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13. Is Christ the Only Way? - Part 2

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This is part 4 in a 19-part series on tough issues by Dr. Ken Boa

Let me tell you where we’ve been on this question about how Christ can be the only way to God. So far, we talked about how Christianity is either narrow or it’s not. If it’s not narrow the problem we have is that it would conflict with the clear, exclusive claims of Christ. I gave a number of those claims that He has made in the synoptic gospels and in the Gospel of John. We also saw that the unique claims were claims that referred to His direct claims and His indirect claims. Some direct claims He made were about things that He uniquely fulfilled such as being I AM, the God-Man. The indirect claims made- to be able to have the power to forgive sins- are an indirect claim to being God because only God can forgive the sins of other people that were not committed against ourselves. There are strong claims about His miraculous ministry that were authenticated by the various convincing proofs that He gave. The claims about the resurrection were also fulfilled. There were claims to be the embodiment of the historical Old Testament Messianic prophets and how those spoke about Him. All these texts from Genesis and all the way through the writings and the prophets, Jesus said, bear witness of Me. He said that His life was one that was marked by sinlessness- which of you convicts Me of any sin? He had authority that He claimed was given to Him uniquely by the Father and He said, to hear Me is to hear the Father. To see Me is to see the Father. To believe in Me is to believe in the Father. To deny or reject Me is to reject My Father. To honor Me is to honor My Father. He demanded the same kind of obedience and faith and they would honor the Son even as they honored the Father. Now that word honor is a word that has to do with reverence or worship. The implications are very astounding. When Thomas made the claim, My Lord and My God- if He was not and He accepted that worship it would’ve been blasphemous. The fact that He accepted worship and all these things, we saw, sets Him apart. We saw that He had convincing claims and credentials that backed up those claims.

We moved on to this other issue as well and we talked about the alternatives apart from Christ. We’re reduced to hopeless systems of human efforts. We’ll talk more about this in an upcoming session but can good works really get us into a right relationship with God? We’ll be talking about how the vision of Christianity is unique. It’s not so much a religion but a relationship with a Person. You do not merely believe in a set of principles but you’re putting your trust in a Person. That’s why intellectual assent is not enough. It must be a personal reception. How do you trust a person? You entrust yourself into their care and that has to do then with embracing Him as a person.

Now we said if Christianity is “narrow”, we looked at the assumptions that people make that would make that appear to be wrong. One of those false assumptions was that sincerity makes a thing true. That’s not the case as we have seen again and again. You can be sincere and sincerely wrong. We also saw the assumption that belief makes something true or false. It’s not a question of whether something is true or false by how much you believe in it. You can believe all sorts of things that aren’t true, as people have done throughout the centuries. It’s a question of is there any good reason to think it’s true or false? We also saw the false assumption that if it’s exclusive it must be wrong. This is an idea we’ve picked up and we’ve redefined the word tolerance, even the way we use it in colloquial language. Let’s say you went to a restaurant and you asked somebody if they liked their meal. The person says I tolerated it. You immediately see what the real meaning is. It doesn’t mean that they enjoyed it. It means that they put up with it. Tolerance in its traditional term meant to not necessarily agree with or affirm. In the case of relationships with people, we need to still care for them and love them even when you disagree. That disagreement doesn’t mean a rejection of the person. In our culture, we've redefined the word tolerance to mean that you are affirming it whole heartedly even if you disagree. I’m suggesting here that you can disagree with a person and still not reject them although our world is now telling us more and more that you can’t do that. I’m suggesting that’s not the case. You can agree to disagree but that doesn’t mean you’re rejecting the person. What we have is this mindset that all truth is really up for grabs.

There’s a new book out written by Paul Copan called True For You But Not For Me and it’s a fairly helpful overview of a lot of these tough questions that people ask. It’s a good supplement as well to my book, I’m Glad You Asked. It deals with some of the basic questions you’re going to hear more and more frequently- that’s true for you but not for me. In other words truth is up for grabs because so many people disagree that means relativism must be true. They’ll say, you’re just using western logic. Who are you to judge others? Christians are intolerant of other viewpoints. Paul goes on to say every view by its nature cannot tolerate the other views in the sense of saying that they’re all equally right. It’s not just Christianity that’s “exclusive” if the things disagree the law of non-contradiction is present. Remember the analogy we used last week? If one person says all dogs shed hair and someone else says poodles don’t shed hair, there’s only a couple of ways around that. You can say poodles aren’t dogs and then we can both agree. But if we say poodles are dogs then you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that’s true for you but not for me. It has nothing to do with you or me, it has to do with the thing and whether it’s true or not. That’s what I’m suggesting here. It’s not a question of an opinion. He talks about a number of areas and it’s well worth a look.

We’re suggesting here as well that in looking at the various religions- Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism- that they radically disagree on their view of God. In fact, they disagree within themselves. The philosophical Hindus really have a monistic or pantheistic view of God. There are practical Hindus, which the vast majority of people in India are, who aren’t monists but are rather polytheists. They both can’t be right in the same way and in the same sense. There are some forms of Buddhism that are atheistic and some forms have a god. This god is sometimes personal and sometimes it’s impersonal. I’m saying you can’t have it both ways. They disagree even within themselves. Their view of God, human nature, human destiny, and salvation is different. They could all be wrong but they cannot all be right. When Mohammed says that Christ is not the way but He is a great prophet. He is not what Christians say He is. He is not the way and the truth and the life. You can say that or a person can say that Jesus is in fact the way, the truth and the life but you can’t both be right. Do you see where I’m going with this? You have a very real issue that because they disagree, always in one way or another, they are narrow because they cannot accept each other. This is very true in the academic community where the most intolerant forms of social discourse are forms that promote tolerance and are intolerant of those who do not promote tolerance. This is a major deal going on in seminaries. They are as intolerant and as belittling of people who do not agree with their position, as any fundamentalist would ever have been about people who don’t agree with their positions. Do you see where I’m going with that? You can’t play it both ways there. If you were truly tolerant then you’d also be willing to go along with people who are “intolerant” by your definition.

At the end of the last session we looked at the unique claims of Christ and His unique credentials. These are numerous. We talked about how He claimed to have the power to forgive sins, to be sinless, to fulfill Old Testament prophecies, He would rise from the dead, He would come again and judge the world. That’s a pretty big claim. The judgment of all people would be based upon Him. The nature of this is always the same that they could all be wrong but they can’t all be right. One has to deal with these issues.

Let me read something from Renevare by Richard Foster. Some of you know him from the books he wrote called Celebration of Discipline, The Prayer- Finding the Hearts’ True Desire, and other books as well that are helpful. He makes a comment in this little perspective magazine, “The uniqueness of Christ, this exclusivity, which says that Jesus is the only way of salvation does not set well with modern sensibilities. People today wish every way to be valid, every belief to be true and every sincere person to be right.” But the fact is we live in an age, as he’s saying, where people believe there is no absolute truth and everything is up for grabs. “But the truth be told,” he says, “we’re not in the position to set the rules in these matters.” This is something you need to keep reminding yourself about. This isn’t something we’re making up. You have to decide whether the gospel accounts are right or wrong. But it’s not like we’re making the call and saying that this is the way it is. I’m just taking what Jesus says in those gospel narratives seriously and these are the implications of it. Foster goes on to say, “The law of non-contradiction, the reality that a thing cannot both be and not be at the same time flies in our face every time we try to have things some way other than the way they are.” Take any example from your life that doesn’t have to do with God and religion and bring it down to an earthly plane. I used the example of dogs. One person can say A and one person can say B and they both can be wrong but they both can’t be right. For example, someone at your place of employment is accused of being an embezzler. They’ve been accused of embezzling $5000 from the company funds. The person says, I didn’t do it and another person says he did. Can they both be right? This isn’t complex stuff! What is painfully obvious to us on the earthly plain is somehow elevated to being some abstract mystery when it comes to the spiritual plane. Nobody lives that way in the course of a day. I’m suggesting here that we have two sets of rules. I don’t know where they came from but we somehow throw all logic to the winds when it comes to ultimate reality. We can’t be this way. Tomatoes are either a fruit or a vegetable. Peanuts are either nuts or legumes. You can’t have it both ways unless you want to redefine nuts to be anything you want them to be! We’re playing by two sets of rules. When one person says this and another person says that sometimes equivocation takes place and they are at loggerheads. The law of contradiction says that two things cannot be true at the same time and in the same sense.

Clearly there’s a lot of truth within other religions. You have to understand that sometimes people go too far and throw out the baby with the bath water. There are rich insights in other religions. In fact, they have pretty much the same moral codes. This should not be a surprise. It’s because of general revelation and according to Romans 1 and 2, you’d expect people to have a sense with their conscience about what’s right and wrong. There’s a generally agreed upon moral code. C.S. Lewis’ book, The Abolition of Man, talks about this in great detail. There he calls it the Tao. This Tao, as he uses the term to describe the fact that whether you’re looking at Islam, Confucianism, the Egyptian code laws, the Babylonian code or ancient Chinese codes, you find an incredible moral agreement across cultures and time. There’s a trans-temporal and trans-cultural basic agreement about what’s right and what’s wrong. They all agree that treachery, murder, kidnapping, betrayal and so forth are wrong. Lewis is basically saying that indicates something. We all know and have a sense about right and wrong. Frankly, we live this way. This is why anything you call blameworthy tells you that you’re really appealing to some standard and things you call praiseworthy are appealing to some standard. Everybody, I don’t care whether they’re an atheist or a theist; they have some things that are blameworthy and some things that are praiseworthy in their thinking. You don’t really run into people who basically say it’s a good thing I’m going to do my own thing; I really like injuring babies. We all know there’s something wrong with that. We realize then that if a person would make such an affirmation there’s a psychopath involved. We’re dealing with a person who is pathological in a sense that they do not have or share in the common understanding of what is right and wrong. We live this way in the practical level but when we project it with morality as well as truth on the large level we suddenly go off and become irrational again.

Foster goes on to say, “If Jesus is the way then those who are not in His way are not in the way. Jesus lived, died, rose from the dead and now extends to us, His disciples, the same life and power that He knew when He was among us in the flesh. That is His way. The disciple of Jesus actually has a transforming relationship with God, which those who are not His disciples simply do not have. This is the true exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The reality of people who have turned from darkness to light, turned from fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness and carousing. (That’s just a litany from Galatians 5.) They’ve turned instead to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, faithfulness and self-control. It is an exclusivity of those who are truly living and walking in holiness and power of Jesus Christ. So when it comes down to it we’re claiming that this is the way by which the human life is transformed and there is no other way. There is no other power capable of taking people and changing them in that way. It’s not only that you have a belief system but also it’s Whom you believe in and what that produces in your very life.” Those are some of the issues.

I want to move into a couple of second issues or implications. This one has to do with the Jew. The reason I want to do that is because it’s a question that often surfaces in connection with this issue. The problem facing believers at the very beginning of the church was not how a Jew could become a Christian but how a Gentile could become a Christian. In fact, when word got out that this Roman centurion, Cornelius, came to faith in Jesus the Messiah, what did the Jewish believers say? They said this can’t be. How can a Gentile become a Christian? Who wrote the New Testament? Everybody except Luke was a Jew. Who was Jesus? He was a Jewish rabbi. That’s why most representations of Jesus don’t really look like what He would’ve looked like. He would like more like a Semite. He would have a Semitic appearance. He wouldn’t look like someone from Germany. I remember when I was a kid and they had a picture of Jesus and He looked like some German in the 9th century and I wondered what was He doing there! He had long hair and He looked somewhat feminine to me as well! I said, something’s not right with picture here! You have a very different image though and understand that the gospels are real deliberate about not giving one physical description of Jesus. The only description you’ve got at all of Him and its by implication from Isaiah 53 where it says and also else where; they plucked out His beard and that He has no stately form or majesty that we should be attracted to Him. That’s about the closest you get. There’s a good reason for that because you see, Jesus Christ was the Man for all men and the Man for all people. Therefore He transcends cultures, race and gender. He transcends all those because, in fact, being the God-Man makes it possible for all people to come into the Father’s household. That is a powerful picture.

So the question was, what are you going to do with these Gentiles? Paul says in Philippians 3 how He needed Jesus for salvation even though he was the epitome of a great Jew. He talks about how he was a law keeper, a Pharisee of the Pharisees and he was even so zealous he persecuted those crazy people who supposedly believed in a false Messiah. He says I understood though that righteousness by keeping the law wasn’t going to cut it but rather it had to be righteousness by trusting in Jesus. That’s the only hope I have. Paul says in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Galatians 3:28,”There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” That’s a very powerful and counter cultural vision. The things that divide us even today are overcome in the gospel. He makes a broad road for all who would be willing to see Him. He opens it up and takes all the barriers that we erect and removes them and says, in Christ Jesus, you have a welcome to the Father’s family- all are welcome- whosoever may come in. That’s an incredible concept in an exclusive society. Ephesians 2 cites that He Himself is our peace who made both groups into one, speaking of Jew and Gentile and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall. In 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” So there are not a series of mediators but there’s one Mediator.

That is a verse you ought to keep in your mind’s eye because Paul makes it clear here that there are not several mediators- there’s one. The reason for this, of course, is very clear. It is because it required the God-Man to be the Mediator. So that being the God-Man when He reaches down what He does is He takes on humanity and He takes humanity and raises humanity up into God. We don’t become gods but He raises Himself up and He Himself becomes the God-Man and in the God-Man we can now have a relationship with the Father. Before this, the Father was so transcendent, so holy and so awesome that we couldn’t even hope to reach Him. We see this again about how all human efforts and attempts to reach God fall far short. Look at this chart and see how high our human efforts will get us. Most of us would be little dots somewhere along the bottom of this chart. This dot may be just a little higher because according to human standards this might be the most righteous person that ever walked the earth. You see it’s relative though. So here’s a guy who says if God is fair, He’d better let me in! What is he comparing himself to? On this chart God would be a mile high up so now how is he doing? Our problem is that we compare ourselves with each other. The God-Man couldn’t of died if He wasn’t a man and if He wasn’t God, His death would’ve been merely an example or a martyrdom but it would not have been redemptive. He had to be fully God and fully Man and in being so the God-Man becomes the Mediator between the Father and us. He becomes the way to the Father. These are strong words that He’s made again and again.

 Here’s another verse that you ought to keep in your mind and it’s in Matthew 11. The part I like the most is Matthew 11:28-30, “ Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” By the way it doesn’t say take the law upon you- take My yoke and learn. By the way, learn from Whom? Don’t learn from something else- learn from Me. He is saying true discipleship is the knowledge of Himself. Understand that in all the gospels, everything Jesus talks about is about Himself- very self- reverential here. He’s not saying learn this system, learn these teachings, do that or do the other. No, He says, come to Me. The way of life is Me. By the way, who of us in this room can say that we’re gentle and humble in heart without guffaws from other people? If you stop and think about it, it’s almost preposterous for one of us to say I’m gentle and humble in heart! We almost immediately say- there’s something wrong with that! Somehow, He can say it and get away with it yet He is the most powerful personality who ever lived. How can this be? Somehow you know that what He says is true and yet there’s also an awesome power under control. That’s what humility is- power under control. What we see here is that He is gentle and humble in heart and what does He offer? You shall find rest for your souls. That’s what you and I desperately need in this world of weariness, travail and pain. The world as it was not meant to be. You need rest for your souls- soul rest. You need, in a world of turmoil and outward confusion, an inner tranquility and peace. You need rest. He goes on to say, My yoke is easy and My burden is light- unlike that of the Pharisees. I want you to notice what He said in the verse just before those three verses. He has this strong word in Matthew 28: 27, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” I’d say that’s a very strong claim. I’ll leave you to think about the implications of that claim. They’re pretty awesome and powerful.

Let’s continue on. I’m suggesting here then that the Jews, like anyone else, have to deal with the problem of sin. The standard is set by God’s perfection and it’s found in Isaiah 53, which talks about how we missed it. Isaiah 53:6, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” So there’s only two options in the end in this world- either God’s way or your way. When Adam said not Your will but mine be done, he turned the garden into a desert. Ultimately, he turned this world, which was a paradise into a desert spiritually. When the second Adam said, not My will but Thine be done, He turned that garden into the place as the entry or gateway to heaven. He opened it up. I’m saying that the second Adam has undone the work of the first Adam by saying, not My will but Thine be done. Each of us has turned to his own way. There’s a stubbornness about us is there not? Some of us are more stubborn than others but some of us are better at covering up our stubbornness than others as well. But we’re all pretty stubborn when it comes down to it. You see it in practical ways as well. There are two people fighting for the same parking space. They get there at about the same time and each one thinks they have an absolute right over that spot! The other person deliberately, with forethought and malice, planned to take that spot from you even though they knew very clearly that it was your spot and not their own. Then you get this standoff where they’re both sitting there in their pride and it’s a matter of who’s going to back down. This happens in England all the time on these C roads, one-track roads. The road is usually paralleled by hedgerows and you can’t get off the road so they have little indentions about every 1/10th to 2/10th of a mile and one of you has to back up or no one goes anywhere! Theoretically the person ought to know about where they are relative to that and the one closest should backup. Sometimes it becomes a standoff. I’ve had experiences like that. It’s a loser’s game to do that. You both lose in the process and then pride gets worse and worse. It’s better just to back off and humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and He will exalt you at the proper time! That’s actually an opportunity for your spiritual growth but that’s another thing! Many of us wouldn’t like so many opportunities for growth! The point is we all turn aside.

Paul says in Romans 9-10, “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one.” There is the answer, all of us, Jew and Greek, Paul says, are under sin and therefore we all need the same solution. There’s none righteous, not even one. The solution is to receive this payment that He makes. Romans 3: 29-30, “Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles, also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.” Sometimes people put it this way, aren’t you nitpicking? After all Judaism worships the one true God of the Old Testament and Christianity proclaims Christ as the God of the Old Testament and the God of the Old Testament as one. Therefore, Judaism in reality believes in the same God. That’s one way of framing it. But let’s frame it differently. We could say it this way- Judaism rejects Christ as the Son of God. In Christianity, Christ is the Son of God and the only way to the Father. If that’s true, Judaism in reality has rejected the only way to the Father. You can’t have it both ways. The issue is what are you going to do with this Jesus? Now the thing I must stress when I share this message is that in all humility I’m not making this stuff up. I’m just the messenger and you need to understand that I didn’t make this up. I’m proclaiming the message of One who is utterly unique in the annuals of history and who had unique credentials to back up His claims.

We saw same of His credentials last week. There are numerous ones. His resurrection is not a bad one! He really did fulfill the Old Testament prophecies very literally, graphically and specifically as well. His miracles backed up His claims. John 10: 37-38, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” He was sinless. I would be real scared to make such a claim as that especially in front of people who know me real well especially my wife! These are strong kinds of claims and there are many others as well. He could break the power of disease, of death and of demons. He had authority even over nature. What man is this that even the wind and the wave obey Him? (Mark 4:41) You don’t see any other figure in human history that even comes close to this.

The question is also, first of all, what do I mean by God? A growing number of people will say He’s not a personal being at all but an impersonal force. This opinion has grown very rapidly in the last 20 years. Then secondly, how does one enter into a right relationship? If this God is personal, how is it done? To my mind, I only know of two options. One is by works and one is by faith in the One who has already done the work for us. I can’t think of a third option. I’m suggesting here that now the issue is not just a matter of trusting in Jesus Christ because that’s what we’re telling you to do but because that’s the only way that God has made available by which our sins can be forgiven. I can think of another way of dealing with the sin problem and the only other way I know is works. Now those works can be defined in a variety of ways. They can be prayers- you pray, you give, you do good works for people, you serve the poor, you give to organizations, you serve your community, your raise a good family, you go to church and/or you’re baptized. I’m suggesting that not one of those things in and of themselves cuts it with God because they were works. You were trying to do it in your power. Those things by themselves won’t do it. What I have to look at is what did He claim and what are the implications of those claims. Not all who name the name of Christ will enter into heaven. Matthew 7: 22-23, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” So there’s this issue that I have to deal with here that He Himself is making this claim that not all people who are religious know God.

Question: Inaudible

  Answer: Yes. Basically orthodoxy would say it’s obedience to Torah and Mitzvah, these good works, and on the Day of Atonement, Yon Kipper, there’s the issue of contrition or penance. But basically the mindset is how do I get to know God? I have to do these things and if I do well enough, He’ll let me in or some variation of that. Usually it’s not analyzed like that- usually it’s the idea that I’m helping in my effort to achieve that. Now we’ll talk about good works in another session so I don’t want to get into that now, but I’m just suggesting it’s not up to me to call the rules. In other words, I don’t get to name the rules. If Jesus is the decisive revelation of the Father’s love and offer of a way of knowing Him then I have to take Him seriously. I can say He’s wrong but I cannot say that He’s right and then ignore Him. I can reject Him but I can’t ignore Him. I can accept Him and I can reject Him but to ignore His is to reject Him. People like to say I just don’t want to deal with that. Fine. You’ll deal with it one day if Jesus is who He claims to be and all will stand before Him then. So it’s a prudent idea now to deal with that. That’s why I say I try to help people make a carefully informed decision about Him.

  Question: Are the Messianic Jews Christian?

  Answer: I want to say that Messianic Jews are Christians and Gentiles can be Christians. In fact there are Hebrew Christians also. What I always tell Jewish people is you don’t give up your Jewishness by becoming a Christian any more than an Irishman gives up his Irishness by coming to faith in Jesus. You’re not giving up anything. In fact, you’re gaining something. What you’re doing is you’re finally finding the One about whom the Passover was about. It was about Him. You find that the feasts were about Him and you discover you’re a completed Jew as some use that phrase because all that the Torah, prophets and writings spoke of are fulfilled in this One Person. You now realize that what you’ve been looking for all along has already come. I always stress you don’t become a Gentile when you come to Christ. You’re either a Gentile or a Jew. Now you might be a Gentile Christian or you might be a Gentile non- Christian or you might be a Jewish believer. Paul is stressing this idea when he tells us that the same God and the same way are available for all.

  Question: Romans 2:14

  Answer: It talks about the conscience there if they don’t have the law. Those who have the law- they know the law- will be judged by it. Those who do not hear the law have a law within them. I’m just saying the language itself is pretty strong stuff and he says that to those who by perseverance and diligence and so forth who wish to know God will come to know Him. How that happens is ultimately based on the work of Jesus Christ, which brings us to another session, which is what about those who never heard the gospel? The next obvious question is this, if He is the way, the truth and the life, then what about people who have never heard of Him? Furthermore, what happens to people who are never capable of making a decision? They could be infants who die or let’s say people who never reach an age of accountability intellectually and are mentally deficient. What about people who lived before Jesus Christ? What about people in China, South America, and so forth before any missionaries came? You have to raise that question because of the logical implication of it. We’ll tackle that issue in a following session.

On Sunday, someone asked me, why did God choose the Jews? My answer was that He didn’t choose the Jews but He chose a person, Abram. He made Abram (his name at that time and later he was called Abraham) a father of many. So He chose a person who then became a father of many and He gave him a covenant and said all the nations of the world will be blessed through you- the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Indeed that’s exactly what has happened. Salvation, which came through the Jews, is now available to all. Those who worship the Father must worship Him in two ways; in spirit and in truth. They go together. The Word of God and the Spirit of God go together- the power of God and the truth of God must go together and then true worship is there.

 Some people say, isn’t it rather arrogant of you and unloving and harsh to say that Christ preached that kind of message? I suggest suppose you discovered a cure for cancer and felt like you shouldn’t share it because all these other people have been working so hard to find a cure and they’d be disturbed because it would show that their work was in fact invalid. Do you see the problem? If you have a cure you want to share it. It’s not a matter of arrogance, it’s a matter of saying I’ve found something that’s changed my life. He can change your life too. I’m not saying that I’m a better person than you. In fact, I realize now I’m a whole lot worse than I thought I was. When you come to Jesus two things happen. One thing is you realize that you’re a whole lot worse than you thought you were. The second thing is that you realize God’s a whole lot greater than you ever thought He was. That’s why you realize works aren’t going to cut it. You can’t bridge that gap. Frankly, it’s not a matter of arrogance, it’s a matter of a person saying, I’m the worse person in the sense that I know what I’m like inside. You know what you’re like inside and I take it by faith that maybe you have a problem too. The worse thing we can do is cover it up and suppose that all is well and we’re all just great folks. I’m suggesting that in our lives the cure is more radical than that and it’s called a heart transplant. You need a new nature.

Another text that’s a great reference that I’d like you to know is in Mark 7. This had to do with the laws of purification. By the way, more and more one of the things that has been discovered in the last 30 years in the quest for the historical Jesus is a more clear understanding of how consistent the gospels are with 1st century Palestinian Judaism. It is really a kind of rediscovery of how Second Temple Judaism fits so well in its context. One of the things that Jesus challenged here was the law of purification in Mark 7. He talks about how these people in verse 8 are more concerned about the traditions of men than the commandments of God. He says that you do many things with your traditions and you’re more concerned with them- the oral traditions had become like barnacles that encrusted the truth and you couldn’t even see it anymore. Mark 7:14-15, “After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, ‘Listen to Me, all of you, and understand; there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.” Mark 7:17-20, “When He had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. And He said to them, ‘Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?’(Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He was saying, ‘That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.” He’s saying it’s not what you put in but what comes out of your mouth- from within- that defiles. Now here’s the verse, Matthew 7:21-23, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness, all these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Jesus’ view of human nature is a little different than human psychology.

I think He’s got us all. Do you see the problem? His analysis of the human condition is that we have an inside problem, not an outside one. If our problem were external then we could clean up our act by doing certain things and every thing would be cool. He’s saying you have so externalized the law; you’ve failed to see the inside. That’s why the Sermon on the Mount says it’s not a question of just murdering your brother; it’s a question of hating him. That’s like murder because it’s not just what you’ve done but what you think and the attitude of your heart, which means that it’s a lot worse than we thought. All of us violated the commandments of God. Some of them are more obvious than others- I haven’t murdered, I haven’t committed adultery but I’ll let you think that through in your thought life. Of course the one that always gets you is coveting. If someone says they’ve never coveted, there’s something wrong with their analysis of themselves. They have a deficit understanding- let’s put it that way! We will continue next week.


Related Topics: Apologetics

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