Imagine that you are trapped inside a large building, where people are arguing about various opinions about if there is a door and how to get out. Some believe that this wall has a door in it, others that wall. Groups are formed to encourage belief in which phantom door is best. One group asserts that the way out is up through ladders that extend into the sky. And here is a group trying to tunnel out using dark, secret, ancient maps. Another group is sure that any wall will have a door if you "just believe" that there is one (this group is famous for big lumps on their heads). And yet another group insists that "the door" and "outside" are merely a state of mind. Some have seen through all this nonsense and given up the search entirely.
Enter one who says: "I have some good news! There is a way out, but only one. It's a narrow, low door. I will prove it. Give up your deep, sophisticated, or silly notions and follow me!" But the various groups are so enamored with their own ideas that few pay much attention. The "phantom door" group thinks it unsporting to assert that there is only one door. The "sky exit" types complain that this "good news" lacks sophistication or intellectual appeal. The "deep ones" go to inspect the door, collect facts about it, even "hang out" around it, but never go through it. They become experts at door trivia. The "just believe" types are always happy to hear of a new door and are emboldened by this news to try ever harder to walk through doors that don't exist. More lumps on the head. In the end, for various reasons, very few make it out through the revealed door.
John 10:7, 9a-10 (NIV) Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever come before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.... The thief comes only to steal and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
Acts 4:12 (Phi) "In no one else can salvation be found. For in all the world no other name has been given to men but this, and it is by this name that we must be saved!"
Many find this aspect of Christianity offensive. "How arrogant! What an insult to the other great world religions!" But consider this: If God ever did desire to express what He was like, wouldn't He also make sure to say: "This is it--the true version" to differentiate His revelation from contradictory, man-made religions? If God ever has really revealed Himself, that religion would "stick out" by claiming to be exclusively true. Some are likely to be upset by this, but if there is any truth to be had, it must be packaged like this.
God Decides To Communicate With Man
John 1:1-2,14 (Phi) At the beginning God expressed himself. That personal expression, that Word, was with God, and was God, and he existed with God from the beginning.... So the Word of God became a human being and lived among us.
John 1:14b (NIV) We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
1 Tim 2:5-7 (Phi) For there is only one God, and only one intermediary between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. He gave himself as a ransom for all men--an act of redemption which stands at all times as a witness to what he is... (I speak the sober truth; I do not lie)....
Fact Or Fiction?
Christianity has claimed to be true from the very beginning. These events really happened.
1 Cor 15:1-7 (NEB) And now, my brothers, I must remind you of the Gospel that I preached to you; the Gospel which you received, on which you have taken your stand, and which is now bringing you salvation. Do you still hold fast the Gospel as I preached it to you? If not, your conversion was in vain. First and foremost, I handed on to you the facts which had been imparted to me: that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised to life on the third day, according to the Scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas, and afterwards to the Twelve. Then he appeared to over 500 of our brothers at once, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, and afterwards to all the Apostles.
1 John 1:1-4 (Phi) We are writing to you about something which has always existed yet which we ourselves actually heard and saw with our own eyes: something which we had the opportunity to observe closely and even to hold in our own hands, something of the Word of life! For it was LIFE which appeared before us: we saw it, we are eyewitnesses of it, and are now writing to you about it. It was the very life of all ages, the life that has always existed with the Father, which actually became visible in person to us. We repeat, we really saw and heard what we are now writing to you about. We want you to be with us in this--in this fellowship with the Father, and Jesus Christ his Son. We write and tell you about it, so our joy may be complete.
Acts 3:15 (NIV) "You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this."
Acts 2:32 (NIV) "God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact."
The Gospel Truth
Acts 13:30-31 (NIV) "But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people."
Acts 10:39-42 (Phi) "Now we are eyewitnesses of everything that he did, both in the Judaean country and in Jerusalem itself, and they murdered him by hanging him on a cross. But on the third day God raised that same Jesus and let him be clearly seen, not indeed by the whole people, but by witnesses whom God had previously chosen. We are those witnesses, we who ate and drank with him after he had risen from the dead! Moreover, we are the men whom he commanded to preach to the people and solemnly witness to the fact that he is the one appointed by God to be the judge of both the living and the dead."
2 Pet 1:16-19 (NIV) We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "this is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
2 Cor 4:2b-4 (Phi) We speak the plain truth and so commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. If our gospel is "veiled", the veil must be in the minds of those who are spiritually dying. The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe, and prevents the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, the image of God, from shining on them.
The Truth Has Nothing To Fear From Scrutiny
1 Thes 5:21 (NIV) Test everything. Hold onto the good.
Acts 17:11 (NIV) Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
2 Cor 13:8 (NIV) For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for it.
The Whole Truth And...
1 Tim 4:1-2,6-7 (Phi) God's Spirit specifically tells us that in latter days there will be men who abandon the true faith and allow themselves to be spiritually seduced by teachings of demons, teachings given by men who are lying hypocrites, whose consciences are as dead as seared flesh.... You will be a faithful minister of Christ Jesus if you remind your church members of these things. You will show yourself as a man nourished by the message of the true faith and the sound teaching he has followed. But steer clear of all these heathen old-wives' tales.
An Open Mind is A Cesspool of Thought. Rather:
2 Cor 10:5 (NIV) We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Mat 7:13-14 (NIV) "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
Truth As Trivia?
A.W. Tozer: "Truth in Scripture is more than a fact. A fact may be detached, impersonal, cold and totally disassociated from life. Truth, on the other hand, is warm, living, and spiritual.... At what point, then, does a theological fact become for the one that holds it a life-giving truth? At that point where obedience begins.... Truth that is not experienced is no better than error, and may be fully as dangerous. The scribes who sat in Moses' seat were not the victims of error; they were the victims of their failure to experience the truth they taught."
The Responsibility of Knowing The Truth
Jam 4:17b (Phi) If a man knows what is right and fails to do it, his failure is a real sin.
Heb 10:26 (NIV) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
Phil 3:16 (Phi) It is important that we go forward in the light of such truth as we have already learned.
Do We Really Love The Truth or Do We Pick and Choose?
A.W. Tozer: "We can hold a correct view of the truth only by daring to believe everything God has said about Himself. It is a grave responsibility that a man takes upon himself when he seeks to edit out of God's self-revelation such features as he in his ignorance deems objectionable."
2 Thes 2:10b-12 (NIV) They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
2 Tim 4:2-5 (Phi) Preach the word... Reprove, correct and encourage, using the utmost patience in your teaching. For the time is coming when men will not tolerate wholesome teaching. They will want something to tickle their own fancies, and they will collect teachers who will speak what they want to hear. They will no longer listen to the truth, but will wander off after man-made myths. For yourself, keep your mind sane and balanced, meeting whatever suffering this may involve. Go on steadily preaching the gospel....
The Spirit Of Truth
1 Jn 2:20-21,24a,26-27 (TEB) But you have had the Holy Spirit poured out on you by Christ, and so all of you know the truth. I write you, then, not because you do not know the truth; instead, it is because you do know it, and also know that no lie ever comes from the truth.... Be sure, then, to keep in your hearts the message you heard from the beginning.... I write you this about those who are trying to deceive you. But as for you, Christ has poured his Spirit on you.... For his Spirit teaches you about everything, and what he teaches is true, not false....
John 16:12-13 (NIV) "I [Jesus] have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth."
The Truth Is Worth Repeating
2 Pet 1:12-15 (Jer) That is why I am continually recalling the same truths to you, even though you already know them and firmly hold them. I am sure it is my duty, as long as I am in this tent, to keep stirring you up with reminders, since I know the time for taking off this tent is coming soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ foretold to me. And I shall take great care that after my own departure you will still have a means to recall these things to memory.
John 8:31b-32 (NIV) "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
John 8:31b-32 (NEB) "If you dwell within the revelation I have brought, you are indeed my disciples; you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."