Today we conclude our series, “Did God Really Say,” looking at God’s design for human flourishing, the confusion that exists when we reject those designs, and then God’s path for restoration.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Within God’s loving boundaries, the first man and woman enjoyed peace. Then, after a failed attempt to usurp God’s throne in heaven, Satan entered the world intending to distort our trust in God’s character. He said, “Did God really say?” Jesus said of Satan, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (Jn. 8:44). Satan’s motive then and now is to kill. He wants to kill our body, mind, soul, love, purity, family, church, worship, and culture. His method then and now is to lie. Adding just enough truth to be plausible, Satan’s lies are often believable. Adam and Eve believed the lie and unleashed a flood of pain.
For two months now, we’ve looked at what God has said about several cultural issues and have appealed that we yield. Jesus’ authority was established at creation and validated at His resurrection. He is Lord, not an accessory to an already decorated life. What He says matters. When people spent time with Jesus in the Bible, it is they who went away changed, not Him. It was their feelings, demands, convictions, and creeds that changed, not His. As the source of righteousness, truth, and love, He sets the terms of what is right, true, and loving. We can’t pick and choose from His Word and flourish. We can’t redefine truth and flourish. Truth is not what we feel, what works, or what we agree with. Truth is what He says. “The sum of your word is truth” (Ps. 119:160). We must hold to His words, for they are the words that matter.
DID GOD REALLY SAY JUST ONE WAY?
There is one more area I must address: Did God really say Jesus is the only way to heaven? In a recent survey, more than 60% of professing Christians in America said, “No.” What did God really say?
“Lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other” (Dt. 4:39). “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Dt. 6:4). ‘All’ leaves nothing left for another! “I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God” (Is. 45:5). “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other” (Is. 45:22). The Lord is one, and He sent one Savior. “There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).
What did Jesus say? “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (Jn. 3:36). “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved” (Jn. 10:9). “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father except by me” (Jn. 14:6). If we believe Jesus is a way to heaven, we have to believe He is the only way, for if He is wrong when He claims to be the only way, we would be wrong to believe He is any way. The Bible says, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Eph. 4:4-6). If there is one God, there is no other god. If there is one Lord, there is no other lord. If there is one hope, there is no other hope. If Jesus is the one Savior, there is no other savior. Why is Jesus the only Savior? Let’s look at Romans 10.
1. EVERYONE HAS SINNED AND FALLEN SHORT OF GOD’S HOLINESS (ROMANS 10:1-4)
Thinking about the lostness in Israel, Paul wrote, “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved” (Rom. 10:1). They weren’t saved. Energy and sincerity weren’t their problem. “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2). They were driving fast but heading in the wrong direction. Misguided zeal will generate lots of moral activity, but it won’t get you home. Speaking to some deeply zealous Pharisees who claimed God was their Father, Jesus said, “If God were your Father, you would love me” (Jn. 8:42). In other words, no matter the sincerity or zeal behind our pursuit, if love for Jesus is lacking, God is not our Father and heaven is not our home. Paul wants us to understand why. “Being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Rom. 10:3). These are the fatal flaws of religion.
First, they were “ignorant of the righteousness of God.” They imagined God was just a moral rung above. In the Bible, words often tremble when asked to describe God. To add emphasis, words are often doubled, and twice a word is tripled. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts” (Is. 6:3). “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty” (Rev. 4:8). The perfection of God’s righteousness, glory, and purity leads the angels to repeat the word because one utterance can’t hold the weight of what they see. But every religion attempts to lower the bar of God’s righteousness until it is reachable, or at least approachable, in our own strength.
Second, they were “seeking to establish their own” righteous record. Whether a religion is nationalistic, spiritualistic, or legalistic, they all lead us to a ladder and tell us to climb. In religion, our performance is said to lead to God’s acceptance and the only comfort is in comparison. This makes us arrogant Pharisees who look down on others, or anxious Pharisees who look down on ourselves. Here is the problem. Jesus said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”(Mt. 5:48). We have all sinned. The sin in our heart is like salt in the ocean. We can’t remove the salt by pouring cups of fresh water into the ocean, and we can’t remove the sin and make ourselves perfect by adding morality to our resume.
Third, they “did not submit to God’s righteousness” in His provision of Jesus. “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4). They didn’t believe. They didn’t see His authority, His love, or His call to repent as substantive because they were absorbed with their efforts.
2. CHRIST CAME TO DIE FOR SIN AND JUSTIFY ALL WHO BELIEVE (ROMANS 10:5-12)
If following Jesus feels too heavy, I want to show you that Jesus already did the heavy lifting. Referring to Lev. 18:5, Paul writes, “Moses writes about the righteousness based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them” (Rom. 10:5). We tried and failed, so Paul shows us how Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He compares the gospel to Dt. 30 to make it clear.
Religion says, “Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ (Dt. 30:12). But the gospel says, “Do not say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down)” (Rom. 10:6). In other words, the incarnation of Jesus replaces the demand to ‘do the law’ on our own!
Religion says, “Who will go over the sea and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it? (Dt. 30:13). But the gospel says, “Do not say…who will descend into the abyss? (that is, to bring Christ up)” (Rom. 10:7). In other words, the resurrection of Jesus replaces the demand to ‘do the law’ on our own!
Religion says, “The word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” (Dt. 30:14). But the gospel says, “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith)” (Rom. 10:8). In other words, faith in Jesus replaces a demand to ‘do the law’ on our own!
The commands were not too hard for Jesus. He lived without sin and then went to the cross to die in our place. On that cross, He took all of God’s wrath aimed at our sin and paid our debt in full. He was buried in a grave and on the third day, He rose! “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved (Rom. 10:9-10). For those who repent and believe, all our sin falls on Him and all His righteousness falls on us. Therefore, we can rest assured in the discouraging darkness of our own imperfection that we have a perfect righteousness outside ourselves.
Christ is the one and only door to heaven because He is the one and only atonement for sin. Spiritual leaders say, “Follow me and I will show you the way, teach you the truth, and point you to life.” Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” But don’t mistaken the requirement to enter through Christ as a having to enter through a burden. For Jesus is the treasure in the field. He is the pearl of great price.
Jesus is the Author of Life who created people. He is the Architect of beauty, natural law, and music to bless His people. He is the Almighty who strengthens His people. He is the Advocate who speaks for His people. He is the Bread of Life who satisfies His people. He is the Comforter who consoles His people. He is the Deliverer who rescues His people. He is the Shepherd who lays down His life for His people. He is Immanuel, who is walks with His people. He is the Heir of all things who shares with His people. He is the High Priest who intercedes for His people. He is the Lamb of God whose blood covers His people. He is the Light of the World who illuminates the hopes of His people. He is the King of the Ages who uses His power to serve His people. He is the Lion of Judah who conquered the grave for His people. He is the Lord of Glory who commands good for His people. He is the Man of Sorrow who is familiar with the pains of His people. He is the Perfector of Faith who forever keeps His people. He is the Resurrection and Life who gives eternal life to His people. He is the Word who reveals God to His people. He is the Righteous One, the Holy One, and the only One. He is the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, the Son of God, and the great I AM!
Jesus sympathizes and saves. He forgives and forbears. He sees those nobody sees. He hears those nobody hears. He loves those who are unlovely. He blesses the young. He regards the old. He rewards the faithful. He is faithful to the faithless. He is compassionate to the vulnerable. He runs to the repentant. He is the treasure of the redeemed. Jesus is the only way and His way is good. Here is the good news for us: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13). Have you called on Him?
GOOD NEWS AND A GREAT COMMISSION
Paul knew this had to be told. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent…Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:14-17). People have to hear the gospel to believe it.
What about those who don’t know? The book of Romans tells us that all people have knowledge of God (Rom. 1:18-20), that all people have rejected and sinned against God (Rom. 3:9-18); that every guilty person stands condemned before God (Rom. 3:19-20), that God sent Christ to make a way of salvation (Rom. 5:1-11), and that we are commissioned by Jesus to make the gospel known (Rom. 10:14-17). Our mandate is not to debate the peril of those who haven’t heard, but to go and tell them. One day we will stand before God holding only that which is in our heart. For those who rejected Christ, “they will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thess. 1:9). How do we avoid eternal destruction? We have to obey the gospel of Jesus; there is no other way.
Beliefs & Actions
There are no beliefs that don’t have corresponding actions. How then are we to respond to these truths?
First, let me urge us to yield to the Bible as our authority. We won’t flourish until we yield to Him. He has spoken truth about life and death, heaven and hell, the futility of religion and the sufficiency of the gospel. I urge you to yield to Him!
Second, let me urge you to put your faith in Christ. A day is coming when we will stand before God and only those who have put their trust in Jesus here will stand securely in His righteousness there.
Third, let me urge you to share your faith. Do you know the implications of 60% of Christians thinking Christ isn’t the only way? They have no interest in extending themselves to the point of discomfort to share the gospel. Preferring the company of friends in peril over the honor of Christ in heaven, they remain quiet or worse still, justify their friends’ zeal. “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 10:32-33). God forbid that our mouths go silent when 70% of the 1.1 million people in our community and 75% of the 7.9 billion people in our world don’t know Him.
Finally, let’s resolve to live for the glory of Jesus. You do not need to know many things for your life to matter, but you do need to know the few things that matter and give your life to them. The most important realily in the entire world is the supremacy of our Creator, Jesus Christ. I urge you to live for Him!