John 11.25-44: On 2 August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait without any provocation whatsoever. Given the restive situation in the gulf and the economic implications of this act, there was worldwide outrage.
At the time, my family and I were living in the USA. We attended a rather lukewarm church to minister to its hungry congregation. The pastor was a brilliant Phi- Beta-Kappa graduate of Yale University.
However, his messages were a blend of psychology and introspective reflections! His 20-minute sermons normally revolved around the subject of the ‘left brain and right brain’, and an abstract expose of how these impact Christian living.
Admittedly, sermon time attracted the least attention if one cared to follow his opaque discussions.
As the Iraq-Kuwait war raged, the pastor posted to all church members his usual weekly newsletter. In it he had various prayers for peace from around the world. Being the scholarly man he was, he had a collection of prayers from virtually every major religion, including from Animism (African traditional religions).
This matter was disturbing for me. I called him to discuss his unintended insinuations for I concluded that such prayers undermined the uniqueness and exclusive nature of the work of Jesus Christ.
I discovered from his explanation that his theology put all religions at par. He argued that there was enough truth in every religion for the ‘salvation’ of its adherents! I could not disagree more.
The Gospel of Christ excludes the possibility of salvation in any other religion.
Peter says, “There is no other name under heaven … by which we must be saved.” This means plainly that salvation for you and me is in no one else, in no other person. This was his bold statement to a hostile Jewish Council to alert them that there would be no other Messiah.
Peter’s words certainly disarmed the Jews. Of course, this assertion can be argued convincingly. Nevertheless, suffice for me to present three truth claims, as we find them in the Bible.
Jesus said of Himself: “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Note that by this He offered Himself to be the only one to take us to God, the only one through whom we can know God, and the only one in whom we have life. He was saying, “You either have me or you are eternally lost.”
We may respond to Jesus’ words with one of these options. We may say Jesus was willfully lying, or these were the words of a mentally unstable, maybe a deranged man!
What would be His motive to lie? The liar or lunacy streak is hard to reconcile with the man.
One option remains: He was and is what He claimed to be – the way, the truth and the life, in an exclusive sense. He is what He said He is, and besides, He alone is what He said He is.
In John 3.16-18, we see that God gave His Son, Jesus Christ, for the salvation of the world. These words are the Good News, the Gospel, in a nutshell.
Jesus is God’s unique gift to you and to me that we may be saved. No other religious leader or founder ever made this claim. Instead they claim to be messengers; but Jesus is God’s message in flesh.
Furthermore, the Good News is this salvation is free! It cost God His Son; but it costs you nothing because the full price for your redemption was paid.
Thirdly, the Gospel is one for all mankind. His salvation excludes no one. If you are not saved, it is not because salvation is not unavailable.
When Jesus was on the Cross, you too were on His mind, in His salvation plan. Indeed the whole world was on His mind.
Finally, God does not and cannot deny you salvation. “Whoever … does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” Condemnation may be chosen by inaction, just as salvation is a choice. Many people do not seem to comprehend the meaning of ‘choosing by not choosing’! Postponing your decision for Christ is identical with not believing in Jesus Christ.
One choice remains: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.
Now is the day of salvation. His loving arms wait for any sinner to run into His warm embrace.