Scripture: Acts 4:1-12
Sermon: “How Can You Say There Is Only One Way to God?!” by Pastor Todd Buurstra
How can you say there is only one way to God?! many say. Tough and good question. Puts me in mind of that great stadium evangelist, Billy Graham, and of a true story. One day Billy flew from NYC to NC with an obnoxious drunk on a bumpy ride. Every bump the drunk:
Doggone plane! Can’t you pilot this thing straight. I mean… there it goes again…
And this went on and on throughout the flight even though the flustered stewardesses were trying to calm him. Finally he got up to personally complain to the cockpit pilot when he noticed Billy Graham among the annoyed passengers. Billy Graham! Are you THE Billy Graham. Billy simply nodded his head. So the drunk loudly exclaimed, Your preaching changed my life! To which Graham later said, It must not have been a very good sermon. I hope I can do better today.
So the question: how can Christians say there is only one way to God?!
Peter, standing on trial, yet full of the Holy Spirit is recorded as saying, There is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved!
From this verse, we can summarize the Bible’s message as: Jesus is the way to heaven.
Heaven. Honestly, you may not want to go there. You see, we have this image of heaven as a pleasure factory. You like ice cream sundaes? You can eat them forever. You like video games, non-stop! You heard the story about the baseball fanatic who asked a dying friend to find out if baseball existed in heaven. The friend died, and the next night appeared in a dream,
I have good news and bad news. The good news is there is baseball in heaven.
The bad news is that you’re pitching on Friday!
But the Bible doesn’t portray heaven as a pleasure factory. Rather it is unending life with God. John envisioned, (Rev. 21:3). So if you don’t like to spend time with God here, you won’t like it there. God is light: there are no dark corners for guilty pleasures like online peeping, or IRS cheating. God is love: there will be no vantage point to look down on Muslims, or to degrade women. God is joy: there is no Complaint Dept. God is almighty: there is no weight room to rely on your own strength to break those destructive habits like a diabetic drinking beer. So, in conclusion, GOD WILL LET ALL INTO HEAVEN WHO CAN STAND IT, can you?
Way. Now I am Dutch and Dutch are cheap. So when I want to go somewhere I want to know the cheapest and easiest way to go. But if my attitude is, Lord, what is the bare minimum I can do to get to heaven? God may answer me the same way my wife would, if on my wedding day I asked, Honey, what’s the least I can do to please you? That just might not be the way to go.
The way to get ready for eternity is to enjoy God now. How do we do that beyond growing in the light, truth, love, and power just mentioned? We ask God, Help me to be more like Jesus. If Jesus is God, then Jesus is the way because he readies us for God as he is God with us.
But what is Jesus like? He’s like a man from our church, who requests to go nameless. On the day we were sending Craig Casucci off to Iraq, just before the service, Craig asked me, Todd, my water heater broke and I need someone to help me install a new one today. Anyone that can help me? So I walked over to “Sam.” Sam dropped whatever plans he had and helped Craig install the water heater. Sam knows the way to God for Sam is becoming like Jesus.
The. Most of us are comfortable if I say Jesus is a way to God, but uncomfortable if I say the. I understand. After all, during the Crusades we stuck a sword into infidel’s bellies and said, Do you believe now? How about now? But the way doesn’t mean that I can’t learn from other ways. If I had time I’d tell you some of what Buddhism has taught me. The way doesn’t mean that God is sending other religion’s folks to hell—that’s God’s decision, not mine. After all, God says, (Prov. 3:34). The way means that you and I who have been confronted with Jesus can’t go our own way, but we must go his. For he is the way. And this brings us to Easter.
Jesus. What gives me such confidence to say, Jesus is the way to heaven/God? The empty tomb. If you’re a skeptic among us, welcome, we all doubt big things like the empty tomb. However, if you really want truth, then you need to research the empty tomb; e.g.,
what turned fearful disciples into passionate missionaries heaven-bent on
being imprisoned like Peter and John, and even dying for Jesus, if it wasn’t the empty tomb?
What turned this instrument of torture, that Peter talked about, into something so positive
that you and I wear it as jewelry, if it wasn’t the empty tomb?
What turned a bunch of Jews like Peter and John who weekly confessed in that temple that
the Lord is one into folks who worship Jesus as Lord, if it wasn’t the empty tomb?
There are many messiahs, many religions, many ways, but one…empty tomb.
And so what? All of our new members have great stories on their way to God, but I’ve asked one with a more dramatic story, to say a few words about her journey: LeeAnn Gattone.
LeeAnn, you were an atheist and now you’re a believer. Why were you an atheist?
What changed you to believe?
You know, LeeAnn, we believe that Jesus’ resurrection doesn’t just save us for the afterlife, but resurrects us, gives us new life, today. Do you think that you’re experiencing a resurrection?
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