Back to Our Two Issues: Is Jesus the Only Way and Is Sin Compatible with the Child of God?

Our tour through the gospel of John, chapters 5 through 7, has been a long answer to a single question:  Is Jesus the only way to heaven?  And our conclusion, based on Jesus’ own words, is an emphatic “Yes” many times over.  The reason I went into so much detail on this topic is because Jesus’ divinity claims followed by His death, burial, and resurrection (His resurrection being God’s stamp of approval) are what make Christianity CHRISTianity.

The reason this is so important is because we have a confused generation coming up that has been raised on salad bar religion.  They have been taught to pick and choose their truth from a variety of religious traditions.  And in this setting, the idea that Jesus is the only way comes across as too narrow, too intolerant, and too divisive.  While criticism about our generational issues is something we need to honestly consider, we cannot bow to any criticism of this core truth:  Jesus is the only way to heaven.

Now let’s get back to the other issues that got us started down this path several weeks ago.  I understand and join believers who see the church as too rigidly conservative on topics like politics, evolution, creation care, social justice, legalism, and asking honest questions.  There is room in Scripture for a variety of voices and understanding on these issues.

But a troubling issue that often gets thrown into this mix is the trending call for the church to be more accepting of a gay lifestyle.  Just as in the idea that Jesus is the only way to heaven, here we run into our second non-negotiable biblical principle:  A sinful lifestyle is not compatible with being a believer, a child of God.  And this is not to single out homosexual practice as the only sin this principle applies to.  But the acceptance and celebration of the gay lifestyle seems to be the issue of the moment.

And while opinions may vary on just how complicated this issue is, our zeal for truth must always be seasoned with understanding, kindness, and open discussion on the personal level.  But the core principle remains:  the message of Scripture, when we let the Bible speak for itself, is that the consistent practice of sin is not compatible with living the Christian life.

I am not so sure that this idea is always understood, believed, and embraced in our churches.  Because the believer’s relationship with sin is so crucial to addressing what we accept in the church, we will take our time developing from Scripture the concept that a sinful lifestyle is not compatible with the Christian life.  Won’t you join us on the journey?

“Is This the Christ?” – John 7:37-52

John 7:37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ “ 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

40 Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, (Jesus’ proclamation regarding His identity as the living water) were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet.” 41 Others were saying, “This is the Christ.” (Remember, we understand now that the Prophet and the Christ are one in the same.  The Jews of that day did not necessarily make that connection.  At any rate, the question keeps coming up, “Who is this man?”)

Still others were saying, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” (The crowd identifies Jesus as a Galilean which to them disqualifies Him from being the Christ.  Maybe they were unaware of the fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of the house of David as the Scriptures foretold.) 43 So a division occurred in the crowd because of Him. (“A division occurred” is a recurring theme as Jesus explains more and more about who He is.) 44 Some of them wanted to seize Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

45 The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, (They were sent to arrest Jesus in John 7:32 and now have returned empty-handed.) and they said to them [the officers], “Why did you not bring Him?” 46 The officers answered, “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.” (As we mentioned last time, even the temple police recognized the unique teaching authority that Jesus possessed and refused to arrest Him.)

47 The Pharisees then answered them, “You have not also been led astray, have you? 48 No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he?” (The Pharisees respond to the soldiers failure to bring Jesus in with an exasperation that surely you soldiers have not joined this naive crowd in their belief.  They make the pointed comment to the officers that none of us experts are believing in Him.  Of course, we know that some of the Pharisees are believing in Him or at least moving in that direction.)

49 “But this crowd which does not know the Law is accursed.” (The Pharisees had a very dim view of the “crowd” who could easily be misled by any plausible teacher because of their ignorance of the true interpretation of the Law.  The Pharisees also had a general disdain for the common people who had given up long ago any interest in keeping the minutia of the Law that the Pharisees were so proud of.)

50 Nicodemus (he who came to Him before, being one of them) said to them, 51 “Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?” (Speaking of the Law, Nicodemus points out the Law requirement to let Jesus speak for Himself before the group jumps to any conclusions about His guilt or innocence.) 52 They answered him, “You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee.” (There is really no point in debating this any further.  Look at our history.  No prophet comes out of Galilee.  This is not referring to a specific prediction of Scripture; it is more of a history lesson and maybe a comment of prejudice.  Basically, it never happens.  A Galilean cannot be the Christ.)

The debate stops here for the time being, but is not finished.  In fact, the confrontations between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders over His identity continue to escalate until, “The Jews answered him [Pilate], ‘We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God’ ” (Jn 19:7).  And Jesus is put to death.

For our purposes, we will stop here; having completed our exposition of John chapters 5 through 7.  I hope the thoroughness of our discussion has driven home the point that Jesus was very clear about who He is.  Jesus was very clear that He, the true Son of God, is the only way to eternal life.  This claim, put forth by Jesus’ own words and confirmed by the Jew’s reaction, is critical to lay hold of as we evaluate the message of the gospel.  We will discuss why next time.

Rivers of Living Water – John 7:25-39

John 7:25 So some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is this not the man whom they are seeking to kill? 26 Look, He is speaking publicly, and they are saying nothing to Him. The rulers do not really know that this is the Christ, do they?” (The crowd in their confusion are asking, “Since the leaders who we thought wanted to kill Jesus are not moving in, is it possible that they believe He really is the Christ?”)

27 “However, we know where this man is from; but whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is from.” (Wait just a minute.  Jesus cannot be the Christ.  We know where Jesus came from.  We know where He grew up.  The Messiah is going to come out of nowhere and miraculously appear on the scene.  The Christ will be a man of mystery, not the Jesus we know.)

28 Then Jesus cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, “You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. 29 I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me.” (You think you know where I am from.  But, in fact, you do not know.  Jesus again asserts His unique relationship to God, the Father.  And His hearers do not miss the implication and we are back on the trail of the leaders trying to apprehend Jesus.) 30 So they were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. (The arrest of Jesus would happen along God’s timeline, not man’s.)

31 But many of the crowd believed in Him; and they were saying, “When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?” (Even if Jesus’ apparent earthly origin and lack of interest in overthrowing the Romans do not fit their Messiah expectations, Jesus is performing incredible miracles expected of the Christ.  “You can’t expect the Christ to outperform these miracles Jesus is doing, can you?” they ask.  Some in the crowd may have witnessed the healing of the man at the pool, or at least heard about it.  Some may be Galilee pilgrims in town for the feast who witnessed the feeding of the 5000.)

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about Him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to seize Him. (The Pharisees need to nip this kind of talk in the bud, and send their temple police to arrest Jesus.) 33 Therefore Jesus said, “For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me.” (Jesus is going back to the Father.) 34 “You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come.” 35 The Jews then said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find Him? He is not intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is He?  36 What is this statement that He said, ‘You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come’?” (Where is He going?  He is not leaving Palestine and going to teach the Greeks, or Jewish followers among the Greeks, is He?  And what does He mean that we will not be able to follow or find Him?)

37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ “ 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

We have written on these three verses at length in a previous post, Never Thirsty, and I recommend it to you.  For our purposes here, Jesus is now making another public proclamation that He is the specific living water, the source of eternal life.  And the only requirement for receiving this water is “He who believes in Me.”  Faith in Christ is the only requirement to experiencing the water’s life-giving flow.  Flowing water in this context also refers to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit inside every believer; a promise that was yet to be fulfilled.