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10 Questions That Skeptics Ask

Part 3: How can Christians say that there is just one way to God?

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

Part 2: How do I know that the Bible is Godís Word

(2/3) In the late 1960ís and 70ís America went through a cultural revolution. In the midst of that revolution there was a separate revolution that occurred called the Jesus Revolution. Those involved in the Jesus revolution were referred to Jesus Freaks. One of the symbols of the Jesus Revolution was a hand with the index finger pointing up to heaven, symbolizing that there is just, "one way," to God, which is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

You and I are living in a time like no other in our history. The prevailing philosophy is called Post Modernism; that is, a time that is beyond modernism. Modernism refers to the prevailing philosophy of a century ago. Modernism said that science is all we need to explain our existence. We donít need a God. Science explains our existence and the supernatural was considered unreal. To the modernist, much of the Bible is untrue, is not authoritative, and Jesus was just a man, not God the Son who has come in the flesh to die for us and rise again. Humanism which elevates man as the top of creation with no room for a God, was the core belief. Many churches feed into humanism and stopped preaching salvation in Christ and started preaching a social gospel that focused on manís physical and emotional needs but not to his spiritual need to be forgiven and accepted by God in Christ.

Today, we are beyond modernism and are in the post modern era. Pollsters tell us that as much as 75% of Americans embrace the post-modern philosophy that basically says that there is no such thing as absolute truth. That is, that all truth is relative, subjective and situational. That includes morals and ethics like lying, stealing, cheating, etc. What may be true for you may not be true for everyone. This philosophy may have come out of the 60ís and 70ís when such sayings were popular, like:

  • Itís your thing, do what you want to do
  • Whatever floats your boat
  • Different strokes for different folks
  • Do your own thing

We have entered a new era when morals, values, and beliefs were not to be imposed on others, but others were to be respected to do and believe whatever they want. The battle cry became, "Tolerance." Everyone is free to decide what is true for them.

The weeks following the 9-11-01 tragedy saw American churches packed with people and it was supposed that since the attacks were religious based, that America would see a revival in Christianity. However, rather than a revival, America embraced tolerance and a second word emerged that called for Pluralism; that all faiths are to be considered of equal status. American college campuses like McDaniel College began holding symposiums on Islam, and we were instructed to respect all faiths as equal. Truth is considered to be subjective. The only thing that canít be tolerated is intolerance. No one is to say, in this post-modern era, that he or she has the truth. Consider, for example, a speech given by President Clinton at Georgetown University (Nov. 7th, 2001). In it, he says that we might be the blame of the terroristís attacks because of our own arrogant self-righteousness. If both sides would have just sat down and realized that there is no such thing as absolute truth they would have realized that there is no ideology worth fighting for. "Nobodyís got the truth," he told the students. "You are at a university which basically believes that no one ever has the whole truth, everÖ.we are incapable of having the whole truth." The terrorist believed that they had the truth and thatís why they attacked us. But since we understand that truth is unknowable, we are more tolerant. "They believe they got it. Because we donít believe you can have the whole truth, we think everyone counts."

That pretty much sums up what our society believes today. Nearly ĺís of Americans, church goers included, do not believe in absolute truth. Here our question begins. Arenít Christians intolerant and narrow-minded as to claim that their way is the only way and that they have the truth? How can Christians claim that there is only one way to God? What about all the other sincere faiths? In America, the religion that has become intolerable is Christianity because it claims that truth is absolute, knowable and that as such it is the only way to God. But is that true? Some ask, "Isnít there good in all religions," or, "Isnít God like the ocean and all religions like rivers that run into that same ocean," or, "Isnít God like a mountain top and all faiths like paths that arrive at the same destination at the top?" Consider:

I. The Issue of Truth

Pilate asked, "What is truth," (John 18:38) Last week we considered the question of whether the Bible is really Godís word and I believe we demonstrated that it is. If it is Godís word, we would assume that it is what it claims to be and that is truth, and its morals and teachings are absolutes. Truth is that which is real, established, proven, fixed, genuine, and accurate. Truth is what is. It doesnít depend on whether it is believed or accepted or not. It is what it is regardless. Consider what the Bible says:

A. John 4:19-24 says, that true worshipers will worship God in truth and that God is seeking for people to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Now, notice that He doesnít say, "In sincerity," but in truth.

B. John 17:17 Jesus says, that Godís word is truth

C. John 8:31-32- Jesus says that those who continue in His word would know the truth and the truth would make them free

D. Deut. 32:4 Moses says that God is a God of truth

E. John 14:6 Jesus says, He is the Truth

F. John 16:13 Jesus says that the Holy Spirit is Truth

G. John 1:14-18 John says that Jesus revealed God and that God is Grace and Truth. All of this to say that if God and His word are true than what His word says is the truth. That truth proclaims in its contents that all men are sinners and have violated the holiness of God and therefore can not come onto His presence, but God came to men in Jesus and died to pay the penalty for their sins and then rose again to forgive and receive anyone who would repent and receive Him as their Savior and Lord. So consider what this truth states:

II. The Issue of Authority

A. John 3:16-18. 36 God loved the world in this manner, he sent His Son to save all who will believe in Him. All who will not believe in Him is and will remain in a state of condemnation. That is absolute!

B. John 14:6 Jesus said that No One can come to the Father except by Him Ė Thatís absolute

C. Acts 4:12 Peter says, that there is salvation in no other for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved Ė That is absolute

D. John 8:24 Jesus said that if all who donít believe in Him will die in their sins. That is an absolute statement.

E. Isaiah 43:10-11 and 45:21-22 Jehovah Elohim says that He is God alone and besides Him there is no Savior. Paul says this text refers to Jesus in Phil.2:10-11. That is absolute. Two more

F. 1 Tim. 2:5 Paul says that there is One God and One Mediator between God and man ĖJust One Ė Jesus. That is absolute

G. 1 John 5:9-12 John says, "If you donít have Jesus, you donít have life, thatís all there is to it." That is absolute

H. Remember that Jesus said that we all have two choices in life. One is wide and embraced by many and one is narrow and embraced by only a few. One leads to death, the other leads to life. We must choose wisely. (Matt. 7:13-14)

I. Proverbs 14:12 reminds us that every one has a way which seems right to him but the end of those ways is death. My friends, we proclaim that there is just one way because the God who is Truth and His Word which is Truth, proclaims that there is only one way and there is just one Savior!

III. The Issue of Logic

The Law of Non Contradiction This law states that if two or more opposing statements all claim to be true, then we can be sure that they are either all false, or one is true and the others are false. If four people are asked which way is north and all point in different directions like 12, 3, 6, and 9 on a clock, we can be assured that either they are all wrong or one is right and the other 3 are wrong. Do you understand this? If four people are asked what 2 and 2 add up to, and one says 4, another, 8 and still another 16, and another 22, are they all right if they sincerely believe they are right. No! Either they are all wrong or just one is right. Mathematics is absolute. If Jesus claims to be truth and Islam claims to be truth and Buddha claims to be truth and Mormonism claims to be truth and Hinduism claims to be truth, they are either all wrong or one is right and the rest are wrong.

How do we know that we have the truth?

1. Because we have shown that the Bible is the Word of God and true

2. Because unlike any other faith we alone have a Leader that claimed to be God and that He would rise again from the dead after He was crucified. Today there is an empty tomb in Israel and no way on earth to explain why its empty other than that the person who was buried there rose again. The Fact that there is total lack of 1st century refutation of this speaks volumes. Buddha is dead, Confucius is dead, and Mohammed is dead. They never said they were god or that they would rise again from the dead. But Jesus did and He proved it and that is the truth. If He did not rise from the dead than this book is not true, He is not true, and both should be ignored. But if He did rise from the dead, than He is true and this book is true and there is no other God, nor is there any other way to Him and all other ways are wrong and their end is death (Prov. 14:12).

IV. The Issue of Sincerity

It is here that we begin to imagine God as being gracious and accepting of those who are sincere in their wrong beliefs. However, it really isnít an issue of how a person believes but what a person believes. A good illustration of this is Minnesota Viking great defensive lineman Jim Marshall. Jim was one of the purple people eaters of a generation ago. During one game Jim Marshall picked up a fumbled ball and ran as hard as he could, fighting off tacklers so he could score a touchdown. The only problem was, he ran the wrong way. He was sincere, but sincerely wrong.

About 20 years ago newspapers ran a story about a nurse that changed a patientís oxygen tank with another tank clearly marked and labeled as oxygen. However, the next morning the patient was found dead. The tank, marked as oxygen, was really filled with nitrogen. The nurse was sincere, but sincerely wrong. (cp. also some farming practices, like cultivating corn and destroying feeder roots) Again, Solomon said in Proverbs 14:12, "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." (NKJV) Sincerity is not the issue; truth is!

To say that there is no such thing as absolute truth is absurd. It is a contradictory because it is an absolute statement. It usually only applies to matters of philosophy, morals, and faith. Tell a diabetic that insulin is just one treatment for diabetes but if he sincerely believes chocolate is another heíll be okay, and see how long he survives. Tell a sky diver that a parachute is just way to jump out of an airplane from 10,000 feet and arrive safely to the ground, but if he wants to use an umbrella instead, heíll be alright as long as he is sincere. Tell the owner of a new gasoline engine truck that his truck runs on lead free gasoline, but if he wants to use diesel fuel heíll be okay as long as he is sincere and watch how long that engine lasts. And we could go on and on. Again, I remind you that sincere Drs. Thought that draining George Washingtonís bad blood was the right thing to do for him. They were sincere but sincerely wrong. To follow any other way and try to attain salvation and the assurance of heaven other than faith in Jesus Christ may be sincere but it is sincerely wrong.

V. The Issue of Beliefs

A. We are not worshiping the same God. Consider:

  • Buddha taught that if there is a god he isnít involved in our journey to enlightenment
  • Hinduís teach that there are millions of gods
  • Islam teaches that God is not the father of Jesus, Jesus is not God, neither did He rise from the dead (the core fact of Christianity), God would never stoop to reach man, and is arbitrary in all his decisions
  • Only Christianity sees God as merciful and gracious while being Holy, and has sought to redeem man by becoming his substitutional sacrifice for his sins.

B. Consider the Issue of Salvation:

  • The Buddhist considers salvation as attaining Nirvana Ė a state of nothingness or the extinction of desire. All pain and suffering are the results of desire and when desire is gone, nothingness is achieved. One reaches this through the 8 fold path of enlightenment.
  • The Hindu becomes one with the universe through reincarnations achieved through karma until one is cleansed and is added to the universe as a drop of water is added to the ocean
  • In Islam, salvation is the arbitrary decision of Allah. Though one is taught to keep the five pillars of the faith, these provide no assurance of salvation. Only a martyr who dies in a Jihad is assured of paradise.
  • Only Christianity sees heaven as a gift of God freely bestowed on anyone who repents of sin and receives Jesus (including His death and resurrection as their substitute) as their savior and Lord. (Romans 10:9-13)

C. The Message is different

  • In every religion in the world including the cults that have surfaced in Christianity (Mormon, J.W.ís, etc.) the message is, if one works he or she may earn salvation or the favor of the faith or the god.
  • Only Christianity says, "the work is done" Jesus said from the cross, "It is Finished." (John 19:30). All anyone must do to receive forgiveness and eternal life is to repent (turn away from sin) and (turn to) believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord. That person is then received by God as an adopted child and is given the gift of eternal life (John 1:11-12; John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 6:23; Titus 3:5, many others)

V. The Issue of Application Letís bring this to a conclusion.

A. Those of us who know the truth Ė must do all we can to tell the truth to those who donít know the truth or who are deceived in their faith system. Listen carefully, If there was any other way to God, Jesus would not have had to die. He prayed that awful night, "Father if there is any other way, let this cup pass from me." But there was no other way. God could have said, "Just be sincere in whatever you want to believe and it will be okay." But it would not have been true. Man lives in a state of condemnation because he has inherited a sin nature which leads to sinful behavior which is contrary to Godís holiness and thus prevents him from being able to be with Him. It was an act of love from a Holy God which provided a substitute for our penalty and a cure for our problem. Like an antibiotic for an infection, or insulin for a diabetic, there is just one way to be healed from our sin problem. Our Father wants those of us who have received the cure to tell others how they do can receive the cure. We can respect peopleís right to believe what they want, but not to the extent that we donít speak the truth and encourage them to receive Jesus. Listen that includes not only those of different faiths, but those who believe certain things like:

  • Attending church, being baptized, christened, confirmed, taking communion, etc. is enough (Matt. 5:20)
  • Believing in God is enough (James 2:19)
  • Doing good things is enough (Matt. 7:21-23)

You and I have been entrusted with a gift, a treasure, and we are not to keep it to ourselves, we are to share with others. One man once said, "Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread." Paul said, "How will people call on Him whom they have not heard and how shall they hear of Him without a preacher," (Rom. 10:9-17)? Pollster George Barna says that more than 2 out every 3 Americans have never heard a clear gospel presentation. Demographic studies reveal that 4 out 5 people in our neck of the woods do not attend any kind of religious services (any kind). About half of the worldís population has never even heard of Jesus and that is why He told us to go to the world and tell them. All rivers do not flow into the same ocean, most flow into the Lake of Fire. God doesnít want anyone to perish, but they will without the truth. Some are your family and friends, your fellow students and co-workers. Do you know that there are people in hell crying and hoping that someone will tell their family and friends the truth and encourage them to believe in Jesus so they wonít end up in hell too (Luke 16:27-31)? Who will you tell? Will you pray for divine appointments with people that need to know Jesus?

B. Those who have not repented and received Jesus. Will you do that today? There is no assurance of tomorrow. Will you accept Godís gift and so He can adopt you as His child? Letís pray about it. 

Read Part 5: Would a Loving God Really Send Anyone to Hell?

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman