One True Faith [10-25-20]


Imagine the scene. You're sitting across from a middle-aged woman. She's been in poor health. Her family has a history of breast cancer. She has just told you that she doesn't think she's at risk for breast cancer and has refused a mammogram. How would you respond?


When questions of truth carry life-and-death consequences, we shouldn't be afraid to have truthful conversations with each other. As someone once said, "It's often said that you should respect other people's beliefs. But that's wrong: what's vital is that you respect other people." That's always a good thing to remember.


Today, we're going to look at the exclusive claim of the gospel that there is salvation through Christ and Christ alone. There is such a thing as absolute truth. Some things are absolutely right while other things are absolutely wrong. It is proclaimed in the Bible and we have seen it in the person of Jesus Christ. We are unafraid and unashamed to stand firmly in that truth.

Is Jesus Christ, and his death on the cross, the only way to be saved?

Here's what Jesus said in John 14:6:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Jesus himself is saying there isn't any other pathway to the Father except through him. Later, in Acts 4:12, Peter says, "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Peter is taking the words of Jesus and holding them up to us, saying this is our mission. This is our purpose. This is our point. Salvation is through Christ and Christ alone. There is no other name you can call on in order to be saved.


Compare that with a bumper sticker someone saw:

MY GOD IS TOO BIG FOR ANY ONE RELIGION

That's dumb. Like that bumper sticker from years ago proclaiming, "Jesus is my copilot." Wow! How big of you…relegating the King of the Universe to the role of your copilot - second in command. I don't think people thought through what that meant when they slapped it on their bumpers.


No, all paths don't lead to heaven. That's not the way Jesus said it works.


Here's something you might want to write down:

Jesus as a Litmus Test

Jesus makes a decisive declaration about absolute truth when he says, "You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also" {John 8:19}. Jesus Christ as the crucified and risen Messiah is the litmus test of faith. If somebody embraces the Jesus of John 8:19, then they have saving faith. That's what I mean by Jesus as a litmus test. Knowing Jesus is the condition of truly knowing the Father, the One True Living God, the Creator of the universe.


Are you with me on that? Anyone who claims there are many paths to God; anyone who claims that it doesn't matter what you believe as long as your beliefs are sincere; anyone who proclaims in bumper sticker theology that their God is too big for any one religion; that person has rejected what Jesus himself says in John 14:6 and 8:19. In other words, if you don't know Jesus, you can slap all kinds of spiritual bumper stickers on your car, but it won't mean a thing.

Several years ago, there was an evangelism event in the Twin Cities of

Minnesota. A parachurch organization, Jews for Jesus, were going to canvas communities to talk to Jewish people about Jesus. A prominent rabbi wrote an op-ed piece in the local newspaper, claiming, "Christians must abandon the idea that Jews must be converted. This is one of the greatest scandals in history." You would expect that. Nothing surprising or unusual about his argument.


The paper also published a response from a prominent evangelical pastor. It was predominately quotes from the Bible, including this one from 1 John 5:12:

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

His response generated a response {what a wild merry-go-round} from 12 big church mainline pastors. Here's the gist of their letter:

Arrogant is the right word to describe any attempts at proselytizing - in this case, the effort of Christians to win over their Jewish brothers and sisters.


How scandalous…to want to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with

unbelievers. And this charge coming from pastors, nonetheless. Here's

what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:23:

But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to

Gentiles.

Now, I could see how this would be a waste of time if one believed that Jesus Christ is not necessary for salvation. But if you believe Jesus is the way and the truth and the life; that he is necessary, then we need to say it lovingly and courageously. Amen?


Again, in the words of Jesus:

Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

- John 5:23

Jesus makes the honoring of himself a litmus test for honoring the Father. Jesus is making claims of exclusivity. All paths don't lead to the same truth. Only Jesus leads to the Father. Or as John 6:45 says, "Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me." In other words, if a person won't come to Jesus as the Savior, as the One who died for sins, and as the one who rose from the dead, then Jesus says, no matter what kind of slogans they live by, they haven't learned from the Father.

Whether you call it absolute truth or objective truth, our world doesn't like it. Our world likes a soft, fluffier truth. Most people like to think that truth is something you feel, something that's good for you. The truth isn't "out there," it's in here. Therefore, what is true for me is true for me, and what is true for you is true for you. "I'm living my truth," is how some put it. That's how it works for some people. And before you know it, the lines get blurred between the exclusive claims of the gospel and every other religious teaching on the planet.


I love how C.S. Lewis described it. Let's look at John 11:25-26:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

As Lewis argued, this is the teaching of an egotistical maniac or an evil manipulator or God in the flesh.


What are you going to say to nonbelievers about who Jesus is? Our culture says we have to be open-minded. Yet we are called to hold on to the absolute claim of one true faith. And there's the challenge. We respect other people while at the same time holding fast to the truth that salvation is in Christ and Christ alone. That's the scandal of the gospel. We can't be

afraid of it.


Here's something else you might want to write down:

THE PROBLEM OF JESUS

It's not bad or wrong to believe that people you know and love, if they're not devoted followers of Jesus Christ, are going to spend eternity separated from God. All you are doing is affirming a Biblical truth. You are not deciding or determining anything. It would be witchcraft or some kind of voodoo magic to think that if you believed all beliefs lead to heaven, that's going to make it so. Or to believe that when someone holds fast to the Biblical truth that salvation is in Christ and Christ alone, that somehow you're a mean person who wants people to be separated from God for eternity. Absolute silliness. Salvation has already been determined before the foundation of the world.


Just because I have a desire in my heart to think that all people go to

heaven doesn't make it true. No matter what my heart wants to believe, it

doesn't make it Biblical. Biblical truth is Biblical truth regardless of my feelings, wants, or desires.


Who you want to see in heaven or think you'll see in heaven or who you

would be heartbroken not to see in heaven is irrelevant to Biblical truth. My thoughts or wishes don't determine Biblical truth. The desires of your heart cannot change, shape, or alter the teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Salvation is in Christ and Christ alone.


I love how John Piper marries the notions of diversity, which we talked about last week, with the exclusive claims of the gospel. It really is a beautiful thing to think about:

One of the glories of our faith is that there is no geographic center. There is no holy shrine. There is no national identity. One would be hard-pressed to argue that we are a Christian nation. We are aliens and exiles on the earth. We are out of step with every human authority and institution. Jesus is no tribal God. He is Author of all life and the Lord of the universe.


In the end, Jesus says he rules over all of heaven and earth. He presents

himself not as one possible path to God, but as God himself. We may choose to disbelieve him. But he cannot be one truth among many. Jesus has not left us that option.