The Only Way to God
02/10/2005 at 9.30am / 11.15am
Jesmond Parish Church
A sermon preached by Jonathan Redfearn
This morning we’re looking at ‘Jesus’ teaching on’ the only way to God. It is a critical subject. It is a matter of life and death. So do turn with me to John 14:1-14. Well let’s get straight to the passage under my first heading:
First, CONFUSED MINDS & TROUBLED HEARTS
Here in John’s Gospel Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure – for his death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. As he states in v2 of chapter 14 he’s going to prepare a place for his disciples in his Father’s house (ie heaven). But his disciples are confused and troubled. They are confused about where he is going and why they can’t go with him at this point. Look at 13:36: Simon Peter asked Jesus, “Lord where are you going? Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” In v5 of chapter 14 they’re still confused both about the place where Jesus is going and the way there. Jesus says to them in v4, “You know the way to the place where I am going”. But Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going so how can we know the way?”
Perhaps you’re confused about who Jesus is, why he had to die, the way to God and heaven. Or perhaps you know people who are confused about these crucial matters and you want to know how to help them.
Certainly there is much confusion today about the way to God and heaven. Many people think that there are many ways to God and heaven. ‘All religions lead to God and therefore heaven’, they declare, even some church leaders. Yet all religions are patently not the same. One church leader who was the Warden of my theological college and who is now a bishop even, declared that he personally believed that God would not exclude anyone from heaven because of his love. Yet Jesus makes it very clear in Matthew’s Gospel that those without Christ will “go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous [those who are right with God through faith in Christ] to eternal life”. (Matthew 25:46) However the vast majority of people I’ve asked in this country think that the way to God and heaven is through good works, although there is still no guarantee they add. They say, ‘it depends on how good you are in this life.’ But the Bible makes it clear that we can never be good enough. Romans 3:23 says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Isaiah 64:6 says that “all our righteous acts are as filthy rags”. Cults try to deceive people into believing that they are the true way. Apparently the Moonies or the Unification Church are back in Newcastle. Their leader, the self-appointed Rev Sun Yung Moon sees himself as the Perfect Adam, so he must be obeyed without question. He claims that Jesus was the most important Adam between the original one and Moon, attaining spiritual perfection but that Jesus was a "flawed" Messiah. Moon says he is the reincarnation of Jesus only more perfect. Please do not be brainwashed by their lies and confusions. Jesus said, “Many will come in my name claiming I am he and will deceive many.” (Mark 13:6) So how can we know the way? The Jesus of the Bible, God the Son, says this in John14 v6:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.”Jesus is the only way to God and heaven. There is no confusion, lies or deception in this verse or in the one who uttered it. Look at it again. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through him. We’ll come back to why in a moment.
But the disciples weren’t just confused they were also troubled. Their hearts were troubled because Jesus, whom they’d given up everything to follow, was going to leave them. Peter was also troubled because Jesus told him that he was going to disown him not just once but three times (13:38).
Perhaps your hearts are troubled this morning. You’ve come knowing that like Peter you’ve denied Jesus this week and your heart is troubled. You’re feeling guilty and you’re lacking assurance. Or you may have other doubts including the reality of heaven.
Many people today have troubled hearts and restless souls. It’s been said by a leading psychiatrist that although the majority of people in this country are much better off than they ever have been, there are also more people who are anxious and depressed than ever before. Plenty does not equal peace of mind. Also more teenagers and people in their 20's take illegal drugs and binge drink to calm their fears and blot out the future. Now you may not be depressed but you have what is known as spiritual heart disease. You may be lonely or fearful of being left alone. You may fear death. Many people fear death. The French philosopher Rousseau once said that 'he who pretends to face death without fear is a liar'. You may be very ill. You may have just received some disturbing news and you fear the future.
So how does Jesus bring comfort? What did he say to his disciples and what does he say to us today? Well that brings us to my second heading:
Secondly, THE PERSON WHO COMFORTS US
Look at Jesus' words in v1. He says to all of us here this morning:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me."Jesus addresses the disciples’ troubled hearts and ours by urging them and us to have faith, faith in God, faith also in him. In v27 of John 14 Jesus says this to those who trust in him:
'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.'Jesus' peace is real and present for those who trust in him. If you're still thinking through the Christian faith Jesus says that the remedy to a troubled heart is faith in God, faith in him. Trust in God; trust also in me, Jesus says. Who needs to do that for the first time this morning?
You see the antidote to a troubled heart is trust – trust in God, trust also in Jesus. Jesus says he is God. He presents himself here unambiguously as the object of faith. For John there is only one faith and that is in Jesus and God at the same time. Do you believe and trust in Jesus Christ – God the Son – who is the only way to God the Father and to his Father's house – heaven? Sadly the well known physicist, Stephen Hawking doesn’t. In his latest book, ‘A Briefer History of Time’, which apparently he wrote because very few could understand his first brief history of time, Hawking says this: “God may have originally decreed the laws of nature, but it appears that He has since left the universe and does not now intervene in it.” But the truth is that God has intervened and does and will. The Son of God came from heaven to earth, became man – fully God and fully man - and obeyed God the Father by dying on a cross. Because of God’s love for you and me and because our sin, which separates us from God, could not just be swept under the carpet, Jesus was nailed to a wooden cross and suffered and died in our place taking the punishment we deserved for our sin. So if we believe and trust in him we can be forgiven, have peace with God. Only Jesus, fully God and fully man, who committed no sin, could pay the price for our sin. Only Jesus can bring us to God. Only Jesus is the way to God and to heaven. V6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.” Because of our sin there is no other way to God. No other religion, no amount of good works. Only by grace through faith in Christ can we be saved and not by works, says Ephesians 2:8&9. Are you trusting in the only Saviour?
Thirdly, THE PLACE HE IS PREPARING FOR BELIEVERS
Jesus Christ is the only way and therefore the only hope. He is the only sure hope in the face of death. There is no hope from non-Christian philosophies and although other religions say something about the future after death they offer no assurance. But Jesus offers real and certain hope to those who trust in him. And here he tells us that he has gone on through his own death to prepare a place for those who trust in him. Look at v2-3 of John 14. Jesus says:
'In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.'Heaven is my Father's house, says Jesus. Elsewhere Jesus says, 'I go to my Father and your Father.' Therefore heaven is the home of Christ and of true Christians. It is a helpful and comforting picture. Home is the place where you are (or should be) loved for your own sake and not for your gifts, material possessions or achievements; the place where you are (or again should be) loved to the end, never forgotten, and always welcome. In this world believers are in a strange land but one day we will be back home.
And at home in our Father's house are many rooms or eternal dwellings; or as the Authorised Version translated it 'many mansions'.
But whatever the size of the room what is clear here is that there will be room for all believers – for the strongest believer and for the weakest believer. Only unrepentant and defiant unbelievers will be shut out.
So if any of us are thinking, "Does heaven really exist?" or "My faith is too weak to get there," then be encouraged by Jesus' words here. 'In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.' Trust in him. Jesus then says:
'I am going there to prepare a place for you.'You see heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people: a place which Christ Himself has made ready for true Christians. He has prepared it, not by vacuuming the room, but by procuring a right for every sinner who believes to enter in. No-one can stop those of us who trust him and say we have no business there. He has prepared it by going before us as our Head and Representative, and taking possession of it for all true members of his body. He has prepared it by carrying the names of his followers with him as our High Priest into the holy of holies, and making angels ready to receive them. They that enter heaven will find they are neither unknown nor unexpected. Yes those who trust in Jesus have a true friend in him while in this world and a true home when they die. Also heaven is where Christ is. As he says in v3:
'I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.'Jesus is coming again. He is coming as Judge and to take those who trust in him to be with him in heaven. Will you trust him with your death before it’s too late?
Fourthly, and finally, THE PERSON WHO IS THE ONLY WAY
How do we get to the place where Jesus is? Maybe you’re still not clear about the way there. The disciples weren't. Look at v6. Jesus says to the disciples:
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me."'Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father and to heaven. There is no other way. The only way to God is through faith in him.
But you might be asking why should I accept what Jesus says and trust in him? The answer is in v6. Jesus is the only way to acceptance with God and heaven because he is the only one who really knows and can really show you the truth about God; and then he is the only one who can give you new life because he is the life. Why? Look at v7,9-10 of John 14. Jesus says:
'If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well… Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father… I am in the Father and the Father is in me… The Father, living in me, is doing his work.'Jesus is saying that he is God. He is God incarnate – God come in human form. And he fully God and fully man came to die on the cross to pay the price of our rebellion against God and then rose from the dead so that we might have eternal life. That is why he is the way, the truth and the life. None of the other founders of religions rose from the dead. Mohammed did not do that and Buddha did not do that. The bones of Mohammed are in Medina. The bones of Buddha are in India. But in Jerusalem there is the empty tomb. Jesus is alive. He holds the keys of death and Hades. He is the way, the truth & the life.
There’s a legend about a man caught in quicksand, which makes this important point. As the man struggled, sinking nearer to suffocation and death Confucius saw him and remarked: "There is evidence that men should stay out of such places". The Buddha came & said: "Let that life be a lesson to the rest of the world". A secularist came by and said: "You're not really sinking in quicksand you're simply being influenced by out dated religious superstitions think positively & overcome your neurosis." Mohammed commented: "Alas! It is the will of Allah!" A vicar arrived saying "say these prayers & do your best to perform these rituals and God might have mercy on you". A Hindu priest walked by and said: "Never mind you will return to earth in another form". Shirley MacLaine the high priestess of New Age appeared & offered her verdict: "You will soon truly be one with the universe".
But then Jesus of Nazareth arrived and said to the man: "Give me your hand my friend and I will pull you out for I am the way".
We are all caught in the quicksand of sin & death. We cannot escape it. All religions don't lead in the same direction. None of the other people mentioned can help or rescue us.
Only Jesus is God come to earth to seek us out. Only Jesus died a death that deals with our fundamental problem of being cut off from God. Only Jesus has been through death himself & can therefore overcome it for us. Only Jesus can stretch out a hand & take us into the presence of the living God. Only he is the way the truth & the life who can give us a secure future, a secure way to God & a secure partnership joining in his work as we wait to join him in the Father's house forever. No-one comes to the Father except through him. Because that is the truth surely we want others to know the way. And we can play our part in that in the power of the Holy Spirit through prayer (v13) and action (v12). This week will you be at the day of prayer and in the power of the Spirit will you stand up for Jesus rather than deny him? The promises are there in v12-14 for anyone who has faith in Jesus. V12&13: I tell you the truth says Jesus, “He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father [as then the Holy spirit would come]. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.”
For more sermon transcripts visit http://www.church.org.uk