ONE WAY by RC SPROUL
Tonight I want to take your attention back to the prologue of the Gospel according to St John which is an extraordinary introduction to John’s Gospel and those few verses that comprise that prologue are the verses that kept the most brilliant minds of the early church busy in seeking to understand the depth of it in terms of their understanding of the person and work of Jesus is not just for the first 30 years after our Lord’s ascension into heaven but throughout the first three centuries and in to the fourth century up to the Council of Nicaea which formalized and codified much of that theological investigation that focused on this prologue and is familiar as it is to all of you I don’t think you’ll hurt you this Christmas time to hear it again and so as I read the prologue of the Gospel of John would ask that you would please stand to hear it. In the beginning was the word the word was with God and the Word was God he was in the beginning with God in all things were made through him and without him nothing was made that was made in him was life and the life was the light of men and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it. There is a man sent from God whose name was John this man came for a witness to bear witness of the light that all through him might believe. He was not that light but was sent to bear witness of the that was the true light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world and the world was made through him the world did not know him. He came to his own and his own did not receive an but as many as received him to them he gave the right to become children of God to those who believe in his name who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man but of God and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory the glory as of the only begotten of the father full of grace and truth. John bore witness of him and cried out saying this was he of whom I said you comes after me is preferred before me for he was a form and of his fullness we have all received and grace for grace the law was given through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten son who is in the bosom of the father he has declared him with any wonder that the church mused, contemplated these words for centuries trying to plumb the depths of what is contained in them there’s enough information just in that preamble that I read to you a moment ago to provide Christmas sermons for 100 years you’ve heard the word of God please receive it as such. Let us pray Oh Lord once again that this Adventist season as we hear these profound words a new as always we need your help and ask that you would send it to us in the person of the Holy Spirit who superintended and inspired this record originally. For we ask it in the name of Jesus as I set a moment to gather so much in this preamble so much information and insight about who Jesus is that it almost seems arbitrary to focus on any one portion of it at the expense of the other parts we could look at the opening words in the beginning was the word or the logos word was with God and the word was God in the first sentence a distinction is made between God and the logos or the word in the next breath and identity between the word and God himself but rather than focus on that which is profound enough as I say to our congregation at the Christmas season we don’t celebrate the birth of a baby so much as we celebrate the incarnation of God that’s what Christmas is about. That rather I would like to direct your attention to verse 14 and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us we beheld his glory certainly a reference to the experience that John and Peter James had on the Mount of Transfiguration we beheld his glory was the glory. What was that glory? The glory of the only begotten of the father full of grace and truth. Then in verse 18 no one has seen God at any time the only begotten son who is in the bosom of the father he has declared him twice in this prologue to the Gospel of John Jesus is identified as the Monoganace. The only begotten of the father. It was about 35 years ago that my dear friend Archie Perry issue with that time was the executive director of evangelism explosion at the coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale contacted me because they had given their evangelistic presentation to end of thousands of people already and they kept a record of the objections that people raised to the Christian faith in the course of evangelistic discussions. They collated these things counted these questions in terms of their numerical frequency and Archie said RC we boiled it down to 10 questions that are the 10 most frequent questions or objections that we hear when we go into the community and talk to people about Jesus and he said would you be willing to write a book for us on how to answer these 10 objections so I wrote the book 35 years ago in the original title was “Objections answered” (they change that since they always do) In the top 10 questions very close to the top of the questions that they encountered objections that people raised to the truth claims of Christianity was that they couldn’t understand how anyone could believe that there’s only one way to God we live in a pluralistic culture and pluralism teaches that there is no such thing as a unified or unitary truth and certainly no one can claim any exclusive possession of truth. If there is anything that is politically incorrect in our culture it is the claim to have a defining truth that is universal in its application unless it is the claim that there’s only one way to God and that way is through Jesus Christ. Statements that affirm such uniqueness and exclusivity about Jesus can almost spark riots in our land. I have often told the story of an embarrassing experience I had when I was a college student a new Christian in an English class of all places. Not a class and religion or philosophy or humanities it was English composition and the professor for that class was a woman who would been a war correspondent during World War II and she was as hostile to Christianity as one could be and she made her hostility clearly known in the classroom. She knew that I was a Christian she wasn’t happy about that. In the middle of a class one afternoon she looked at me and she said Mr. Sproul suggest man she said do you believe that Jesus is the only way to God. This question came out of nowhere and there was this hush in the room of anticipation. The students were straining to see what I would say in response to this question. Is Jesus the only way to God and if I ever felt impaled on the horns of a dilemma it was on that occasion because I knew if I said yes I believe is the only way to God that I would certainly incur the unmitigated wrath of this tough ex-war correspondent teacher. I also knew that if I said no I don’t believe he’s the only way I would be guilty of public betrayal and so with the boldness of Martin Luther of old when she said you believe that Jesus is the only way I answered mumbling yes. What did you say? I said yes. Is that I believe that and she went ballistic that the ceiling was giving him down she said that’s the most narrow minded bigoted the egotistical, arrogant idea I can ever imagine. And I just sat there turn red while I felt I could physically feel the palpable hostility of everybody in the class. So at the end of the hour the bell rang this teacher did have some element of mercy in her she knew that she had embarrassed me and humiliated me in front of the class and so it was about to leave the classroom door she stopped me and she said Mr. Sproul I’m sorry that I embarrassed you to the degree that I did the life of me I can understand how anybody could be so narrow-minded. And I said her well do you think it’s possible that a humble person intelligent person could be persuaded that Jesus is one way to God. I know you don’t believe that but do you think it’s possible somebody could be persuaded of that truth. She said yes I know lots of people who I think are humble and are intelligent to who believe that Jesus is one way to God that’s not my complaint with you Mr Sproul. It’s your saying that he’s the only way. Here’s my problem convinced that he’s one way and he (Jesus) says he’s the only way. He said I’m the way the truth and the life no one, no one comes to the father except through me. I am the door through which men must enter. We are told elsewhere in the New Testament there is no other name under heaven through which men can be saved and again there is only one mediator between God and man. Jesus Christ in here in the text that we’ve seen twice he’s called the only begotten of the father. I said no Miss so and so, if I came to the conclusion that Jesus Christ is the only way to God because he’s my way that would be bigoted narrow-minded arrogant conceited and all those other adjectives you use to describe me. But don’t you see if I believe he’s one way and he says he’s the only way if I don’t acquiesce to that, then I would be conceited and arrogant by presuming to teach him. And she said I’m glad you explained it like that you said because I can understand how somebody could then come to this conclusion that you have but I have another problem. Okay what’s that? She said but how can you believe in a God who only gives one way for salvation. Why doesn’t God give everybody in the world an opportunity to be reconciled to him by providing a number of avatars a plurality of incarnations why can’t people come to him through Mohammed or Confucius or Buddha? What kind of God is that? I guess we have to say he’s a kind of a narrow-minded God because he started giving his law to his own people. In the first commandment of the 10 was the thou have no other God before me and that before me does not mean ranking ahead of me but before me means in my presence and how far does his presence extent, infinitely. Then what God is saying is you can’t have any other God’s. Period! The New Testament tells us that the primordial sin of the human race of which every natural man is guilty as the suppression of the knowledge of God that he makes clear of himself to all people but all people universally in each and every case suppress that truth and exchanged the truth of God for a lie, a truth that they know and knowing God they refused to acknowledge him as God or to be grateful and instead exchange that truth for a lie and begin to serve the creature rather than the Creator that is as Calvin said they become idle factories and so what about Mohamand, but what about Buddha, they’re not the sons of because God only has one. Buddha, Confucius and get ready for this Mohammed belong to the generic category according to the New Testament the antichrist. We are accustomed to thinking that antichrist is one particular person who will appear sometime at the end of the age. New Testament tells us the spirit of the antichrist is already at work. New Testament tells us that there many antichrists and also we have the tendency to think of antichrist as somebody simply goes opposed to Christ that’s what anti-means in the English language but anti in Greek not only means opposed to or against but it means one who usurps or pretends to be the Christ in his place. The cultural tells you that all religions are equal under the law we have a principal in this country of equal toleration to all religions and it’s a very very short step from believing equal toleration of all religions to the step of thanking equal validity of all religions. They are not the same thing. The law gives you the right to be wrong in your religion. The law is blind to whether you’re a Christian or a Buddhist or a Muslim or whatever you all have equal rights under the law. But don’t mistake that for God. God doesn’t give equal toleration to all these different religions. He commands all men everywhere to repent because he’s appointed a day in which he will judge the world by that man that he has appointed and demonstrated to be his Monogance. Buddha is dead. Mohamad is dead. But the father raised the sun to demonstrate to the world what he had spoken from heaven this is my beloved son. This is my only son. Listen to him. It goes against the grain of everything our culture tries to teach us and back to my discussion with my English teacher she said what kind of God could be like that? And I said well let me see if I can explain to you what kind of a God could be like that you may not believe in this God and may give him no credibility whatsoever… But let’s supposed for the sake of argument that there is just one God and that he’s eternal and that he is absolutely holy and let’s suppose this God by his omnipotent power created the whole universe and everything in it. And he made animals and vegetables and bugs. And then he scooped down out of the dust and formed a human being and breathed into it his own breath and man became a living soul and that of all the creatures in the universe this God, eternal holy God, and righteous God stamped his image on man. Not on turtles, not mosquitoes, but on human beings. And he sent this original image of himself in the most wonderful beautiful paradise imaginable and he gave to the first couple almost absolute freedom, provided all these wonderful gifts for them in a set of all of the things there in this garden I have prepared for you may freely eat. But I have one restriction you are not allowed to eat from the street here because if you do, you will die. And supposed five minutes after he said that and gave this wonderful gift to our original parents they grab and the touch the tree and joined forces with the serpent against God, sought to be God, And suppose God said right then, okay that’s it. I told you the day you eat of it you will die, so you’re gone I’ll take my image and I’m in a put it in the grasshopper instead of you. But suppose he didn’t suppose instead in his mercy saying his naked ashamed creatures cowering in the trees made clothes to cover their shame. And in the process of cursing the serpent gave the promise that at some point in the future the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent, while his own heel would be bruised. And God let the human race continue until such point is that every human being began to do what was right in his own eyes and God destroyed them save for one family who received grace from his hand. And suppose this God out of that family gave generations of the descendants keeping them alive making a promise in a covenantal relationship with them to preserve them to heel them to redeem them And then one day he sees a man who is bowing down and worshiping idols in a pagan culture in Mesopotamia. And suppose God said to that man come here. What is your name? “Abraham” Abraham suppose you do what I tell you to do and I want you to get up out of the country your living in and what you leave your family I want you leave your drugstore. I want you to leave your doctors I want to leave your lawyer I when you leave your business I want to go to a land that I will show you. And I am going to bless you and make you the father of a great nation through you I’m going to bless every nation in the world. Suppose he decided to do that. And God kept his promise to this man and his descendants became as grains of sand on the seashore as the stars of the sky. And then sadly the descendants of this man were brought into captivity by the most powerful ruler in the world and reduced to slavery and they cried. And God heard their cry and he sent a man to the king of Egypt and he said to pharaoh “Let my people go” Suppose that happened. And suppose the greatest liberation movement in the history of the world took place out of Egypt and God took these slaves and he molded them into a nation and he said you will be my people and I will be your God and he called their leader up to a mountain and he spoke to them there and he gave them the law by which he turned this people into a nation Isreal. And suppose he promised that out of this nation again the whole world would be blessed. And these people began to worship idols that they made out of wood and stone they made them out of their own hands and then they would deal down and they would talk to him and pray to them and worship them instead of the God who redeemed them. And so God said I can’t put up with this and so he anointed special men called prophets to come to this people would become hardened in their hearts and stiffen her neck and who it violated all the terms of the agreement that God made with them to bless them. And they killed the prophets, they stoned them. So then God said ok that’s it. Now he sends his son his only son to redeem these very people and they murdered him. And God wouldn’t have it. He raised from the dead and he said if you repent and come to come to the feet of my son and put your faith in him I am going to account his perfect righteousness for you, I am going to forgive every sin that you’ve ever committed and I’m going to impute the perfection of my only son to you, so that when you stand before me on the judgment day that I will see him and not you. And I’m going to have you live forever. There will be no more death no more tears no more pain no more humiliation no more shame no more darkness but joy unspeakable not for a two-week vacation for two years for 2000 years but for eternity. Just suppose. Just suppose that all that happens.
I said to my professor if that’s true and I know you don’t believe it’s true but if it is true would you say to God you haven’t done enough. I would hate to be in the shoes of anybody who would say to their creator who gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life that the father has not done enough. He has only given us one Savior instead of 10 You know I do not have any problem with the uniqueness of Christ I think there any contenders I think it’s blasphemous to mention them in the same breath with Mohammed. The question that baffles me is not why aren’t there 10 ways to God. But why is there even one. If were not amazed by that and we should never sing amazing grace and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory the glory as the only begotten of the father full of grace and truth the only begotten son who is in the bosom of the father he has declared him. That is why we say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays and I pray that this year will be a blessed time for you as you celebrate the birth of the only begotten son. Let’s pray. Father we thank you for the extremities to which you have gone to redeem a single one of us. It is a time to sing Joy to the world, the joy that is, as far as wide as the curses from. Thank you for Jesus. Amen