Sunday, November 09, 2008
John 14:6 The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Who, in your opinion, is the most outstanding personality of all time? *
Who has affected human life most significantly?
I have posed this question to people of many religions, even atheists and Communists around the world. The answer from all knowledgeable people is always the same: "Jesus of Nazareth."
Consider today's date on your calendar. It gives witness to the fact that Jesus of Nazareth lived on the earth. B.C. means "Before Christ," and A.D., anno Domini, is the Latin phrase translated "in the year of our Lord."
One writer described Christ's influence in this way: Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today He is the center-piece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched and all the navies that ever were built, and all of the parliaments that ever have sat, and all the kings that ever reigned put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life, Jesus of Nazareth.
During His Ministry, Jesus made many claims about Himself. He said, for example, that He was equal with God the Father, eternal, and the only way to heaven.
Almost everyone who knows anything about Jesus would admit that He had a profound influence on the world. But was He more than just a teacher and leader?
Perhaps you have wondered, Is Christianity really established upon historical facts?
Examining the Evidence
Many cynics and skeptics deny the claims of Christ. I have met people who are militantly antagonistic toward Him, though I must say that they are in the great minority. Some of them say that He is just a myth or that He is a great man and nothing more. They ridicule the Bible and make fun of those who worship Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
One of the best known skeptics of this century was C.S. Lewis, professor at Oxford University. For years, he was an agnostic who denied the deity of Christ. After a long process of searching for answers, he received Christ as his Savior and Lord. Later he wrote many outstanding books advocating belief in Christ as Savior.
In Mere Christianity, Lewis states: A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things that Jesus said wouldn't be a great moral teaher. He would either be a lunatic on the level of a man who says he's a poached egg -- or else he would be the devil of hell; you must take your choice.
After examining the evidence for the resurrection given by the gospel writers, the late Simon Greenleaf, an authority in jurisprudence at Harvard Law School, concluded, "It was therefore impossible that they [the early Christians] could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact."
Dr. William Lyon Phelps wrote, "It may be said that the historical evidence for the resurrection is stronger than for any other miracle anywhere narrated."
John Singleton Copley, recognized as one of the greatest legal minds in Bristish history, comments, "I know pretty well what evidence is, and I tell you, such evidence as that for the resurrection has never broken down yet."
These evidences satisfied my questions on the validity of the resurrection, and as a result, I invited the living Christ to come into my life more than thirty years ago.
Some years after I made my commitment to Christ as Savior and Lord, just a month ago, I stood in an empty tomb in Jerusalem – the garden tomb in which many believe the body of Jesus of Nazareth was laid the day of His crucifixion. It has been empty for almost 2,000 years.
I had gone to this garden tomb with great excitement. Somehow I felt that there I would meet with my Lord in a unique and special way. I anticipated that He would manifest Himself to me as in no other place, at no other time. Silently, I waited alone. Nothing happened. Then I remembered the words of those angelic beings who spoke to the women on that first Easter morning, "Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen" (Luke 24:5,6 NASB).
Not only is Jesus the Son of God, He also can do things for us that no one else can do. I want to concentrate on four of these.
First, He is the only One who can pardon man from his sin. Second, He alone can give purpose for life.
Third, He alone can give peace to a troubled heart. Fourth, and finally, only Jesus can give us power to live an abundant life.
Jesus Uniquely Pardons Sin
The Bible tells us that God is holy and man is sinful. Sin creates a great gulf between the two, which man cannot bridge no matter how good he is. The Bible says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23, NASB), and "the wages of sin is death [Eternal Separation from God]" (Romans 6:23, NASB).
But what do we mean by sin? It is not necessarily just a matter of lying, stealing or being immoral. Basically, sin is an attitude. It is going one's own independent way indifferent to God. It is a lack of relationship or fellowship with Him. The Bible clearly defines sin as falling short of God's standard, which is His own perfect righteousness. Sin often manifests itself as self-centeredness, an attitude of active rebellion, or passive indifference to God.
I like to picture your will as a throne in your life. Either you or God is on that throne. If you say, "I am the master of my life; I will do as I please," you qualify as a sinner. If Christ is on that throne, you have accepted Christ's payment for your sin, and He has brought you into a relationship with Him.
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is God's only provision for sin. In the Old Testament, the Israelites brought animals to the priest as sacrifices for their sins. These animals had to be perfect, without spot or blemish. The animal was slain and its blood was sprinkled on the altar by the priest as a temporary covering for the individual's sin.
This sacrifice pictured the coming of God's one special "Lamb," Jesus Christ, whose blood would not just cover man's sins temporarily, but would wash them away forever. God sent His only Son, who was without sin, without spot or blemish, to give His life, to shed His blood upon the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
The Scriptures say, "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22, NASB).
"God so greatly loved and dearly prized the whole world that He even gave up His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life"--John 3:16, Amplified
God bridges the gulf to man through His Son. He has promised that we can know Him and have fellowship with Him now and for all eternity, through the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the most precious truth in the Word of God.
One of the things that is most offensive about Christianity is found in this text today. John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Everyone wants to say that all religions lead to God, but the truth is, no religion in the world provides for the forgiveness of sin. Apart from the cross of Jesus Christ, all men would be forever engulfed in sin and separated from God. What most religions teach is that if a person's good works outweigh his bad works, he will go to heaven or the equivalent. But if his bad works outweigh his good works, he will go to hell or the equivalent, according to his particular religion. Of course, he does not know until this life is over to which place he will go. What a tragedy! How inadequate is such a religion or philosophy.
Take Buddha out of Buddhism, Mohammed out of Islam, and in like manner, the founders of various other religions out of their religions, and little would be changed. But take Christ out of Christianity and there would be nothing left, for Christianity is not a philosophy or ethic, it is a personal relationship with a living Savior who came to earth to pardon us from sin and give us the assurance of eternal life with God in heaven. He is the way to get you to heaven. No one comes to the Father but by Him!
Jesus Uniquely Gives Purpose to Life
Not only is Jesus of Nazareth the only One who can pardon our sins, but He is the only One who can give purpose to life.
Popular movie star Brad Pitt, in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, expressed well the disillusionment that many face today. Pitt was discussing a character (Tyler) who he played in the movie Fight Club:
Pitt: The point is, the question has to be asked: “What track are we on?” Tyler starts out in the movie saying, “Man, I know all these things are supposed to seem important to us – the car, the condo, our versions of success – but if that’s the case, why is the general feeling out there reflecting more impotence and isolation and desperation and loneliness?” If you ask me, I say, “Toss all this, we gotta find something else.” Because all I know is that at this point in time, we are heading for a dead end, a numbing of the soul, a complete atrophy of the spiritual being. And I don’t want that.”
RS: So if we’re heading toward this kind of existential dead end in society, what do you think should happen?
Pitt: Hey, man, I don’t have those answers yet. The emphasis now is on success and personal gain. [Smiles] I’m sitting in it, and I’m telling you, that’s not it.
RS: But, and I’m glad you said it first, people will read your saying that and think…
Pitt: I’m the guy who’s got everything. I know. But I’m telling you, once you get everything, then you’re just left with yourself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It doesn’t help you sleep any better, and you don’t wake up any better because of it. Now, no one’s going to want to hear that. I understand it. I’m sorry I’m the guy who’s got to say it. But I’m telling you.1
Of course postmodernism did not invent disillusionment; it is the ultimate trademark of any philosophical or religious system that denies the reality of the biblical understanding of the reality of life. In T. S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men” we find the same struggle,
This is the way the way the world ends
This is the way the way the world ends
This is the way the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
There is something within the nature of man that rejects this type of existence and end. There has to be more to our life than what many experience.
H.G. Wells, famous historian and philosopher, said, at the age of 61, "I have no peace. All life is at the end of the tether."
Pascal, the French physicist and philosopher, wrote:
There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.
Perhaps, in the quiet of your own heart you are saying, "Yes, there is a vacuum; I am not satisfied with my life."
There are great benefits to be derived from being where God wants you to be and doing what He wants you to do.
The Bible says, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord"(Psalm 37:23, NKJ). And "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose"(Romans 8:28). None of us will be truly fulfilled until we invite Christ to show us the very purpose for which He created us. No one else who ever lived can do this - no man, no religion, no philosophy - only Jesus of Nazareth who is God in the flesh.
He is the Truth. The truth about life’s purpose, life’s principles and life’s power.
Jesus Uniquely Gives Peace
Jesus of Nazareth, the Prince of Peace, is the only One who can give us unshakable peace in a world of turmoil. As someone said, "There will never be peace in the individual heart or at the peace tables of the world until the Prince of Peace reigns supreme in the hearts of men." Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid"(John 14:27). He also said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest"(Matthew 11:28).
Everyone experiences difficulties. The Christian is not exempt. Becoming a Christian does not mean that we will suddenly be ushered into a utopian situation, but rather that we have One with us who said, "Lo, I am with you all the days - perpetually, uniformly and on every occasion - to the (very) close and consummation of the age. I will never leave you, nor forsake you. My peace I give you"(Matthew 28:20, Amplified).
What kind of peace does He give those who trust in Him? It is a quiet confidence that, since our sovereign, loving, all-powerful God is in control, we have nothing to fear. Jesus gives us peace with God through the forgiveness of sin. He provides peace of mind through an unhindered relationship with Him. He shows us how to have peace with man by teaching us how to love others. When He is in control, no situation, heartache or sorrow can ever disturb that peace.
Jesus Uniquely Gives Power for Living
Pardon, purpose, and peace are not all that He can give. Jesus of Nazareth is the only one who can give you power to live a new life. He is the Life.
Frequently men and women say, "I would like to become a Christian, but if I do, I am sure that I will never be able to live the life. You don't know the mistakes that I have made, the resentments that I have, my tendencies to sin, my immorality, heavy drinking, drug addiciton, cruel tongue and many, many other problems. I do not believe that I could live the Christian life."
But, as they have received Christ into their lives, these same people have discovered that the Christian life is a supernatural one and that Jesus literally changes them -- their attitudes, their actions, and their desires. When we trust in Him, Jesus Christ literally comes to live within us and lives His life in and through us. Therefore, it is no longer what we do through our own self-effort, but what He does supernaturally, because He is the one who provides the power, and we are merely the instruments through which He releases that power.
The Secret is Surrender
Perhaps you are saying, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died for my sins. Am I not a Christian?" Not if you have refused to yield your will to Him. Or you may say, "I heard a wonderful sermon, my emotions were stirred and I had a great emotional experience. I even responded to the invitation to go forward for counsel. Am I not a Christian?" Not if you have never relinquished the throne of your life, your will, to Christ. The surrender of the will is the key to becoming a Christian and the secret of living a victorious Christian life.
If you have not already received Christ as your Savior and Lord, will you, in the quiet of this moment, surrender you will to Him - invite Him to come into your life to live His life in you? Your life upon this earth and for all eternity is affected by your decision. Be assured that if you do receive Christ as your Savior and Lord, He will pardon your sin, give purpose to your life, and give you His peace and power. Your life will be forever changed. If you desire to receive Christ, bow your head and pray this prayer:
Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God and that You died on the cross for my sin. I surrender my will, the throne of my life, to You. Show me Your purpose for my life, and I will follow You. Give me Your peace and power that I may please and honor You, Lord Jesus. Amen!
* With thanks and grateful acknowledgement to Bill Bright