Recently, we just finished up a series called Get Real in our middle school ministry. During the series we addressed major questions many people, including Christians, ask about Christianity. For example, “How do we know God is real?” or “If God is so loving than why is there so much suffering in the world?” The question I tackled a few weeks ago was “Is Jesus really the only way to God?” I want to share the main ideas from that talk in this post and hope to share why we can believe that Jesus really is the only way to God.
A popular belief in our culture is that all religions are equal. Not only are they equal, but they all lead to the same place. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what religion, or path, you take, we will all end up in the same place. Some people may choose Christianity and if that’s works for them then it’s all good. Or some people may choose Islam, or some other religion, and if that’s best for them then it’s all good. We call this belief “religious pluralism.” You see this kind of thing pop up in things like the coexists bumper stickers. You know, those stickers that spell “coexists” with the symbols of different religions. As good as all this sounds, it couldn’t be any further from the truth. In John 14:6, Jesus makes a claim that goes against any claim that all religions are the same or that all paths lead to God. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus claims that there is only one way to God and that’s through Him. How do we know that’s true? Let me share with you three other things that support Jesus claim that He is the only way.
1. Jesus is the only way God provided. In Matthew 26:36-44 we read about Jesus going to a garden to pray before He would be betrayed and arrested. Jesus knew what was coming. He knew He was about to be beaten, spit upon, and murdered on a cross as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. In complete agony He prays to the Father and asks Him if there is another way to do this. He asks God that if it would be His will, could He get out of doing this. But we see Jesus complete surrender and determination to follow God’s will. Jesus goes to God three times and basically asks Him if there is another way. And three times God doesn’t repond. There is no other way. The death of Jesus as a sacrifice for sin was the only way. God’s silence screams this truth from the pages of Scripture! Think about it, if God had another way would He really send His only Son to be nailed to His death on a cross? This sacrifice only makes sense if what we believe is true-Jesus is the only way!
2. Jesus is the only way that fixes our problem. Everyone enters this world with a common problem called sin. All religions recognize this is some way. They may not call it sin, but they realize this world is broken and things are screwed up. So all religions, or paths to God, try and fix this problem. Some try and say that all we need to do is be better, try harder, and hope our good outweighs our bad. Sadly, all religions, except Christianity, just puts a band-aid on our problem. Only Jesus actually fixes the problem. How does He do that? He becomes a curse for us and take our sin upon Himself. In exchange we get His righteousness which means we continue as if we have never sinned. We are justified and stand before God perfect because of Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:21 explains this great exchange to us.
3. Jesus is the only way transforms our life. No one actually experiences life change outside of Christianity. All other religions don’t change a person. In actuality all they do is become an “add on” to someones life. But Jesus comes and gives us a new start. The Bible calls this being “born again” or the “new birth.” We literally go from death unto life and experience a whole new life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” No other religions can make that statement. In their book Red Like Blood, Joe Coffey and Bob Bevington tell a story about a situation the famous evangelists Dr. Ironsides found himself in. At a Salvation Army event, Dr. Ironsides was called to the platform to share a few words. On his way up, a outspoken atheists started making remarks and yelling at him. The atheist called Ironsides out for a debate between Christianity, which he claimed was false, and atheism. Ironsides looked at the man and said this: “Yes, I will debate you this Saturday morning. But there is one condition. You bring one person whose life has been transformed by the power of becoming an atheist and I will bring fifty ex-alcoholics and fifty ex-prostitutes whose lives have been transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. And then we will debate.” Christianity is the only religion that has to power to change a life.
All religions, or paths, to God are not the same. There is only one way and that is through Jesus Christ. That is the only way God provided, fixes our sin problem, and brings transformation. No other ways to God claim those three things.
Click here to view my speaking page where you can hear the audio of this sermon as well as other sermons I have preached in the past.
Over a year ago I wrote about three truths found in Jeremiah 29 that I believe should encourage Christians when they face trials. A few months after I wrote that post I crafted it into a sermon. I ended up preaching that sermon a few times to various audiences and it always goes over well. I want to share this sermon with you as a freebie and encourage you to use it however you wish.
The main idea of the sermon is God is sovereign over everything, included that trials you face in this life. Their is a reason He sends each of us through certain trials and trusting Him with that changes the way we go through them. Below you will find a link to download the teaching manuscript, PowerPoint presentation, and for Mac users I included a Keynote presentation.
Feel free to download this freebie and use it however you wish. You can edit the material and make it your own. Let me know if you end up using this freebie!
If you have been in a ministry position where you preach or teach on a weekly basis, you know how it feels to preach a few terrible sermons. I had one of those experiences last night in our student ministry. Honestly, it was one of those sermons that I was just ready to be done with. Don’t get me wrong, the Lord spoke through His Word in spite of my terrible preaching and many students talked to me after the service about the topic. So what do we do after our preaching and teaching doesn’t go as well as planned? Here are a few things I have been reminding myself of since last night:
1. Trust in God’s sovereignty. At the end of the day, God doesn’t need us to preach or teach the world’s best sermon. Isaiah 55:11 says, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” God’s Word is powerful and able to change the heart of those who you are preaching to. You don’t have to read the Bible very long to see that God uses things that look “terrible” to us to accomplish His will. God still spoke through your terrible sermon. However, this shouldn’t push us to not prepare well and not strive to communicate God’s Word the most creative way we can, but it should give us comfort when our preaching doesn’t come out the way we intended it to.
2. Don’t dwell on it. I have a tendency to dwell on a terrible sermon. I will usually ask my fiancée over and over what she thought about it, and sometimes I even catch myself trying to “explain” to her why it was so terrible. The best thing you can do after preaching a terrible sermon is simply move on and focus on preparing your next sermon. Remind yourself of number one, trust in God’s sovereignty, and move on.
3. Learn from it. Another thing you can do after preaching a terrible sermon is to simply learn from the experience. Last night when I had my “terrible sermon” experience, I knew it wasn’t because I didn’t prepare the sermon right or study the Scriptures; it was because I stayed up way too late the night before. I was mentally and physically exhausted which resulted in not being able to communicate God’s Word well. Learning from a terrible sermon is a good way to stay humble as a preacher of God’s Word. Admit it was not your best sermon, and move on by learning from the experience. See what you need to change or do better so you can avoid it next time you preach. As people who are preaching and teaching God’s Word, we must continue to learn and grow from our mistakes.
I hope these simple thoughts will help you when you face your next “terrible sermon.” Even though God’s Word is powerful and can change hearts, we as preachers and teachers will struggle to share it well every time. If you preach God’s Word often, you will have some sermons that are not your best, but rest assured, you will have a few sermons and lessons that you knock out of the park!
Steven Furtick, lead pastor of Elevation Church, wrote a great article on this same subject. I ran across it after I wrote this post and believe it would be a great article to check out. Click here to view that article.