Don't Check Your Brains at the Door part 4
Jesus... Just One of Many Paths?
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
June 1, 2008



[This message series examines several of the spiritual concepts that are dominant in our society but are contrary to Biblical teaching. In particular, we are looking at the spirituality being promoted by Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle in their webinar based on Tolle’s book, “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.” The videos used are not available on the Sunrise website. However, you may still be able to find them on iTunes or YouTube. In the event that you do find them, the start times for the clips are included in the notes below.]



Intolerant. Exclusive. Arrogant. Those are just a few of the words used to describe Christ-followers who believe that Jesus is the only way.

And you know what? I would agree with those descriptions… if that claim is wrong. If Jesus is not the only way, then anyone who claims He is really is intolerant, exclusive, and arrogant. But what if that claim is right? What if Jesus really is the one and only way to God? What if He is the only path? Well, then I believe the most loving and compassionate thing a person could do is let people know.

Think about it like this. If a friend of yours was poisoned and was going to die unless he drank the antidote… and you had that antidote… would you let him search for it blindly? Would you let him try to discover his own antidote? Would you let him risk his life on an antidote that you knew wouldn’t work?

What would be the most loving thing to do? Encourage him to keep searching for his own antidote or let him know what the real antidote it and make it available to him?

Obviously the most loving thing you could do would be to give him the real antidote. Now, that’s a fairly simplistic analogy, but it’s also fairly accurate. Because we are all dying in our sins and the only antidote is found in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the only One who can forgive us and restore us and redeem us and give us a hope and a future and make us right before our God.

That’s what I believe. That’s what I believe the Bible teaches. Jesus is the One and only path; there are no others.

But there are those who would disagree with me. Among those, Oprah Winfrey. Over the past few weeks we’ve been looking at some of the spiritual claims that are out there that are contrary to what the Bible teaches, and we’ve been looking specifically at the claims made by Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle (a New Age author). Oprah and Eckhart recently teamed up to offer spiritual classes on the Internet, and through those classes they’ve been promoting their own spiritual views. We’ve taken the time to go through several of those claims and compare them with what the Bible says and we’ve discovered that they don’t line up. Oprah herself claims to be a Christian but what she’s teaching is a counterfeit. It’s not real Christianity. In fact, Fox News went so far as to ask if Oprah was starting her own religion. That’s how far off her claims have been.

Now, Oprah has done some terrific things and has helped a lot of people. But the harm that she’s doing by making these false claims can far outweigh all of the good that she could ever do. Because she’s not just dealing with people’s finances and addictions and weight loss; she’s dealing with people’s souls. She’s dealing with there eternal destinies. And she’s saying things that, if they’re wrong, can have dire consequences.

And right at the top of the list is her claim that there are many ways to God.  Take a look at this clip from their Internet Class… we looked at this clip a few weeks ago…

VIDEO – Week 1 from 29:14 to 29:50
(Oprah - "I am a Christian who believes that there are certainly many more paths to God other than Christianity")

Okay. So Oprah says that Jesus is one way… He’s her way… but He’s not the only way.


Jesus Among Other Gods:

1.    Jesus Himself claimed to be the one and only path.

The books of the New Testament were written by people who hung around with Jesus and who heard Him teach and who worked alongside the disciples. They are an historically accurate account of the life of Jesus… what He did and what He said and what He taught. Some people today portray Jesus as being just one choice out of many. But what did Jesus Himself say? Let’s take a look…

John 8:23-24 (NLT)
“You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I Am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.”

Basically, He said “Believe in Me or else…” There is no other option. You are going to die in your sins unless you believe that He is who he claimed to be. And who did He claim to be?

John 14:6 (NLT)
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

So He claimed to be the one and only way to God the Father. He says there are no other ways. There’s just Him. He claimed to be the only way. He claimed to be the Son of God. He claimed to be the Messiah. He claimed to be the Saviour of the World.

And that’s exactly what His followers understood Him to say. Matthew chapter 13. Take a look at this conversation between Jesus and His disciples…

Matthew 16:13-17 (NLT)
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you.

Simon Peter understood that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. And Jesus agreed with Him. If Peter got it wrong, don’t you think Jesus would have corrected him? But Jesus verified that what Peter said was true.

One of his other followers, John, wrote this…

1 John 5:11-12 (NLT)
And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.

So again, we read that Jesus is the only way. If you have the Son… if you have Jesus… you have life. If you don’t have Jesus you don’t have life. You might have Muhammed or Buddha or Krishna or Bramah or Allah… you might have good deeds, you might have generosity, you might have religion, you might have perfect attendance at church… but if you don’t have the Son… if you don’t have Jesus… you do not have life.

Acts 4:11-12 (NLT)
“For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures… There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

Now, Oprah doesn’t believe that. She believes salvation if available from a variety of sources. Here’s a clip from her talk show… (poor quality)…

VIDEO – Google "Oprah One Path" and you'll get several hits for this video clip. One site is http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=2025559108
(Oprah gets in a debate with audience members about whether or not Jesus is the only path to God. she says He can't be, not with six billion people on the planet.)

Now, that’s the second time this morning that you’ve heard Oprah say that Jesus couldn’t be the only way with six billion people on the planet. But seriously, what difference does that make? Why could Jesus be the only way if there were only 10 people, but not with 6 billion people? The number of people on this planet is irrelevant. If Jesus is the only way, he’s the only way.

1 Timothy 1:5-6 (NLT)
For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.

Earlier this morning we celebrated the Lord’s Supper together. We remembered how God entered into His own Creation as the man Jesus… how He grew up and traveled around and taught and healed… how He was arrested and put on trial and executed on the Cross. We talked about why He was willing to go through that… so we could receive forgiveness and life. So let me ask you this:

Do you think that Jesus would have subjected himself to scourging, the whipping, the beating, the crown of thorns, the humiliation, the mocking, the nails through His wrists and His feet… Do you think He would have gone through that kind of torture if there was any other way? If all you had to do was follow the teachings of Buddha, would there be any reason for Jesus to come at all? If you just had to be a good person, what was the point of the crucifixion?

But Jesus is the one and only way. He is the hope of the world. Salvation is found in no one and nothing else. That’s what Jesus Himself claimed. That’s what the Bible teaches. Jesus is THE way or He’s NO way.

You can accept Him or reject Him. Take Him or leave Him. But you can’t just number Him as one choice out of many. Jesus Himself refuted that possibility.


But then, you might have this thought process… Jesus is God, right? That’s what the Bible teaches… that God entered His own creation and became the man Jesus. So if Jesus is God, well, don’t all religions worship God? Just because we have different structures and belief systems, isn’t it all the same God? That’s what Oprah and Eckhart Tolle think…

VIDEO – Week 8 from 20:39 to 21:28
(Tolle - When you go deep enough into your own tradition... eventually you end up in the same place, the same realization. On the surface the traditions are different. There's only one God at the centre.")

Okay, so Eckhart and Oprah were saying that if you go deep enough in any belief system you get to the same place. You get to the same God. But is that true? And the answer is… No, it’s not. In fact, this is in your notes…


2.    All faiths are mutually exclusive.

What Eckhart and Oprah were trying to say is that all faiths are pretty much the same. Oh, they might go by different names and you might use different Scriptures, but when you get to the heart of them, there’s really no difference.

Boy, that sounds good, doesn’t it? I mean, that’d be great! I wish all faiths were essentially the same. I like that thought. But then, I like a lot of things that aren’t good for me.

And the truth is, that is a completely ignorant belief. Anyone who says all religions essentially believe the same thing is speaking out of ignorance. They have obviously never actually looked into it. They’re just spouting off what they’ve heard someone else say.

Because every religion, every belief system, every faith has some point of exclusion. They are simply not compatible with each other. They are mutually exclusive. They are different at their core.

But there’s a growing number of people in our society who are simply uninformed about the differences. One poll of Americans revealed that 44% of them agree with the statement, “the Bible, Qur’an, and the Book of Mormon are just different expressions of the same spiritual truths.” Obviously they’ve never actually read them!

One of my favourite authors and speakers is Ravi Zacharias, who is an expert when it comes to the philosophy of religion. And he has said…

“People often say that religions are fundamentally the same and superficially different. May I reverse that for you and tell you that religions are fundamentally different and at times superficially similar.”
~ Ravi Zacharias (rzim.org)

Even religions that claim to be completely inclusive are in fact exclusive. Simple example: I believe that Jesus is the one and only way. But if someone attempts to be inclusive by saying that Jesus is just one of many ways, then they are automatically rejecting my beliefs. They’re excluding me. Every religion, every belief system, every faith has their point of exclusion.

“Even those who deny unique and exclusive approaches to truth would insist that their own approach is unique and exclusive! Otherwise, they would have nothing to say! Truth, by definition, is therefore exclusive and narrow. It has to exclude errors in order to qualify to be truth.”
~ L.T. Jeyachandran
(http://www.rzim.org/noindex/jtprint.php?seqid=42)


Still don’t believe that all religions are exclusive? Let me give you some World Religion basics. (I don’t claim to be an expert on these different religions.)

Hinduism:
Hinduism is a conglomerate of diverse beliefs and traditions. Hindus use many different scriptures, none of which claim to be historical fact. They are basically a collection of poems and sayings and wisdoms and mythologies. The average Hindu will not argue that there’s any historicity to their Scriptures. They would say that’s simply “not important”.
There is no founder or central teacher in Hinduism. There is no personal God. There is a supreme cosmic spirit known as Brahman, which is ultimately an impersonal universal force found in matter, time, energy, space, and being.
But while there is this one great impersonal spirit, there are millions of smaller personal deities. You might worship one or you might worship hundreds. Or you might worship none at all.
Sounds just like Christianity, doesn’t it?

One of the more common deities in Hinduism is Krishna. Krishna is sometimes compared to Jesus because he is supposed to be the incarnation of the divine… God in human form. But Krishna is not even taught to be a historical figure in the Hindu scriptures… just a concept used to teach truth.

How about salvation in Hinduism? Well, salvation to Nirvana is achieved through repeated life cycles caused by bad karma. You keep going through reincarnation and new life cycles until you get it right. And then you can finally be released to Nirvana.

Just as a sidebar, even in Hinduism reincarnation is not a good thing. Western society likes to glamourize it, but the reincarnation is actually a punishment and the goal is to be good enough to go on to Nirvana. We’re supposed to be progressing and getting better at it. But yet, people talk about how they were a king or a queen or a prince or something exciting. Why is it you never hear people talk about how they used to be a cockroach? Or a Gnat? Or a murderer or a rapist? Just a thought.


Buddhism:
Guatama Buddha himself started out as a Hindu. So Buddhism comes out of Hinduism, but it rejects many of the fundamental tenets. Instead, Buddha proposed the eightfold path as being the way out of suffering. He concluded that desire is the number one cause of suffering, so Buddhism deals with setting aside all desires. It focuses on meditative techniques and lifestyle choices to get rid of the desires and wantings that leads to unfulfillment so we can become neutral and passive and peaceful.
And honestly, there are some good ideas there. Even in Christianity we talk about being free from our bondage to possessions.
But if you go deeper, what do you discover? You discover that in Buddhism, there is no defined belief in a supreme being. There are some concepts that are borrowed from Hinduism, but the Buddha never said anything about who God is or even if there is a God.
Besides, according to Buddhism, God doesn’t save us… we save ourselves.


How about Islam?
We dealt with Islam a couple summers ago during our “You Asked for It” series. Islam finds its beginnings around 600 AD and it say, “There is a God. And He is personal. His name is Allah and Muhammad is His prophet.”
Of course, they deny the divinity of Jesus, they claim that the crucifixion and the resurrection never happened, and they believe that salvation is achieved through good works.
Now, something about the origin of Islam. Apparently, their scriptures were delivered to their prophet Muhammad by an angel. Truth is, I don’t know what happened. Maybe Muhammad just wrote them himself or maybe he really did have some sort of encounter. Either way, take a look at what Galatians1 tells us…

Galatians 1:6-8 (NLT)
I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.
Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.

It’s interesting that Paul says that even if an angel comes teaching another gospel, don’t believe it. Don’t accept it. Don’t listen to it. What other world religion supposedly started when an angel delivered a new set of scriptures? Mormonism.


Or how about Judaism?
According to Jewish beliefs, animal sacrifices are necessary for our atonement… for our forgiveness. Some blood sacrifice had to be made. That’s right out of the Old Testament. The priests would do that on behalf of the people and God would accept it and forgive them, but it would be a constant reminder of their sin. For Christians, all that ended when Jesus died on the cross. He became the final sacrifice once and for all.
But Jews reject Jesus. We believe Jesus is God, so right there you can see that we don't believe in the same God. But they don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God. They don’t believe that He died for their forgiveness. Yet for no good theological reason they stopped animal sacrifices in 70 AD when the temple was destroyed. If the Messiah didn’t come and they don’t believe He did, they should still be offering blood sacrifices today.


Now, do any of those beliefs sound like Christianity? At their core, are they the same or are they different? It’s true that they may have some similarities, but when you get to the heart of them, they are not compatible. They are mutually exclusive.

“If you had gone to Buddha and said 'Are you the son of Bramah?' he would have said 'My son, you are still in the veil of illusion'. If you had gone to Socrates and asked, 'Are you Zeus' he would have laughed at you. If you had gone to Mohammed and asked 'Are you Allah?' he would first have rent his clothes and then cut your head off.’ … The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question.”
~ C.S. Lewis, What are We to Make of Jesus Christ?


So Jesus is the one and only way to God the Father. There is no one else that can offer forgiveness, there is no one else that can offer salvation. He’s it.
And no substitutes will suffice. Different beliefs are simply not interchangeable with Christianity. They are different at their core and are incompatible.
But here’s the good news…


3.    Jesus is exclusively inclusive.

Yes, Christianity is exclusive of conflicting beliefs, but Jesus is inclusive of all people. He will not turn anyone away based on their gender, their intellect, the colour of their skin, their socio-economic condition, their heritage, their past, the depth of their sinfulness… He welcomes anyone and everyone to come to Him for forgiveness and life.

John 1:12 (NLT)
But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

You know, the skeptics complain about how Christianity is exclusive, but the truth is it is entirely inclusive. All are welcome.

Acts 10:43 (NLT)
“He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.”

But the choice is yours. What will you do with Jesus? Will you accept that He is the only way? Will you receive Him or will you reject Him?

Romans 10:9, 12-13 (NLT)
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… Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

If you have not yet done that for yourself, let me invite you to do that this morning. You can call on His name and receive His salvation today.

Would you close your eyes and just think about that for a moment? Where are you when it comes to Jesus? If you’ve never received Him, are you ready to do it right now? If so, then just in the quietness of your heart you can pray something like this…

Jesus, I believe in You. I understand that you and you alone can offer me forgiveness for all my sinfulness. I accept that you gave your life so I could receive life. So I ask you right now to come into my life. Teach me what it means to place my trust in You and to live for You. Thank you.

If you just prayed that prayer, then you need to let someone know about that before you leave this room this morning.






 

 

Copyright © Greg Hanson, 2008 SunriseOnline.ca