Faithlife Sermons

How can there be only one way to God?

Why I'm Not a Christian  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Intro

Jesus vs. Christians
Honestly few take issue with Jesus… rather most take issue with Christians
Have you ever met someone from another religion? And after being around them you felt like they were a nicer person, a better dad, more conscientious than you...
Or maybe they express no religion yet they’re one of the nicest people there are… and yet we say that the Bible says these people will not go to heaven...
Playing fort as a kid… “what’s the password?”
In addition, ask people today what is the biggest cause of division and violence in our world… radical religion especially one that claims it is the only way to God...
You may be surprised to hear me say as a Christian minister...
The arrogance, the divisiveness, the lack of respect for another’s preference, the cruelty
But today...
at its core, authentic Christianity is one of the most humble, inclusive, loving, peace-promoting worldviews ever given

Why the question?

Peter has gotten himself into some trouble for a simple statement he made...
Acts 4:12 ESV
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.”
It would have been fine with everybody had Peter said, “Jesus is our way, our God, and you have yours.”
Rome as a society...
built on pluralism
conquered the world and all the peoples had their own gods
geographical (Ephesians, Egyptians, etc.); dimensions of life (fertility, traveling, war, etc.)
one thing no one was allowed to say was that their god was superior to all the other or the one supreme god
it would follow that a supreme god would give such a people to be the supreme, ruling people
let everybody worship their own god… Pantheon with Caesar on top...
That was the world Christianity was born into...
idea is that everybody thought their religion was the only way… and when Christianity was introduced with its love and wonderful idea that this man died for them, conversions began...
Rome’s problem with the apostles had nothing to do with the fact that the disciples wanted to worship Jesus but with the idea that Jesus was the only Way
Emperor Severus… Christians have been persecuted way too long… add a statue of Jesus to the Pantheon
Global pluralism is not a new thing...

Back to

Peter is called in and told NOT to preach like that. His answer...
Acts 4:19–20 ESV
But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
“Claiming that there is one way to God is arrogant.”
But notice what Peter is NOT saying… He’s not saying that he knows this because he is smarter or has some superior knowledge
He is saying he knows this because he has seen and heard… arrogance no where in the picture...
Today people say if you’re humble then you will listen to what everyone has to say...
Indian Parable: three blind men and the elephant… one touched the body and said it is like a wall; one touched the trunk and said it is like a snake; one touched the tusks and said it is like a spear
Lesslie Newbigin, a missionary to India… in order to tell the story, you had to see the whole elephant… You are claiming to be able to do the very thing you were telling everybody else they could not do.
A Dean at Stanford University: “don’t proselytize; all faiths are equally valid as religions.” He was saying, “You shouldn’t be telling people their religion is wrong because I’ve seen the whole elephant and all religions are equal and that’s why I can say that you’re wrong to tell them they’re wrong.”
But see, Dean of Stanford University, you are doing the very thing you are refusing to let anybody else do. That’s not fair.
By contrast Peter is not saying he has a superior vantage point...
He’s just taking Jesus at His Word because of what he has seen and heard
Airplane exit rows...
Pilot using the wheels to land the plane...
I would suggest that believing what Jesus said is not arrogant but rather one of the humblest of all truth claims...
“Religion is just a matter of personal preference.”
This view assumes that all religions say the same things: love people, be good - what you believe specifically is up to you - it’s a private matter.
But that’s very different that what Peter is saying… “it has nothing to do with what I prefer or what works for me… it has to do with who God says He is and how God says we get to Him.”
Prevailing view of religion in our culture… Immanuel Kant… “all religions are subjectively helpful, none are objectively true.”
Classroom
Kant says religion is subjective therefore it is private
You have a choice to believe Jesus is who He says He is… but if you do that you can’t just shove Him into a group of religions that you can worship depending on your flavor of the month...
You have to choose… Who defines what reality is? Is it the world system that says all religions are equal? Is it you… do you get to decide and pick your own reality? Or is it Jesus?
Whatever you choose… you will be someone’s infidel...
Part of the reason I think people don’t like to entertain the idea that there is only one way is because they will then have to submit to that one way...
“Claiming that there is one God is divisive.”
They would argue that the idea that there is one God causes people to feel superior to others and look down on them...
Another of Peter’s sermons… ...
Cornelius; roman soldier/very good man/has a vision
Meanwhile, Peter’s up on a deck smoking a cigar before dinner and has a strange vision… all kinds of traditionally unclean animals… “rise and eat”
Acts 10:17 ESV
Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate
Peter has a dream - what does it mean? - there are Cornelius’ men - the dream must be about Cornelius
Peter previously thought Jews were superior; non-Jews were unclean so Jews like Peter would not go into a Gentile’s house… so after the dream Peter goes to Cornelius’ house...
Acts 10:28 ESV
And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.
Acts 10:28
Acts 10:34–35 ESV
So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
Acts 10:34
Acts 10:39 ESV
And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree,
Acts
Acts 10:42–43 ESV
And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Acts 10:42-
Acts 10:44–46 ESV
While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared,
"praising God”
Cornelius… up to this point praise Cornelius for his goodness...
“Your prayers and good works have come up before God… So Peter is coming TO YOU to tell you how to be saved.”
Just like Nicodemus...
The gospel doesn’t come as a reward to morality.
Rather it will challenge your whole way of thinking about morality… the Gospel means that no person can ever distinguish themselves from others and praise themselves...
Here’s how religion works… sets a standard… you live according to it then you are approved by God… the good people are in; the bad people are out
And so us Christians… superior morals, clearer insight, stricter discipline, better than others… I KNOW MY OWN HEART...
Secularist… “I’m not religious” but he/she still as a standard
Authentic Christianity - the Gospel of Jesus Christ - says this: “Really, I am no different than anyone else; my sin put Jesus on the cross. I am acceptable not because of what I have done but because of what Christ has done for me.”
“speaking in tongues”
That “praising God” part was for Cornelius… this part is for Peter...
Peter recognizes this is what happened at Pentecost...
This is the only other time in Acts that someone speaks in tongues when they become a Christian. Why? Peter hadn’t gotten the message. Remember what he said when he went in Cornelius’ home...
The point: The Gospel did not produce division, it destroyed division.
Greeks and Romans would not mix; Christians did
Romans and Jews would not mix; Christians did
The Gospel produced the most inclusive community the world had ever known.
Why? Ultimate reality for Christian is a Man on the cross loving people who don’t love Him.
It didn’t matter what kind of sinners we were but because of the kind of Savior He is.
Christianity is exclusive, but it is the most inclusive exclusivity there is.
Claiming that there is one way to God is cruel.
Think about it from my perspective… It is not cruel if it is the only way… I didn’t make this up… I cannot but say what I have seen and heard.
You don’t have to believe it… but you need to ask, “Who is Jesus?” “Is Jesus who He says He is?”
You can write him off as a fool but you can’t just shove Him in the pantheon with all the other gods
Finally one question for you, especially if you have chosen to write Jesus off… If there are a lot of different ways, then why the cross?
The cross shows us God’s love for us and the resurrection shows us Jesus’ power over all...

Closing

Maybe you are now convinced and simply need to show you believe by repenting and placing your trust in Christ...
Maybe you’re not there yet, but you are open to learning more… stick around or better yet come talk to me...
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