Robert Jeffress - Christianity's Most Offensive Belief
Hi I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. From the very beginning, Jesus made it clear, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me". Yet, according to a recent survey, nearly 60% of evangelical Christians believe that other religions can lead to God. And those who disagree with that are being typecast as hateful and intolerant. Well, over the next few weeks, I'll address this urgent topic in a timely series called, not all roads lead to heaven. My message is titled, "Christianity's Most Offensive Belief" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Conservative Christians have lost the battle over homosexual marriage. Not only in the supreme court, but in the court of public opinion. Did you know for example, that since 1996, the percentage of Americans who approve of same sex unions has more than doubled? And responding to that trend, the supreme court on June 26, 2015 enshrined gay marriage as a civil right. And numerous television debates, I have pointed out the fact that in 1885, the supreme court define marriage as that holy union between one man and one woman. And now the supreme court says, marriage is whatever you want it to be.
And I often ask the question, what is it that changed between 1885 and 2015? In those 130 years, did the constitution change? No. What changed was the culture. And the supreme court caved in to cultural approval. But that's just one example of how we're losing the battle for biblical truth. My real purpose today is not to talk about gay marriage, it is about to talk about another, an even more foundational issue we're in danger of surrendering. Right now, Christians, conservative Christians, are waffling and wavering on the foundational belief of all Christianity, and that is that salvation is available only to those who trust in Christ as Savior.
Waffling on that issue pastor, surely you're exaggerating? No, consider a recent peer study that revealed that 70% of Americans with a religious affiliation say that many religions, not just their own can lead to eternal life. You say, "Well, that's easily explained". Culturally, a lot of Americans claim to be religious, but they're not really Christian. So we understand that, we understand why 70% of Americans would say there's more than one way to heaven. But surely the statistics are different among evangelical Bible believing Christians. Don't be so sure.
In 2008, a poll of 35.000 Americans revealed that 57% of evangelical Christians believe that many religions, not just Christianity, many religions lead to eternal life. You may be saying, "So what? I mean, as long as I believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven, what difference does it make if in fact, there are other ways to heaven"? Here is the difference it makes. What you believe about this issue of exclusivity of Christ for salvation, what you believe about this issue, will determine whether you spend eternity in heaven or in hell.
Now, if you think that's an exaggeration, consider this illustration. Let's say you're wanting to go to Houston from Dallas. But instead of getting on I-45 to Houston, you mistakenly get on I-75 north, headed to Oklahoma. Now I can tell you, I don't care how sincere you are, if you get on I-75 and travel north, it won't matter how long you travel, you will never get to Houston. Everybody agreeing with that? You're going the wrong way. So let's say about an hour into your trip, you realize you're headed in the wrong direction. You don't have a map, you don't have a GPS, realizing that you're on the wrong road still doesn't help you get on the right road, because frankly, there are hundreds if not thousands of roads and highways in Texas that you could take and end up anywhere. See, it's not enough just to realize you are on the wrong road. If you are on the wrong road, there's no guarantee you'll get on the right road.
Now, here's my point, Jesus Christ said, "If you're trying to navigate your way to heaven, there's only one way to get there". Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life and few are those who find it". Jesus said, "The way to heaven isn't broad, it's very, very narrow". And Jesus also slammed the door on any possibility that there's another route to heaven. In John 14:5-6 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, how do we know the way"? Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. Nobody comes to the Father, but through me".
So, let's just say you have decided that Jesus is the only way to heaven, and you are trusting in him, you're headed on that road. But then you discover that Jesus was really wrong about that, you discover that in fact, there are many roads to heaven. Now, follow me on this. If Jesus was wrong when he said, "I'm the only way to heaven". And in fact, there are multiple ways to heaven. If Jesus was wrong about that, then that means he's not the all-knowing omniscient Son of God, right? If Jesus is wrong on this issue, he can't be God, because God knows everything. God has no error or falsehood in him, okay? So, if Jesus in fact is not the Son of God, then that means when he died on the cross, he was dying for his sins not for our sins, if he wasn't the Son of God, everybody agreeing with that? Okay? If Jesus died on the cross for his sins and not our sins, then it means you and I are still dead in our sins and trespasses, right? And it means Christianity is false.
So, if Jesus was wrong on this issue of the exclusivity of Christ through salvation, then Christianity itself unravels like a cheap sweater, okay? But just because you suddenly discover you're on the wrong road to heaven that Christianity in fact is not true, just because you're on the wrong road, that still doesn't help you determine which road to get on to go to heaven. Because the fact is, there are thousands of possibilities of different religions you can choose to go to heaven. And here's the kicker, most every one of those other religions except for Hinduism, teach that they are the only way to heaven. Buddhism, Islam, other religions say, "We are the exclusive way to heaven".
So if you suddenly realize, Jesus was wrong and he's not the way to heaven, how do you find the right way to heaven? And that's why I'm saying to you, this issue about the exclusivity of Christ is not some tangent to wrangle about, it is the essence of the whole eternal issue of job 9:2. How can a man be made right before God? How you answer that question affects not only your eternal destiny, but the destiny of your families, your friends, and the entire world. Why are we losing this battle for the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation? It's for the same reason we've lost the homosexual marriage debate. We have been out-fought, out-argued, and out-marketed on this issue.
Let's take a moment and look at each of these points. First of all, we are being out-fought on the issue of exclusivity. This issue that we're talking about in this series, not all roads lead to heaven. This issue is ground zero for the larger battle between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. I say it's ground zero because it is the heart of everything God is trying to do and everything Satan is trying to do. You see, the eternal issue for mankind is, will you accept God's way of forgiveness through Christ? Or will you try to find or manufacture your own way to God?
You see, ever since the fall when Adam and Eve fell in sin in the garden, the choice has been, how will you cover over your sin? Remember when Adam and Eve sinned, they were filled with shame and guilt, and they tried to manufacture their own covering of fig leaves to cover their guilt. That didn't work. God came to them, he killed an animal, the first death in the Bible, took the skin of that animal and offered it as a clothing for Adam and Eve. They had a choice, they could keep their own self-manufactured covering, or they could accept God's covering, the death of an innocent animal. That's what the word atonement means, it means covering. Adam and Eve accepted God's covering for their sin. They had a son, his name was Cain. When he fell into sin, instead of following God's way of forgiveness, he came up with his own religion so to speak. His own way of approaching God, and God rejected it. And ever since that time, the Bible has referred to Cain's approach to God as the way of Cain.
Every false religion is basically an adaption of the way of Cain, trying to approach God on your own terms. The largest issue we ever face in life is, will we follow God's way of salvation, or will we follow our own way? Now listen to me on this, because we were created as spiritual beings, we all have this desire to be reconciled to God, and Satan knows that. And that's why Satan doesn't hate religion, he loves religion, because it appeals to man's inborn desire to be reconciled to God. So what is Satan do? He uses religion as a way of deceiving people away from the true way of knowing God.
For example, let's say you're caught up in a mountain range, you're lost, it's nighttime, you don't know the way to safety, but there is a single star, a single light in the heavens that points the way of escape. That's pretty easy. It's a no brainer, if there's one light up there pointing and illuminating the way to safety. But suppose, instead of one star, one light, there are 1000 lights, and they're all illuminating different paths. And 999 of those paths are going to to lead you over the cliff. Suddenly, it becomes much more confusing, doesn't it?
It's the same way with the world's religions. What Satan is doing is using religion as a distraction to people. He's using religion as a false light that will lead people away from the true light, Jesus Christ, who illuminates the only safe pathway to heaven. And that's why I say, we cannot underestimate Satan's desire to lead people and deceive people away from Jesus Christ. In John 8, Jesus said, "Satan is a liar, and he's a murderer". In John 10:10, he said, "Satan has come to kill, and steal, and destroy". Satan has as his number one aim, to take as many people to hell as possible. And how is he doing it? By deceiving people into following the way of Cain. Other religions that turn people away from faith alone in Jesus Christ.
That's why Paul refers to Satan as an angel of light. Remember the words of 2 Corinthians 11:14, and no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Now, think about it. If Satan appeared as he really is, the dragon the Bible calls him, or Satan appeared as many people characterize him, in a red suit and a pitchfork, and the horn saying, "Hey, come follow me". Is anybody going to be deceived by that? No, but he doesn't appear as he really is, the horrible monster. Instead, he appears as an angel of what? Light, to deceive people. When these non-Christians talk about, oh, they've had this near-death experience, and they all saw the bright light. I believe them. But it wasn't the light of Jesus they saw, it was a deception.
Satan appears as an angel of light, and then notice verse 15. Therefore, it is not surprising if his servants, whose servants? Satan's servants, also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, who's end shall be according to their deeds. How to Satan distract people into following the wrong way that will lead them away from God? He has servants in the world, servants of righteousness supposedly, religious people who are Satan's mouthpieces to lead people to hell. Who'll say, "Personally I've trusted in Christ as my salvation, but who am I to judge? There may be other ways to God, and I can't condemn any way to God".
What I'm saying to you is, this battle for the exclusivity of Christ is really ground zero of the battle between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. You do understand we're in a battle, don't you? Most people don't understand that, most people don't understand the spiritual battle that we're in. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote years ago, not to realize that you are in a conflict means one thing only, and that is that you are so hopelessly defeated and so knocked out as it were, that you don't even know it. You are completely defeated by the devil. Anyone who is not aware of a fight and a conflict in a spiritual sense, is in a drugged and a hazardous condition. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood", Paul said, "But against the unseen forces of wickedness in the spiritual places".
We are being out-fought in this issue. But even those who accept the fact that this is an important issue, and they want to enter into the fight, they do want to fight for the exclusivity of Christ, they're losing the battle because frankly, we're being out-argued in this issue as well. We're being out-argued by the world.
Sometimes people wonder why I spend time and effort in the secular media. I think about an associate of the late Jerry Falwell, who once told me this story. He said one time he was with Dr. Falwell, who was always giving interviews in the secular media. And this had been a particularly tough one. And after the interview, Dr. Falwell got back in the car with his associate, and they were going back to the church, and the associate said, "Dr. Falwell, why do you subject yourself to that? Why do you spend time doing this? Why don't you let people beat up on you in the media like that"? And Jerry smiled as he always does, and he said, "Just think about it, I got four minutes to share biblical truth with millions of people, and it didn't cost us a cent to do it".
Isn't that good, isn't that wise? You'd have to be an imbecile not to take advantage of those opportunities to share God's truth. We've got to present God's truth, because quite frankly, the Christian message is being distorted by the media today, it's being distorted by liberals. For example, the issue of the sanctity of life has been turned into a war on women's health, or the conviction that marriage should be between one man and one woman, has been twisted into some kind of hatred toward homosexuals, the belief in religious freedom of expression has been perverted into the oppression of other religions. The good news that Christ has offered a way of forgiveness to everybody who believes in Christ has been twisted into a message of intolerance and condemnation of sincere followers of other faith. We've got to be willing to argue God's point of view in the public square. But to do that, we also have to be equipped to do so.
Think about Paul, when he went to mars hill to engage in a public arena, he came armed not just with scripture, but also with compelling reasoning and logic, and vivid illustrations to undergird those logical points. And I believe we're going to have to do the same if we are going to win this argument in the public square. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, Paul said, "We are ambassadors for Christ". As though God himself were speaking through us and begging others, be reconciled to God. Folks hear me on this again, God left you here for one reason, it's not just pastors and missionaries that are ambassadors for Christ, we are ambassadors for Christ, we are God's mouthpieces in this world.
You are the final link between God and a long chain of events to another person, to voice the Gospel message to that person. And that's why he has left us here, to be able to share that message, we are God's representatives here on earth. But if we're going to be effective in that assignment, we have to know what the message is. We have to be prepared to share that message. And that's what this series is designed to do, to give you the resources you need to be that ambassador for Christ. Thirdly, not only are we being out-fought and out-argued, we're being out-marketed on this issue of exclusivity.
In Ephesians 2:2, when Paul describes Satan as the prince of the power of the air, could that be a reference to television? It's a very powerful medium. Did you know the average American today watches television five hours a day? There are 300 million Americans. Think of the messages that are being endlessly pumped out of that tube into people's minds. And let me tell you, when it comes to the issue of spirituality, the message that is coming from television is one that is not sympathetic, it is antagonistic toward the idea that there is only one way to be saved, and that's through faith in Jesus Christ. Not only in television, but radio, movies, print, the internet, all spewing forth the lie that there are many ways to God other than faith in Christ.
And it's true that Christians are trying to utilize the media as well to voice opposition to that message of inclusivism. We're trying to drown it out. Frankly, it's impossible for us to drown it out. It's impossible to first drown it out. You cannot compete with the secular media. The good news is, we don't have to. Because you see this battle for exclusivity is not an air war, it's a ground war. See, more than 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ entrusted that message that he is the way of salvation to 12 people. And they took that message, and they spread it to others, who spread it to others, who spread it to others, and 2000 years later, that message is still growing stronger than ever, that Christ is the only way to God. This is a ground war. God's plan is to equip people just like you with that message to take to the uttermost parts of the world. Now, please don't misunderstand. I'm not saying utilizing media isn't important. Our church places a lot of emphasis on television, and radio, and the internet.