Sunday, June 23, 2013

An Inconvenient Truth

The service began with a greeting and announcements that included:
1. Meeting next week to discuss the building project.
2. Capital Campaign report: last week we took in $100,000 in new pledges and have raised $360,000 so far. The goal is for 100% participation.
3. VBS was better than ever, serving 65 children with at least a dozen who have no church home. 55 volunteers and youth helped in one way or another. Big thank you.
4. The Bloodmobile was here today. We were reminded that giving one pint of blood can save three lives.

The trio led worship today, beginning with a pair of favorites including "First Day In Heaven." After the offering and a time of prayer Brad delivered his message which dealt with the challenging question, "Is Jesus the only way to Heaven?"

An Inconvenient Truth

For the Scripture reading Pastor Brad read the passage from Luke 8 beginning at verse 26 about the healing of a demon-possessed man. He then began his message.

Brad noted that he is routinely confronted with the question, "Is Jesus the only way to heaven?" He knows, even before answering, that it is politically incorrect to suggest that Jesus is the exclusive path to God. This morning he chose to tackle the question head on, in a manner that was direct, unequivocal and yet nuanced.

First, he noted that there are some questions that have no answers. For example, when will Jesus return? When will the world end? No one knows.

In the book of Deuteronomy Moses made an interesting statement. "The secret things belong to God. The revealed things belong to us and our children."

So, on to the question. Are there many paths or is Jesus the only way?  This question is answered directly in Acts 4:10-12.

10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Many people would say this sounds pretty intolerant and close-minded, so they're tempted to change these words. But are all religions different paths that lead to the same mountaintop? Christianity claims that Jesus is the only way to God.

1) Jesus is the only one who rose from the dead. If this is true we need to pay attention to Him.
2) In Jesus God comes to us. In other religions, we look for God.
3) Only Jesus takes care of our real problem: sin. 

G.K. Chesterton noted that "Sin is the one theological concept that is thoroughly provable by observation." The problem is that we can't fix it on our own. Jesus is the only way. Jesus is the only one who can liberate us from having to "try harder."

This position regarding the exclusivity of Jesus results in follow up questions. What about people in Africa who have never heard of Jesus? Or babies who die in infancy?

This is where the words Moses wrote speak to us: The secret things belong to God.

Is this harsh? No, not when we consider the revealed things. God is good. God is merciful. Yes, He is just, but God is likewise compassionate and God is trustworthy.

What puts us in a right relationship with God is not our theology. Rather, it's my recognition that I can't save myself.

God's way is not narrow in this regard. It is inclusive. And when others say they have the truth, Jesus replies, "I AM the truth."

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