Tags: Christ the Way, close-minded, exclusivity of Christ, exclusivity of Jesus, intolerance, Jesus the Way, John 14, open-minded, The Way, tolerance
Do You Know the Way? (John 14)
I. The Prepared Place (John 14:1-3)
II. The Particular Path (John 14:4-11)
Previously, I argued that there are not degrees of exclusivity in Heaven. However, it is important to know that Heaven itself is an extremely exclusive place. By this I mean that there is only one particular path that leads all the way into it. Jesus is the only “Door” – the only entryway – by which to get into Heaven.
And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.
In our modern Western society there are very few things that are truly offensive any more. Flagrant, egregious sin used to be criminalized. Eventually, it came to frowned upon, although no longer aggressively attacked. Later, it starting actually becoming accepted. To say that it is tolerated now is a vast understatement. All manner of wickedness and perversion is no longer just tolerated. It is celebrated and praised and glorified. The day is coming soon when it will be mandatory. The only thing that a wicked society truly condemns is “intolerance,” but “tolerance” has taken on a very specialized meaning. It now means openly affirming and accepting everything except that Jesus is God and that what He said is true.
The Bible pronounces a curse of “woe” to those who call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20), and that prophetic day of woe is upon us. If you put on a silver suit and black Nikes and drink the poisoned kool-aid while you wait for the comet to take you away, we can’t say that’s “crazy” because such a comment would be insensitive and offensive, and we must tolerate your beliefs. If you want to murder an innocent baby in the mother’s womb, I might be able to meekly mumble that such a thing would not be my personal preference, but I need to tolerate and support and celebrate your right to do so. If you are a man burning with lust for another man, I might feel disgusted on the inside, but I need to be understanding about the parade we’re going to have to honor you for doing it. The highest ranking officials in our nation don’t have time to speak out on behalf of American citizens (who also happen to be Christian pastors) illegally locked up abroad, or about Muslims torturing women in the Middle East, because they’re too busy celebrating professional athletes and calling them “heroes” because these athletes have decided that they want everyone to know that they like to fornicate with others of their own gender.
What Jesus said in John 14:6 does not, under these false premises, seem very tolerant, but it is nevertheless true. Jesus is the exclusive way to Heaven. The exclusivity of Jesus, is, in fact, one of the key elements of the Gospel (Acts 4:12; I Timothy 2:5). So, when we announce this soul-saving fact, we are going to hear objections:
-I’m tolerant and you’re intolerant.
-I’m progressive and open-minded, and you are a narrow-minded bigot.
-You think your way – only Jesus – is the only right way, but I think there are many different ways for all the diverse people that I celebrate.
-You think only one road leads to God, but I think all roads lead to God. (Actually, there is some truth to this statement. All roads do lead to God – in the sense of going to see God one day – but all roads except for Jesus are going to require a U-turn when you get there.)
Regardless of the objections, Jesus is the one and only particular path that leads to acceptance with God.
Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.
After Jesus had attempted to soothe the hearts of the Disciples by giving them His Word about Heaven, the prepared place, Thomas still had questions.
And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Thomas was concerned about logistics. He wanted a map or at least directions, but Jesus had a bigger concept of “The Way.” We use the word “way” to refer to a path, but we also use it to refer to a manner of conduct.
“What is the way to your house?”
“Turn right at the oak tree, go half a mile and look for the three legged dog.”
“Why do you guys say ‘y’all’ and eat crawfish and carry shotguns in the back windshield of your pickup trucks?”
“That’s just the way it is in Louisiana. That’s just the way we are.”
Now, Jesus had an amazing way of communicating a vast amount of truth in a few simple words. He was the greatest teacher of all time, so all His statements are worthy of being studied, examined, looked at from all possible angles, explored for all eternity.
John 14:6 is an excellent example. It starts off with the statement “I am,” which in itself is a claim to deity. When Jesus said “I am,” He was claiming to be God. “I AM” is the Old Testament name for Yahweh – Jehovah – I AM THAT I AM. It was the name by which God set Himself apart from all the false gods. It is the name which says, “I AM the eternal, self-existent, immutable, all-powerful, exclusively true God.” Any respectably religious person Jesus encountered would have gasped to hear Him say it in Aramaic or Greek – Ego Eimi – because it was an unmistakable claim to be God.
He said I AM “the.” “The” in John 14:6 is what we call the “definite article.” It is an important word. For example, I wouldn’t say, “My wife is a girl for me,” because that would imply she could be one of many. Instead, I say, “My wife the girl for me,” because we have an exclusive relationship. I don’t say that, “Open Door Baptist Church is a church I belong to.” I say, “It is the church I belong to,” because it’s the only local church fellowship of which I’m an official member. It is a claim of exclusivity.
In John 14:6 Jesus was saying that He is something truly unique. He is the only real way, the only right way, the only possible way to be accepted with God. Let’s say you read that and, you think, “How intolerant, how bigoted, how arrogant!” My response is, “So what?” Let’s assume for moment you’re right – that Jesus doesn’t meet your definition of open-mindedness and tolerance. Still, the fact remains, if it’s true, it’s true. I don’t necessarily like being called narrow-minded, but I have no choice if I am a Christian. I must be exactly as narrow-minded as Jesus when it comes to the truth claims of Christianity.
Now, let’s consider an even deeper element of Jesus’s statement. He is the Way, but, that means, logically, He must also be a way. So, Jesus is eloquently expressing two great truths in four short words: “I am the Way.” The first one we’ve already discussed. Exclusively He is the only way to acceptance with God. “No man cometh to the Father but by me.” No one will be acceptable to God apart from Jesus. No one could be forgiven, adopted by, justified by, allowed in the presence of, or even allowed to live before God – except for those who come to Him “in” Christ Jesus alone. There are – in this sense – no other ways, no shortcuts, no backdoors, no other sincere forms of faith that “just haven’t heard He’s called Jesus,” no alternative means to escape God’s wrath, nor to be accepted as His child. That is a great truth, and that is the truth that every lost person in this world needs to hear and believe.
But there is another great truth that Christians need to hear and understand, and that is that Jesus is also a way. He is the only Way to God, but He calls himself a “way” because He cares about our conduct. Because He won our freedom, and because our freedom is to be used to serve Him. If I claim that I am in the Way, but I am living nothing like the Way Himself, we must question whether I am really in the Way. Those who confess Jesus as the Way are supposed to be passionately interested in His “ways” – How He lived, How He led, and how He loved. And we are supposed to be emulating His ways.
The way of Jesus is honesty and purity and holiness and temperance and kindness and graciousness and forgiveness – and love. If I know the way, it means I need to go the way. Jesus is a Person. When He said follow Me He was not just espousing an an ideal or a concept. He was also advocating a path: Follow Me. Jesus is the Way, but He is also a way. He is both a Person and a Path. He wants us to walk how He walked – to observe His ways and learn of Him. He is a Particular Path, and His path is likewise particular.
Next time, we will learn about the power of prayer (John 14:12-14).
Tags: 1 Corinthians 2, 2 Peter 1, Bible catechism, dictation, inerrancy, infallibility of the Bible, inspiration, Luke 24, Sufficiency of Scripture, superintendence
Question 11: How did the Holy Spirit write the Bible?
Answer: He wrote the Bible by using people.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost.
II Peter 1:21
The view of inspiration that is considered most orthodox is called the “superintending method theory,” which holds that the Holy Spirit spoke through the human instruments that He used to write the Bible without violating their distinctive viewpoints, personalities, writing styles, etc. I would not disagree with this, to a point, but neither would I overrule what is sometimes called the “dictation method theory.” I do not mean that the human instruments which the Holy Spirit used typically went into a trance-like state of “automatic writing,” such as the kind of thing that sometimes can attend various states of hypnosis or catatonia. But I do think there may have been times when a human instrument was aware that He was spelling out Holy Scripture, and other times when he might have thought he was writing down his own personal thoughts, unaware of just how closely he was being “superintended” by the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, the “superintendence vs. dictation” distinction is a distinction without much difference as long as we understand that no human error made its way into the pages of God’s Word, and that the Holy Spirit perfectly guarded, guided, and controlled the absolute inerrancy, infallibility, sufficiency, and inspiration of the Bible. All liberal theories that make the Bible a combination of holy revelation and human opinion, along with those that skeptically pronounce, “the Bible was written by men,” without proper clarification, must be rejected.
Other verses to consider:
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
I Corinthians 2:13
Tags: assurance, Biblical assurance, exclusive communities, Heaven, Jesus Christ, John 13, John 14, mansions, The Way, troubled hearts
At the end of John Chapter 13 three very disturbing things have happened. One, Jesus told His Disciples that one of them would betray Him. Two, He told them that He would be leaving them to go to a place where they could not go. Three, He said that even Peter would deny Him.
This was upsetting, to say the least, and it was the backdrop against which He told them what we see in Chapter 14:
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Jesus let them know that He knew their hearts were troubled, but He gave them the assurance that He gives all throughout the Book of John. “If you believe in God (and I know you do), then it is safe to believe in Me, too, for I and the Father are one: I am God.”
Then He told them something about Heaven: Heaven is a real place. We know this is true because Jesus spoke of it as a real place. It is not a state of mind. It is not the accomplishment of inner peace. It is not a psychological bromide for those who can’t face the reality of death or the loss of their loved ones. It is “the Father’s house,” meaning it is the eternal home of Jesus, and it is Jesus – not streets of gold or the absence of pain and sickness or the reunion of loved ones or even mansions of glory – Who is its main attraction. That’s right, Heaven’s main attraction will be Jesus. If you do not love Jesus, you would not love Heaven.
Jesus spoke solemnly and reassuringly (“if it were not so, I would have told you”) when He told the Disciples that He was going there to prepare a place, and that they would eventually – not immediately – be brought there by Him (“I will come again to receive You unto Myself”) – to be with Him (“that where I am there you may be also”).
The word translated “mansions” has more of a connotation of permanence than opulence. It is from the Greek word mone: an abode, a permanent dwelling place, not a temporary stopover. Again, Heaven is the place where true Christians will be with Jesus, not a place where “lesser” saints will envy “great” saints who have better “stuff” than us. In other words, there will be no “exclusive” communities in Heaven. However, because it is a place that Jesus is “preparing” (and has been for over 2000 years), it will surely be far more magnificent than what we can imagine. The God who spoke the unfathomable universe into existence in six short days Has been preparing our eternal home for 2000 years! I don’t know if you’re ready “to go,” but surely we are all excited about seeing it
This was Jesus’s first assurance to soothe the troubled hearts of His Disciples. We don’t know everything (or even very much) about Heaven, but we do know “the Way.” Jesus Christ is the only Way to Heaven.
Next time, we will see that the way to the prepared place is the particular path.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 1, called by God, foolishness, glory of God, Jeremiah 9, mighty, the Gospel, world conquest
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
I Corinthians 1:26
We are called to recognize our weakness, our foolishness, and our lack of nobility, and to still believe and act as though this message from our King and Redeemer will confound the mighty.
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
I Corinthians 1:27
We are called to believe and act as though the message will conquer the world. We are called to admit that we do not deserve to be loved and helped by this King. God calls the weak and the foolish, not because He has a weak spot for the helpless, not because it’s His fault that we are like that, not because He has to take what He can get. No, the primary reason He uses the weak and the foolish is to show off His glory.
That no flesh should glory in his presence.
I Corinthians 1:29
Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.
We are called to preach and live the Gospel, and – when it works – to point straight upward.
Tags: 1 Timothy 2, Acts 1, exclusivity of Christ, exclusivity of Jesus, Jesus Christ, John 14, Salvation, soulwinning, swimming quotes, witnessing
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the one and only way of salvation. There is no hope for redemption apart from it. That conviction should drive us across the street, across the nation, and across the ocean, whether we run or swim or walk or crawl on bleeding hands and knees to deliver our message.
Charles L. Quarles
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
I Timothy 2:5
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Tags: arrogance, Cinco de Mayo devotions, commentary on Hosea, face-plants, Hosea, Hosea 5, pride, Sunday School lessons on Hosea
Most kids think it’s hilarious. Someone is running full speed, when suddenly he trips and flies forward before he can even bring his hands up to break the fall. Therefore, he lands face-first (hopefully in something no harder than grass). They call it a “face-plant.” It’s both painful and humiliating.
When the prophet Hosea brought the news of condemnation against Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom) he reminded the people that God had been a first-hand witness to all their spiritual whoredom. These people – the covenant people of the One True God – had committed heinous acts of spiritual prostitution by worshiping calf-idols, mistreating the poor, and seducing the formerly-faithful into their carnal and offensive syncretistic religion.
Hosea reminded them that, rather than being ashamed of themselves, they had made matters worse with their brazen pride.
And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them.
In addition to God’s omniscient eyewitness testimony against them, their own arrogance was staring them right in the face every time they looked in a mirror. Furthermore, the haughty looks on their faces was a clear indication that they were neither remorseful nor repentant. Among seven things which the Lord has enumerated as provoking His hatred, a “proud look” tops the list. Therefore, both Israel and Judah would “fall flat on their faces” for their rebellion against God.
We need to be very conscious and careful of avoiding the sin of pride in our own lives. Do we show off a “haughty look?” Do we cast a defiant eye toward the Lord when we perceive that He has failed to live up to our ill-informed expectations? Has some long-standing sin made you calloused and disinterested in the Lord’s feelings about the matter? He’s neither ambivalent nor “tolerant” (in the postmodern, liberal sense of that term) when it comes to sin. If we turn our nose upward as we transgress against our Creator, we are bound to trip and fall over the line of His commandments and land face-first in His judgment or chastisement.
Tags: commentary on Galatians, freedom, Galatians 5, grace, independence, Spirit-led, Sunday School lessons on Galatians, the flesh, the Spirit
The evidences of a flesh-driven life are works – dead things which produce nothing living.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
The evidence of the Spirit-led life is fruit. Fruit does not come about by “working.”
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
1. Admit that the flesh is stronger than your will power.
2. Go where the Spirit wants to go. The Spirit wants to go to church, to Sunday School, to the Bible, to prayer time, to go soul-winning, to visit the nursing home. The Spirit doesn’t want to go to the nightclub, the worldly party, the gossip session.
3. Don’t go easy on the flesh. Crucify it.
And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Don’t try to beat the flesh on your own. You will only strengthen it even more. Do not go where the flesh wants to go – where it gets fed. Stay with the Spirit, having a grand time of joy. Starve the flesh. Make it weak. Remember, at the moment of salvation you were “baptized into Jesus Christ.” He died for you, and you died with Him. Your flesh was crucified, buried, and you were raised with Christ – to walk in newness of life. You became something fundamentally different: a new creature. You were rescued from hell.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking grace is insufficient. We can’t add to it with our show-offy, better-than-the-next-person rule-keeping or legalism. You weren’t saved by the Law; don’t act like you were. God will never be fooled into thinking you’re more holy than anyone else. Attempting to do so is just a form of self-worship.
Don’t fall into the other trap, either, though. Don’t “presume” upon grace as an excuse to sin. Grace brings freedom from sin, not freedom to sin. The freedom to act like an idiot and destroy myself, or to bring shame to the very thing that helped me to get free, is not the kind of “freedom” that grace delivers.
Tags: commentary on Exodus, complaining, Exodus 15, Exodus 16, faith, God's goodness, Jesus Christ, murmuring, obstacles, Sunday School lessons on Exodus
So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.
Three days is a long time to go without water for a large group of families and their herds of animals. It is possible that they had gulped down the last of their supply, thinking for sure there would be water at the place up ahead which would come to be known as Marah.
And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.
That’s what Marah means – bitter.
And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?
The word “murmur” sounds like two repetitious baby sounds put together, and in Scripture it indicates childish or immature complaining, whining, and grumbling. Why did the omniscient God lead them to a place where He obviously knew the water would be undrinkable? Moses did what everyone else should have been doing instead of complaining. He prayed and he believed – logically and faithfully – that the God Who had delivered them out of Egypt would provide water for them.
And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,
The tree may or may not be a picture of the Cross, but I do believe it points to Christ. Just as Adam and Eve brought bitterness into the world by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, so too is there a Tree of Life. This tree was glorious (like Christ), and it was cut down (also like Christ.) It was lowered into the bitter water (just as Christ condescended into the middle of our bitterly fallen and sinful world). The tree took the bitterness away and provided life-giving water. Most Bible scholars are reluctant to read this into it, because there are no specific references to it in the New Testament, but I think it’s appropriate.
Verse 25 says that “there He proved them.” They failed the test, but Moses didn’t. They would fail this test again and again. Despite the assurance that their God (unlike the false Egyptian gods) was Jehovah Rophi – the God that Heals.
They now had plenty of sweet water, but they would be tested again concerning food, and this time there is a clear New Testament revelation concerning the incident.
And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.
Elim was a place with plenty of water and 70 palm trees. It is tempting to read the coincidental name of the wilderness of “Sin” as an allusion our English word “sin,” and to build a lesson around the idea that they were wandering into “sin against God,” but the context does not seem to support a strained connection.
And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:
The murmuring was against God, as well as His spokesman, Moses.
And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
The people looked back to bondage, slavery, abuse, and the murder of their children as the “good old days” simply because they were faced with an obstacle. They should have looked at this obstacle as an opportunity to demonstrate faith in the God Who had rescued them.
Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.
Despite their grumbling, cowardice, and lack of faith, God’s goodness and kindness and faithfulness were not thwarted by their sin.