2000 years ago Pontius Pilate asked the question that is still being asked today by millions upon millions of people, "what is truth?" (John 18:38).
Jesus answers this question in John 14:6. Let's read it in context and then focus exclusively on verse 6.
John 14:1-6 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
This verse presents numerous ideas that are being challenged now more than perhaps any other time in the history of mankind. Using the next several Sunday nights, I would like to set the conditions for what I believe Berean Baptist church must contend for more now than ever.
Now let me first begin by defining what I mean by BBC. I certainly do not mean the physical facilities. These buildings contribute very little in the way of contending for the faith. Nor do I mean me; although, I certainly will strive to lead by example in my earnest desire to ensure that BBC is contending for these ideas. Nor am I limiting the responsibility for the application of this sermon to pastors, deacons, and teachers.
No, the responsibility to contend for these truths must be accepted by every member of this church and most especially when the church is NOT corporately assembled.
We must stop thinking of others as missionaries. Furthermore, we must stop thinking of evangelism or soul-winning as that which I do 1 hour a week. In America, every Christian must begin living as though they are a missionary in a foreign culture whose God is not the God of the Bible.
We must contend for the faith as Jude commands us at all times, in all places, with all people.
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
We must never forget that God commands all men, everywhere to REPENT. The admonishment and command to REPENT is not optional. It is not limited to any particular people group. No one is excluded. Atheists, Agnostics, Catholics, Muslims, Mormons, JWs, Native Americans, Hindus, Buddhists, and Baptists must all repent.
Furthermore, the reality is that Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism are no longer the religions of some countries on the other side of the planet. Instead, America is increasingly becoming one of the most religiously diverse societies in the world and a 5 minute gospel presentation is no longer sufficient.
A for Acknowledge, B for Believe, and C for Confess will not cut it in the 21st Century.
Likewise, F.A.I.T.H. or Way of the Master should be seen as just a starting point in every Christian's responsibility to be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within them.
We will not encounter the people who need the truth of John 14:6 in the church; in the vast majority of cases, these people do not come to the church on their own initiative. We must establish relationships with people outside the church and invite them into this community of believers. Then, only if they encounter something that can be described as counter-cultural will there be any chance that they are compelled to explore the God of this community more!
Truth #1: There is a God
Father: Let's begin by examining the word "Father." First, we notice that there is a Father to which to go. There is no possibility that "Father" in John 14:6 refers to Joseph—the adopted earthly father of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Father in this verse is a heavenly Father and He is referred to as such six times in Matthew and Luke.
Jesus told his disciples to pray to their Father who is in Heaven.
The New Testament refers to God as "God the Father" 14 times. Every apostle listening to the words of Jesus understood that Jesus was making direct reference to God.
Colossians 1:3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.
I submit to you that the number one truth that we must earnestly contend for in the year 2008 is the reality that there is a God.
According to the George Barna Research Group, 55% of Americans look to themselves for the answers to crises, life's questions, difficulties, and challenges, as if to presume that man is born with some kind of an internal GPS or navigational aid.
Man is not the superior intellectual being of the universe. There is Someone greater than man. Man is not the center of the universe. Man is a created being, created NOT by accident, but by a Creator God.
Now some may suppose that it isn't necessary to contend for the truth that there IS a GOD. For the polling data taken all across the United States indicates that the vast majority of Americans believe that there is a God. However, in practice there is no indication that these same Americans feel any sense of responsibility to this God. Therefore, what we may be contending for in more detail is NOT only the reality of this God BUT the obligation to answer to God the Father. We must contend for a God who created every human being with a purpose.
Therefore, we must ensure that those who we interact with acknowledge the existence of God. You and I must siege opportunities to present the truth that this God IS Superior and controls every person's eternal destiny. He must be seen as The Owner of all things.
The Father is Sovereign; the Father is the leader; the Father is the boss; that is why He is the Father. He is the patriarch of the family; where the family is defined as every people, group, tribe, culture, and nation on this planet. The psalmist said it like this:
Psalm 150:6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
He did not say praise a LORD but "the LORD."
Finally John 17:3 makes it clear that there is "only one true God."
John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
TRUTH #2 God must be defined according to the Bible.
Now truth #2 further defines the "who" of God the Father. We are living in a time where if one believes in God they struggle at defining that God. Every man and woman has a God of their own choosing.
"My God is different from your God and don't you dare try and define that God contrary to the God I have created in my own perception and belief system." But the God the Father of John 14:6 has a Son and His Name is Jesus. This Jesus, as revealed in the New Testament, is the express image of God and defines who God is more adequately than any other god.
The God of the New Testament exists as God the Father, Son, and Spirit. This God has appeared to man in the flesh in the form of His Son Jesus Christ. Without the Son, this is not the same God. The Jew who denies that Jesus is God is not talking about the same God. This Jew may be a descendant of Abraham and may believe in the God of Abraham, but the God of Abraham has further revealed Himself to mankind post Abraham and in doing so, clearly revealed that He has One and only One Son - who is also God.
If Abraham were alive today He would be a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.
The Mormon who speaks of Jesus as His Savior but then makes Jesus a created being with an eternal brother is NOT worshiping, praying to, or believing in the same Jesus or God.
God is life; and the Son in John 14:6 is life. Jesus' said "I am life." God is the source of all life and life eternal and now the one speaking in this verse also claims beyond a doubt that He is life—this is unequivocal claim to DEITY.
Furthermore, this is the sixth time in the gospel of John that Jesus referred to Himself as "I AM" of the "I AM THAT I AM" of the Old Testament.
In the 21st century, we must earnestly contend for the clear defining of the inclusion of Jesus in the Godhead. Without Jesus we are not talking about the same God.
The testimony of the Apostles is summed up very clearly in Acts 20:21
Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Repentance toward God is NOT sufficient; faith must be placed in the finished work of the LORD Jesus Christ. Faith in God is not sufficient—unless this God is further defined as the Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
When those present on the day of Pentecost asked Peter what they must do, he told them that they were to be baptized in the name of the Jesus Christ.
Over and over again the apostles used every opportunity to point people to Jesus Christ and establish the link between the Son and the Father.
And I would say to you that we must follow their example NOW more than ever. 100, 200, 300 years ago one could say "God" in the Western World and it was understood that the God they were referring to had a Son who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, was born of the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, was crucified, buried and on the third day rose from the grave.
Considering all the doctrinal and heretical issues with the Roman Catholic Church—there was never a denial of the Trinity. Today, the influence of every church that communicates that God exists as a triune "God" is not sufficient to influence the post-modern world. We must do more.
I believe the reason for this is because we are walking around with blinders on somehow believing that when we say "God" everyone understands and defines that God the same way. It is high time Christians wake up to the reality that this is no longer the case.
The world must know that the God of Christianity exists as God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This now sets the conditions for the third truth that must be earnestly contended for in the 21st century.
TRUTH #3: The Exclusivity of Jesus as the Only Way to the Father
This is the central truth of John 14:6. In the context of the imminent death and departure of our Lord, Jesus tells Thomas, the others listening, and millions of future readers, that He is the true living way to the Father.
John 14:6 is the most exclusive verse in the entire Bible.
Do you watch the CNN? Do you watch FOX? Do you watch shows in which Christian leaders are interviewed? Over the Christmas break, I watched two interviews. First with the preacher of one of the largest congregations in America, and then I watched an interview with the Baptist Presidential Republican Candidate Mike Huckabee.
In both cases, the interviewer asked the tough question (and I am paraphrasing) is there salvation outside of Christ? Neither interviewer used those exact words. But that was the question. And, in both cases these leaders wavered. Under the direct question "Is there salvation outside of Jesus Christ?" these men hesitated, back peddled, and were not definitive.
Why? Why? Why are they wavering? Do they not read the same New Testament that I read?
What more would Jesus have had to say in order to fully communicate exclusivity?
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
No man, woman, or child can come to the Father but by me. Other translations use the words "except by me." "Except" is an exclusive word.
Why are we giving men and women hope that doesn't exist outside of Christ? Why are we afraid of alienating millions of people? Are we more concerned with those humans or the one true God of the universe and His name and glory!
Let's consider for a few minutes the ramification of denying the exclusivity of Christ:
1. First, if there is salvation outside of Jesus, we make Jesus a liar. The reliability of this text is without question. There are no issues with this text. We don't have a scenario whereby the manuscript support for this text is in question. On the contrary, God has sovereignly preserved the testimony of Jesus in John 14 through numerous Greek and Latin manuscripts from Africa, Asia Minor, and the Middle East.
There are only two scenarios. Either Jesus is the one and only way to the Father or He is a liar and cannot be trusted to be honest about anything. He therefore is a sinner and did not atone for the sins of anyone. Furthermore, He is not God and did not rise from the grave and we are all followers of a liar or lunatic.
2. Second, if there is salvation outside of Jesus, then His crucifixion was completely unnecessary. If those outside of the shed blood of Jesus Christ can still be saved by some other merit, then there was no reason for Christ to die on a tree.
Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
3. Third, if there is salvation outside of Jesus then the testimony of Scripture is destroyed. Consider the following verses:
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name [the name Jesus Christ] under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
The Apostles understood that there wasn't salvation in any other but Jesus.
Consider what happens to Matthew 7:13-14 when Jesus is no longer the only way to the Father
Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
The denial of the exclusivity of Christ turns these two verses on their head if Jesus isn't the only way. Now the entire verse needs to be read and presented in an entirely different manner. The way to the Father is no longer narrow. It is now very broad.
In John 10:7, Jesus said He was the door; He did not say a door or one of the doors—He said the door.
What about 1 John 5:12?
1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
The exclusiveness of this verse is completely destroyed if there is life outside the Son of God. He that hath not the Son of God has not life.
4. If we deny the exclusivity of Jesus as the only means to the Father, then the love and character of God the Father is called into question. What kind of God would crucify His Son if there was a means whereby men could be found acceptable outside of the cross?
The cross is the greatest assurance that our God is loving.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
5. If we deny the exclusivity of Jesus as the only means to the Father, then God is no longer glorified in the salvation of mankind.
Man is glorified. Each man, woman, or child is now able to boast of their own good works as a means of salvation. Pride, boasting, and arrogance are no longer absent, but are very present as each man articulates his own goodness.
Romans 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
Paul is saying here very clearly that if Abraham were justified by his good deeds, then he, in fact, does have something to boast about.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
God has no longer preordained a means of salvation for man. Man ordains his own plan of salvation by doing as many good works as he or she can in a lifetime. God is no longer glorified nor is he needed.
Man no longer needs God to be saved!