Christians agree that our salvation is through Jesus

Christians have always believed that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Christians have always believed that salvation is only by Jesus. I am preaching a series about beliefs which Christians have always agreed. Today, at their foundation most denominations claim Jesus as the only way to Heaven. This is true of the American Baptist. In the American Baptist material it says:

10 facts about American Baptist:[1]

American Baptists believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, and that the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God that serves as the final written authority for living out the Christian faith. American Baptists celebrate the fact that belief in Jesus Christ assures salvation and eternal fellowship with a loving God. The events of the first Easter week are the cornerstones of our faith: the death of Christ, in which He took upon Himself the sin of the world, and the Resurrection, which gave proof of His triumph over sin and death. Holy Scripture always has been for American Baptists the authoritative and trustworthy guide for knowing and serving the God who is revealed as Creator, Savior and Advocate.

I heard about a missionary who was giving out New Testaments in another country.  The missionary was talking to one man, who was not a Christian, and the man said, “These pages have perfectly thin paper and they would be perfect for rolling cigarettes.” The missionary said, “I’ll give you this New Testament if you promise to read each page before you roll the cigarette. The man agreed. A few weeks later the missionary saw him and they talked. The missionary asked how things were going. The man said, “Well, I read and smoked through Matthew. I read and smoked through Mark and Luke, then I got to John 3:16 and I stopped. I believed in Jesus.” That man is now studying for the ministry. John 3:16 is amazing. God loves us.

In talking about Jesus being the only way to Heaven let’s be thankful that there is a way to God. God loves us and He desires a relationship with us. God loves us.

So, in the early church they penned the Nicene Creed in 325 AD and it says:

The Nicene Creed says:

“…Through him [Jesus] all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven…”

Jesus came for our salvation. In the last two weeks I have read quotes by Augustine and others regarding this central belief.

Let’s read Matthew 7:13-14:

Jesus says: “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.

In races we are to wear bibs which are fastened to our shirts and they have our number on them. They also have a computer chip in them records our time. In my first marathon my bib said “First time” or something like that. This meant that this was my first marathon. Well, before the race I was waiting for it to start and a woman started talking with me. She said congrats or something and as we talked she learned I was a pastor. She said there is a good analogy to the wide path and narrow path in the race. There is a section when those running the full marathon and those running the half marathon split. You see the 26.2 mile marathon and the 13.1 mile half marathon runners start together and at about 9 miles we split. So, you see all these people going left and a much smaller group going the other way. She was right. At a certain point we split and then we realized how much longer we had. Then it got tough.

The Christian life is the narrow path.

My theme today: Christians have always believed that Jesus is the only way to Heaven.

My applications for you are three:

  1. Trust in Jesus alone for salvation,
  2. pray for people to come to know Him, fast and take this seriously
  3. share Jesus with others.
  4. Jesus is the only way to Heaven. The New Testament teaches this:
    1. We read the passage from Matthew 7:13-14 a minute ago. In Matthew 7:12 the Sermon on the Mount ends. I believe that sermon is all about people being pointed to Jesus. I think Jesus is saying that they need a Savior. In Matthew 5:48 Jesus says, “Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” It could be better translated “be holy,” but the application is the same. How are we to be holy? We can only be holy by inheriting Jesus’ holiness in salvation. In Matthew 5:20 Jesus says, “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” The Pharisees and scribes did everything right, at least on the outside. They followed the whole law. I think the common people might have been laughing when Jesus said that these people were not good enough. But if they aren’t good enough, who is? Jesus is good enough. Only Jesus.
    2. After the sermon on the mount ends in Matthew 7:12 we have a few illustrations. The first is in verses 13-14 about taking the narrow path. The second is a tree and its fruit. We know Christians by the fruit of repentance and trust in Him. The third is the two foundations in verses 24-27.
    3. Jesus is saying that He is the only way to Heaven.
    4. The path is not easy, but we are to take the narrow road. We are to follow Jesus. Jesus calls for us to believe in Him, repent of our sins, commit to Him and trust in Him.
    5. Other Bible passages affirm this:
    6. In John 10:9: Jesus says “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
    7. In John 14:6: Jesus answered,“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
    8. Acts 4:12: Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
    9. There’s a West Indian who had chosen Islam over Christianity. And when asked why, he said this, quote: “Islam is a noble broad path, there’s room for a man and his sins on it. The way of Christ is far too narrow.” He’s right.
    10. There was a newspaper article many years ago in Melbourne, Australia from someone who had heard Billy Graham preach. This is what he wrote in to the newspaper. “After hearing Dr. Billy Graham on the air, viewing him on television, and reading reports and letters concerning him and his mission, I am heartily sick of the type of religion that insists my soul needs saving…whatever that means. I have never felt that I was lost, nor do I feel that I daily wallow in the mire of sin, although repetitive preaching insists that I do. Give me a practical religion that teaches gentleness and tolerance, that acknowledges no barriers of color or creed, that remembers the aged and teaches children of goodness and not sin. If in order to save my soul I must accept such a philosophy as I have recently heard preached, I prefer to remain forever damned, thank you.”
    11. But Christianity teaches those things secondarily. First it teaches we need salvation. The reason people aren’t gently, the reason people aren’t tolerant, the reason people aren’t love, or kind, or you fill in the blank is because they need saved. Once we ae truly saved the rest should follow, it doesn’t always because people aren’t always truly saved. True salvation includes repentance. True salvation means that our inclination is to serve Christ and not sin. Our desires change. This is called “sanctification.”
  5. The church has always affirmed this.[2]
    1. Clement of Rome: We should clothe ourselves with concord, being humble, self-controlled, far removed from all gossiping and slandering, and justified by our deeds, not by words (ch. 30:3).
    2. Polycarp of Smyrna was an Eastern Father acquainted with Ignatius and well versed in Paul’s Epistles. In Polycarp’sLetter to the Philippians, he says: “…knowing that ‘you are saved by grace, not because of works’ (Eph. 2:5,9,9), namely, by the will of God through Jesus Christ” (ch. 1:3).
    3. Irenaeus believed that conversion was dependent upon Christ’s grace, and apart from that grace, man has no power to procure salvation. The more we receive that grace, the more we are obligated to love Christ: No one, indeed while placed out of reach of our Lord’s benefits, has power to procure for himself the means of salvation. So the more we receive His grace, the more we should love Him (Against Heresies,  IV, ch. XIII).
    4. I already quoted the Nicene Creed.
    5. The reformation believed that we are only saved through faith alone in Christ alone.
    6. There is a belief called “Universalism” which would believe everyone goes to Heaven. This is a more recent view.
    7. Please know: at their core belief system, every religions would be exclusive. Every religion believes they are the only way.
  • My concerns as we apply:
    1. I believe there are three types of people who claim Christ.
      1. There are those who claim Jesus as the only way and really believe it.
        1. These people really act on this belief.
        2. They share Jesus with others.
        3. They pray for others to come to know Jesus.
        4. It really hurts them if their children or loved ones do not know Jesus.
        5. They will pray and fast for their children’s salvation.
      2. There are those that make a quiet claim and quiet belief that Jesus is the only way to Heaven.
        1. They say they believe this, but they really do not share Jesus with others. They are happy letting people go comfortably to hell.
        2. If you get them alone and talk about hell it bothers them because they really do not believe in hell, or hell is only for people like Hitler.
      3. There are people who claim Christ but outright believe that everyone goes to Heaven with or without Jesus.
    2. What I wish for you to know today is that the Bible teaches Jesus as the only way to Heaven and praise God that He loves and there is a way. And the Church has always affirmed salvation by Jesus alone.

Close:

Watch this short clip of how Ravi Zaccherius addresses this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFpumlcvbFA

I am very much for interfaith relations. When I was in Cincinnati I served on and was the director of an interfaith council which supported an interfaith food and clothing shelter. I participated and coordinated interfaith thanksgiving services. However, Christianity is inclusive in that Jesus invited everyone, but He does call us to take the narrow road. The Christian doctrine is exclusive. Truth in itself is exclusive. The doctrine of Islam is exclusive and so is any other religious doctrine.

Throughout church history Christians have recognized Jesus as the only way to Heaven. Otherwise, the cross Jesus died for no reason.

My theme today: Christians have always believed that Jesus is the only way to Heaven.

My applications for you are three:

  1. Trust in Jesus alone for salvation,
  2. pray for people to come to know Him, fast and take this seriously
  3. share Jesus with others.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] http://www.abc-usa.org/10facts/

[2] http://chnetwork.org/2010/03/salvation-from-the-perspective-of-the-early-church-fathers/

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