Jesus?" part 8
The Uniqueness of Jesus
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
May 16, 2010
Zeus, Jesus, Brahma, Buddha… the world is full of gods and religious
leaders. Who do you choose to follow? One of them? All of them? None of
them? And what’s the determining factor? Does your choice basically
come down to where you live in the world and what your parents believe?
Is it really that subjective? Or are there actually good reasons to
choose one way over all the other ways?
And let me tell you,
there are plenty of other options. Take a look at this map that shows
you what religions are dominant where. All of the countries that are
purplish or bluish are highly Christian; all the countries that are
shades of green are Islamic, the orange is Hinduism, and you can see
several other religions represented there as well.
another map. This is a map of what’s called the 10:40 Window. That term
refers to this area right here, between 10 degrees and 40 degrees north
of the equator, stretching from North Africa to China.
that window lies almost 2/3 of the world’s population. 85% of the
people there are among the poorest in the world. Most of them are
Buddhist, Hindu, or Islamic. In fact, several of the countries within
that window are close to 100% Muslim, and their governments operate
under Islamic law.
From a Christian perspective, that’s also the
least evangelized part of the world, with only three missionaries for
every million Muslims. And it’s also the most dangerous area. One
Christian is martyred every 3 minutes in this world, and most of it
happens in that window. About one and a half billion people in the
world have never even heard the name of Jesus, and most of them live in
I should point out, there’s a difference between being unreached and
being unreachable. Let me give you one example. Mongolia. In 1989, at
the same I was in University, there were only 4 known Christians living
in all of Mongolia. Today, there are over 40,000. (As of 2008.
"Religions in Mongolia". Mongolia-attractions.com.
message of Jesus is powerful and produces incredible results. Even in
this very closed and dangerous part of the world, it is possible for
the message of Jesus to have a dramatic impact.
But the question
is, should it? Should Christians be actively promoting their religion
in a culture that predominantly rejects them? Or even here in North
America, should we be sharing the message of Jesus and presenting it as
the right choice? That’s certainly not a new question. It’s been around
for a long time. But especially in the past decade, there’s been a
rising opinion that no one way is better an any other. There’s this
quickly growing sentiment that all religions are equal and just which
one you choose doesn’t really matter. They’re all equal. But is there a
Obviously, we’re talking here this morning about
Jesus being the best choice. After all, we’re a Christian Church. I’m a
Christ-follower. I’ve already made up my mind as have many of you.
We’ve settled on Jesus as being the best choice. But why? What sets Him
Last week, I tried to show you a video here. And we ran
into technical difficulties… the video wouldn’t play correctly on my
laptop. So let’s give it another try…
[VIDEO – One Way from SermonVideos.com]
God, many ways to get to Him.” Interesting. Sounds pretty open-minded.
Sounds politically correct. But how does that compare to what Jesus
said? Remember the verse we looked at last week…
John 14:6 (NLT)
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father
except through me.”
to me like Jesus is pretty exclusive. You know, a frequent attack
that’s made against Christians today is that they’re arrogant, claiming
that there way is the only way. But the truth is, it’s not us making
that claim. We’re just repeating what Jesus Himself said. Jesus says He
is the only way and no other way will do.
Besides, isn’t it
strange how you can make exclusive statements in any other area of life
except when it comes to faith? You can even say, “Coke is it. Can’t
beat the real thing.” And no one’s going to get angry at you. They
might disagree with you, but they’re not going to accuse you of being
intolerant, arrogant and exclusive.
Let me ask you this: If you
were traveling down a road and you were heading for a bridge that had
been washed out, would you want someone to tell you, or would you
rather people just commend you for your choice of roads and encourage
you to keep going your own way?
Are all ways really equal? Think
about political systems… Communism, Marxism, Democracy… are they all
equal? Or would you say there’s one way that’s superior to the others?
it possible that one faith is superior to all the others? That one is
true, and all the others are wrong? In fact, while some people do seem
to have the idea that all faiths are the same, the truth is they are
very different. There’s something like 21 major world religions on this
planet, and I don’t even want to guess how many minor religions. And as
we’ve talked about before, there are some people who look at all these
different faiths, all these different religions, and they conclude,
“Oh, they’re all basically the same anyway. Yeah, there are superficial
differences. But fundamentally they’re the same.” But the truth is,
they are superficially the same and fundamentally different.
Jesus is God or He is not God. That’s a pretty fundament difference.
about this one: When we die, we either cease to exist, we enter into a
universal consciousness, we’re reincarnated as something or someone
else, or face the judgment of God and enter into Heaven or Hell.
there’s this… Some religions teach that you are saved through your good
works; Christianity teaches that you are saved only through the grace
of God in response to your faith. And your good works don’t play into
How about this: There is no God, there’s one God, there’s a
hierarchy of gods, or as some Hindu branches believe there are hundreds
of thousands of gods. Mormons even believe that every male has the
potential to become a god. Some of us already act like we are.
are some pretty important differences, don’t you think? There’s simply
no way that all religions, all faiths, can be true. They are
fundamentally conflicting with each other. In fact, there are only two
real possibilities. Either they are all false, or there is one that is
true and the rest are false. That’s it. No other option.
something is true, then it’s true. And you can’t compromise that truth
in order to make people feel good about something that is false.
Because understand this: If you believe in a lie, it doesn’t matter how
sincere you are in your belief. It’s still a lie.
So yeah, maybe
the claim that Jesus is the one and only way to God the Father sounds
exclusive. But if it’s true, what’s wrong with being exclusive?
Besides, while that statement itself may be exclusive, the overall
message of Jesus is completely inclusive. Because everyone is welcome
to choose that way. It doesn’t matter what your nationality is, what
your skin colour is, what your socio-economic position is, what your
gender is, what your history is… Jesus still invites every one of us to
come to Him and choose Him as the way, the truth and the life.
so if Christianity is true as we believe it is, then that means other
religions and faiths are not. But can I give a word of caution here?
Let’s not get into a “my God is bigger than your god” kind of argument
with people. Because even though we may disagree with them over
something as important as our faith, we still need to treat people with
love, dignity, and respect.
And really, that’s what it means
to be tolerant. We’ve turned it into a watered down sappy I’m okay
you’re okay anything goes” thing. But really, tolerance is not telling
people that whatever they think is fine; it’s disagreeing agreeably.
Showing love, dignity, and respect.
But do you know what?
Even though we do have our differences, and they are important and
major differences, there are those superficial similarities. There are
areas of common ground. Can I point out some areas in which there’s a
widespread similarity between different beliefs?
with our moral code. Most religions have some sort of a moral code, and
most of them would sound very similar to each other. I mean, “Do not
murder.” Sounds like a pretty basic moral law, doesn’t it? But do you
think Christianity has the corner on that market? You’re going to find
that one in pretty much every faith. And the truth is, you don’t even
need some kind of an organized moral code to express it; God’s moral
code is hardwired into us, so that even people who reject God and any
form of religions typically recognizes that there are actions that are
right and wrong.
So you’ve got a moral code that’s expressed in
various religions. Plus, you’ve got some kind of teachings. For
example, Buddha and Confucius taught a lot of life principles and had
some interesting ideas. Christianity has the teachings of people like
Jesus, like Paul, like Peter. And they’re important teachings.
we have our icons… our saint-like figures. Like Mother Teresa in
Christianity. Or the Dalai Lama in Buddhism. Or Mahatma Gandhi in
And then you’ve got the sacred texts. We’ve got the Bible, Muslims have
the Koran, Mormons have the Book of Mormon.
you know, most religions are based on those kinds of things… a moral
code, core teachings, some kind of guru, and sacred texts.
there’s one critical difference with Christianity. While those other
things are important to us, there’s one truth that is even more
foundational. And it’s this…
is based on the person of Jesus, not just His teachings
Christian faith is intricately tied to the person of Jesus. Take Jesus
away… who we believe Him to be, what He’s done for us, and what He’s
doing even now… take that away, and there’s nothing left.
Let me show you a video…
[VIDEO – Greg Koukl – Why Is Jesus Different?]
Sets Jesus Apart?
His resurrection from the dead
Mohammed, Confucius… the founders of all those other religions… they
were born and they died, and they stayed dead. Jesus existed before
time began, and He will continue to live into eternity. Yes, He had a
human birth and death. But He rose from the dead, and that sets Him
apart from everyone else.
[VIDEO – LEE STROBEL – What Is Unique about Jesus?]
is interesting that in the Koran there are no miracles performed by
Mohammed or anyone else. But Jesus performed many miracles… healings,
exorcisms, controlling nature, and raising the dead. And many of them
were done around large groups of people. So they weren’t just rumours;
there were eyewitnesses. Look at what Peter said on the day of
Acts 2:22 (NLT)
“People of Israel, listen! God
publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles,
wonders, and signs through him, as you well know.”
“As you well know.” It was common knowledge.
His generous grace
It’s the grace of Jesus that offers us forgiveness and hope.
is grace, anyway? It’s us getting what don’t deserve. It’s the
undeserved mercy of God. And it was expressed by Jesus taking radical
steps to pay the price for our sinfulness and offer us forgiveness.
other faith makes us earn our salvation, our liberation, our
enlightenment. Only Jesus says, “You couldn’t earn it if you tried, so
I’ll do it for you.”
2 Corinthians 8:9 (NLT)
You know the
generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for
your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you
Acts 15:11 (NLT)
“We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace
of the Lord Jesus.”
His loving relationship with us
no expression of love from Allah toward people… only a strict set of
rules and warnings of punishment. In Buddhism, there’s not even much of
a concept of God, let alone a loving God.
But Jesus… Jesus loved
us so much that He came to this planet. He revealed Himself to us in a
personal way, in relationships. And the result is that Christians
understand Christianity is not about moral laws or religious practices
— it is about a relationship with a living Saviour, Jesus Christ. The
apostle Paul wrote…
Philippians 3:8-10 (NLT)
else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing
Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else,
counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one
with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the
law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way
of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ
and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.
That growing, vibrant, loving relationship, more than anything else, is
the center of our faith.