Many say that all religions lead to God and you’re narrow-minded if you think otherwise. If this is true, how can we claim that Christianity is the only true religion? In this message, we examine that Christianity is not just a way but THE way.
Welcome to The Porch. My name is Josiah, and I am so glad that you decided to tune in with us tonight wherever you're watching from across the country and even the world. Welcome, and thank you friends in this room for being here. I appreciate that very much. Well, hey, we've been in a series called Fact Check over the last couple of weeks where we are really facing the truth about our faith and putting the claims of faith, putting the claims that we hold true as Christians for thousands of years, to the test.
We're putting these truths on trial, so to speak. In week one, we talked about this claim that God is still good and bad things happen. Last week, we talked about this claim that the Bible is the actual words of God. Tonight, we pull up to this claim that many of you are probably familiar with, the claim that Christianity is the only true religion.
Even when I think about that claim, I can't help but think, "Man, how do we know that?" How do we know that Christianity is the only true religion? Isn't it just people's opinions? I mean, for so long, people just throw out different opinions here and there, and we love opinions, don't we? We live in a world where opinions are given freely. I mean, I love giving my own opinion.
How many of you are watching The Last Dance? It's basically a documentary of the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan. It happens every Sunday night at 8 p.m. I love it. I've been tuned in the last two weeks. Basically, they're just retracing what took place that final season where they had the dynasty together. Man, you should check it out, for real, 8 p.m. on Sunday night.
So I got to thinking as I was watching the last two weeks, I couldn't help… I'm going to go on record tonight to say that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. Facts. Truth. There's just no debate. You're wrong if you say anything different, period. Here's the deal. There's another debate going on in our culture right now.
This one is more serious than the greatest basketball player of all time, the GOAT, Jordan. It's really not so clear. It has to do with the coronavirus, the pandemic that has plagued our nation and the world. People are debating, "When should we get back to normal? How should we reopen the country? When should people go back to work?"
Man, if you just turned on the news for five minutes, you'll see that there are people debating all over when it comes to how we should restore our country. It's pretty clear that everyone disagrees with what should be done, but it's just not clear on what is the right way. Everyone has their own opinions.
So I start there tonight because when I think about Christianity being the only religion… When I think about this word religion as a whole, it reminds me of where I found myself 15 years ago in my college apartment, where I just thought, "Hey, it's just really a matter of people's personal opinion, and we can't really know what religion is true. For Christians to claim that Christianity is the only way, man, that just seems narrow-minded. That seems exclusive. That just seems wrong."
Then I began asking questions like, "Man, how can we be certain that Christianity is the right faith, the right religion? Is it because we grew up here in America? What about the kid who grew up Islam in that family? He really didn't have a shot, did he?" Then I would ask questions like, "Isn't it arrogant and unloving for God not to be welcoming to all?"
These are questions that I was asking critically and trying to get answers. Maybe tonight, you're here or you're watching online and you're asking questions similar to what I asked when I found myself in my college apartment wondering, "Man, is there anything outside of what I see underneath the sun?"
Most people in our generation, the Millennials, would say that really all religions are pretty much the same. We have stats to back it up on this thinking and belief. Here's where we get some of this data. Right here it says, "Although 65 percent classify themselves as Christians, 43 percent say that it doesn't matter what religious faith you follow because they all teach the same lessons." Forty-three percent of people who claim to be Christians say that it really doesn't matter, just pick one.
Seventy percent of Christians and non-Christian religious groups say many religions lead to eternal life. That was USA Today. Forty-eight percent believe if a person is generally good or does enough good things for others, they will earn a place in heaven. Fifty percent believe that all people are eventually saved or accepted by God no matter what they do.
When you start saying, "Hey, Jesus is the only way. Hey, there's only one way to get to God." That's when people are like, "Whoa, bro, calm down. Chill. That seems way narrow-minded. That doesn't even seem like it's accurate. We live in 2020. What are you talking about? You just need to calm down."
So tonight, can we fact-check that? We're going to fact-check, "Is Christianity the only true religion?" Tonight I want you to see that Christianity is exclusive. Before we finish, I want you to see that Christianity is also very inclusive. We're going to be in Acts, chapter 4. The Bible is made up of the Old Testament and the New Testament.
So if you go to Matthew, which is the first book of the New Testament, just go Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and you find Acts. We're going to be in Acts, chapter 4. This is where Jesus died, he rose again, and his followers are now bold men because of what they have seen Jesus do. There's a man named Peter, one of his disciples, who stands up boldly, and he is on trial for his faith because he is preaching, "There is no other way." This is what he says in verse 11.
"Jesus is 'the stone you builders rejected…'" He is getting very personal. "…which has become the cornerstone." Or some translations say the chief cornerstone. In other words, Jesus is the person who I am staking my entire faith on. Then he goes on and makes a very exclusive statement in verse 12.
He says, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." The first point, if you're taking notes, and I hope you are: Christianity is exclusive. Christianity is exclusive. It makes exclusive claims like we see Peter making here. "For there is no other way which man can be made right with God." Really? Is that true?
Our culture today is much like the culture Peter was living in. If you say, "There is only one way to God," people would say, "No man, that's just too rigid of thinking. You need to get outside the box. Let's all just get along. Can we just coexist?" Do you know that bumper sticker? I guess you have to ask yourself, "What do you mean when you say coexist?"
Do I mean that we should accept people? We should love people? Absolutely. But if we think that we should just think that all religions lead to the same place? That's where we would draw the line as Christians. See, the Roman Empire was a pantheon of gods. It was very pluralistic, much like our day.
They were okay with you having your gods and you having your gods over here, but as soon as you said, "Hey, there's only one God," that's when they raised hell. Do you want to divide a room? Just give God a name. Say, "Jesus is God." This is why we can't pray in schools anymore in the name of Jesus. If we pray, it has to be an all-type-of-faith prayer. We just need to generalize God as God.
Listen, I don't believe that we're becoming a godless nation. I believe we're becoming a nation of many gods. I don't believe we're becoming a godless nation in America. I just believe we're becoming a nation of many gods. Here's what I mean by that. The temperature and climate in America are much like the climate of Rome where Peter was put on trial.
So you have this pluralistic culture, a culture of many gods. When Peter stands up and says, "Hey, there is no other name under heaven by which men may be right with God, and that name is Jesus." That's when people start having problems and saying, "Peter, you have your thing. We have our thing. Let us just get along. Why do you have to specifically call out who that God is?"
At the end of the day here in America, your god, you may not claim Jesus, you may not claim Buddha, you may not claim Islam, but listen. Your god might be sports. Your god might be money. Your god might be food. It just looks different. Or your god might just be more in the secular humanism route where you just become your own god. I don't believe that we're becoming a godless nation. I believe we're becoming a nation of many gods.
Listen, you've probably heard this argument before, but you have never heard that all roads lead to the same conclusion from someone who has really studied the different faith systems. I would contend that every religion and every major belief system has exclusivity at its core. Let me explain. We'll start with Islam. This comes from the Qur'an, the holy writings of Islam.
Directly from the Qur'an it says this, "And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers." That just seems pretty exclusive. It also says in the Qur'an that, "They have certainly disbelieved who say, 'Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary'…Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire." This feels pretty exclusive to me.
I mean, it goes on and says, "Basically if you're a Christian and you're following Jesus, then your eternal destiny is hell." It says it pretty plainly. Let's go to Hinduism. Many believers, people who think about Hinduism, the belief of Hinduism, and even people who have looked into Hinduism, say that it's a very inclusive religion.
This comes directly from the Bhagavad Gita, the holy writings of Hinduism. This is Krishna, one of the Hindu gods speaking. This is what he says. "Those who are without faith in my teaching, cannot attain me [enlightenment]… I permeate all the universe in my unmanifest form. All beings exist within me…" So it's basically saying, "Hey, if you don't accept this view, then you don't exist." We know that with Hinduism, they have a different outcome, a different heaven. They don't even believe in heaven. They believe in reincarnation. They believe you'll come back to life as an animal or another person.
Then there's Buddhism. Buddhism says this from the holy writings of Buddhism. The passage, oddly enough, entitled The Way, which quite frankly that's what Christians call themselves. Early on, they called themselves the Way. It says this. "[Buddhism] is the only path…" Feels pretty exclusive. "…there is none other for the purification of insight. Walking upon this path you will make an end of suffering." That just feels pretty exclusive.
Then you go to Judaism, the Jewish faith. It expresses itself in the concept of chosen people. The Jews believe that they are exclusively God's chosen people. You see this idea of exclusivity again.
So all these faith claims have exclusivity written at the core of who they are. When we pull up to the Christian faith, it shouldn't surprise you at all that at the core of the Christian faith is exclusivity. Turn with me to John 14, verse 6. Jesus makes an audacious claim. This is what he says 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.'"
In other words, he is saying, "Hey, there's no other way to interpret this." He is saying he is the way, he is the truth, and he is the life. It's very exclusive. No one gets to God except through Jesus. Jesus is not saying he is a way. He is saying he is the way. What's crazy here is all religions contradict each other. So to say they're all right is to say they're all wrong.
Let me say that again. All religions contradict each other. Saying they're all right is to say they're all wrong. So this is where we have to use our brains. When you follow Jesus and you examine the evidence, it's not like it's some lobotomy where you just check your brain at the door. It's not brain surgery. You actively think about what is at stake here and the evidence that we have.
So if someone says, "All religions are right," they speak from a position of ignorance. I don't mean to be insulting or rude in any way. It's just a fact. All religions contradict themselves on the basis of exclusivity. What we've done in our culture is we've just watered down everything and we've gotten drunk on tolerance.
We've just watered down everything and gotten drunk on tolerance. "Let's just accept every way." Let me explain it like this. I was quarantined, like many of you too, due to the expectations of the CDC and what's coming out. There was a moment where I thought I actually had it. I didn't, but I was quarantined.
Many of you, you've been laid up in your house and hanging out and having a lot of time. So what I know about this season is that when I get outside of this season, I want to get out. I want to go explore something. I haven't even been able to vacation or go hang out anywhere. So imagine with me that the CDC comes out and they say, "Hey, everything is good to go."
Things begin to open back up. The coronavirus, there's no trace of that anymore. Our nation is healed. I'll just be honest. One of the first things I'm going to do is I'm going to buy a plane ticket. So imagine you bought a plane ticket and you're like, "Hey, I'm going to go to Destin, Florida. It seems like a pretty good time of year to go to the beach: white sands, clear water. We're going to go to Destin. It's going to be amazing."
So you get your ticket and you show up to the airport. You begin to look for your ticket and you can't find your ticket anywhere. You don't know where to board. You don't know what plane to get on. I come up to you. I see that you're distressed, right? I see that you're freaking out. I just come up to you and I just say, "Hey, don't worry about it. I see that you're stressed. Just jump on any one of these planes, go to any terminal, and whatever plane you get on is going to take you to Destin, Florida. You're going to get there. It's going to be fine."
In that moment, you're thankful. You appreciate that I've given you a solution, but what happens is you get on the plane and you're not that appreciative because you end up in China. At the end of the day, you end up there. When you get there, you're going to realize that one of the most unloving things that I could've done is just told you, "Hey, there's just any way. Just pick a plane and get on." That would be very unloving. You would find out that I'm a liar.
My whole point in this illustration that I'm making here is that all religions can't be true. It's unloving to say they're all true. It's unloving to say they all lead to the same place because religions are exclusive. Christianity is exclusive. Jesus is exclusive. Here's the dilemma that we find ourselves in: If every religion claims to be right, how do we know which religion is right? That's a great question. I want to take the next few minutes that I have to unpack this and to share with you why I believe and why we believe as Christians that it is really the one true religion.
The second point, if you're taking notes, is Christianity is the most inclusive. Christianity is the most inclusive of them all. "Wait, bro, you just told me that Christianity is exclusive, so how can you now tell me it's inclusive?" Here's what I mean by this. There is one way. That way is Jesus. But that one way is for everyone.
It includes everyone no matter your past, no matter your family, no matter your upbringing, no matter your socioeconomic status. It's for everybody no matter your current religion, no matter if you're rich or poor, whether you're red, yellow, black, or white. It is for everyone. We find at the core of Christianity this verse that is familiar with most of the world.
We see signs of them holding this verse up in the end zone of football games. The verse is John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." It's not whoever behaves; whoever believes. It's not whoever looks a certain way. It's not whoever does enough deeds, but who believes. That seems inclusive to me.
Christianity created the most inclusive community. Greeks and Romans didn't mix rich and poor, but Jesus did. Jews didn't mix races or nationalities, but Jesus did. Paul would pick up on this in Galatians 3:28 where he says, "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female…" Do you know how women got their rights? It was through Christianity.
Jesus says this through Paul. "…for you are all one in Christ Jesus." What Paul is saying is the ground at the foot of the cross is level. In other words, we all come into this place imperfect people with real problems. Jesus extends to every single one of us the grace. Everybody who walks on planet earth, there is an invitation and an opportunity to life and life abundantly because of what Jesus has done on the cross.
Paul would say in Romans 10:13, "…for, 'Everyone…'" That seems really inclusive. "…for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'" It's the only religion on the planet that wherever you are right now in this moment you can sit and cry out to God based on what he has done for you. He will grant you forgiveness and eternal life forever and ever.
It's not based on what you do, but it's based on what he has done. See, I challenge you tonight when we finish up, just jump on Google and just Google this. "How do I convert to Hinduism? How do I convert to Buddhism? How do I convert to Islam?" Here's what you're going to find. At the core of all these religions, you're going to find you have to do these things.
At the center of these religions, you're going to have to strive to walk this path, to hold up these pillars, to pray for forgiveness in this direction for this many times a day. You're going to need to take a pilgrimage to a place. You're going to need to do these things, and then maybe you can get to heaven. So you see, it's all about striving.
Why? Because religion breeds insecurity because you never know if you've done enough. But a relationship breeds security, a relationship that's marked by unconditional love. What you find is that when you die, if you're pursuing one of these other religions, you stand before whatever the god is and he will determine whether you've done enough. That just seems exhausting, friends. That seems crazy to me. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says to me, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will…" Put you to work? No, he says, "…and I will give you rest."
Think of it like this. I have two little girls. I call them my mucha chicas. I love them. I have an almost-4-year-old and an almost-2-year-old, Camille and Isabella. There they are. Camille is almost 4 and Isabella is about to turn 2. So imagine my 4-year-old Camille who loves to sing and dance, comes up to me and says, "Daddy, Daddy, do you like how I sing and dance? Is it enough to be a Jones?" I'm like, "What? What do you mean?"
Then she comes up to me again and she said, "Daddy, Daddy, do you love my painting? Is it enough to be a Jones?" That's our last name. I'm like, "Baby, baby, what are you talking about? Of course, of course it is! You're my daughter! I was there when you came into the world! I know more about you than you know about yourself. Baby, you don't have to do anything to earn my approval. I love you based on who you are and our relationship. You're my daughter. Not because of what you can do for me."
Some of you, man, you have a really skewed view of the God of the cosmos, of who Jesus is, because you grew up with a father who only affirmed you when your performance was at an all-time high, who only loved you when you could perform and get all the As or you performed well on the sports field or the court.
Some of you have a really skewed view of God because you don't see God as a loving Father. You see God as someone who wants to strike you down with lightening every time you fail. So religion breeds insecurity of asking the question, "Have I done enough? Have I done enough? Am I good enough now? Am I good enough now?"
My relationship with my daughter is built on unconditional love. She doesn't have to do anything for me to love her. When she gets it wrong, Daddy steps in. Yeah, I rebuke. I discipline, but I say, "Baby, I do that because I love you, not because I'm out to get you. My love isn't going to run out because of who you are, not because of what you do or don't do."
In the same way, this is a picture of our relationship with God. God loves you. All of us are invited into this relationship. You see, Christianity is a story of a God who wants a relationship with you and me. We rebelled against the Creator, and we pursued created things above the Creator himself.
He came down over 2,000 years ago in the form of a babe on Christmas. He grew in wisdom and stature. He lived a life that you and I could never live. He was perfect in thought, word, and action. Those are categories that I fail in every day. Because of that, it made him the only eligible one to die on the cross for your sin and my sin.
On the cross, all of our sin was poured out on him, and he soaked up every last ounce of God's wrath, the wrath that should've been poured out on you and me. Why? Because of our sin. "For the wages of sin is death…" See, he died the death that we deserve and we get the life that he deserved. It's called the great exchange. It's a beautiful picture of redemption.
Christianity is the only religion where we find a God who suffers. Every other religion says, "Hey, you have to suffer to get to god by doing X, Y, or Z." Religion breeds insecurity because you never know if you've done enough, but an unconditional loving relationship breeds security. So this is where I would differ with those people who say, "Christianity is a religion."
I would say, "No, it's not. At the heart of Christianity, you find a God who is crazy about you, who loves you, and wants to have a relationship with you." The God of the cosmos wants to have a relationship. I just think that's crazy. When I try to wrap my mind around that, it just seems wild that I don't have to do anything for this relationship, that it's already done.
On the cross, he said, "It is finished." That means you can't do anything else. So how would you want the God of the universe to pay for your sin? I would argue that anything less than Jesus dying on the cross would lessen our ability to see how much Jesus loves us. Anything less than Jesus dying on the cross would lessen our ability to see how much he loves us.
I mean, John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." Do you know this God? His name is Jesus. In closing, remember how I opened up with what's the way forward for our country? I mean, people are coming out and debating and saying, "Hey, this is the way. This is what we need to do to reopen the country. We need to keep everything closed. It's not over. It's going to get worse."
So people are saying, "How do we restore the things that are broken because of this pandemic?" The truth of the matter is this. We're going to have to have a cure or some type of vaccine to restore the havoc that's been caused by the coronavirus. I say that because in the same way, Jesus is our cure. Jesus is our cure, spiritually.
Left to yourself, left to myself, we're going to shipwreck our lives if we haven't already. It will bankrupt your life. The Bible says in Proverbs 14:12 that, "There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death." I've experienced that. That same year, 15 years ago in my college apartment, I was playing college baseball, chasing everything underneath the sun only to find out I couldn't grab onto anything.
It was like I was chasing the wind. For so long, I would compare my life to the rest of the world. When you do that, you can always find someone worse than you, which gives you security in the fact that you're not that bad, right? Frankly, some of you tonight, you just don't see a need for Christ because you don't see your depravity.
You don't see your sin for what it is in light of a holy God. You've never experienced the God of the universe who came for you and me and died on the cross. Scripture says in history accord that he defeated the grave. That's what we celebrate on Easter, right? He says, "The ball is in your court." What are you going to do with Jesus?
When he showed up, he reset the calendar. You know the calendar that's on your phone right now? He reset the calendar. The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. What are you going to do with Jesus? The message of Jesus has stood the test of time. We're still talking about this God today.
He is still changing lives. Even tonight, some of you are going to have your life altered for all of eternity because God is moving in your heart. It's nothing that I've said. It's the God of the universe who is speaking to you right now. Do you know this God? Let me pray that you would tonight.
God in heaven, would you do what no man can do and would you have your way? Would you allow people to see who you are? Allow them to see the beauty of what you've done? That there is no other name under heaven by which men must be saved, the name of Jesus. May you do what you've always done. May you arrest hearts in this place and those who are watching online. Would you have your way? God, we love you, and we worship you now in song. In Christ's name, amen.