Tuesday, January 30, 2007

don't all religions lead to God?

Yep, the Relay 2 blog dump continues. This is my six minute evangelistic talk that we did in fellowship groups. Six minutes is basically no time at all, which is why it's so brief. I pretty much just mentioned the title and then set off to Calvary. Which i don't think is a bad thing. I've got a lot to work on if i do it again though, especially talking about Jesus showing us what God was like as well as being the Way, and more interaction with other religions.

I think the question of ‘who is God?’ is key to answering our question of don’t all religions lead to God? Is God the god of popular culture? The well meaning god who has lost control of what he created? Is God like that? Or is God the way He is described in the Bible? Is God holy, just, righteous, loving and wrathful against sin? Because if God is these things then it really matters whether or not all religions lead to God, but if he isn’t, then it doesn’t really, and the CU is of no more significance than the rowing club.

But isn’t it arrogant for Christians to claim to know what God wants? What about devout Muslims? What about people who aren’t religious but do a lot of good work? How can Christians possibly claim that there is only one way to an infinite eternal God?

Well what does God say about Himself? The Bible makes the extraordinary claim that God became a man, Jesus, who at the same time was both God and man. He did this to show that He was the only way to God. This is what Jesus meant when He said ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.’ This is perhaps one of the most well known things that Jesus said, and it seems that He is making an exclusive claim. He is basically saying that He is the only way to God…making the same apparently outrageous claim that Christians make about Him. And this is where the crossroads appear. There is no serious historical doubt surrounding the existence of Jesus. Most people who aren’t Christians believe that He was a good teacher, a decent guy, who taught a lot of good things. But that’s not what Christians believe about Jesus. Christians take the other way and believe that Jesus claimed to be, and was, and is, the eternal Son of God. The Christian faith is unique in that it focuses on a relationship with a person. Not a place, or culture, or language or set of rules…but on Jesus.

But why do Christians believe this? There is one very good reason why Jesus is the only way to God. Everyone will tell you that there are problems in the world. Whether it’s global warming, or wars or rising crime rates, no one denies that these problems exist. The difference comes when we try to agree why they exist. The Bible is very clear on this. Its says that the problem with the world is not ‘out there’ somewhere, but that it’s in us. The problem with the world is in our hearts. We are what’s wrong with the world. It’s the wrong thoughts, words and actions, what the Bible calls sin, that I do that offend God and create a gap between how God made and meant the world, and how the world is. This also means that there is a gap between man and God. We were made to live in perfect relationship with God, and it’s fairly clear that we don’t. And the blame for that lies squarely at our door. But what’s that got to do with Jesus?

Jesus was fully God and fully man, therefore He was not tainted with the same sin that you and I are. He had the perfect relationship with God, His Father that we were all created to have. He was the only man who did not deserve the punishment that sin brings. And what happened to Him? He was arrested, subjected to a show trial and nailed to a wooden cross. He had done nothing wrong…even those who accused Him at His trial couldn’t get their stories about Him to agree. Jesus died under the weight of the punishment for all the wrong thoughts, words and actions that you and I have done. He took the punishment due to us. How could He do this? Because He, in Himself had no sin, He had never done anything to incur the punishment of God. He was perfect. And God laid on Him the punishment that is due to us all so that our relationship with God might be restored.

So you see Jesus has to be the only way to God. He in the only one qualified to bare the punishment that we deserve. On the cross Jesus wasn’t killed by the physical pain, He died too quickly for that. He was killed by the wrath of God poured out on Him for the things that we have done wrong. He was the only one qualified for such a task, the only one who could bridge the gap between man and God that we have created. Jesus is the only way to God.

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