One of the most alarming items I have read were the results of some recent research done by the Pew Foundation.
Included in the survey was the question asking if one agrees or disagrees with the following statement:
"Many religions can lead to eternal life."
70 % of the Americans surveyed agreed with this statement. SEVENTY PERCENT!
A spokesman for LifeWay Christian Resources, which itself has an entire division devoted to research, says that the results of the Pew question were skewed due to the fact that the question was worded poorly. A number of the respondents say that they misunderstood the statement to mean "many denominations" rather than "many religions". Possibly so, but the fact remains that the false doctrinal teachings of pluralism are quickly gaining ground in American culture.
These teachings are echoed by celebrities, (notably Oprah Winfrey); a number of liberal educators and theologians; well meaning do gooders; and even popular politicians. Consider the recent cover story in the July 21, 2008 issue of Newsweek Magazine regarding the religious beliefs of presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL). The story, written by Lisa Miller and Richard Wolfe (along with an accompanying essay by Editor, John Meacham) explores Obama's spiritual journey. They write:
"The story of Obama's faith begins with his mother, Ann. Raised in the Mid-west by two lapsed Christians, she lived and traveled throughout the world appreciating all religions but confessing to none." ... "Obama calls his mother an agnostic." ... "Obama's father, raised Muslim in Kenya, was, by the time he met Ann, 'a confirmed atheist who considered religion mumbo jumbo'"
He speaks of his deceased mother who "appreciated the ritual" of various organized religions and how she took Barack and his sister to various religious services as they lived in in Hawaii and Indonesia. Besides Christian churches, he remembered attending Muslim Mosques and Hindu temples. Newsweek reports a conversation between Obama and Franklin Graham, who had asked Obama about his mother and his personal religious beliefs. Here is Obama's reply:
"I know this raises questions in the minds of some evangelicals. I do not believe that my mother, who never formally embraced Christianity as far as I know ... I do not believe that she went to Hell."
Well, it is certainly understandable that no one would want to think of their loved one in such a terrible place. Certainly not someone who "appreciated all religions". I think the most telling statement the article makes quoting Obama is the following one:
"He found Christ but that hasn't stopped him from asking questions. 'I'm on my own faith journey and I'm searching', he says, 'I leave open the possibility that I am primarily wrong."
The article debunks the internet rumors that Obama is a Muslim. By now, everyone is familiar with Obama's 20 year membership at Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Trinity Church in Chicago, (from which he has wisely recently cut his ties). One's relationship with God is certainly a personal matter, but is a believer, "leaving open the possibility that I am primarily wrong", really a believer at all? Paul the Apostle, wrote nearly 2000 years ago to his young protege', Timothy, "...nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." (2 Timothy 1:12 - NKJV)
When Jesus asked the question in Matthew 16, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" he received a number of replies. When He asked, "Whom do you say that I am?" the impetuous fisherman, Simon Peter, answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God". In John's Gospel, after Jesus had pronounced Himself as the Bread of Life, many of his followers turned away from him. (too exclusive we might say today) Jesus pointedly asks his disciples, "Will you also go away?" Again the same big fisherman speaks up, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
No one can argue that the "enlightenment" of our sophisticated society is fueling the fire of the "many paths" theory. The trend to be accepting of the false teachings of pluralism is even seeping into elements of the Christian church. A few so called evangelicals are hinting in their writings that there might be "other paths" which lead to God. The Bible plainly teaches otherwise. Consider the "I Am" claims of the Lord, Jesus Christ, Himself. He is:
- The God of Abraham - Matt. 22:32
- The Living Water - John 4
- The Bread of Life - John 6:35
- The Bread come down from Heaven - John 6: 31
- The Light of the World - John 8:12
- The Door - John 10:7
- The Good Shepherd - John 10:9
- The Son of God - John 10:36
- The Resurrection and the Life - John 11:25
- In the Father, and the Father in Me - John 14:10
- The True Vine - we are the branches - John 15:1
- The King of the Jews - John 19:21
Moreover, He declared, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." - John 14:6 and "Before Abraham was, I AM." - John 8:58. The whole of Christianity is summed up in John 3: 16-18 "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes on Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God"
Jesus is the most polarizing figure in history. Consider what He said as recorded in Matthew 12:30 "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad." He calls for a simple decision, doesn't He?
Everyone must eventually ask the question that Pontus Pilate asked, "What shall I do with this man Jesus?" Some folks just do not want to accept the idea that there is only one way. It's way too exclusive for some, but not for the early church! Peter puts it this way, "This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." - Acts 4:12.
This was the Apostle's doctrine.
It was also embraced by the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, in what we refer to as "The Five Solas" which summarized the Reformer's basic theological beliefs. "Sola" is the Latin word for "only" or "alone". These "Solas" contradicted the false teachings of the Roman Catholic Church of that day, and the "Solas" still stand true today:
- Sola scriptura - (by scripture alone")
- Sola fide - ("by faith alone")
- Sola gratia - ("by grace alone")
- Solus Christus - (Christ alone")
- Soli Deo Gloria - (glory to God alone")
Folks, Jesus is the only way of salvation. No matter what human logic may tell us, no matter what new age religionist might teach. It's Christ alone! We have a great task before us. We must present Jesus to a lost world. He alone is our only hope.
Let me close today with the words of one of my very favorite songs, which powerfully makes the point.
"In Christ Alone" (words and music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend)
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all -
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The Wrath of God was satisfied;
For Ev'ry sin on Him was laid -
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in Victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am his and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death -
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home -
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.