Foundation for Life Lesson 2 July 31, 2005
NKJ Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
Last week we began a new study that I am entitling "Foundation for Life." I began by asking you the question, what is your foundation for life? What is it that you build your life upon in terms of the rationale for the purpose and meaning of life? A foundation for life needs to be of such extent that it gives us an answer for why we live, what the purpose and the meaning of our life is, where our life is headed, what we are trying to accomplish in life as well as those questions related to values. What gives us the overall framework for decision-making and determining what is right and what is wrong? Above all what about a future destiny beyond our physical death? These are the questions that any philosophy of life should be able to answer. The problem is that most philosophies of life and most religions are unable to truly bear the weight of these issues. When it gets to tough times or crisis or when it gets asking the tough rigorous intellectual questions, the world's religions and philosophy can't provide the answers. The result that we see down through the ages is that eventually this produces a certain amount of skepticism and Sinicism among people. Ultimately they can't come up with an answer for why there is life, what the purpose is, or what the destiny is. People often give up and live for the moment, live for themselves, and do what makes them feel successful or feel better. This is the situation we find Pontius Pilate in at the time of the sixth trial with the Lord Jesus Christ.
NKJ John 18:37 Pilate therefore said to Him, "Are You a king then?" Jesus answered, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." 38 Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, "I find no fault in Him at all.
Note that Jesus talks about the Truth – the one over arching truth under which everything else has meaning and significance. It is a truth that unifies everything in life – ethics, values, law, geology, history, and philosophy. Everything is unified in this one truth. But Pilate's response is the response of a product of a philosophical age. He is the product of centuries of Greek philosophy and Greek and Roman culture. He expresses the standard skepticism and Sinicism. Truth, what is that? Let's just get on with what we need to do is his attitude.
There is another group of people involved in this trial that I talked about. It is the religious crowd as distinct from those who believe in Biblical Christianity. There are those who have tried to solve the emptiness that philosophy and reason can't fully answer with religion. They use God words and God talk and ritual and ethics and morality to sort of stiff-arm the truth of God. They keep God at bay. They try to assuage their own guilt complex because they are in good works or good deeds or religious activity. They go to church on Sunday. They light candles. They say prayers. They do all of this overt activity and somehow think it will give them favor with God. Once again they deny the truth as being represented by the Lord Jesus Christ who said He was the Truth. We see that there is head to head conflict. Among the Jews there were the Pharisees who were rigorous fundamentalists, legalistic, ethical, emphasizing crowd. Then on the left were the Sadducees who rejected resurrection. They didn't believe in the existence of angels. They didn't believe in the supernatural. They represent the liberalizing group of religious thought that has existed down through the ages such as liberal Protestant theology of the 19the century or deism or forms like that. Over against this we have the claims of Biblical Christianity that there is one truth. It is a truth that man can know. It is this truth that Jesus Christ claimed to represent. It is that claim that Jesus Christ made in John14:6.
NKJ John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
That claim hits the ears of many unbelievers as the most arrogant statement they have ever heard. What about all of these good people? How could someone who gives to the poor, who was involved in community projects, who gives their life to civil service, and who is moral upright and outstanding be rejected to hell while some sexual pervert who believes in Christ could be in heaven? If you have ever been involved in witnessing to any unbeliever, you have come across that objection and question. They want to know why someone like Hitler or a child molester could get into heaven. It is a failure to understand the authority of God. In that it is a failure to understand the structure of reality as God defines it. Man always seeks to have answers but he starts from within himself. It is important to understand your starting point in determining the issues. If your starting point is yourself and a finite existence then ultimately you will end up seeing that there is no certainty. You are left awash in the sea of questions.
This was the situation both in ancient history in the ideas of Plato and Aristotle and the Stoics and Epicureans and the story of modern thought from Cartesian rationalism in the 17th century all the way up to modern existentialism.
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The vertical axis represents space. It is what we can see. This extends from the smallest object we can observe through microscopes or whatever instruments we may have to the largest conceivable object we can directly observe such as the existence of galaxies out in the universe.
The horizontal line represents time from the smallest increment that we can observe whether it is with our eyes, time-lapse photography from a nano-second to the largest time period that would be direct historical observation that is reported. 4,000 BC is about as far back as direct historical observation goes. Beyond that we have no direct or indirect information.
This sets up the parameters of human knowledge in terms of time from the smallest microsecond to the period of historical observation we have the two boundaries. In terms of space from the smallest particle that we can observe to the largest galaxy in space we have our limitations. This box describes the limitations of all of human knowledge. Some of you may say that we were talking about truth. But you see, Jesus made a truth claim. He said He was the Truth. As soon as you start to witness to someone and try to explain Biblical Christianity to someone and you say this is the truth, they will want to know how you know that. You see truth claims and how you know what you know can't be separated. But when man faces his own knowledge he has to recognize that it is always limited. We have such a finite amount of knowledge. It is like the head of a pin in terms of all the knowledge that is available. When we compare all of the knowledge that has been available in human history to the vast amount and infinite knowledge of God we recognize that we are trying to evaluate God on almost no knowledge at all.
Man is locked inside the box that limits his knowledge. He cannot get outside the box. There is no system of rationalism that can get him outside the box. There is no system of empiricism that has ever been able to get outside the box. What is necessary is for someone outside the box to come inside the box. Now when man is limited he is inside this box, all he can do is come up with certain deductions, guesses, speculations but he can't know anything for sure. He is going to judge everything outside the box by the frame of reference he has inside the box. What we have according to God outside the box is the creator. The creator is outside the box. He speaks inside the box so man can have information about what goes on outside the box. This is what Jesus referred to in John 3 when He spoke to Nicodemus.
NAS John 3:12 "If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
No one has ascended to heaven. There is no human being who on the basis of reason or experience can tell you what is outside the box of human experience and creation. Only someone who has come down from heaven, that is the Son of Man, can do that. What Jesus is saying is that it is necessary for God to speak to man in order to give man information about what is outside the limitations of human knowledge. Only then can man have certainty in his answers about the fundamental questions of life. Why do we exist? What is my purpose? Is this just some cosmic accident as the Darwinist say? Does my life have meaning and value and significance? Am I no different from a rock or a lizard? Is there life after death? Will I see my loved ones again after I die? Is there a God? Is there a God I can trust and rely on who gives meaning and value to life? These are questions we all wrestle with in the light of criminality and suffering. We want to know why there is evil and suffering. Is there ultimate justice for those who commit these heinous acts? Will God resolve the problem? But man in his knowledge if he is left inside the box is left with guesswork and speculation to get outside the box.
An analogy that has often been used to talk about philosophy to answer these questions is the analogy of a blind man in a dark alley. He tries to grab the black cat. The black cat represents truth. Plato comes along and tries to grab the cat. He grabs the cat. Then Aristotle who is another blind man in a black alley grabs the cat. Then the Stoics claim to have the cat. Then someone else claims to have the cat. Pretty soon you have 20 or 30 different thinkers that think they have the cat. But they are in a black alley and don't have a clue what a black cat is even if they grabbed it. The Bible says that Jesus comes along and says He is the light of the world and turns the light on. He says that He will define what truth is because you are blind and you can't see. Man, because he is fallen, denies it.
NKJ Romans 1:19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
Men suppress (reshape or spin) their own orientation on truth. They hold down and warp truth by means of unrighteousness. They want to rethink it. They want to think about it on their own terms and not on the terms of God. So they are constantly generation-to-generation rejecting truth.
If we are going to understand why there is only one truth and why it is not arrogant for Jesus to say the He is the way the truth and the life, we can't just start with Jesus. If people really want an answer to the question and come to understand why this isn't arrogant they have to take more than a few minutes to investigate the answer. They may just be trying to put up a shield and keep you away. So you might ask if they want to know the answer or just argue and waste your time. Do they really want to take the time? The answers are there. It takes a little time and mental effort to think it through. But it is not a two-sentence answer. The answer starts with going back to the beginning of the Bible. We have to understand that what Jesus said about being the truth fits in the structure of Biblical thought beginning in Genesis 1.
So we need to understand what that structure is. We will start in Genesis 1 and end in Revelation 22. We will only hit the high points, but we have to understand the total frame of reference. So we start with creation. Genesis 1 is the story of the creation, the fall, the flood, the Tower of Babel and Abraham. Then we will move into Exodus.
What the Bible tells us is that God created the universe ex nihilo. That means He created it out of nothing. That tells us right off the bat that there is a radical distinction between God as the creator and man as the creature. It paints God is the designer or architect who sets the structure and establishes both the physical and biological laws. God put them in place. Just as there are physical laws, there are also spiritual laws. The spiritual laws are just as real as the physical laws. God made these things to be what they are. What modern man wants to do is make the rules. This is why it is ultimately an authority issue. It is ultimately a spiritual issue. People today want to let their kids play baseball and make up the rules. But that isn't baseball. Whoever designs the game or the business has the right to make the rules and set the standards. So God set the physical and the spiritual laws.
Along with that, in Genesis 1 we are told that God made man in His image and in His likeness. There are a lot of things we could say about that but one thing we should note about that is that He made man in such a way that man could receive divine communication. God knew that He was going to speak to man and reveal things to man. So He created man with a soul and with a mind that was structured in such a way that man could hear what God had to say and understand it and know with certainty that it was the truth.
God didn't just create man and say " Oh gee! How am I going to talk to him now?" In His infinite and wise planning He created a creature in such a way that could receive His communication. Man was created with four key elements. He has self-consciousness to set him apart from the other creatures. It sets him apart from the animals. Man is capable of knowing and understanding himself. He can know his own behavior and actions. He can know and evaluate his own behavior and actions.
Second, he has mentality. He has the ability to think and reason. He develops his knowledge and understanding of the creation in which God has placed him.
Third, he has volition. He is responsible for the decisions that he makes. He is able to make choices and he understands what the implications are for those choices. He has self-determination.
Fourth, man has a conscience. He is given the ability to know right from wrong. He can have standards and then and operate on the basis of those standards by the correct use of his volition.
All of these work together within the soul of man. Then God took that man who was created perfect in God's image with the perfect righteousness of God and placed him in perfect environment so that there is nothing in the environment that is going to be the cause his failure. Within that environment God created a test.
The test is designed to help man understand his own responsibilities and the importance of trusting what God said. That man was placed in the garden. In that garden there were hundreds of different animals that God had created. He delegates responsibility to the man to name the animals. God had already begun the naming process earlier when He named the light day and the darkness night. Now He delegates the responsibility of naming the animals to man. So man has to use his empirical ability and sense to identify and classify the animals. We are not saying that empiricism can't get you a certain amount of knowledge, but it can't get you that overarching truth that we are desperately searching for. Man uses his reasoning abilities, the intellect that God has given to him, to understand these animals to see who goes with whom. Man then begins to explore his environment. As he does, he begins to learn many things about it. There is one thing that he can't learn from empiricism or rationalism. That is, that there is one tree that if he eats from it he will die spiritually immediately. It will cause a separation from God and he will come under eternal condemnation. The only way he can know that is if God reveals it to him. So what we see from the very beginning is that God structures reality and then He identifies what that reality is to man. That is the start of truth. Truth is what conforms to reality. God defines reality by how He creates it. Then He informs man what the conditions are of that reality and what the consequences are for disobedience. Of course we know what happened. Eve was challenged. This is the second instance from the Old Testament – the fall.
In the fall we have the fallen angel Lucifer who comes along in the form of a serpent and tempts Eve. He says to her, "Has God really said that you should not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?" And then he clearly contradicts God and says, "If you do that, you really won't die." So what he has just done is to challenge the truth of God's statement. Now what Satan has done is create a logical trap for Eve. Because if she falls into this and tries to make a decision on who is right, she has immediately puts herself over God and judges Him. Of course she walks right into the trap.
She thinks that the only way she is going to know which claim is true is if she does her own experiment. So she takes the fruit and eats it and instantly dies spiritually. Then she entices her husband and he eats and there is more spiritual death. You see what has happened here is that there is truth. He created reality. He reveals the nature of reality but then man comes along and sits as a judge. He tries to redefine reality. The consequences totally devastate reality. It ripples through all of creation. It separates man from God through spiritual death. It has repercussions throughout the biological and chemical structure of the universe.
But God is gracious and He comes and seeks out man. God once again points out the consequences. Reality changes because of man's sin. In His grace He will reveal that there will be a solution to the sin. There will be a seed of the woman who will come. He will bruise the head of the serpent. This foreshadows the classic struggle down through history between God and the fallen angel Lucifer.
In the fall see we see that man has restructured reality. God in grace restates the revelation. But that doesn't end it. We get into Genesis 4. We see the first murder. Following that there are other murders. We see the deterioration of marriage. We see the deterioration of the family. We see the beginning of the abuse of women. We see the abuse of women as objects in the rise of polygamy. The whole line of Adam down through Cain deteriorates. The human race gets in such a mess because of their rejection of God and their reinventing of truth. You see it from generation to generation. Man wants to restructure the truth. He denies what God says. Romans 1 talks about man suppressing the truth. He wants to define reality on his own terms.
Eventually things get so bad that God has to end everything in a radical judgment. Just as there was a judgment at the fall because of man's rejection of truth, there is a judgment in the flood. God sends a flood that completely reshapes the face of the earth. In that there is a revelation of grace before judgment for 100 years.
Noah proclaimed that the flood was coming. There is only one way of salvation. That one way of salvation was to get on the ark with Noah and his family. Once again man rejects it. There was one way of salvation after the fall. It was foreshadowed in the animal sacrifices that had to take place in order for God to clothe man with the animal skin. So sacrifice became a representation of man's belief in God's free offer of salvation. Of course that got perverted into religious activity prior to the flood. Then the flood comes and again there is one way of salvation. There is exclusivity again. Man rejects that because he suppresses the truth in unrighteousness. The flood wipes out everyone on the planet except Noah and his family. So the flood is the third key event. Before the flood we see that man spins the revelation and suppresses truth again.
God always provides a way of salvation. He always provides the solution. But man rejects it. The result is that the human race is destroyed and gets a new start. Once again after the flood they get new revelation given by God to Noah in Genesis 9. In that new revelation He tells man once again that is to be fruitful and multiply and to scatter over the face of the earth. But man fails. Once again he suppress the truth of revelation and there is going to be judgment.
This is our fourth event. It is the connection between the Tower of Babel and Abraham. These are connected because the failure of the Tower of Babel God has to go to an alternate plan to provide revelation to man. At the Tower of Babel man chooses religion again instead of God. He suppresses the truth of God's revelation and tries to develop his own means of protection. Many of the ancient religions find their starting point in polygamous religions and the fertility cults that surround the Tower of Babel. Again there is judgment. God judges the human race and He divides the languages so that they are forced to spread out over the earth. God comes back and in His grace He provides a solution. He will work with one man and his descendents and through them He will provide a Savoir. It will be the ultimate resolution to the problem of evil and sin. He only works through one man. Again we see that exclusivity. He will work through that one man and his descendents. He tells that man what He is going to do. So it is through the descendents of Abraham that God will call out a special people who are going to be the custodians of truth. It will be their responsibility to record the truth and preserve the truth. God in His sovereignty will oversee the process so that what is recorded is not tainted by human error or mistakes. God will use men to do the recording but He will supernaturally govern the process. He will reveal Himself and protect the revelation. He will preserve His written truth. Again we see that even in Abraham's own mind the truth is rejected and suppressed. His descendents get into trouble by the fourth generation when Jacob has 12 sons who become the forerunners of the 12 tribes of Israel. Rather than living a separate and distinct life they want to intermarry with the Canaanites. This compromise would so destroy God's plan of working through this people that God causes them to go to Egypt where they are going to be enslaved by the Pharaoh. In that God preserves them and protects them as people. They are isolated until they grow large enough population that they can be protected down through history.
The fifth event is the Exodus. This is another defining event for revelation. God appears and reveals Himself to Moses. He warns the Egyptians that to they need to let the people go. The Pharaoh in classic human viewpoint pattern rejects that. He defines reality on his own terms because he bought the lie that the Egyptians promoted that Pharaoh was god. It is a clash of truth. Once again God through ten plagues shows He is superior to the entire Egyptian pantheon. The defining event is the tenth plague when God announces that He will take the life of the first born in every household. But once again there is grace before judgment. In that grace God reveals that there is a salvation, deliverance. There is a way to avoid the loss of the first-born. They were to take a lamb without spot or blemish (it doesn't matter if you are an Egyptian or a Jew or what you have done in life) and sacrifice it and spread the blood on the doorposts. That was the one and only way to deliverance. Once again truth is exclusive. The angel of death came and passed over the houses that were marked by the blood. That is the origin for the Jewish celebration of Passover. Some rejected what God said. They said, "We have never seen a God act like this before. It is not going to happen." The next day they were having funerals.
As a result of that they got their freedom and the nation was lead out of Egypt. He leads them into the wilderness and at Mt. Sinai He gives them the Mosaic Law which is to govern the life of a redeemed nation. In the Mosaic Law He gives them a ritual in order to represent the truth of how He relates to man and who He is in terms of His holy and righteous character in the form of a tabernacle. God's presence indwells the centerpiece of the tabernacle and only the high priest comes in because God is teaching them that as a holy righteous God there has to be certain things done before you can come into His presence.
If you look at the structure of the tabernacle there is only one entry point. There is only one way to go into the tabernacle. God says that if you are going to come into my presence these things have to happen. Ultimately there has to be a cleansing. This is the concept of atonement. There has to be a blood sacrifice. If there is no blood sacrifice that covers sin then you can't come into my presence. So once again truth is revealed. It is exclusive. It excludes those who do not come in. There is one and only one way. What happens again? The people reject it. They revise it. They resist it. They suppress it. While Moses is up getting the Law, they have Aaron fashion a golden calf. They substitute religion for revelation.
Then when they get into the wilderness and come to the Promised Land, God tells them He will give them the land. It is new revelation. Twelve spies go in to the land. Ten come back and say that they can't defeat them. They suppressed the truth. God didn't say to see if you could defeat them. He told them to find out how you are going to do it. I will defeat them for you. They reject that so there is condemnation and punishment again because there is only one way to do what God says to do. So they can back and claimed they can't do it. God says that on that basis the people have rejected Me so they would wander in the desert for 40 years. That generation would not go into the land.
When they do go into the land in the next generation under Joshua, they conquered the land only under the direct specific instructions of God. They can't go in just any old way and defeat the armies. They have to be precise. The first battle is the battle of Jericho. God tells them how to take Jericho. He tells them to put down their weapons and just walk around the city for six days. On the 7th day they were to shout and blow your trumpets and the walls would fall down. That is in every military strategy book, isn't it?
The issue is that God defines the way and we obey Him because He is the one who defines reality. That is truth. So when they did that on the 7th day, they blew the trumpets and the walls fell down. It was a tremendous victory. In the instructions God told them they were to destroy everything. They would destroy all the valuables – the sheep, the goats. They would kill every man woman and child because they were an abomination to God. There was one man who saw some gold and silver and decided that he could get away with it. He took some for himself and buried it under his tent. When Israel went into the second battle they lost.
Joshua was beside himself. He cried out to the Lord, "Why did this happen? Why did you lead us here to be defeated?"
God said, "You did not obey me. There is sin in the camp. You have to do exactly what I say. There is only one way." There is only one way to stay away from spiritual death before the fall. There is only one way to take care of sin after the fall through sacrifice. There is only one way to have safety in the flood. That was to get on the ark. There is only one way to survive the Passover. That is to put the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of the house. There is only one way to conquer the enemy. That is what He says.
They identified the offending party who had taken the silver and they killed him. It was capital punishment. He confessed his sin and they removed him through capital punishment and execution. Then Israel had victory over the inhabitants of Ai.
The story of Joshua and Judges is our 6th point. There was the conquest and the crisis. God revealed how to conquer. When they obeyed Him, they were victorious. When they disobeyed him, they were defeated. In the conquest in Joshua we see the obedience and blessing as they conquer all the strong holds of the land.
But in the book of Judges we see just the opposite. We see failure and defeat because they compromise. Rather than rigorously holding on to the truth of God, they compromise that truth with the religious truth of the Canaanites and the inhabitants of the land. In the book of Judges we see that there was no king in the land. They wanted to do what was right in their own eyes. That is what we have today – more relativism. They were saying, "There is no Truth. You have your truth and I have mine. Let's just enjoy each other." They asked why they should kill all of them. They just wanted to enjoy one another. God told them that was not how it was going to happen and there would be various consequences for a period of over 300 years. There is a cycle of defeat and enslavement. The people cry out to God and God sends a deliverer. They once more go into sin. This cycle happens all over again seven different times in the book of Judges.
We end up in our 7th major event, the monarchy. God provides a kingdom for Israel. Again this is provided through revelation through the prophets. The prophets do not change the revelation of God. Their job was to press home to the people the implications and application of the law that God had already revealed. We see the first kings in the united monarchy are Saul, then David and Solomon. Solomon rejects the truth. He reshapes and suppresses the truth and leads the people into idolatry. As a result God says that it would be taken from his son.
So a division occurs. That is our eighth point from the Old Testament - a divided nation. The nation is divided because they have rejected the truth. They turn their back on the God who delivered them from Egypt and the God who delivered them from slavery. They reshape and suppress the truth and go into idolatry under Solomon. God causes a civil war and the nation divides into the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Northern Kingdom is evil continuously. From the beginning they had an alternate religion. Jeroboam set up a golden calf and said that it was the god that delivered you from Egypt. You see he reshapes the truth. As a result of that there was no dynasty in the North. You go a couple of generations and there would be a revolt. There was always upheaval and catastrophe in the north. As the generations went by their religions would be progressively perverted. They went into the fertility cults and Baal worship. They had child sacrifice. Finally God disciplined them in 722 BC when they were defeated militarily defeated by the Assyrians. Why? Because they had been given revelation. Throughout this period prophet after prophet announced the truth of God. They rejected it. They reshaped it. They suppressed the truth in unrighteousness.
The story in the south is not quite so bad. There were a few kings in the south who followed God. There were many others who didn't. Eventually those who didn't gained the upper hand and by 586 BC it was necessary for God to discipline the Southern Kingdom for the same reason. They had substituted the worship of God for the human pseudo truth of idolatry. So they were taken out of the land and defeated by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian Kingdom. God takes them out of the land for 70 years. But see God had made promises in the earlier years to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that there would be a Savior that would come through them and through the tribe of Judah. So God brought part of the Jews back to the land to establish the postexilic kingdom under Zerubbabel so that there would be a group of Jews in the land through whom the Savior would come. From the 8th point we saw the nation divided.
The ninth point is the nation disciplined. The nation was taken out of the land for 70 years from 586 BC when the nation was destroyed until 516 BC. That is where you get the 70 years. During that time they are out of the land and under discipline. You had Daniel and Ezekiel who ministered to the exiles. What is happening? God reveals truth. God never leaves us no matter how we fail. No matter how bad it gets, God continues to reveal truth and He continue to provide for us in grace. God continued to reveal truth to Daniel. There was a future for the nation. There was hope for the future. God would still fulfill His promises to the nation. There would indeed be a coming savior for the nation, the Messiah. So the nation returns in 536 under Zerubbabel. This is our tenth point.
What is consistent throughout this? God gives them truth. They reject truth. They reshape truth. They suppress the truth in unrighteousness. There is always the battle between the truth of God and man always wanting to redefine reality on his own terms.
Point 11 is the fulfillment of the promises. We have truth incarnate. The second person of the trinity became a human being. He takes on human flesh. This is the greatest revelation of God in history.
NKJ John 1:14 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.
The Word is a title for the Second Person of the trinity. Once again it is this invasion of divine truth into human history that upsets everyone's apple cart. The Lord Jesus Christ enters history and when He teaches He says things like John 14:6.
NKJ John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
He lays down the gauntlet. He says that there is only one way and only one truth. People try to get around that all kinds of ways. You have probably experienced it. You give people the gospel and they tell you that there are other truths. Ask them what they think about Jesus. If they say that He was a good man tell them that He claimed to be God. You can't say that He was a good man unless you also say that He was the only way to God and unless you say that He is the one who is the only Savior. When He claims to be the way, the truth and the life He is either telling the truth or He is telling a lie. Is there another option? I ask that question. Try to get people to think about it. Is there another alternative? I want to put them on the pins of their own dilemma. Is there another option? No, there isn't. If He is telling the truth that He is the God of the universe, the one who created the heavens and the earth and the one who died on the cross for our sins so that we can have eternal life. If He is not then He is lying. If He is lying He is the most evil deceiver in all of human history. Millions and millions of people have trusted in Him exclusively for salvation. They will end up in heaven because they trust Him. So you have only two options. He is either telling the truth or He is telling a lie. Do not let unbelievers get off the hook. Leave them there. Let them feel the tension so that the Holy Spirit can use it to make the truth clear to them.
Jesus made a number of other statements. He spoke to the Jews.
NKJ John 10:9 "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
The door is the one entry way into the tabernacle. There is only one way. We know what happened. Pilate threw up his hands. He goes out to the Jews and tells them that he can't find any fault in Jesus. He lets them do with Him. Pilate went and washed his hands. It is the religious people the do-gooders the ethical ones who took Jesus and beat him and took him to the cross and had Him crucified.
The Truth is triumphant. That is our 12th point. Truth will triumph. It triumphed first when Jesus Christ rose from the dead in a physical bodily resurrection. He demonstrated that He had paid the penalty for our sins and conquered the greatest consequence of sin which is death. The Truth will ultimately triumph when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. The Bible clearly predicts that the Lord Jesus Christ will return to earth one day and establish His kingdom. Ultimately it is the Lord Jesus Christ who will sit in judgment over every human being.
The issue is not how good were you? Were you good enough to meet the righteous requirements to get into heaven? Do you have the perfect righteousness? The real issue behind all of this is that we are dealing with a holy and righteous God. This is what we will develop in coming weeks. The issue is that God is of such a nature that no one can come into His presence unless they have perfect righteousness. You have to meet His standard. God looks at you and says, "Granted there are a bunch of you who are good."
Remember that there were disciples that Jesus spoke to.
NKJ Matthew 7:11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
There is relative good but it isn't good enough. It's not perfect righteousness.
NKJ Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
He doesn't say that your unrighteousnesses are filthy; He says that your righteousnesses are filthy. We can't do anything to merit God's favor. We are tainted from the beginning. We are born sinners. The message of the Scripture is that He loved the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son.
NKJ John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
The issue isn't how God can have an exclusive and only way to get into heaven. The issue is how could there be any other way to come into the presence of a righteous God. It was through a sacrifice that paid the penalty for us. From Genesis to Revelation there is only one way of salvation again and again and again. There is never a multiplicity of ways to God. God is the creator. He has the right to define who He is and who we are and the terms of how we get to Him. It is not up to the creature to decide how it should be done. It is the creator that makes the rules.
Next time as we move forward we will look at the character of God.