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Big Questions 2: Why Can't All the gods Get Along?

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Introduction

Have you ever had a big question for God? Maybe you want to have children so badly and so, you’ve tried and you’ve prayed and you’ve waited. There’s even been glimmers of hope, and then a miscarriage of a child you loved so dearly, and you wonder, how could it be that a good God would let this happen? Big question. Or, maybe you’ve sat in a college classroom or read an online argument that brought real doubt into your mind as to whether or not it can be possible that there even is a God or that any of this is true at all. Big question. Or, perhaps, life has just beaten all hope out of you, and you’ve buried children or watched children rebel. Your marriage has fallen apart, or at the very best become simply surviving with the other person. Day-in-day-out, you just kind of make it, and so you’ve got a big problem with God saying somehow that all of this is supposed to work out for your good. Big question.
Big questions need big answers. And, what you see as you read the life of Jesus is that Jesus is not afraid of your questions. Throughout his life, Jesus answered big questions sometimes from people who were seekers and other times from people who were trying to humiliate him and still others from his own disciples as they were trying to follow him. So, over the next four weeks, we’re going to bring some difficult questions to Jesus because Jesus isn’t afraid of our questions. And, He isn’t afraid because He is the truth. He has nothing to hide. Today, I want us to start with this question: What makes the Christian God and the Christian faith greater than all other gods and all other faiths? Or, we might ask it like this: Why can’t all the gods just get along?

God’s Word

Read

“If I’m Wrong, What Have I Lost?”

“we are of all people most to be pitied.” Occasionally, I will hear a well-meaning Christian attempt to win someone who does not believe in Jesus this way: “If I’m wrong and you’re right, then neither of us have lost anything. But, if you’re wrong and I’m right, then you’ve lost everything and I’ve gained everything.” Now, as well-meaning as it is, this is a problematic argument. First of all, Jesus has never called for anyone to follow after him ‘just in case He’s true.’ A man or woman cannot be inspired to surrender all of their life for the rest of their life ‘just in case it might be true.’ They have to know and believe and have confidence the Christ is supreme and worthy of their lives. The second reason this is a problematic argument is that it’s not true! If Jesus is not supreme, if Jesus is not risen from the dead, if Jesus is not God, then we, Christians have wasted everything! We’ve wasted all we have, which is this life, as Christ has called us to deny ourselves now that we might live for a greater life to come. So, Paul says here in that if Jesus isn’t God then Jesus isn’t Savior, and if Jesus isn’t really the Savior and He’s just some nut-job revolutionary that said some interesting things and had some devoted followers, then ‘we are of all people most to be pitied.’
And, that brings us to our question this morning: Is Jesus the Savior? Is Jesus really supreme among all other gods? Is Jesus really God at all?

Is There a God?

Before we can even get to that question, I think we have to ask: Is there a God at all? The fastest growing religious classification in America are those who classify themselves as ‘nones.’ That is, they believe that there is no God at all. I want to make three quick arguments as to why I think that the only sensible and rational explanation for anything is that there is a God.
Humanity believes in God instinctively. Every civilization in the history of the world began with some concept of god. When they looked at themselves and they looked at their world, their assumption, their instinct was that there was a god or gods by whom they were made and before whom they were made. The earliest writings outline cultural religions. The earliest drawings and paintings do the same thing. You won’t find this driving by a flock a goats or in the chimpanzee exhibit at the zoo, but as long as there have been humans, there has been the concept of God. And, this would make sense since says that God put eternity in man’s heart. teaches that man was made in God’s image so that he would live in a relationship with God and know God. It is natural and instinctive for him to want to know him.
The world exists. The second argument that I would make is quite simply that the world exists. It is the first law of thermodynamics, one of the very pillars of science, that states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed; it can only change forms. That is, you cannot have nothing and gain everything. Stephen Hawking, who just passed away a couple of weeks ago, is credited with discovering that the universe originated from the tiniest speck, a single point called a singularity. So, if nothing cannot create everything, even a point of singularity, where did it came from? It must come from an original Source! It must come from God! There must be an original energy.
The world is orderly. And not only does the world exist, but the world exists with an orderliness that’s impossible to miss. You know, when I look at my truck, it’s a pretty impressive machine. And, here’s what I know. I know that a tornado didn’t spin through Bubba’s Auto Salvage and randomly assemble such a perfectly ordered machine! And, the thing about it is that I’ve never seen the engineer that designed it or the factory where it was made or the workers who put it together, but I know, without a shadow of a doubt that they are there, why? Because I can see my truck! Man, look around you! The very oxygen that you breathe is produced by plants which breath in the carbon dioxide that you breathe out. There has to be an Engineer! There has to be a Designer!
The morality of man. Many people want to pretend today as though morality is subjective and that it can be changed. But, throughout history, there have been certain moral standards and ethics that have transcended every culture. Every culture recognizes that if I walk up to you and shoot you in the face for no reason that it is a morally abhorrent thing to do. Every culture recognizes that to sleep with another man’s wife is an immoral thing to do. Even in our subjective culture, what happened during 9-11? There was a unified call for justice! Every, single American recognized what moral violation this was. If there are only instincts and natural selection, then what is the basis of this morality? Natural selection says that if you can kill him and he is too weak to stop you, then you should. It was the centerpiece of the Nazi ideology. Our morality is found in our being made in the image of a moral God who established morality in the creation from the beginning.

Can’t All the gods Just Get Along?

So, maybe you would grant me that it is most rational and most logical that there is a God, but you would say that your problem comes in when we Christians suggest that our God is the only God. And so, you might ask, “Can’t all the gods just get along?” Can we not just tell people to find the god that makes the most sense to them, whether that be the Muslim god or the Mormon god or the Eastern gods or Buddhist enlightenment, and tell them to live it out to the best of their abilities?
But, this is an irrational question, for they cannot
This question seems to come from a thought process that all religions originate with the same God. But, this simply cannot be. It cannot be because they all contradict one another if you believe them truly. They can’t all be true any more than green can be blue or two plus two can be four and five at the same time.
The God of the Bible has no patience for pluralism. Listen to what He says: "Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the LORD alone, shall be devoted to destruction." "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."
Do you hear what this is saying? If you believe in this God, if you believe in the God of the Bible, then it cannot stand that you see him as simply one of the possibilities, for He does not see himself that way! In fact, He says that to worship other God is to devote yourself to destruction. If the God of the Bible is true, then all other gods are liars and lead you away from him. They simply cannot be if He is.
The Bible teaches that if you want God

Jesus Believed that He was the Only God

And, here’s what may surprise you: Do you know what fault line many of the major world religions have in common? Do you know one of the places we can most clearly see the irreconcilable and irreparable contradictions? Jesus. Muslims believe that Jesus was really born of a virgin, helped by the Holy Spirit, and that Jesus lived a faultless life. BUT, they don’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God, and they don’t believe that He died on the cross. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons both believe that Jesus is part of God’s creation, even if He is the best part, with Mormons even believing that He is the better, older brother of Satan, and whose example you should follow. Worshipers of the Jewish religion, including in Jesus’ own day, believe that Jesus is a false teacher that corrupted their faith and led many people astray.
But, here’s what Christians believe: We believe that Jesus is who He said He was. Jesus believed that He was the God of the Bible. He believed that He was the eternal Son of God, and being entirely God, He would be able bear the weight of the world’s sin, while being entirely man so that He could take our place and satisfy God’s wrath.

“I and the Father are One”

“The Jews picked up stones again to stone him.” We know because this is what He says directly! There are many examples that we could use, but let me turn to one of the clearest. Turn with me to . Read . Jesus says plainly, “I and the Father are one.” Now, maybe you’re like, “But, that’s not what He was saying. We probably don’t understand the context. We don’t really know how things were then.” Well, the people living then did, and they picked up rocks and were ready to cave his head in for blasphemy, for claiming to be equal to God.
In , one of his disciples Phillip says, Jesus, just show us the Father and it will be enough for us. And, listen to how Jesus responds: “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Phillip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

Is Jesus Greater?

So, here’s where we are: We’ve worked to establish that it is only logical and rational to say that there is a God. And, establishing that there is a God we’ve realized that not everybody’s god is THE God because every religion and belief system contradicts one another. In fact, the God of the Bible says that to worship any other God but him is to devote yourself to destruction. And then, we established that Jesus believed and stated himself to be THE God of the Bible. So, that leaves us with, is He really? Is Jesus really God? Is Jesus really greater than all other gods, and how can we know?

Jesus Was Who God Said He Would Be

What if I told you that I was the greatest golfer that ever lived? Now, I’m guessing that you might be a bit skeptical. But, what if I said that I could prove it. I would let you choose a golf course that I had never seen before, and that without even seeing the course, I could predict that I would ace all four par threes. Now, I have your attention. Now, it’s time to put up or shut up, right? But then, imagine that I not only ace all the par threes but all the par fours, too, just for good measure. Not only did I call my shot, but I called my shot and then exceeded it. You might be ready to call me the greatest golfer of all time.
First of all, Jesus was who the Bible said he would be. With Jesus, the Bible called its shot. Throughout the OT, written anywhere from 400 to 1500 years before the time of Jesus, we are continually told what to expect from the Messiah, the Savior of Israel and the world when He comes. By the end of the OT, we have literally hundreds of prophecies about who Jesus would be. Isaiah told us that He would be born of a virgin and that He would die as the Suffering Servant. Micah told us that He’d be born in Bethlehem, and the Psalms declared that He would have his hands and feet pierced, even though crucifixion hadn’t been invented yet.
Now, maybe you’re the type of person that says, well, maybe he was just lucky! Maybe the stars just aligned right! Or, maybe, Jesus just knew the OT really, really well, and so He was able to manipulate all of his life so that He fulfilled each prophecy. Except that Jesus had no control over how He was born or over what family He was born to or over what city He was born in. And, do you know what the odds are of one man in history fulfilling even just eight of these prophecies — just eight! — is? Now, remember that Jesus fulfilled hundreds! The number that I read was around 333 (Josh McDowell). Perfectly. A mathematician by the name of Peter Stoner figured this and the odds of one man fulfilling just eight of these prophecies is one chance in one hundred million billion. He said that it would be like if you covered the entire state of Texas in silver dollars two feet deep and marked only one of them, and then sent a blindfolded man walking into the middle of the state to find it.
Jesus is greater than all other gods because Jesus told us exactly what to look for, called his shot, and then actually delivered.

What Other God has Been Raised from the Dead

But, you know, I don’t even think that’s the most convincing argument for the supremacy of Jesus Christ. You see, the Bible says that Jesus did die a brutal death for us exactly as He predicted. He was scourged by a Roman soldier, a process that often left your spine and intestines exposed it was so gruesome. Then, he had 7” spikes nailed through his wrists and feet where he hung on a cursed tree until he could no longer breathe. But, according to more than 500 witnesses, when Sunday came, the earth shook, and the stone was rolled away. The one who had been beaten and brutalized, discarded and marginalized had risen and defeated death, just as He said he would. He had pointed his bat to the centerfield bleachers, and he had hit it out of the stadium. And, I ask you, what other God has done this? What other God has laid down his life so that you could live only to be raised and prove himself even more powerful than death?
Coma. Maybe you would think to yourself: Perhaps, Jesus was in a coma, they just thought he was dead. This is what many in the Muslim faith believe. But, this is illogical.  Jesus was near death in the Garden.  Jesus was then scourged, beaten nearly to the point of death.  Jesus was then crucified, where He was pouring blood and gasping for air.  Upon Jesus’ pronouncement of death, tells us that a Roman soldier thrust a spear into Jesus' side causing blood and water to pour out of his side.  Jesus would have then have been pronounced dead by a professional executioner whose job was to determine death.  The grave clothes that Jesus was wrapped in would have weighed at least 100lbs, making them so thick and heavy that were Jesus to survive the scourging, where Jesus to survive the crucifixion, where Jesus to survive the spear in his side, the grave clothing would have suffocated him.  Jesus, in a weakened state, would have to live for three days with no care, warmth, food, or water.  Then, Jesus, in his weakened state, would have to roll the stone away, and slip past the armed guards without getting caught.  This sounds more like Jack Bauer than Jesus!  Certainly, our logic will not allows us to believe that Jesus was somehow not really dead.  If the Romans were good at anything, it was killing people.
Coma. Maybe you just can’t believe that’s true. Maybe you would think to yourself: Perhaps, Jesus was in a coma, they just thought he was dead. But, this is illogical.  Jesus was near death in the Garden.  Jesus was then scourged, beaten nearly to the point of death.  Jesus was then crucified, where He was pouring blood and gasping for air.  Upon Jesus’ pronouncement of death, tells us that a Roman soldier thrust a spear into Jesus' side causing blood and water to pour out of his side.  Jesus would have then have been pronounced dead by a professional executioner whose job was to determine death.  The grave clothes that Jesus was wrapped in would have weighed at least 100lbs, making them so thick and heavy that were Jesus to survive the scourging, where Jesus to survive the crucifixion, where Jesus to survive the spear in his side, the grave clothing would have suffocated him.  Jesus, in a weakened state, would have to live for three days with no care, warmth, food, or water.  Then, Jesus, in his weakened state, would have to roll the stone away, and slip past the armed guards without getting caught.  This sounds more like Jack Bauer than Jesus! And, no serious scholar has given credence to this argument for more than 200 years. Even people that loathe Christianity acknowledge that Jesus really died upon the cross.
tells us that a Roman soldier thrust a spear into Jesus' side causing blood and water to pour out of his side.  Jesus would have then have been pronounced dead by a professional executioner whose job was to determine death.  The grave clothes that Jesus was wrapped in would have weighed at least 100lbs, making them so thick and heavy that were Jesus to survive the scourging, where Jesus to survive the crucifixion, where Jesus to survive the spear in his side, the grave clothing would have suffocated him.  Jesus, in a weakened state, would have to live for three days with no care, warmth, food, or water.  Then, Jesus, in his weakened state, would have to roll the stone away, and slip past the armed guards without getting caught.  This sounds more like Jack Bauer than Jesus!  Certainly, our logic will not allows us to believe that Jesus was somehow not really dead.  If the Romans were good at anything, it was killing people.
Stolen body. Maybe your first pushback would be that Jesus’ body must’ve been stolen by his disciples and his story propagated as people who would profit from Jesus’ resurrection.  This is the belief that the Jews have held for 2000 years, as was originally propagated in by the chief priests of the time, the same ones that had Jesus crucified. And maybe you buy this.  That is, until you realize that none of his disciples profited from it all. Jesus’ resurrection didn’t make the disciples lives easier, but harder. We see through their careful observance of the Sabbath that the disciples of Jesus, though heartbroken and longing for him, were going to continue on according to the Jewish heritage.  Certainly, this would not have brought hardship to them. The resurrection would lead them all down the road of hatred, suffering, and persecution.  They would be beheaded, burned, boiled, exiled, and some of them crucified like their Lord.  So, you have to ask yourselves: What really did they have to profit from a faked resurrection? Coma. Maybe you would think to yourself: Perhaps, Jesus was in a coma, they just thought he was dead. This is what many in the Muslim faith believe. But, this is illogical.  Jesus was near death in the Garden.  Jesus was then scourged, beaten nearly to the point of death.  Jesus was then crucified, where He was pouring blood and gasping for air.  Upon Jesus’ pronouncement of death, tells us that a Roman soldier thrust a spear into Jesus' side causing blood and water to pour out of his side.  Jesus would have then have been pronounced dead by a professional executioner whose job was to determine death.  The grave clothes that Jesus was wrapped in would have weighed at least 100lbs, making them so thick and heavy that were Jesus to survive the scourging, where Jesus to survive the crucifixion, where Jesus to survive the spear in his side, the grave clothing would have suffocated him.  Jesus, in a weakened state, would have to live for three days with no care, warmth, food, or water.  Then, Jesus, in his weakened state, would have to roll the stone away, and slip past the armed guards without getting caught.  This sounds more like Jack Bauer than Jesus!  Certainly, our logic will not allows us to believe that Jesus was somehow not really dead.  If the Romans were good at anything, it was killing people.
Stolen body. Maybe your first pushback would be that Jesus’ body must’ve been stolen by his disciples and his story propagated as people who would profit from Jesus’ resurrection.  And maybe you buy this.  That is, until you realize that none of his disciples profited from it all. Jesus’ resurrection didn’t make the disciples lives easier, but harder. We see through their careful observance of the Sabbath that the disciples of Jesus, though heartbroken and longing for him, were going to continue on according to the Jewish heritage.  Certainly, this would not have brought hardship to them. The resurrection would lead them all down the road of hatred, suffering, and persecution.  They would be beheaded, burned, boiled, exiled, and some of them crucified like their Lord.  So, you have to ask yourselves: What really did they have to profit from a faked resurrection? Would they have died and endured torture for something they knew to be a lie?

What Will You Do With the One Raised from the Dead?

Coma. Maybe you would think to yourself: Perhaps, Jesus was in a coma, they just thought he was dead. This is what many in the Muslim faith believe. But, this is illogical.  Jesus was near death in the Garden.  Jesus was then scourged, beaten nearly to the point of death.  Jesus was then crucified, where He was pouring blood and gasping for air.  Upon Jesus’ pronouncement of death, tells us that a Roman soldier thrust a spear into Jesus' side causing blood and water to pour out of his side.  Jesus would have then have been pronounced dead by a professional executioner whose job was to determine death.  The grave clothes that Jesus was wrapped in would have weighed at least 100lbs, making them so thick and heavy that were Jesus to survive the scourging, where Jesus to survive the crucifixion, where Jesus to survive the spear in his side, the grave clothing would have suffocated him.  Jesus, in a weakened state, would have to live for three days with no care, warmth, food, or water.  Then, Jesus, in his weakened state, would have to roll the stone away, and slip past the armed guards without getting caught.  This sounds more like Jack Bauer than Jesus!  Certainly, our logic will not allows us to believe that Jesus was somehow not really dead.  If the Romans were good at anything, it was killing people.
APPLICATION: All of this boils down to a single, life-defining question: What will you do with the One who was raised from the dead? He is the dividing edge of history, and He will be the dividing edge of eternity. You cannot be indifferent. You must decide, and realize, that it is by faith, one way or the other, that He is either crazy or He is God. By faith, you must either place your confidence in the skeptics or in your own inability to accept the truth, or you must place your faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But, understand, you cannot casually or half-heartedly place your faith in the risen Christ. For if He is true truly risen, it is only rational and reasonable to give him all of your life for the rest of your life because His resurrection has secured your eternity and an inheritance that will make your 80 years here but a speck on the face of eternity. So, give him everything! Just as He gave his life for you! Give him everything! In faith, offer him your life, and find yourself raised to true life!
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