Wednesday, January 25, 2012

John 14 5 to 11

5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?
10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

Key Observation:
There is only one way to heaven, and that is through Jesus.

Now I come to one of the most important verses in the Bible. This relates strongly to John 10, where Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” Jesus plays the exclusive card here, and since this is God come in the flesh, I should heed what He is saying. He plainly says that He is the way, and that no one comes to the Father but by Him.

Many Christians over the years, especially those who wander into the more liberal camp, and do not want to take the Bible literally have speculated endlessly about religions all pointing the way to the same God. Our current president spent over 20 years belonging to a church that receives those of Muslim faith as co-equals in their church. I live in a society which takes pride in being an inclusive society; such societies have great pride in its tolerance, and as a national policy such tolerance might be a grand idea. But with Christianity, I just cannot go there.

Many years ago now, I got a fellow worker upset at me. I did not say anything nor do anything to anger him. Rather he found out that I was a Christian, and spout off about me he did. And you know something? I deserved every word of it. You see, this worker realized that Christianity is a closed system, and because of his lifestyle, it seemed to him that Christians were excluding him. He was partially right—there are many lifestyles which Christians need to exclude from giving them a seal of approval—that is all part of living, or attempting to live the life to which they have been called. Lifestyles, sinful choices, or a mixture of religions are supposed to be denounced as ungodly. The challenge for me as a Christian is to communicate a love for the sinner, but not for the sin.

But he was correct in thinking of the Christian system as closed. It is closed, and John 14:6 closes one of the main doors very securely. Let me be clear here. There is no sin which cannot be forgiven as the saint turns to Christ, but there are many behaviors which are simply wrong, and I do not have the privilege of calling right that which I am told is wrong. When I have a chance to witness, I like to point to this saying, this verse from Jesus, and simply say that there is only one way to heaven, and that way is through Jesus. The main alternate way has been refused from God from the first of creation; it was Cain who brought his fruits of the soil, only to find that God rejected his offering. Cain, enraged, had vengeance on his brother, and ever since then, man has brought his own offering to please God. It has never ever worked.

Today’s society often suffers from the delusion that God will measure our works, and that if our good somehow outweighs our bad, somehow God will overlook the bad. I have noticed that even bad people tend to think that though the bad is bad, somehow God will overlook that also, and let them into His heaven. Nothing could be more delusional. The reformation brought people back to the Word, and the Word teaches that only by faith can we ever please God. He that comes to God, must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Today we have a doctrine of free grace, and I believe that each of our Reformers would be dreadfully upset at such a doctrine. We are quite guilty of teaching others that all you have to do is mentally assent to Jesus and you will be saved. Make no mistake, I came to God with sin-stained hands, and with the sin nature that I was born to, and freely I am forgiven. But at the same time I am called to live a holy life, a life separated unto God. The reformers expressed this truth regularly—that grace is free, but it is also transforming. When I come to Christ, my life on the outside should become much more circumspect precisely because the Spirit of God has been put inside me. Grace is free, but it also is transforming. The man who is not changed by his faith is a man who should question the reality of that faith.

I know that we are imperfect; indeed, I know my imperfections to a far greater degree than I would tell you. I would not tell God either, but He already knows. And still I have grace! Forgiveness from sin is freely granted, but the life we are called to live, by His power, is filled with a turning away from sin, and towards Christ. The life which is not being changed by His power is a life in peril. Paul does tell us of Christians whose works amount to nothing and at the reward seat of Christ all of their works are burned as by fire.

The answer from the Christian perspective should be clear; there is not any God beside our God, and there remains nothing to be done for those who reject the Son of God. The provision for the world’s sin was fully adequate in every way, and those who disdain it are in deepest peril. Jesus, in John 14:6, took away forever any thinking that we might have about coming to God another way. It is as Jesus said. The pathway to heaven is a narrow one, and few there are that find it, but the road to Hell is broad, and many there are that are found upon it.

A Charge To Keep I Have

1. A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.

2. To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill;
O may it all my powers engage
To do my Master's will!

3. Arm me with jealous care
As in Thy sight to live,
And now Thy servant, Lord, prepare
A strict account to give!

4. Help me to watch and pray,
And still on Thee rely,
O let me not my trust betray,
But press to realms on high.

Lyrics: Charles Wesley

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