I am the way, the truth, and the life…
June 23rd, 2019
A few days ago we talked about projection of our experience on others and specifically our image of who God is. We want to explore this a bit more in detail and understand how well-meaning Christians can do the same thing to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It starts out with God performing his miraculous works in our lives.
As he so often does, he uses an assorted set of circumstances, conditions, and events; tailor fits them to our situation, attitude and emotional conditioning, in order to perform a work, reveal an insight, and lead us through the valley we found ourselves mired down in.
We may or may not have given praise and thanks to God for his intervention, but one thing we noted was the exact process by which he delivered us. This is where the issue comes in.
I was listening to a Christian talk show on the radio this morning and a young lady who’s name I will withhold because it serves no purpose to point her out. She did nothing that the rest of us do on a fairly regular basis.
What she did was insist everyone do exactly what God had prodded her to do, to guide her through her valley. I heard her say “You must do” (this), “You have to do” (that), and “Absolutely if you will” (fill in the blank) God will rescue you!
You can put most anything in-between the parenthesis in this last paragraph and it would be as appropriate as anything else.
This young lady was projecting her experience on everyone in earshot and insisting that she had discovered the way of deliverance, and everyone must do exactly as she had done in order to receive the assistance from the Lord to traverse our valleys of sin and doubt.
Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6 (NET)
Her testimony was wonderful. God’s intervention in her life was and is something that she should share with others, not because the specific remedy that God architected for her applies to us, but because it shows the individual, specific care Jesus, our Good Shepard, can and does, apply to each and every life that has been surrendered to him.
That is the value of the testimony, not the step-by-step process by which God delivers us through the valley. Instead, the intervention of the Lord in our lives. Not so as to cookie cut the process, but to let our brothers and sisters know that God is alive and active in our lives and he tailors’ solutions to our specific needs in his specific way to produce the specific results that he wants to see in our lives.
Specifically, the only absolute of the Gospel of Christ is that he is the only name under heaven that we can find redemption.
This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, that has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved.
Acts 4:11-12 (NET)
We do have a number of absolutes that we as believers are commanded to adhere to. These are found in God’s Word and each is important. The preeminent absolute is the necessity of securing our salvation through Jesus, his grace, and nothing else.
- Not Jesus + works
- Not his grace + actions
- Not Christ + anything we can do!
- Jesus alone, plus nothing, equals salvation.
For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (NET)
It is Christ Jesus that saves us! It is he who is our Good Shepard and leads us through these valleys of darkness and death. It is his care that leads us to green pastures by the still waters of refreshing. It has ‘absolutely’ nothing to do with us, what we do, what we say, or who we run to. We are to rely on Jesus and place our full faith and hope in him to deliver us.
As you can see in verse ten in the passage above, his deliverance will result in good works being manifested in us, it’s a natural result of the appreciation of God’s provision for our lives, both spiritually and physically.
Our testimony is one of the most powerful tools we have in our witness for Jesus. All those around us understand our experience from a human perspective and when we share the application of God’s intervention in our lives, it forms an amazingly powerful statement of our faith, which is irrefutable by the world, because we ARE the witness, relating our personal account of how God is performing a work in and through us.
The Great Commission is something that so important in my life, I see it as Jesus’ final instructions he left for us before ascending into heaven. If you will, the last thing the master said before he left to go and prepare a place for us. A place where we can be with him and the Father always.
If I as his servant, am not about what he has directed me to do, I am not a very good servant. Because of this I see the Great Commission as an absolute.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 (NET)
We are to be disciples and be disciple makers. Baptizing those who we have been blessed to share in their redemption. Teaching them everything Jesus teaches us, encouraging them to become disciple makers as well.
Along with the Great Commission one other passage stands out to me as my fundamental do-list of the Gospel.
Always rejoice, constantly pray, in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NET)
Our experience of rescue and deliverance IS important, but the minutia of that process isn’t necessarily what God has planned for everyone else. Our fundamental mission is to seek only the grace of Jesus and as a result commit our lives to him, with our obedience.
God loves and cares for us all. He creates specific solutions perfect for each of us individually. We must be willing to be led by the Spirit, to discern what that will is.
Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God – which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:1-2 (NET)
If the direction we are getting from the Holy Spirit, isn’t in the Word, then it’s not an absolute to be imposed on everyone else. It is part of his customized solution he has designed for us specifically. The fact that he instructs us through his Spirit, is a huge testimony and should be shared. Don’t expect everyone else to follow the same process God instructed you to follow. God has a specific plan to guide them through their valleys. God’s plan for you is yours and is your testimony.
I must add to this, that the Spirit of God will not propose action counter to the Word of God, so this isn’t stated to elicit behavior counter to the Scripture. You will not typically find instruction in God’s Word to speak with someone, but the Holy Spirit will do that. Likewise, the Holy Spirit will reveal direction for us, which navigates us through circumstances that we may not find in the pages of Scripture.
The “Limited Absolutes” are found in the Word of God, we aren’t to add or take anything away from it. Our experience is an inspiration to others, but it isn’t an instruction for their compliance. We are to obey Jesus, because we love him and it is him to whom we are responsible.
In the Grace of Jesus!