Summary: If I believe the Bible, I must say that Jesus is the only way!
Rev. Brian Bill
March 5-6, 2016
In a video message to churchgoers, one of the most-recognized religious leaders in the world made this stunning statement: “Many think differently, feel differently, seeking God or meeting God in different ways. In this crowd, in this range of religions, there is only one certainty that we have for all: we are all children of God.”
A popular pastor and best-selling author unveiled his belief in universalism when he said this: “There may be many ways to Jesus.”
On Monday I listened to a so-called pastor preach these words: “The Christ is you and he lives in you. He’s your travel guide to the steps along the way to enlightenment.”
And here are some common quotes that many Americans and some Christians hold to:
It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.
Good people go to heaven.
My God wouldn’t send anyone to Hell.
Good works will get you to heaven.
Whatever works for you is true for you.
It’s arrogant to believe there’s only one way to heaven.
Dr. Howard Hendricks used to say, “A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pew.” I’ll make sure there’s no mist up here if you’ll make sure there’s no fog out there. You may not agree with everything I’m going to say but could I ask you to not shut down? I urge you to understand and apply what you’re going to hear…because your eternity literally depends upon it.
In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Here’s the big idea, the main point, the sermon in a sentence: If I believe the Bible, I must say that Jesus is the only way. Let me make it more personal. If you do not believe in, and receive Jesus Christ, as the only way to heaven, you will spend eternity in the neverending fires of hell.
That’s quite an opening, isn’t it? What I just said is politically incorrect but it is biblically correct. We could call this tough truth…and gracious good news.
We shouldn’t be surprised that our culture and even some religious leaders reject the truth of Christianity. What is shocking is that according to a 2008 Pew Forum poll of 35,000 Americans, “57% of evangelical church attenders believe many religions can lead to eternal life.” This study found a “growing pluralistic impulse toward tolerance…” Many were so stunned by these findings that the Pew Forum went back and did further polling. Unfortunately, the results were confirmed.
And things have only gotten worse since 2008. The “nones,” a category that includes people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, now make up 23% of adults, up from 16% just eight years ago. 7.5 million Americans have “lost their religion” since 2012. A new book summarizes the spiritual state of this growing segment of the population. Here’s the title: Not THAT Kind of Christian. The subtitle says it’s for “Nones, Dones and Prodigal Sons.”
My aim today is lofty and perhaps unattainable. I want each of you to agree with this statement by the time we’re finished: If I believe the Bible, I must say that Jesus is the only way.
Ray Pritchard says there are at least six challenges when preaching that Jesus is the only way.
1. Many of us already know the answer to this question.
2. Most of the world gives a different answer than we give.
3. A number of churches give a different answer than the one we give.
4. Some who agree with our answer don’t like to talk about it openly.
5. Many people react negatively when we say that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Sometimes they hurl bitter invectives at us, using words like arrogant, bigoted, intolerant, exclusive and narrow-minded. They may call us hatemongers.
6. There are some who would ban us from saying publicly what we believe. That’s certainly the case in some parts of the world where Christians are being persecuted and is increasingly becoming prohibited in our pluralistic culture.
We’re not insulated from this in our community. It’s tempting to think that the Quad Cities is saturated with churches that are getting the gospel out. Not so much. In a recently released Barna study, our community is #27 on the list of America’s top churchless cities. There’s only one other Midwestern city that ranked higher (or lower) – Flint, Michigan (how sad about their water situation). That means that God has placed us in the second most churchless metro area in the Midwest! Let’s continue to live on mission for Him as we present Jesus as the only way to the Father.
Last week Jason Crosby did a great job preaching on Jesus as the Good Shepherd, pointing out that the word “good” shows that Jesus is in a category all by Himself. He is the good shepherd.