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We live in a world that likes the idea of exclusivity but denies things based on a fear of rejection. In the same way, culture tends reject Christ on the same grounds. Yet we know Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. A truth that defines the world Christ made, and provides a life as Christ intended cannot exist apart from Christ. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'" John 14:6
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Good morning, Dallas! Good morning, Fort Worth! Good morning, those of us who are tuning in around the world celebrating Memorial Day. My name is JP (or Jonathan Pokluda). It's a joy to be with you today. I get to teach sometimes when Todd is traveling or ministering at other places.
I thought I would start today just by talking about this idea of exclusivity, which is actually something we like in this world. If you think about it, you buy things because they are exclusive. Advertisers even market things as being exclusive. You join memberships and clubs because they are exclusive.
In this world, we really like this idea of exclusivity. I remember one time before I was here (actually before I came to Watermark), someone had invited me to a dinner at a place that was very exclusive. It was so exclusive we had to have our name on a list. Those are a little nerve-wracking for me because I don't know what to wear. You know, my question is always, "Are jeans okay?"
I get there, and I pull up. I see a line of about 50 or 60 people. It was down there on Knox/Henderson. It was just this door. I had been on Knox/Henderson many times. I'd never noticed this door to this very exclusive place. There was this big guy standing by the door with a list. I mean, this guy was a big, tall guy. It looked like he had a school bus for lunch or something.
He is sitting there marking people off a list and waving them in. I stood there, and I got in the back of those 50 or 60 people, slowly made my way forward. Not far in front of me, there was a young man who went up. He checked the list. He turned the page and shook his head no. Then that guy did the walk of shame back to his car.
I thought, "What if…?" You know? "What if I'm not on the list? How embarrassing if I get up there…?" I know my friend told me, "Hey, you're on the list. Don't worry. You're going to go in. I got a table for you." I'm sitting there, and I'm like, "What if I get up there, and this big guy sends me back to my car doing the walk of shame? I don't want that!"
I think many of us here this morning, our friends, or our family reject Jesus because that is our view of Jesus. That he is standing at the gate, and people want to get in, but he is sitting there like, "Yeah, okay. You're on here. Go ahead. Nope. I don't see you. Sorry." Trap door button. Right?
People reject Jesus in our world. This is a growing idea (this idea of tolerance or religious tolerance) that all ways lead to God, that all religions can get you there, but it flies in the face of what Christianity teaches. It flies in the face of the teachings of Jesus. It flies in the face of the Bible. If you disagree, I just want to challenge you right now. I want to ask you to hang in there with me till the end. Just hang in there with me. If nothing else, learn a view that is in contrast to yours as we dive into the Scriptures this morning.
Jesus even said himself in John 10, "I am the gate.""If you want to be saved, enter through me. I am the gate." I understand why that is the view (that he is like this bouncer with a list sending people away who want to get in), but I think the Bible might teach something a little different. We are talking this morning about The Exclusivity of Jesus. Said in another way, we're going to talk about this growing idea of religious tolerance. I'll show you it is a growing idea by reading to you some stats.
Okay, this is the future of the church. I spend a lot of my time with the twenty- and thirty-somethings (the young adults) here at Watermark, and I can tell you this is a really popular idea among them. Generation iY (a book) says this: "Although 65 percent classify themselves as Christians, 43 percent said it does not matter what religious faith you follow because they all teach the same lessons."
Okay. That's a majority, by the way. Seventy percent (also a majority) of all major Christian and non-Christian religious groups say many religions can lead to eternal life. That comes from USA Today. The problem is there is a new flavor of Christianity growing. The reason I think this matters to you and me here this morning is I want to make an argument that it's no kind of Christianity at all. It is a Christianity that does not require the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Tomorrow we will gather with friends and family, and we will memorialize those who have fought for our freedom and lost their lives so we can live in a place where we can gather with Bibles, worship a God, and be free in our country. They gave their lives for that! I can think of no greater act of disrespect than to say they died in vain, to say it doesn't matter what they did.
Likewise, I can think of no greater way to belittle the gospel than to say God's Son did not have to die. See, this new flavor of Christianity does not require the death of Jesus, which causes me to ask the question, "Why would that have happened historically then?" Why did Jesus die? I hope to provide you with a resource this morning, a message you can go back and reference when you're talking with these folks with a growing idea, this popular idea, of religious tolerance, that all ways lead up the mountain.
I hope you can go back and reference this talk. I hope to give you some questions you can ask them in those conversations, and specifically we're going to talk about… We're going to be in John 14. If you have your Bibles, turn there with me. We're going to talk about how Jesus is the way, what it means that Jesus is the truth, and what it means that Jesus is the life.
John 14. The story there actually starts in John 13. It's the Last Supper. It's Jesus hanging out with his friends, those he loved very, very much. He tells them, "Hey, I'm going to go away now. Where I go, you cannot follow me, but you will come and join me there later." Peter, who always speaks up and is always bold and courageous, said, "Jesus, I'll go with you anywhere. Wherever you're going to go, I'm going to follow you. No, don't tell me I can't follow you. I'm going to follow you."
Jesus says, "Oh really? You're going to follow me? No, man. Before the rooster crows, you're going to deny me three times. Before the rooster even crows, Peter, you're going to deny me three times." I want you to put yourselves in the minds of the disciples. They are very discouraged in this moment. Jesus had told them he is going away. He told them he was going to die. He told them one of the Twelve was a traitor. He told them Peter was going to disown him three times. He said Satan was at work against all of them. I'd be a little discouraged.
Then you see one of the most tender moments in the gospel in John 14, verse 1. Jesus says, "Do not let your hearts be troubled.""Guys, do not let your hearts be troubled." "You believe in God; believe also in me.""You can trust me." "My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that 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."
Jesus is comforting his friends, and I want to show you… This is a passage you've probably seen if you've been in the church long. I want to show you how intimate this conversation is. Jesus is using a metaphor. Why does Jesus say, "In my Father's house there are many rooms, and I'm going to prepare a place for you there"? What is he saying?
In the Jewish wedding tradition, how this would work is a young Jewish boy (and his father) would leave his land and go into a foreign land to find a bride. Okay? When he would find a bride there, he would pay for her a price, what was called a dowry. They would do a toast, which is a tradition we still honor today in our weddings. Then he would leave, and he would leave her there.
He would begin to build a room on his father's house. That room was called the bridal chamber. That room is where they would live until his father passed away, and he would take over the estate. He is completely preoccupied building that room. She is completely preoccupied with getting everything ready for the wedding. Then at an hour and a time she does not know, he would return for her to take her home with him to live with him for the rest of their days.
Jesus is using this language with the men he loves. "I am the groom. You are my bride, the church, my people. I'm going to prepare a place for you in my Father's kingdom, and I'm going to return for you. I would not prepare a place for you in vain. I'm going to be preoccupied, busy creating a place for you there. Join me." That's a very comforting, a very intimate message from King Jesus.
He says in verse 4, "You know the way to the place where I am going." Then Doubting Thomas speaks up, says to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered Thomas, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
He says, "I am…" which fails us in the English. In the Greek and originally even in the Hebrew, it is, "I, and only I, am the way." It is a very emphatic statement. It is a very powerful two words. It is the very name of God we see in Exodus 3 where God says, " I am who I am." Jesus says this seven times. "I am…" It is a claim to be God.
He says, "I am the way and the truth and the life." That's one of the seven "I am" statements. When Jesus says this in the garden of Gethsemane, "Are you Jesus?" he says, "I am." The soldiers fall back to the ground. I mean, you see the power in those words. It looks almost science fiction. He says, "I am," and they fall over. Here Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
What does it mean? Let's just go now with these three statements. What does it mean that Jesus is the way? My first point this morning is a statement of exclusivity.
1._ Jesus is the only way to eternal life with God_. There is one God. There is one way to him. That way is Jesus. Specifically, Jesus is answering the question here, "How do we get to God? How do we get to where you are going, which is God's kingdom?" Jesus says, "You know the way because you know me. I am the way."
This question that arises is, "Can all ways lead to God?" I would answer, "Only if Jesus is a liar," because Jesus answered that question very specifically. Maybe you've heard all religions lead up the mountain, that God is on top of the mountain, and people are getting up the mountain by different ways. Let's see if all religions can be right. I just want to look at them.
We'll start with Islam. This comes from the Qur'an, the holy writings of Islam. Directly from the Qur'an, it says, "And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers." That feels exclusive.
It also says in the Qur'an, "They have certainly disbelieved who say that Allah is Christ, the son of Mary. Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire." That feels exclusive. In fact, it feels like it's specifically saying Christianity cannot be right, and if you believe Jesus is the Messiah, you will go to hell. It seems to say that pretty plainly.
Let's go Hindu, which many believe is a very inclusive religion. This comes directly from the Bhagavad Gita, the holy writings of Hinduism. This is Krishna (one of the Hindu gods) speaking. "Those who are without faith in my teaching, cannot attain [Krishna or Enlightenment]… I permeate all the universe in my unmanifest form. All beings exist within me…" If you do not accept this view that you do not exist, you will never achieve Hindu salvation.
It's also important to note that not only is the path different but also the destination is different. Hinduism does not believe in a heaven. They believe in reincarnation, that you would start over and over again as another animal, another person, or something else.
Then there's Buddhism, which also has a different destination than heaven. Buddhism says this from the holy writings of Buddhism in a passage oddly enough entitled "The Way." It says, "[Buddhism] is the only path; there is none other for the purification of insight. […] Walking upon this path you will make an end of suffering." Buddhism is the only path.
Then in Judaism in the Jewish tradition, exclusivity manifests itself in the concept of the chosen people in which anyone who does not accept the teachings of Jewish monotheism is excluded from the messianic world to come. Jews believe they are exclusively God's chosen people. You see this idea of exclusivity again.
What I want to show you is maybe you have a bumper sticker that says, "Coexist." I want you to know we can coexist today, and we should coexist. We should love our neighbor as ourselves, but we cannot coexist in eternity because there's one way. It's loving to say all roads lead up the mountain. See, I believe God is on top of the mountain. He is looking down. He sees people trying to get up to him, and because he loves us, he comes down from the mountain.
He says, "You want to get up there? Let me show you the way!" He lived as a man here. He loved us so much, he came down from the mountain. Only in Christianity did he do that. This is the only worldview that teaches this idea. It is unloving to say there are many ways up the mountain when God himself says there is one way.
All religions contradict each other, so to say they're all right is really to say they're all wrong. If someone says all religions are right, they speak from a position of ignorance. I don't mean that to be rude or insulting. It's just a fact. All religions contradict each other in statements of exclusivity.
One time Monica (my wife) and I were in New York City on vacation. We had never been, and we wanted to see what it was all about and really tried to do everything you could do in New York. We got this bus kind of hop on/hop off thing that would take you around the city. You could see Wall Street and all these different places.
We found ourselves really far from our hotel. In kind of the next step of doing everything New York offers, we said, "Well, we'll take the subway back." We found the stairs to under the ground, and we went into this, you know, counterfeit-lit station. I'm sitting there, and I'm staring at this map, which is unbelievably confusing to a Dallasite. It has all of these lines. It looks like a gospel presentation. There are red lines, blue lines, green lines, yellow lines, and black lines.
I'm just staring at it really confused. I'm like following them with my finger. I found the hotel, and I'm like, "Okay, how do I get there?" I realized we were going to have to get off and then get back on. A kind, friendly New Yorker comes up and says, "Bud, where are you trying to go?" I said, "Well, I'm trying to get to this hotel." It was really far. He says, "You need the green line. Your train is not the next one but the next one. Jump on, and it's going to take you straight there. It's the only one that goes there."
Now what I did not say is, "How dare you! You're going to try to tell me there's only one train that leads to my destination? No, don't try to come at me with that, man. Don't try to come at me with your exclusive ideas, just saying one way is going to lead there." No, I responded with gratitude. Likewise, it would have been unbelievably unloving for him to come and say, "Oh. Oh, you're stressed about not knowing which is the way? Any of them will lead you there. Just jump on that one right there. The next one. Just take it. It will get you there one way or another."
I might respond with love. "Really? Oh, that's great news. Thank you for that." But I'm going to find out he was a liar, and it's going to cost me something. In an effort to love people, some will say a message that is untrue and actually unloving. You may not realize it's unloving in the moment because it feels loving, but you will find out it was unloving. Everyone will find out it was unloving.
Jesus is the green line. He is the only way to God. If there were other ways for God to save his people… I have a son. His name is Weston. I'm just telling you, if he had to die to save you, I'm going to be looking for other ways. Right? I don't want him to have to die.
It seems that in that moment in the garden of Gethsemane when Jesus says, "Father, let this cup pass from me" and he is sweating blood thinking about what's to happen, God would have been like, "Okay. I'll let it pass from you, man. There are a lot of ways. You don't have to do this, Jesus. I'll save them some other way. I'll save them. They can just be good." "No, we can't. God, we can't be good. We're not good enough. We'll never be good enough to be in front of you."
Here's a really powerful question for you to ask your friends. Why did Jesus have to die? Do you believe Jesus died? Why do you think he died? Why did they torture and kill him? Why did Jesus have to die? I pray he did not die in vain. What does it mean now that Jesus is the truth? See, this is the gospel we're talking about, this great exchange. The reason Jesus died is no one is good enough. So someone had to pay for our sins for us to stand in front of a holy God, but a loving God came down from the mountain and gave us a perfect sacrifice in Jesus.
If you've heard it a thousand times, hear it one more. What that means is everything wrong you've done went on Jesus. He endured hell so you don't have to. He paid a price for you so you can be with God forever. That is the gospel. That is indeed very, very, very good news. Okay? It is not a message that should rub anyone the wrong way. "You don't have to go to hell" is really, really good news.
Why don't I have to go to hell? Because Jesus endured hell in your place. If you believe he did, he got what you deserved, and you get what he deserves: a kingdom for himself in heaven with God forever. It's the great exchange. He got what you deserved; you get what he deserves. That's the truth. What does it mean Jesus is the truth? My second point this morning is…
2._ Jesus is the truth that defines reality in the world he made_. We know Jesus is literal, and he is historically true. He is really just a historical character. When you're asking someone to trust in Christ, you're actually asking them to believe upon history, that it truly happened as many saw it, many documented, and many wrote about it.
We know Jesus is true, but being truth goes far beyond simply being factual. Truth defines our reality. Truth defines the way things are. When something is true, it can be rejected, but it does not change the fact it's true. Okay? Can we do something? A little audience participation really quickly. Here's what I'd like you to do. Fort Worth, I'm talking with you also. Fort Worth, Dallas, if you would, take a good pointer finger. Just grab a good pointer finger. Everyone, if you would, just a good pointer finger. Okay. This will be over soon. Good pointer finger.
Here's what I'd like you to do. This is the part where you're going to have to trust me. I'd like you to close your eyes. I'd like you to close your eyes now. No one is going to take your purse, or at least I'm not going to take your purse. I can't vouch for your neighbor. We're not all Christians here.
Okay. You have your eyes closed. You're trusting me. You have your eyes closed. I would like you all without looking to point north as quickly and effectively as you can. Okay. Now open your eyes. That worked way better than I thought. All right. All right! Okay! That was a lot of different… I see you! I don't think a single one of you pointed the same direction, which is really interesting.
Here's the deal. There's only one way that's due north. There's only one way that's due north. I mean, a lot of you pointed that way. I saw you. There's only one way that's due north. Okay? There's only one way that's north. Right? Are you okay with that? Are you okay there's only one way that's north? Are you okay that that's an absolute truth?
See, those of you who pointed this way, you didn't redefine north. It's not like all of a sudden, this way is north because you said it was, you believed it was, and you believed it really, really certainly it's this way. No. It's still that way. Let me talk to you who pointed this way because you're feeling really good right about now. You're like, "Man, I got it! I knew! I told my wife I was good with directions. Look at that. I just proved it. The pastor helped me. Now we know."
My guess is (and I'm just going on a hunch here) none of you really pointed due north. It's a really fine line. Now you might have pointed in the direction of north, but due north (96 degrees longitude) is a really fine line. If you'd walk it from here, you'd walk straight through Celina, then Lake Texoma, then Lincoln, Nebraska. If you kept walking it, you would eventually walk through Winnipeg, Canada.
If you missed it just by a few degrees, you would miss Celina altogether. If you missed it just by one or two degrees, you might miss Canada altogether, even though in your mind you think you pointed north. Are we okay that there is one way that is north, that there are these absolute truths God has hardwired into the reality in which we exist? Are we okay with that?
See, you can reject gravity, but there are consequences. You can climb to the top of a building and say, "I no longer believe gravity exists." You can jump off and try and fly, but eventually the reality…the truth…of gravity is going to win out. It will not go well for you. There is a truth hardwired into creation that is Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the one who created all things, but also the one for whom all things were created. It is a very important idea that things were not just made by Jesus, but they were made for Jesus.
Let me read it to you. It's said several times in the Scriptures, but I'll give you one. Colossians 1, verse 16: "For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him."
Your atheist friend was made for Jesus. It's an absolute truth. We don't like absolute truths, but there are many absolute truths with which we don't have a problem. The absolute reality is if you do not eat, you will starve. There is another absolute truth that if you do not feed your soul Jesus, your soul will starve. You were created not just by Jesus but created to be in relationship with Jesus. That is the truth, the very reality in which all humanity exists. This is the truth in which we live.
The message of the world is real freedom…hear this…is for you to get to determine what is true. You can come up with your own truth. That is the common message today, and you have to be able to combat that message. The Supreme Court even said in a ruling in 1992 that liberty actually comes from one man being able to determine what is true for him.
Jesus said something different. Jesus said no. When you find truth, this real truth, this absolute truth, that truth will set you free. Do you see how they're different? Freedom is you being able to define your own truth. Freedom happens when you find what is true, says Jesus. "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free," he says in John, chapter 8, verse 32. Okay. It's kind of a confusing idea, so I'm going to try to explain it with this, that Jesus is the truth we live in.
I have two little girls, Presley and Finely. They love pets. Man, they love animals. I wish they didn't. They do. They love animals. What that means for us, what it meant for us forever, is if we would go to the grocery store, we'd have to stop by Petco. Okay? There's a Petco right by the grocery store. So we'd always have to stop. They would look at the kittens if there were kittens there or dogs, but they don't discriminate. I mean, they love rats, mice, gerbils.
I knew they were going to make me get them something eventually. Okay? I knew I was going to lose this fight eventually. What I would do when we'd go to Petco is I'm like, "Hey, come look at these fish. Check out these. Check out this betta fish." I mean, it's like $3.99 in a little bitty bowl. I'm like, "There you go. Hey, if you guys ever decide to get a pet, man, you should go check out the fish, man. Those are really, really great pets. They do neat things, swim around in bowls and whatnot.
One day, I convinced Finely who was 3 at the time to come and look at the fish with me. I'm like, "Finely, it's your favorite color! Look! It's purple! It's your favorite color! You know, we can name her. It's going to be cool." She goes, "Daddy, it's just not fair that fish has to be in water. It's like bath time all the time, Dad. Daddy, I think we should set that fish free."
Do you see what a bad idea that is? "Daddy, I'm intolerant to that fish's existence that it must live in that cage of water. Let's take him for a walk in my pocket, Daddy." It's cute when you're 3, but it's not so cute when you don't understand the truth is we were made to exist in relationship with Jesus and someone says, "Oh, that's intolerant." No, it's loving. It's how you were created.
I can tell you that with confidence unafraid of how you would respond in love because it is reality. One day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. One day, everyone will know. You preach from a position of confidence knowing one day they're going to see you love them. They may not feel loved in the moment, but one day they will know that was very loving.
The truth is that fish must remain in water for life. The truth is we need Jesus for life as he created it. What does it mean that Jesus is the life? It means life as it is intended cannot exist apart from Jesus. My third and final point this morning is…
3._ Life as it is intended cannot exist apart from Jesus._ We already looked at this idea that Jesus made life. Now you ask the question, "If he made it, does he know best how it is lived?" He not only made life, but he also lived it in this world as an example for you and me. John 10, verse 10, says, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
Guys, as Jesus calls us to him, Jesus calls us from sin: sin of self-righteousness, sin of lust, sin of hatred, sin of violence. Whatever your sin might be, when Jesus calls you to him, he calls you from sin. See, sin is not just a bad idea. That's why I think we think, "Well, God is just trying to keep me from something that's going to give me life."
No, sin always, every single time without exception…always…brings about death. No one has ever in the history of creation gotten away with sin. Sin always causes death of some form in any life. To call people to Jesus and from sin is actually loving. This, my friends, is why the message of tolerance is so dangerous when someone means you should tolerate someone destroying their life in sin. That's very hateful, it's very hurtful, and it's a very unloving message.
Jesus calls us from that which brings death to that which brings life. So what's our best strategy? Our best strategy is to call people to know Jesus. Listen carefully. We are not about behavior modification. You are not trying to change the behavior of your son and daughter. You're not trying to change the behavior of your neighbor. You are trying to remind them or tell them for the first time who Jesus is, what he had done for them, and how he loves them.
It is a message of love! It's an incredible, inclusive message that God loved you so much that he provided a way. This telling of this message should mark our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. It is why we are alive. It's why God left you here. He didn't just save you and call you home in the moment, but he saved you and left you here to proclaim a message that life is found in Jesus Christ. Would you know him?
You say, "Well, my neighbor says they're a believer." Cool! Renew their mind around the good news of the gospel. "Can we talk about that thing you said you believe in and we have in common?" Okay. We live in a world where something is happening. I want to point it out to you. It's a new tolerance, and it is different than the definition of tolerance.
Okay. This is important. You must understand this as you live in this world. I'll start with old tolerance. Old tolerance says you must accept the existence of other beliefs. Do you see that? The key words there are existence of.
What that means is I can be a Christian and you can be a Muslim, and we can get along just fine. We can ride an elevator, and I can do kind things for you. We don't have to fight all the time. I can love you and attach that love to Jesus Christ my Savior so you might be attracted to him. Okay, that is old tolerance, that you must accept the existence of other beliefs or of different beliefs.
New tolerance (very different) says you must accept other beliefs. New tolerance says all ways are right ways, which is in and of itself at least ignorant because we already looked at all ways cannot be right. They all absolutely contradict each other. To say all ways are right is really an unloving message to say they're all wrong.
Old tolerance says you must accept the existence of different views. New tolerance says you must accept different views as your own truth, that they're all true, or that no one can know what is true, to which I say that's a really weak God. What a weak God that he can't tell us what is really true! What a weak God. We don't worship a weak God. We worship one who came down from the mountain and is telling us what is absolutely true.
I want to talk with you for a minute and prepare you for what's going to happen, because what's going to happen (and hang with me here) is, as people suffer the consequences of sin, they're going to begin to blame you. I've seen this. I read an article yesterday I want to let you in on. What that looks like is as they begin to experience depression, anxiety, or consequences of their sin, they're going to say, "That consequence comes from those intolerant Jesus followers, those who have been intolerant to our beliefs."
I read this article yesterday about the pornography industry. It turns out science has now linked depression to pornography and, specifically, in those who have participated in pornography, they're seeing an influx of suicides and high depression rates. Okay? What's going to happen? Do you follow me? Those who have participated in pornography are getting depressed. Okay?
What's going to happen is they're going to say, "Well, the reason we're depressed is we live in a world intolerant to our job, our career choice. The solution to our depression is you just being accepting of pornography. If you just accepted it, it would be more okay for us to do it, and we would no longer be depressed."
Now in reality, the reason they're experiencing depression even to the point of suicide is they're looking for life apart from the truth, apart from life as it was intended. Do you see that? Now you can certainly replace pornography with any number of sins from the Scriptures. Homosexual acts. Materialism. A lack of modesty. Premarital sex. Adultery. You can say, "I'm going to pursue life in this, and the reason I cannot find life in this is they're not okay with me having sex outside of marriage."
This is a growing idea to which the church must respond. I want to give you a resource, one of the best I've ever heard on the issue of homosexuality where this grows really popular. It's a talk on Watermark's website called Homosexuality and Same-Sex Marriage: An Apology, an Answer, & an Assignment. It comes from June 13, 2004, if you want to write that down and listen. It's one of the best talks I've heard on the topics.
We live in a world that says, "Hey, you should be tolerant, tolerant even to sin. Who are you to say what sin is?" I'm not anyone. God says what sin is. Sin is looking for life in anything but him. Sin is looking for life in anything but him! He is where life is found and his provision for us.
See, some of you are here this morning, and you're not Muslim, but you might as well be because you said you follow Jesus, but you never follow Jesus. You say you know Jesus, but you've never looked for life in Jesus. You never walked with Jesus.
As the believers around you right now in this moment, it's no accident God has you in a church this Sunday morning that they would call you to walk with Jesus, to follow Jesus. Life can only be found in him alone. Christianity is not just a good idea; it is the very essence of the life in which we live. It is our reality in which we exist.
Some of you must be asking, "Okay, that's all good, JP. That's fine, but what about those who have never heard about Jesus? What about the ones who have never heard the gospel?" I don't know if you're aware of what God is doing around the world. Recently, I was on a show just by the grace of God in spite of me. I had the opportunity to go on a satellite live television program that was broadcasted into Iran. Todd had been on it as well.
Three to six million Muslims are watching the show. They were asking me specifically about young adults and having me share my testimony because there are a lot of young adults in Iran. They're leaving the faith, so they're open. "What is true?" They're asking those questions. Of course, I shared the gospel, and I talked about Jesus Christ the Savior. He lived, died, came back from the grave, then went to be with God forever, and has prepared a place for us there if we've trusted in that.
They began to take in callers. So you could call in from Iran, from these Muslim countries. The first caller was this 12-year-old girl. They're translating it from Farsi into my earpiece. She just says, "I dreamt about that man last night! I dreamt about the man he just talked about: Jesus called the Christ. He told me last night in my dream the very same story, that he had died for my sins and came back from the grave and that I could be with him forever." I was just like, "That's what God said he would do."
Another time I was in Africa, and a young woman came up with a big smile and said, "Are you saved?" I said, "What do you mean by saved?"
"Have you trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins?"
"Well, I had a dream one day, and a man told me he was Jesus Christ, he was God. He had died for everything wrong I had done, but he had defeated death. I could be with him forever."
She said it in a thick African accent in the Maasai Mara (the African plain). I said, "Oh, and a missionary came here and shared the gospel, and you had a dream about it?" She looked at me confused and said, "No missionary came here. I just had a dream."
Some of us take comfort in that. I don't. It disturbs me. Here's why. Because in the triumphal entry in Luke 19, Jesus says if they do not share the rocks will cry out. I'm asking the question in my heart, "Why is God having to awaken people in dreams? What is it about us Christians who are slow to share the faith that it would spread throughout the world? I don't mean go around the world but share it with the next one so they would pass it on to the next one, to the next one, to the next one, so it would eventually cover the world."
When the call to do so seems so clear in the Scripture, when we understand Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, we preach like this. In Acts 4, verse 8, Peter and John before the Sadducees who were a religious group who denied the resurrection…
"Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: 'Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.
Jesus is "the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone." Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.'"
This is a right response to this reality. It seems Peter under persecution, if there were another way, would have taken that way. He would have told the Sadducees, "Do you know what? I'm going to back off this whole Jesus thing. You guys are looking like you might lock me up or something. So let me just say there are a lot of ways, guys. A lot of ways!"
Instead, he boldly proclaimed the one way. He had walked with him. If Jesus was not the only way, then Peter died in vain. He died a martyr, and his death was wasted if Jesus is not the only way.
In summary this morning, there is power in the message that Jesus is the way to eternal life with God. There's power in the message that he is the truth that holds creation together, and there is power in the message that he is life, and apart from him you will find death and only death.
I was writing this message on Friday, two days ago when my phone beeped and said I had a meeting or a conference call. I looked to see what it was, and I realized I was going to jump on a conference call with two Jewish leaders from another state who are responsible for leading about 30,000 Jewish young adults through their ministry.
I thought it was ironic I was preparing on the exclusivity of Jesus, had even studied Judaism that day. Then I'm about to go on the phone with these two Jewish leaders. I kind of became convicted. I'm like, "God, should I even help them in their ministry? This is kind of weird. Maybe I shouldn't. Maybe…" I'm starting to kind of wrestle with that in my mind, but I went ahead, and I took the call. I jumped on, and we began talking.
They had heard what God is doing through young adults here in spite of us. I began to just share with them and work in Jesus any chance I could. It was great. It was a great conversation back and forth. It flowed really well. As they thanked me for my time, I just said, "Hey, can I ask you guys a few questions?" I told them what I was teaching on. I asked them about their views of heaven and hell. I asked them about Jewish exclusivity and all of those things.
They just kept saying the same thing. You know, "We're waiting for a Messiah. We're waiting for a Messiah!" Then they were really cordial in the conversation, told me it wasn't awkward at all. I asked them. I said, "I hope this isn't awkward." They said, "No, it's not at all." Then as we were winding down, I said, "Can I ask you one more question?" They said, "Sure!" I said, "Why did you reject Jesus as the Messiah? [long pause] Hello? Are you there?"
I mean, we were just talking. All of a sudden, it got really quiet. In my mind, I'm like, "God, I mean, it's not like these guys are going to convert to Christianity or anything. I know what I'm going to." All of that is just putting God in a really small box in which he doesn't belong. One guy goes, "Uh, I don't know." The other one goes, "Yeah, I don't know." Then I can't believe what he said next. He goes, "I never thought about it."
What? I'm not knocking them at all. I'm just trying to show you people are open to this message. Jesus lived in history. Okay? The calendar reset 2,014 years ago on his birth. There's something significant about this carpenter who went to go and prepare a room for us. I'm pretty excited that he is a good builder. Okay? He lived here. He came back to life. Over 500 people saw him. We talked about that yesterday.
He says, "No one gets to the Father except through me." I can't reconcile this idea that he sounds like a bouncer at the door checking off names of people who want to get in. The problem with that visual is no one wants to get in. No one is trying to get in! It's not like Jesus is a bouncer at a door.
Let me give you a new visual. It's like there's a bomb coming for us, and he is standing at the opening of a bunker. He is saying, "Guys, come in! Come in! Safety is in here! Life is in here! Come in! Come in! Come in! Okay, I'll put your name down. Hey, instead of coming in, now you go get more! Go get more, and bring them in. Safety is in here!"
That's a better visual of Jesus. Okay? He is not bowed up at the door holding people out. He is inviting people in, and he has asked you to do the same. I'll send you out with one question. Ask somebody today at lunch. Ask somebody every day of your life. It's one really powerful question: "Hey, what do you think about Jesus? Hey, what do you believe about Jesus?" That's it. Ask one person that question today and every day for the rest of your days. Let me pray.
Father, we do love you and thank you that you have given us a way in Jesus. We thank you that he is the way back to you, that we may be with you forever. We thank you that he is the truth, the very reality in which we exist. We thank you that if you created life, you know how it should be lived better than we do. Father, we surrender our agendas to you.
Lord, I want to speak. I want to ask that you would speak, that your Spirit would speak to the frustrated heart this morning that you would soften it. If there's anything I said that is inconsistent with your Scriptures, inconsistent with your Spirit, that it would be forgotten before they get up to sing you this song. But, Lord, if it's true, if it's of you, if it is the reality you created us in that you would not let us go, that you would hold us in it, that you would continue to bring it back to our mind. There's no other name under heaven by which we must be saved, amen.
Hey, let me ask you a question. What do you think about Jesus? Wide is the road that leads to destruction, and many will find it. But narrow is the gate that leads to life, and few will find it. As you leave, go and call them to the path. It's the most loving thing you can do. Call them to the path. Call them to the one who stands at the gate and says, "Come in. Come in!"
If you know specifically who you're going to share with, write their name down in the Watermark News so we would pray for you this week, and our staff will gather around that name and pray with and for you as you share with them. Have a great week of worship.