of thirst, drinking from the fountain of falsehood speeds our destruction.
II. The consequence of rejecting the TRUTH that is Jesus Christ is that you forfeit any relationship with God. Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."