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Dr. Ed Young - Myths About Christianity

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    Dr. Ed Young - Myths About Christianity
TOPICS: Christianity

In our Scripture today, we have four of the apostles asking Jesus questions. Why are they asking these questions? It's because that Jesus has said to them, "I am leaving". They knew that He was going to the Cross. They knew that He was going to be crucified, and therefore, their whole world had crashed in because they had recognized in their 3 years of living with Him that this is indeed the Messiah. Understand the Jews prayed every day, every day, all of their life, "Come Messiah! Come Messiah"! They prayed for the coming of the Messiah day, after day, after day, and now they found Him, and they were in the intimate circle. They were the apostles.

Now Jesus said, "I am going away... I'm going away". And they were crushed. They couldn't believe it. They looked for the Messiah to come and set up a kingdom on this earth, a theocracy, and to rule, and to reign. And now, He's going away when He said I'm going to Jerusalem for the Passover. Remember, Old Thomas said, "Don't go. Don't go. Don't you know the situation"? In parenthesis, "They'll kill You"! And Jesus says, "I'm going". And Thomas says, "Well, let's all go with Him then, and we'll be killed at Your side". And now we see that it gets darker and darker until they come into Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday and everything changed! Palm branches, "Hosanna, Hosanna! The King is coming! Messiah"!

All the Messianic signs, and the apostles certainly felt, "Hey, this, this may be it. This may be our moment in history. Maybe the kingdom will be established..." But toward the end of the week, everything grew darker and darker until He kept saying, "I'm going to leave. I'm going to depart. You'll not have Me; I'll not be with you". He said it over and over again. That led to the four questions that you have that surround two of them in John, John 14, three of them, rather, in 14, and one of them in the later part of John 13. The first question is asked by Peter, and then he comes back and he asks a follow-up question to the question that he asked, later part of Chapter 13 of John. Then beginning with John 14, we have coming, Thomas asked a question. Then Phillip asked a question, and then Judas, not Judas Iscariot-the other Judas asked a question.

We have four of the apostles asking questions, and their questioning time led up to the fact that Jesus was going to leave. And the whole theme of John 14 is one of Jesus leaving, and Jesus coming. Jesus leaving and Jesus coming. The 14th Chapter of John is the great Chapter on comfort. You can hardly go to a funeral service that this Chapter will not be read from. You just can't go... We're familiar with it, and perhaps we've heard it so often, we forget the primary thrust of these words. So we're not going to look at all of John 14. We're going to sit down on this great Chapter of comfort on the first 6 Verses. Hope you have your Bibles with you; if not, look on the screen.

Turn to John, the Gospel of John, Chapter 14. I'll read Verse 1 through Verse 6. "Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father's House are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself that where I am, there you may be also, and you know the way where I am going". Thomas said, (Here's Thomas' question) "Lord, we do not know where You're going. How do we know the way"? Jesus said to him, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me".

You gotta get this, so I'll repeat it: John 14 is all about Jesus leaving and Jesus coming back. That's the whole theme, and the underlying, over-riding purpose is to give comfort to the apostles. Judas has left. Eleven are there. This is the night before Jesus was crucified. This is His last valedictory address, and it's fabulous. Read sometimes just as a devotional thought, all at one time, John 14, 15, 16, and 17. I mean, it is just-lays out before us, but it begins with 14, and it's all about comfort-comfort. You know what would give anybody here comfort, any situation you have? Any situation I have? You know what would comfort you and me more than anything else, whatever you are going through? Whatever you've been through? Anxiety, pressure?

"I lost my job. I'm going through a marital crisis. I have a problem with my kids..." and we could just make list, after list, after list of all the things that causes our heart to be troubled. You know what would give us comfort more than anything else? Comfort comes when we are confident in the future. I am comforted when I am confident in the future. Whatever happens now, I am comforted when I'm confident in the future. You see, God-a relationship with God in Jesus Christ automatically gives us this. God is timeless. Therefore, to God, there's no past, or present, or future. God looks on all of time as if we were on a top of a high mountain and looked at a river that was flowing; this is the way that God sees time.

God sees that which is already happened-He sees all the past. He sees the present, that which is happening now with the river flowing, and He can see the future, and He can see the future-that which is coming. See it? He sees that which is coming; He sees what is happening now; He sees all of that that has gone past. That is Almighty God. Therefore, He alone can bring us comfort because He gives us confidence in the future. So here He gives these words of comfort to these eleven apostles that are so broken, because He knows that in just a few hours, their whole world is going to come apart. He knows what He's going to face. The crucifixion was the least part of it. The shame, the beating... He'd be spit upon. All the weight of the world would come on Him.

The Heavenly Father would turn away from Him. All this was coming, and what was Jesus doing? He was thinking about His apostles. Been you or me, we'd been, "Oh, oh, what I'm gonna face, what's coming up! I just need help! I need..." But He was comforting those... Remember, Jesus was 100% human, and Jesus was 100% divine. And here in His last hours, He was offering comfort to those who'd be broken at His departure. And we can claim the same comfort in the 21st Century. That's the magnificence of it. That's the magnificence of this timeless truth. How were they comforted? First of all, we see it in the first Verse there, they were comforted, and Jesus said, "Believe in My Presence". He is saying, "Believe I'll be present". He said, "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God..." He was saying, "Do you see God"? They said, "No, we don't see God..." "Do you believe in God"? "Absolutely"! He said, "Do you see Me now"? "Yes..." He said, "Soon, I will depart; you'll not see Me, but believe in Me, just like you believe in God".

And the 16th Verse of John 14, He says, "I'm not going to leave you like orphans..." He said, "The Holy Spirit is going to come" and therefore He says, "You be comforted because I'm not going to desert you; I will be with you, even though you will not see Me". See? "Be comforted; believe in My Presence". Also, He says, "Believe in My promises". He said, "In My Father's House are many..." we think mansions. Poor translation! King James version said, we've heard all of our lives, some of us. "I go to prepare a place for you-I go to... if I come to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself..." but prior to that, He said, "In My Father's House are many mansions..." No. Poor translation. The New American Standard says it best: "In My Father's House are many dwelling places..."

First of all, the Father's House. When you're a kid and you go away on a trip, or you even go a night or two; remember how great it was to be back home? No matter how much fun you had; no matter what took place, when you get back home and you get in your bed-man, you put on your clothes, and you can relax! Man, that, that is the Father's House. That's the first part of the promise, to give comfort. And then He says, "And I will come and get you, that where I am, there you may be also". So He's saying He's gonna get us and take us to Heaven. And look at the pictures of Heaven! Heaven in the Bible is called "a country" because it is vast. Heaven is called "a kingdom" because it has order and structure.

Heaven is called "Paradise" a Persian word for a beautiful, walled-in garden. Heaven is called "a dwelling place, a home". That's Heaven. That's Heaven! And we have the promise that He will come. Remember the theme? Jesus leaving, Jesus coming back. Jesus leaving, Jesus coming back? And we see this in the Scripture. Now, what was the context that these apostles heard that? He said He is leaving. He's gonna leave. He's gonna be crucified. He's gonna be buried, and He takes a little sojourn into Hell, remember? And then He, God the Father, raises Him from the dead. He's coming back. That's-Easter is the first coming back. The second coming would be, if you would count them, would be Pentecost when the Holy Spirit would come.

Now the Holy Spirit come... By the way, understand, the Holy Spirit, the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to exalt Jesus Christ. You stay around somebody, a church, and they talk about Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit... That's all fine; it's just not Biblical. The Holy Spirit is subdued as the Third Person of the Trinity because the primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is to exalt the Second Person, Jesus Christ-Jesus Christ. So, He's coming back at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came to exalt Him. Also, He's coming back at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Right? When He brings down the curtain of history? And also, He's coming if you and I die before the curtain of history comes down; He's coming to get you and get me if we're a believer, and if we walk with Christ. He's not going to send some angels-no, no, no, no! I don't know where you get that. He's going to come Himself!

See, this gives comfort to them in the 1st Century; it gives comfort to you and me in the 21st Century. And that's the promise that is here. Also, look at the next thing we get comfort from. He said, "I am the Way. I am the Way. I'm not a way; I am the Way". He says, "I am the Truth, not just a part of truth. I'm Truth, and I am the Life". He makes that exclusive claim, and then He adds on it and says, "By the way, nobody will get to God except through Me". What's He saying? He says, "I am the Way. I am the Path. I am the Road". He said, "I am the Truth". Bold claim. He embodied the truth. He lived out the truth. This is what He taught, and He lived what He taught. Think about it. He practiced what He preached. "I am the Truth, and I am the Life..."

When we take our mortal lives and join up with Jesus, who is immortal, we become immortal like He is immortal, and it begins now, and it goes all the way through eternity. But this very exclusive claim just rattles people that we work with, live around, and those who are sort of quasi-Christians. And you hear such things as, "All religions are the same at the bottom. You take away all the ritual or tradition and all the things; when you get down to the bottom, all religions are the same". You've heard that. You hear it all the time. There's only one problem with it: That's about the most stupid statement a human being could utter. All religions are far from being the same. Allah, and the God revealed in Jesus Christ, are diametrically opposed almost to each other. It's not the same.

The distinctiveness of Christianity is the uniqueness of Jesus. No great religious leader ever claimed to be divine. They said, "I will point you to the light. I will instruct you along the path to salvation. I will say that is the way you understand God, and that gives the summa bona meaning of your life". They do all of this, but only Jesus says, "I am God Incarnate-I Am". That begins this statement, isn't it? "I Am the Way". I Am starts off with a claim of being, and speaking for God. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us". That is God. Jesus makes this claim! Jesus makes this claim... and therefore, He backs it up. And the idea that all religions are the same, you know the thing, "We're all going to the top of the mountain. It doesn't matter which path you take as long as you're sincere". That doesn't work in any realm of life. Certainly not in the realm of faith.

You say, "Well, you're being bigoted when you say that Jesus is the only way". Listen, I would be bigoted if I said there are many paths, religious paths that lead to the top of the mountain where there is God, and Christianity is one of those paths that leading up to the top of the mountain, and I think that path is the best path. Now if I said that, I'd be bigoted-against all the other paths. That's not what we're saying. We're saying they have all these paths that lead up to the top of the mountain. Some of them are broad; some of them are narrow; some of them are ritualistic, but all are based on what you do and what you don't do. That's religion.

Religious people say this is what you do, and this is what you don't do... But you see, Jesus says there is one path, and this is the path of Truth. There's one way, and the end of that way is God as God walks with you in that path down that road. It's important that we understand that. So therefore, the idea that all religions are the same is absolutely, positively, totally bogus. You say, "Well down at the heart, take away the periphera" No, no, and no because of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. Now you hear another myth that comes out springing from this very, very, very birth. It says, "Well, you can have your truth, and I can have my truth. Your truth is just as valid as my truth". You hear that all the time. Right? And we think we're very tolerant, particularly young people. Man, young people have a tough time!

"I don't want to be judgmental; I don't want to be narrow. I don't want to put anybody down. I want to be inclusive..." and we get mixed up at this point, ladies and gentlemen. We know that America is a pluralistic society, and we know that every profession of faith, every profession of religion is protected in America. It is protected. We can believe as we want to believe, but being protected equally doesn't mean it is equally valid. What makes something true or not when it is uttered? It is the credentials of the one who is stating it. I'm saying look at the credentials of Jesus Christ. Look at them. Thousands of years before Jesus was born, there are just dozens and dozens of prophecies that tell us, from God's Word, from the very utterance of God, the revelation of God, the Person that's going to be His Son and His representative on the earth, the word Incarnate, the Word made flesh.

And we see you will know when He comes because He will fulfill all of these prophecies, and Jesus alone is the perfect fingerprint that fulfills all those prophecies. We could talk about His miracles; we could talk about the resurrection. Did you know the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most examined, historical fact in history? More scholars, more skeptics, more archaeologists, more anthropologists, more theologians have looked at that one fact than any other fact in history. And when someone does that honestly and openly and objectively and intelligently, with almost few exceptions, they say, "The forensic evidence is absolutely overwhelming"!

So we could go through the credentials of Jesus, and they are numerous, and it is the credentials that give credibility. I had two granddaughters that were born jaundiced, you know? Susannah, Rachel, Cliff's first two daughters. And the pediatrician said, you know, "We'll keep 'em a little bit and get an ultraviolet light. It will stimulate their liver, they'll be fine". Right? Right? Yeah... What if the parents had said, "Well, you know, we're going to try something else. You know, we're gonna put drops in their eyes; get all that yellow out of there. We're gonna get some white-wash on their skin, and put some oil, and wi... we're gonna try that". Pediatrician say, "Look, all you have to do-ultraviolet light for a period of time and they'll be fine". I've done this hundreds and hundreds of times with newborns. They'd say, "No, no, no".

Now who are you going to believe? The doctor has credentials! He has validity! He has experience. You see, this is the way it is. "Well, this truth claim is as good as that..." Oh no, no. Where are the credentials that are behind it? Where is the evidence that is behind it? Gallup just had a poll and said eighty-four percent of the people in America believe that Jesus is the Son of God. What about that? Eighty-four percent! Hhmm... That's eighty-four percent in their heads, checking off something, answering a questionnaire saying that Jesus is the Son of God. That is to believe. But you see, it's one thing to believe, and that's a good step in the right direction; but you have to take action.

You know, I'll tell... I believe that that step right there will hold my weight. You think? I think that step right there will... I could step from this platform and step on that first top step there and I think it'd hold me up. I really do! In fact, I'm confident of that. But I can stand here and believe that, and I just have head knowledge; but when I step on that step, I have taken action, and that's what it is to be a Christian. We don't just believe all these wonderful facts: I'm the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and Jesus is the Son of God. We have to take action and say, "Because You are the Son of God and that Book promises when I give my life to You, life comes in me! Eternity comes in Me, and then we know for sure that we are bound for Heaven"!

Let me tell you something: I'm going to say something about me, but it applies to everyone here who not only believes, but have taken that step of faith and invited Jesus Christ in their life. This is what I want to say about me. It applies to everybody here who's a Christian. I want you to know something: My name is in Heaven. My citizenship is in Heaven. My inheritance is in Heaven. My mother and my father and my brother-they are in Heaven, and I know that four of my aunts are in Heaven. Three I'm not sure about. Two of my uncles. The rest of them, I have big questions about; but I can tell you, I know they're in Heaven! And I've got friends I have cried with, I have traveled with, I have been with, I have hung out with, and I know they are in Heaven. And I can look to Heaven and know that Jesus is in Heaven, and I can say and with confidence that in Heaven, I will know as I have been known.

I've seen through things darkly. I will see clearly and understand, and I know there is a beauty there and a Paradise there, and a radiance there that's out of this world, and a magnificence that will not be captured in a dozen sunrises, or sunsets on this earth! I know there'll be beauty, there'll be creativity, there'll be praise, there will be unbelievable travel, and all the senses that I have and you have will be multiplied 20, 30, or 100 fold. Let me tell you, Heaven is literally out of this world! And I don't know about you, but far as I'm concerned, I don't know why I'm still here... Got any problems?

Jesus comes just like He did to those apostles who were so upset about Him bailing out and being crucified. He comes and says, "Hey-believe My Presence. I'll be with you. Understand My promises. I'm going to come get you, and I'll take you home. And understand My Person, My credibility. I'm the Way. I'm the Truth. I'm the Life, and you'll get all the way to Heaven and all the way to the Father through Me". Kind of makes us homesick, doesn't it? W. C. Fields, Comedian in the last generation-decadent guy, but funny as he could be, was dying. And as he was dying, he was thumbing through the Bible, and one of his pagan friends said, "W. C., what are you doing"? He says, "I'm looking for a loophole, my boy... I'm looking for a loophole..." Heh, heh, heh. You don't have to look for a loophole. Heaven is just as big as the love of God. Because He lives, we too, shall live, and therefore, whatever comes up, we shall be comforted!
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