Seeker Series, Why? Is Jesus the only way to God?

quote anselm6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7)

Bold words for a rural carpenter whose extremely countercultural opinions for first century prevailing thinking. What was Jesus talking about?  Who was he to make such a claim that all people should look to him to be reconciled to the one true God? He was God himself. His position as the second person of the Trinity allowed him to make demands that others must consider. He had credibility to speak like this; he performed miracles the world had never seen. He turned water into wine, healed an invalid and walked on water. Still with this information available to people, why would they not place their trust in him?

  • Sin is the fundamental problem.

Society is damaged. It is damaged due to broken people that make up that society. Every one of us has a heart of stone. (Ezekiel 11:19) It is this hard heart that makes us indifferent to the truth.  When we cannot hear truth, any truth we hear sounds like animosity towards the person as a whole.

Sin closes the mind to truth. Christians are often accused to be narrow minded by claiming Jesus is the only way to God.  I cannot dispute that some Christians are very narrow minded. But, there is a larger issue in play here. Christians imperfectly attempt to follow where the evidence leads. Christianity is a testable religion based on evidence and reality. We look at the world through a lens of the Bible. We are not opposed to science and pragmatic theories. We desire to follow the information to where it leads us. If that information leads us to the biblical creation account or the evolutionary theory, so be it. Both accounts will not remove a creator God from the picture. God needs to be considered when contemplating about how we fit into His creation and plan. Compare this to an atheistic worldview. They claim that there is no God and this non-god did not create anything, but the world a nothing more than a random causation of atoms. These atoms collected at just the right amount and the right time to create all we see in the material world. The material world is all that exists by their interpretation. To transform this worldview is very difficult. They refuse to study any other evidence outside of the material world. Christians consider information from both sides. Christians are the open-minded group; perhaps the atheistic can be deemed the narrow-minded crowd.

“12 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.” (Acts 4:12)

Whether you believe in God or not it takes is five minutes with the evening news to understand that society is in trouble. There is a sin problem not just in our culture, but in the world as a whole. A materialist will say, “All we need is more education and society will behave in a kinder fashion towards their fellow man.”  The Christian will say, “Yes, education is a part of the solution. However the dark selfish heart of man cannot be remedied only by education, but by a conversion of the heart through Jesus Christ.” (Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26) A Christian holds both sides in a tension, of this world and the world that is to come. (John 8:23, 18:36, 18:32)  We know how the human heart is, depraved. This is apparent for basically two reasons. First, it is the reality of which we live.  We see through war, starvation, and sexual exploitation that we do not treat each other very well. In the second place, the Biblical account states that we are people separated from God by sin.  No matter how good we try to be we cannot remove the hardness of our hearts on our own. (Romans 7:17-20) The Bible is confirming the facts we already knew, that our hearts are corrupt and evil because of sin. However, the Bible outlines the solution for our brokenness and does not leave us on our own. (Romans 3:23-25)

Other religions claim this world is a non-reality (Buddhism), appeal to views that this life is a payment for mistakes in another life (Hinduism), or demand a system of works to appease a God that is unknowable. (Islam) Each of these beliefs is a manifestation from inside the human heart. None of these addresses the problem as it lies before us. We cannot be reconciled to the creator God of the universe without Christ Jesus.  Dr. Paul Copan Ph.D. philosophy, Marquette University remarks: “The founders of the world’s great religions made no claims as extravagant as Jesus of Nazareth did: to forgive sins, to be the judge of all, to always be present with his followers throughout the ages, to hear their prayers. Because of Jesus’ claims the earliest believers were even referred to as being members of The Way.”

 “27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27)

  • If Jesus is the only way, what does this mean for me?

Followers of Jesus Christ are many things. Some of them are very good, some of them not so good. Nevertheless, narrow-minded we should not be. We imperfectly look at both sides, all the evidence and direct our hearts to where it leads. To do otherwise would be closing humanity off to the greatest narrative the world has ever seen. The one true God that created the universe sent the redemptive salvation of Jesus Christ for us all!

 

 

Powell, D. (2006). Holman Quick-Source Guide to Christian Apologetics (p. 324). Nashville, TN: Holman Reference.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Acts 4:12 , Mt 11:27, John 14:6–7). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Seeker Series: Why? Believe in God…

quote anselm

Should someone believe in God? The Christian Bible asserts,“11 Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, foryou created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”(Revelation 4:11) Christians believe that God is a personal creator, loving, merciful and knowable. The Bible tells us about God, who he is, what has done and will do. Can we know God exists without the Bible? Yes, there is very good evidence for the rational belief in the existence of God. We are able to know God exists without using the Bible!

· Does the universe exist?

Of course it does, we are all here functioning, enjoying our families and friends in this world. We see the created world all around us. Where did it come from? The modern education system teaches the Big Bang theory and then evolutionary theory over billions of years created all that we see. That is avoiding the answer. Take a step back further, to what started the chain of events. In everything in our lives, we know it had a cause. It had to come from somewhere. The computer you’re looking at, the chair you’re sitting on originated from somewhere. It didn’t just spontaneously pop into existence from nothing. Imagine for a minute how funny the world would be if items just popped in and out of reality that we live in. If a pink pony unexpectedly appeared next to you on the couch, you would be looking for an explanation of where that pink pony came from! Consequently, both the pink pony and the universe all around us must have a cause.

The line of reasoning it would look like this:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

We know that all things that begin to exist have a cause. That is reasonable. The universe began to exist. This is attested to by the Big Bang theory of the creation of the universe, again reasonable to believe this point. Therefore, the universe has a cause. The question remains as to what is that cause.

For the universe and everything in it, including time itself to be created, that creator is required to be outside of time. The universe must have been created supernaturally by an “uncaused creator being” that can create on its own free will. This “uncaused creator being” must beoutside of the time that was created when the universe began. By definition the “uncaused creator being” can be a God that is transcendent, infinite and eternal creator. Anything that is created into an existence cannot be god, thus God is the uncaused, cause of the universe!

· Why does this universe support life?

Sir Isaac Newton once said, “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.” Scientists know our universe is a very special place. If any of the physical properties of the universe were just slightly different, the universe and life would not exist! Here are a few examples:

1. After the Big Bang, if the universe expanded at a rate of one millionth slower than it did, expansion of the universe would have stopped.

2. “If the thickness of the earth’s crust were greater, too much oxygen would be transferred to the crust to support life. If thinner, volcanic activity would make life on earth impossible.”

3. Jupiter’s planetary gravitational pull acts as a cosmic buffer protecting the earth from bombardment from asteroids and comets moving around our solar system.

There are many other environmental constants (over 100) that need to be “just right” in order for the universe to sustain life. If any are just slightly different, no life on earth exists. Stating the argument formally, it looks like this:

1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either; physical necessity, chance or design.

2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.

3. Therefore, it is due to design.

Could the finely tuned values to create the universe be what they are due to an unknown physical necessity? No, the constants and quantities are not necessary. They must have the values they do in order to support life. How does random chance fair? Not well, if left to chance any number of random variables of the universe could have occurred if the cosmos spontaneously originated out of nothing! Could it be design? Yes, that is a reasonable conclusion. God is a designer. An eternal creator of the universe specifically setup to sustain life for His creation. Does this support that belief in God is plausible? Yes, a universe that was created by a transcendent, infinite and eternal creator can have the “just right” attributes for a universe that sustains life.

· If universe began to exist and it is a special place. What does this mean for me?

“19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature
have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the
things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20)

Utilizing these two lines of reasoning above
we have good reasons to believe God exists without using the Bible!

There are more reasons I would encourage you to investigate. I invite you to genuinely search for answers. (Jeremiah 29:13) Read the Bible, investigate thoroughly and ask questions. Asking questions like these defines what it means to be human. They deserve consideration. If there is an omnipresent, omnipotent eternal creator God who created the universe, than why is it so incompatible that he sent Jesus Christ to redeem us? We will cover that later…

“16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and
invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things
were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)

1. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Re 1:8). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

2. Geisler, N., & Turek, F. (2004). I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist (p. 95, 105-106). Wheaton, Ill.:
Crossway Books.

“Take care of your Mother…”

Driving Away

Two men, who had succumbed to their own sinful desires, presented me with that final emotional statement prior to their departure from my life. The first time it occurred at age 7, the other time I was well into adulthood. Each time it deeply hurt. Who tells a 7 year old boy, to “take care of your Mother”? I didn’t understand what it meant. My Mother and Father were supposed to take care of me. During the second occurrence I empathized with the concept of, “take care of your Mother”. I had a family of my own, but the painful sting of the finality of the situation struck cords of anguish within me I thought were long since buried. My Fathers of this world had twice failed me in spectacular fashion and left me with a poor example of love, marriage and trust. This is the end result of porn use and sinful desires. This is where years of pornography consumption the leads. This is the ending.

Here is the beginning.

Pornography is an uncontrolled virus of our culture. The statistics are appalling.

  • U.S. pornography revenue: $13.3 billion. $4 billion more than mainline Hollywood films in 2007
  • Daily pornographic search engine requests: 68 million (25% of total search engine requests)
  • U.S. adults who regularly visit Internet pornography Web sites: 40 million
  • Internet users who view pornography: 42.7%
    http://erlc.com/issues/quick-facts/por/#sthash.N2DdVq8T.dpuf

And it gets worse.

Is it any surprise that the two men that were placed in the position of responsibility to raise me failed miserably in maintaining a marriage founded on an intimate relationship with one woman?

A pornographic culture is compelling men, both young and old, away from the biblical doctrine of the Imago Dei. Simply stated, the Imago Dei is that humanity is created in the image or likeness of God. “27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) Conversely, this doctrine is NOT articulating we are “gods”, or can be “gods”, but that both males and females have been created IN the image of God. God the Father has imputed his commutable attributes of spirituality,knowledge, goodness, love, holiness and other attributes, to his created beings. (Genesis 5:1-2, 1 Corinthians 15:49)

  • When men are allowed to consume women as a collection of body parts to be displayed and fantasied about, they fail to consider that within that individual is a soul. A soul that is created in the image of God! (Matthew 5:27-28)

Within this pornographic fantasy perishes the sanctity of a marriage covenant. (Genesis 2:24, 1 Corinthians 7:2) Hardcore, graphic pornography is intensely encouraging man’s sinful desires to view women in a way that is not healthy. The statistics above outline the conclusion that the money follows the pornographic demand.

If you’re a man addicted to images where does pornography use end? If you’re lucky you repent your sin to God, confess to your spouse, pray deeply for forgiveness and together you move forward in healing reconciliation. (Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10) Refraining from use of erotic images by continually working on sanctification with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 6:11)

Most men are not that fortunate to receive an ending as described above. (Mathew 7:13) The lines between fantasy and reality are distorted. Escalating from the anonymity of solitary porn use, to strip clubs, and who knows what else, causing a splintering of all your relationships to occur. Lies and secrets breed to cover the traces. No longer will “regular” porn suffice, but with an ever increasing appetite more explicit pornography must be consumed creating new neural pathways in your brain. This modifies the way the brain functions to perceive what is real and not-real disabling the ability to formulate relational bonds. This will drive a deeper wedge between you and your spouse removing any traces of intimate connection from the relationship.

Still not convinced? The scientific research confirms these findings with a research study published in the Journal of American Medical Association: Psychiatry. It concludes that “the more pornography a person watches, the less gray matter, connectivity and activity they have in their brain.” http://pornharms.com/wp-content/uploads/K%C3%BChnGallinatJAMA.pdf

“9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3:9-10)

Many men are in this dark place of exploiting pornography and are unable or unwilling to find the light. (1 John 1:5) Whatever the situation, I plead with you to want better for yourself, your spouse and your children. No child daydreams of becoming a porn star. No one imagines that the only way they will be able to survive in this world is to become a detached tool of lust for someone on the other end of a computer screen. I implore you to look at your children, especially your daughters and want more for them! Teach them that there is more to this world then the desires laid before us by an over sexualized society. (Deuteronomy 6:5-7)

No sin is too dark, to hidden, too horrible to escape the atonement work of Jesus Christ.

24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24-25)

You haven’t astonished the Lord by the choices you have made. He knows your heart. (Romans 3:12-17) Forgiveness is available and freely provided to those who pursue the grace offered. A new life and beginning is open to you and your family. (John 3:3-8)

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy, blot out my transgressions.” (Psalm 51:1)

I plead with you to receive open invitation from Jesus, thus breaking the cycle of telling your children to, “take care of your Mother”, before you leave the shattered remains of your secret life for someone else to clean up…