Welcome to Christ’s Community Church. Happy Father’s Day! If you’re just joining us, we’re in part three of a four-part message series called “The Bible Doesn’t Say That.” And today we’re going to look at one of the most culturally believed lies, one that’s so relevant, because so many people believe this, and that is, “It doesn't matter what you believe about God as long as you’re sincere in your faith.”
It’s a common belief in our culture today, that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you really believe it. That is, as long as you don’t bring up the name of Jesus, because then, suddenly, it gets very controversial due to the exclusive nature of the claims of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This morning, I’m going to share with you the claim that Jesus made, that gets everybody so upset and bent out of shape. We can read this in John’s gospel, at chapter 14, as Jesus is talking to his disciples and he says,
"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."
Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him” (John 14:2-7).
Did you notice the phrase that sets Jesus apart from all other world religions? It's the exclusive claim that he is the only way to God. That “no one comes to the Father except through me”. “I am the way,” he says, and that sets Christianity apart from every other world religion. And so, from the mouth of the Son of God it DOES matter what you believe. And as you consider the high points of a few major world religions it doesn’t take long to recognize that they’re certainly not the same.
For example, the New Age movement has no personal God, but it’s about attaining a higher consciousness and becoming one with the universe. Or Buddhism which has no God but is just a continuous cycle of rebirths or reincarnation into another form. Hinduism which has an impersonal God that’s approached through many different deities or idols. And yet each of these three fails to offer the forgiveness of sins or any kind of supernatural hope, but merely propose that if you do good things than just maybe good things might happen to you. And then finally, there’s Islam, which believes in a personal God named Allah, who forbids allegiance to any other religion, and your position or your standing before him depends entirely on your religious devotion and obedience. Then in contrast to all four of these major world religions stands Christianity with a personal God whose name is Jehovah in the Hebrew and who reveals himself to us through his Son Jesus Christ as a loving God offering the forgiveness of sins not based on religious efforts, but based on his own goodness. And so, we have to acknowledge that while there may be some goodness in all the different religions, they’re not all the same.
Now what I’d like to do in the remainder of our time together is to present to you what God said, all the while admitting that as a follower of Jesus I am biased in my opinion, and that I believe the Bible is the holy Word of God. But I’d like to look at this objectively and ask you to consider the claims of Jesus, not so that you might consider our church, or a certain Christian denomination, because Jesus didn’t come to start a religion, he came to reveal the love of God to those who need a Savior. And so, what I’m going to ask you to do, is to just consider Jesus and decide what you believe is actually true about faith and eternity. I’m going to ask you to consider the person of Jesus, the works of Jesus, and the message of Jesus. Three different aspects of faith in Jesus.
Number one, the person of Jesus. One of the things that stands out as you consider the person of Jesus is his humility. Now humility is not a topic that you hear preached about very often and therefore it is a subject that many people don’t understand. I think we often equate humility with a lack of self-esteem, a lack of confidence, or zero ambition. Believing that a humble person is the lesser or the weaker person. But actually, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there is great power in humility.
In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said in Matthew chapter 5,
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
In other words, what Jesus was saying is that humble people are the real movers and shakers, because they don’t feel the need to make every situation first and foremost about themselves. They’re making a difference because they’re not always thinking of themselves over everyone else and everything else. And therefore, humble people stand out from the crowd, because they’re not clawing, scratching, and demanding their way through life. One time, when Jesus noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable recorded in Luke chapter 14,
“When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: "When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests” (Luke 14:7-10).
Now as we read the Bible, it’s easy to see how different their culture was from ours, and how different their customs were from ours, but you also can’t help but notice how in spite of those differences, they are still so much like us. Or maybe you could say we’re so much like them, because people have always been that way, we’ve always had the tendency to look out for number one, to put ourselves ahead of everyone else, but Jesus told them in verse 11,
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 14:11).
This is what Jesus modeled for us. Jesus was likely the most humble man to ever live on earth. He said, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart…” (Matthew 11:29). He was nothing like a certain quarterback, named Joe Flacco, who took a lot of heat for claiming an interview with ESPN to be among the “elite” quarterbacks like Brady, Manning, and others. His comments started a bit of debate online with people asking if he even belongs on this list.
However, in contrast, I want you to listen to what the apostle Paul said about Jesus in Philippians chapter 2,
Jesus, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:6-9).
Most people are far too busy looking out for number one, trying to knock everyone else down a notch, while they attempt to inflate their own importance, but Jesus came saying,
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).
And he who humbles himself will be exalted. Consider the person of Jesus and then number two, consider the work of Jesus.
Let’s look at Mark chapter 2, verses 16 and 17, because this really summarizes why Jesus came. We see in verse 16 that the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, the religious leaders of the day, saw Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors, and they asked his disciples,
“When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:16-17).
I love this, because when I think about the work of Jesus, he came for people like me and you, people who often can’t seem to get it right. He came for sinners, and those whom others despised, “tax collectors and sinners” he loved and he accepted. To those that religion rejected, Jesus loved and reached out to them. To those who were sick and hurting, Jesus opened blind eyes, healed deaf ears, called the mute to speak. To those lepers who were untouchable, Jesus reached out and healed them. To those who were dead… Jesus raised them to know the promise of everlasting life. And what’s crazy, is that his critics didn’t question the validity of his miracles, they saw the miracles, but they just wanted him to stop.
And today, if you’re here, if you’re a believer, if you’ve trusted in Christ and you have been born again, you are a miracle, you are the fruit, the work of Jesus. As we consider the work of Jesus, the one who didn’t come for the righteous, but came for the sinners, the one who didn’t come for the healthy, but came for the sick, I can testify to the miraculous work of Jesus. That today I am a new creation in Christ, not just a better version of the old me, but I am a new creation, a different person, because the old is gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:16-17). And all this was made possible because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and in me.
Just consider for a moment, how much God loves you, and how much he invested in you. You see, God loves you. We’re all familiar with John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). God loves you, but he hates sin, because God is holy. And that’s why God went to great lengths to assure that Jesus was born of a virgin, that he didn’t inherit the sin nature of an earthly father, and that he was without sin. You see, that’s why Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, could go to the cross and become sin for us, dying in our place.
I don’t want any of you to miss this, because this is the greatest, the most miraculous work of Jesus. When mankind was at its worst, beating Jesus to the point where he was unrecognizable, driving stakes through his wrists and through his heels, hanging him on a cross in a brutal Roman crucifixion. At that moment, when humanity had done its worst, when creation was mocking and spitting at the creator, Jesus looked up to heaven and said in Luke chapter 23,
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
Then Jesus said, "It is finished” (John 19:30). "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46). And at that very moment the sun was darkened, the earth trembled, and the Centurion in Matthew chapter 27, the Centurion who had secured the cross of Jesus, saw creation groaning, he saw the work of Jesus completed and said,
“When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!" (Matthew 27:54).
Number one, I ask you to consider the person of Jesus, number two, consider the work of Jesus, and then number three, to consider the message of Jesus.
You see, the story doesn’t end there, three days later when the stone was rolled away the tomb was empty. Eyewitnesses discovered that Jesus wasn’t there, his body was missing, and it was just as Jesus had said…
“He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31).
The tomb was empty and the disciples believed that he was raised from the dead. Peter said it this way to the crowds in Acts chapter 3,
“You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this” (Acts 3:15).
Peter said, “We are witnesses of this” and this is so important because there were eyewitnesses that he was dead and now he’s alive again. And yet what’s really amazing is that there was one disciple who doubted. One disciple who didn’t see it, and Thomas said,
“But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it” (John 20:25).
Well, a week later Thomas had that opportunity, the disciples were gathered together in the house again with the doors locked for fear of the Jews when Jesus came and stood among them,
“Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe" (John 20:27).
Suddenly, the only one of the 11 remaining disciples that doubted was filled with faith. And Thomas became an evangelist to India where he gave his life for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Tradition tells us, that refusing to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ, he incited the rage of pagan priests who drove a spear through his body. Thomas refused to deny Jesus, because he saw the risen Christ.
I want you to consider the person of Jesus, the work of Jesus, and the message of Jesus.
“Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days" (John 2:19).
Consider Jesus. Consider the message, that he came for sinners, that he rose from the dead, and that the eyewitnesses were willing to die because they saw Jesus raised from the dead. The apostle Paul, once a great persecutor of the church, was powerfully transformed when he met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. And he said it this way,
“That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Believe the message of Jesus. We are made right with God by believing, by putting our faith in the Son of God. You see, Christianity is Jesus plus nothing. It’s not Jesus plus all your good works. It’s not Jesus plus your baptism, your church membership, or anything else. It’s Jesus plus nothing. In Jesus alone we have the hope of eternal life. In him alone we are forgiven of our sins. In Jesus, the old is gone and the new has come.
I love the way Paul says this in Romans chapter 3,
“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22-23).
By believing the message of Jesus and placing our faith in him we’re made righteous. This is so powerful, because no matter what you’ve done, no matter how bad you’ve been, no matter how messed up your life is, no matter how dark your world is right now, anyone who places their faith in Jesus Christ will be made new. The Bible tells us that we are made right with God by believing in Jesus Christ, by putting our faith in him, and so it’s all about him.
You see, this is so important, because Jesus didn't come to create a religion. He came to show us the love of God. And God doesn't love you because of what you do or don’t do. God loves you because of who he is. The Bible tells us,
“God is love” (1 John 4:16).
Therefore, there is nothing you can do to get God to love you any more or any less. God loves you just because that’s who he is.
Believe the message of Jesus. He said on the cross, “It is finished.” Now, you may want to add something to it, you may want to try and be better, you may want to, but God says it’s already done, it’s finished. 2000 years ago, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).
He was without sin, yet he became sin for us, dying on the cross, and on the third day he was raised from the dead. When you believe in Jesus, when you believe in the person, the works, and the message of Jesus it doesn’t matter who you are, how bad you’ve been, or what you have done. Our God loves us so much that he finished the work on the cross.
Maybe today, you are thinking, that’s too good to be true. But that’s why we call it good news, that’s what gospel means, good news. And Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” And he could say that, because he became one of us and died in our place. He said, “It is finished.” And today, if you will believe in Jesus, if you’ll put your trust in Jesus, it’s a done deal, your eternity is settled, and you will become brand-new. Not because you’re so good, but because our God is that good.
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
June 18, 2017
Graphics, notes, and commentary from LifeChurch, Ministry Pass, Preaching Library, and PC Study Bible.
Scripture from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.