Last week we looked at the importance of thinking clearly in the arena of comparative religion, with the goal of discerning what is true, particularly when you consider all the truth claims coming from the various religions of the world. And we closed our time by focusing on the issue of spiritual authority. You know, who out there has the authority and the power to reveal to us what is true about God, to reveal to us what is true about life, and life after death, and that which is eternal? And this is something that that human beings should take very seriously, because of the potential eternal ramifications it can have on our lives.
There was a famous French skeptic, who I would put on the level of Richard Dawkins, back in the last century, by the name of Jean-Paul Sartre. He died in 1980, and there was a big write-up, in fact, there was a big write-up in the Birmingham paper about him, and what most people don’t know is at the end of his life he began to waver in his unbelief. He began to question his Godless view of the universe, and he kept a journal that was not revealed until after he died, and thirty days before his death he wrote these words in his journal. He said, “The world seems ugly, bad, and without hope. There, that’s the cry of despair of an old man who will die in despair.” He says, “But that’s exactly what I don’t want to do. I want to die with hope. I want to die with hope. But that hope, or that faith that I’m looking for, has got to have a foundation. It’s got to have a foundation.” You know, he’s absolutely correct. He’s absolutely correct. He says, basically, if you’re gonna believe in something, if you’re gonna really put your faith in something, it has to have a strong foundation to undergird it, otherwise, he says, it’s just blind speculation, and he’s absolutely right. Think about in these terms. You can have very little faith in thick ice and it’ll hold you up just fine when you walk out on it. Then, on the other hand, you can have enormous faith in thin ice, and you can drown. It’s not the amount of faith you can muster that matters up front. In fact, Jesus says you know it may be tiny like a little mustard seed, but He says, you must invest your faith in something that is solid. Because the bottom-line is, faith is worthless, belief is worthless, your hope is worthless, if it’s built on that which is false and unreliable. Now, what’s interesting, and most people don’t realize that, when we consider the spiritual authorities out there that we can look to, and the various sources of spiritual truth that are out there on the landscape, our options are very limited. Again, if you take the four major religions of the world starting with Hinduism, it’s important to realize that Hinduism has no founder, no individual that founded the religion that we can look to as a source of spiritual authority. There’s no single person out there who came and says I am here to deliver divine truth to you. It’s a very old religion based on a great deal of ancient literature, but no one has a clue who wrote it. There’s no real authority figure to look to.
Now, Buddhism, on the other hand, has a founder Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. The major problem we have with him, though, is that he claims that there is no God, there is no divine reality out there, and so that leads to the question, or begs the question, where does he get his authority from? The bottom line is, he bestowed it on himself. In other words, he claimed to be the enlightened one. What happened was, he grew up in a wealthy family, but his father tried to hide him from all the suffering that was out there in the world. He lived behind these big gated walls, and he was married and had children, and then, but as a young adult, he slipped out one night because he wanted to see what was behind the walls, and he saw all this suffering, all this poverty, and it troubled him, so one night he just left his family and abandoned everything, and went out to seek enlightenment. And one evening, he was sitting under a tree and he began to meditate, and he meditated all night, and at dawn, he declared that he had been transformed into the “enlightened one”. But again, where did he get his enlightenment? Where did it come from? What is the source?
Mohammed, on the other hand, declared himself to be a prophet. Again, he bestowed this position on himself. He was sent by Allah. He was a warrior. He didn’t hesitate, as he was rising to power, he didn’t hesitate to assassinate anybody that got in his way, and as they would go in, he and his followers would go in to various people, and conquer them, his cry was, and I’ll never forget my professor of comparative religion said, their battle cry was “believe or die”. Either believe our message or die. You see, most scholars have argued that men and women were not drawn to Muhammad because they recognized him as a spiritual authority that spoke the truth, but because they feared for their lives. He was a mighty warrior who propagated a new religion by force, and it’s not too difficult to win converts when the alternative it is to lose your head.
Ravi Zacharias makes a real interesting observation, after having a conversation with a man from the Middle East who was a Muslim, and they were having a conversation, and he could tell this man was very cynical about his faith, but Zacharias comments on just the commitment that the Muslims have to their faith. And the man that he was talking to said, “Well, let the religious leaders get their foots off the necks of the people, and then see how many continue to follow him.” And then Zacharias says, “That’s a challenge that I’m afraid Islam will not accept.” You see, all the other religions of the world contend a person comes into the world to tell us about God. He represents God. He comes and gives us information about God and how we’re to live our lives, but in Christianity, in the person of Christ, God Himself comes into the world, and as John says, “The Word becomes became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory.” Peter says, “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”
Now, if Jesus was the Son of God, if this is true, and if Christianity is true, then there should be a uniqueness to it that sets it apart from everyone else and from all other religions. There should be a real uniqueness. Four years ago I gave a talk called, “Jesus, divine or mythological?” and I’ve got it recorded. It’s about a one-hour message on the evidence that points to Christ’s divinity, and let me just say this, the evidence is very compelling. All you have to do is look at it, or be willing to look at it. If any of you want a copy of it, I can make that available to you, but that’s not what I want to talk about this morning. I want to talk about the uniqueness of Christ in a world full of religions, and I want to look at three or four very, very important points starting with the historical importance.
Now let me explain to you the point I want to make here. Probably the one book that’s considered the authority on the world’s religions, most unbiased, is written by a guy named Huston Smith. I think it sold well over a million copies. I’ve stumbled upon it this summer. I mean here, Bill Moyers says it’s the best book on comparative religion because it’s very respectful of our religions, it makes, it tries to be very objective. Huston Smith, he’s very well educated. I did a little research on him, and can’t quite figure out what his spiritual leanings are – clearly not Christian – but, when he gets to Christianity, he makes, right at the beginning, he makes this very important point. Listen to what he says. “Christianity is basically a historical religion.” He doesn’t say this about any other religion in the world. “Christianity is basically a historical religion, that is to say, its founder, it is founded, not on abstract principles, but in concrete events, actual historical happenings.”
And this is important. Listen to what Tim Keller says. He says, “The central message of every other religion is, you are saved by what you do, by living a certain way. That means, ultimately, it does not matter if the Buddha or the Muslim scripture really happened or not. It doesn’t matter if Buddha or Muhammad ever performed any type of miracle, because what saves you is not what they did, but your following what they said and taught us to do. Whether Mohammed moved a mountain has nothing to do with my salvation. I have to do what Muhammad said to do. I must follow the five pillars of Islam. We’re saved by following the path to God, but the teaching of Christianity is just the opposite. You are not saved by what you do but by what He has done. You’re saved not by following His teaching, but by what He did on the cross. He has entered history and lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died. Atonement has been made. If we are to be saved by grace, these historical events had to happen. Christianity is a concrete religion like no other. It is concerned about truth, reality, and the historical record. Jesus had to be a historical figure to be true. He had to rise from the dead or it is a false religion, as Paul said. Frankly, Buddha and Muhammad could have been ghosts and come and given a religious truth and left. Jesus had to be a real historical figure. The Gospel writers believed it was not the example and teaching of Jesus that mattered most, but His saving work in history, His death and His resurrection, therefore, the historical reliability of the Gospel is crucial.”
You know, in our modern world that we live in, where we are today is that so many people reject God and all religion because it’s not sanctioned, in their minds, by science. Of course, almost half the scientists in the world today are theists, yet so many modern people reject God and Christianity because it’s not sanctioned by science. In other words, it’s what’s called “the reductionist view of life”. It’s what Richard Dawkins subscribes to. All of life is reduced to physics and chemistry. If you can’t prove something through the laws of physics and chemistry, it can’t be true, and yet, go back to Jesus, and think about His life, and often He was asked to give them a sign. We would like a sign. Give us a sign. He never would. He always would say, you know this sinful and adulterous generation craves a sign. He says, but I’m not gonna give you a sign. You know, I always tell people, if I’d have been Him you know the way they bugged Him, I’d have done some great magnificent sign, you know, just did knock them to their knees, but He didn’t, because He realized they weren’t really interested in spiritual truth, which is what I find to be the case in so many men’s life. They really just aren’t interested in what is really true about life and spiritual reality. What is the truth? They weren’t interested. But He would always leave them this cryptic message. He says, there will be a sign that you will know, and you know what He says? The sign is going to be a future event. It’s going to be a historical event. It’s going to be the defining moment in all of history. You see that’s what Jesus was saying to them. Look to historical events. You know what He would say to us now, modern people? He says, you’re not gonna find Me, not necessarily in physics and chemistry. Look at the evidence of the historical record. Look at the truth of history. This isn’t scientific truth, its historical truth. That’s why Paul says in Galatians, at the exact right point in human history, at the exact right time, God sent forth His son into the world, and that’s how you’ll know. So, you see, history is so important. Christianity depends on concrete events and not abstract religious teaching, and that’s why the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 15 says, if the Resurrection is not a historical event, Christianity is a dead worthless faith.
And, as Dr. Craig Hazen said, who has spent his life studying the world’s religions, says, “There is no other world religion that lays it on the line as Paul does in I Corinthians.” So, that’s significant and important. I think a second, and maybe to me, the most important uniqueness you see in Christ, is His high regard for human life. Now Jesus has this high regard for our lives. He believed that human beings were sacred, and clearly, you see that love for one another was at the heart of what He taught, and the reason is because human beings are designed in His image. You see the way He treats the woman caught in adultery, the Samaritan woman at the well who had been married five times and was currently living with a man. The way He treated the tax gatherers who everybody hated. I mean, He was criticized because He reached out, to the downcast, the down-and-out, but you know, you see this regard, this high regard for human life, absent from the other world religions.
In Eastern religion, everything in life is impersonal. A person is of no greater value than anyone or anything else out there in life. Ron Carlson, who’s a Christian apologist, spent a great deal of time over in Thailand back during the Vietnam War and thereafter, and he was he was speaking in Thailand, and he said, “I was invited to visit some of the refugee camps along the Cambodian border. Over three hundred thousand refugees were caught in a no-man’s land along the border. This resulted from the Cambodian massacre under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in the mid-70s, which became known as The Killing Fields, and then subsequently, by the invasion of the Vietnamese at the end of the 70s. One of the most fascinating things about these refugee camps was a realization of who was caring for the refugees. Here in this Buddhist country of Thailand, with Buddhist refugees coming from Cambodia and Laos, there were no Buddhists taking care of their Buddhist brothers. There were also no Hindus or Muslims taking care of those people. The only people there taking care of these 300,000 people were Christians from Christian mission organizations and Christian relief organizations. One of the men I was with that lived in Thailand for over 20 years and was heading up a major portion of the relief effort for one of these organizations. I asked him why in a Buddhist country, with Buddhist refugees, are there no Buddhists here taking care of their Buddhist brothers, and I will never forget his answer. Ron, have you ever seen what Buddhism does to a nation or people? You see, Buddha taught that each man is an island unto himself. Buddha said, if someone is suffering, that is his Karma. You’re not to interfere with another person’s Karma because he is purging himself through suffering and reincarnation. Buddha said you are an island unto yourself. As Dr. R.C. Zaehner said, he held the Spalding Chair of Eastern religion and ethics at Oxford University, he bluntly said this, “In practice and either in Hinduism or Buddhism pays the slightest attention to what goes on in the world today. Why? Because they don’t care about human rights and human suffering. And again, there’s a reason behind it. It’s this belief in Karma. What you have done in a previous life therefore explains the pain and suffering you face in this lifetime, so you just need to be left alone to suffer.”
That’s why, and I’m not sure everybody here, looking at the different age groups, everybody is familiar with the individual Bono, the lead singer of U2, who, I think, last year won the Time Magazine Person of the Year award. He’s a Christian. He goes around the world helping the poor and the down-and-out, particularly in Africa. And he was on Larry King Live and was asked this question, kind of cynically by King, what in his mind separated Christianity from all the other religions of the world? Then Bono said, Christianity, and he said this just without thinking, he said, Christianity does not have karma, because in Eastern religions, your evil deeds will follow you into eternity. In Christianity, God offers forgiveness to those who humble themselves and want it and desire it and ask for it. You know, I was wondering how this practically works out in people’s lives over in the Eastern part of the world. Let’s say you’re a Hindu mother and father and you have a child, a 12-year-old child, and all of a sudden, they get deathly ill. What are you supposed to do? Are you supposed to just say, well, that’s his karma? Suffering from a previous life. He’s getting what he deserves. We ought to leave him alone, and don’t do anything. How does that work out practically, I wonder?
Now it’s interesting, the Muslims don’t believe in karma, but in the philosophical foundations of the Islamic faith, there is no place for love. In fact, love is not even mentioned in the Koran. You know, I find people often say I believe in God, I believe in this God of love, it doesn’t matter what face He has, He’s a God of love, but anybody that says that shows you they do not really understand the religions of the world, because outside of the Bible, there is no religion that believes in a personal God of love. Now if that surprises you it just shows you how little we really know and understand the religions of the world. What’s interesting, again, going back to the Muslims, is that you see that Allah, and they don’t argue with you on this, is not a God of love. He’s a God of power. He’s a God of conquest, and for this reason, Muhammad and many Muslims today won’t hesitate to kill you if you don’t believe. If you’re an infidel. Believe or die. Then look at the way women are treated. Women are second-class citizens, almost treated like property. They make them cover themselves all up. There’s no assurance that that they’ll go to heaven. Now I realize that all Muslims are not violent. They’re not violent extremists like we see so often on the news, but at the heart of the Islamic faith, there seems to be an encouragement to kill, to kill your enemies, to kill non-Muslims. That’s what the Quran says, and for those who lose their lives in Jihad, in a holy war, as they seek to kill the infidels, you guarantee an entrance into heaven, into paradise, with all kinds of rewards. But Christianity, on the other hand, guys, elevates human beings and their great value. Human life is so important and so sacred. You know, there was a Roman Emperor by the name of Julian. He was one of several of the Emperors, right after Christ, who, he hated Christianity. He hated their exclusive claims, and he sought to eradicate Christianity from the Roman Empire, but he realized he couldn’t. In fact, it was years later that Christianity, when Constantine came to power, became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Why? How did it grow and spread? Well, maybe, archaeologists found a letter from Julian, and maybe this explains one of the reasons why. He wrote this letter, and we don’t know to who, but it says this, “I cannot stamp out these Christians because every other religion in the Empire takes care of their own poor, but the Christians don’t just take care of their own poor, they take care of every other religion’s poor. They care for the poor, regardless.”
I know the Church has a history of having done some awful things, but Os Guinness points out something that I do think is important, and I think he’s right on. He says, “The Church, in fact, when you look back all the way back to Christ, has a glorious record of founding schools and colleges, in running hospitals and orphanages, in caring for the poor and the oppressed, and in pursuing reforms and advancing human rights. Why? Because people are sacred and of ultimate importance in the sight of Christ.” And furthermore, guys, if you think about it, Christianity is the only religion in the world where God comes into our lives, comes into this world and suffers. He doesn’t just come. He comes, and He suffers. He’s a God with wounds, Who therefore understands our suffering. And because He’s been wounded, and promises to be with us in suffering, that’s a unique component of the Christian faith. John Stott, I think, probably says it most eloquently, and very powerfully, when he says this, “I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the cross of Christ. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to his pain? I’ve entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of Buddha, his legs crossed, his arms folded, his eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing around his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world, but each time, after a while, I have to turn away. In imagination, I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn pricks, mouth dry, and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me. He laid aside His immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death, He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in light of His. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark. The cross which symbolizes divine suffering. The cross of Christ is God’s only self-justification in such a world as ours.”
So, we’ve looked at the historical significance, we’ve talked about the sacredness of human life, and then finally, I want to talk just briefly about the nature of salvation. You know, C.S. Lewis, this was probably 50 or so years ago, was at a British conference on comparative religion with all these experts from around the world and they debated what, if any, was unique of the Christian faith, and the debate went on for some time. C.S. Lewis, who was present, who was there for the discussion, was not in the room, and it said, at some point during the discussion, he wandered into the room, and he says, “What’s the rumpus about?” And he heard a reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among the world’s religions, and Lewis responded, “Oh I can tell you its uniqueness. It’s very simple. It’s grace, it’s grace.”
Tim Keller says, the founder of every other religion comes and says, I am from God, the divine, and I will tell you what you must do to save yourself, but in Christianity, God did not send a man just to give us information. Instead, He comes Himself, and this is Christianity’s way of saying, you cannot save yourself. It’s going to have to be something He does for you. He’s going to have to come and do it all. There is no other reason He would have come Himself. Of course, this is why Paul says in Galatians 2:21, you know, if you can earn your salvation by following the law and living a good life, then Jesus died needlessly. Now, another way to view this, is to realize that in every other religion of the world, there is some type of judgment that’s going to come when you die, and you have to pass the judgment. You have to measure up, and if your life doesn’t measure up, you are in trouble, but Christianity turns this completely on its head. You see, there is a judge out there and there will be a judgement, and He does examine our hearts, but the judge came to earth. The judge left the judgement seat and went to the cross and took and bore our judgement. He experienced the judgement for us. Guys, there’s nothing like this in any other religious faith in the world. Nothing. That’s why in Luke 9:56 Jesus said, I didn’t come to destroy men’s lives, I came to save them. You see, at the heart of Christianity is grace and humility. All the religions of the world say, the good people are in, the bad people are out. Those who follow the Eight-fold Path, those who follow the five pillars of Buddhism, of Islam, those who follow the Ten Commandments, the good people are in, the bad people are out. Jesus says, that’s not right. He says, it’s the humble people that are in, those who recognize their sin and need for God’s grace and forgiveness. He says, it’s the proud, it’s the self-righteous, is those who don’t think they need God because they’re so good. He says, it’s the proud who are out, and that’s why, you know, I contend, I made this comment last week, that if you think Christianity is arrogant by contending it’s the only way to God, then I really believe you don’t understand it.
I love these words from Michael Green. He says this. If he could describe the Christian faith out to the world, he would say it’s this, “In a word, Christianity, it’s not a religion at all, it’s first and foremost, a revelation, and a rescue, and an ensuing relationship with God through Jesus Christ.” It’s a revelation. God came into the world, but notice that second point. It’s a rescue. Do we think of it in those terms? He came into this world to rescue us? Of course, that implies, if you need to be rescued, you’re in trouble, but He came to rescue us. I’ve used this example before, but it’s been a while, and I’m not sure how many of you’ve heard this but, I think to fully understand this, I’m not sure how many of you, back in 1973, saw the movie The Poseidon Adventure. They just did a remake of it, which I have not seen, but the movie made in ‘73 was one of the first of the great disaster movies. Gene Hackman was kind of the main character and he played the role of a minister, and if you know the story, it’s this grand ocean liner that’s sailing across to some country, and it’s New Year’s Eve, and they’re celebrating, at the top of the ship in the big ballroom, and right around midnight, as they head into the New Year, there’s this earthquake out at sea that causes a tidal wave, and this tidal wave comes and hits the ship and turns it upside down. And so, all these people that are at the top of the ship, are now at the bottom of the ship, and there’s all this panic going on and Gene Hackman says, “We’ve got to go up. The ship’s upside down. We’ve got to go up.” Very symbolic. And what, I think, one of the ship’s purser’s says, “No, we all need to just stay right here.” Well, Hackman persuades about eight or nine of them to follow him, and they start up the ship any way they can and it proved, that proved to be right, because all the people that stayed behind perish. About halfway through the movie, they encounter another group of people, and they’re headed down another way, and they’re going down, and Hackman argues with them, and one of them, the people that’s leading them, is the captain of the ship, one of the captains, and he said, no we’ve got to go down. Hackman said, no, we need to go up. Well, they too, perish, the ones that go the other direction. And finally, at the end of the movie, a handful of people get out, and are rescued, or saved, find salvation, if you want to use that term, but think about this, guys, just to add to the story, real briefly, let’s suppose that the person, the man who designed and built the ship happened to be not that far from the of the ship as it was turned upside down, and he gets on a rescue helicopter and he flies to the ship, and with the technology on the ship, is able to plug into the intercom system, and he can also, through the video system in the ship, can see where everybody, can see the whole ship, and over the intercom, he announces, listen to me. I designed and built the ship. I know it better than anyone else. I’m here to rescue you. Don’t listen to anybody else. Listen only to me. If you’ll listen to me, if you’ll follow me, I can get you out of here alive. I can rescue you. Now, let me ask you this question. Is that arrogance, to say, don’t listen to anybody else? Listen only to me? When you understand it in that context, guys, you see the love and compassion of Christ when He says, I’ve come to rescue you. In Galatians, in fact, that very language is used in the Bible in Galatians 1, verses 3 and 4, it says, “The Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us.” And in Colossians chapter 1 verses 13 and 14, it says, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His Beloved Son in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins.” You see, I think where the real rub comes in, is if a person’s living this life, and he doesn’t see the need to be rescued, and you come along and say, Christ is here to save you, to rescue you, they’re offended. I don’t need rescue. So, you can see how it does appear to be arrogance, but it’s not, when you understand what Christ came into the world to do. “I didn’t come to destroy men’s lives,” He says, “I came to save them.”
Now, going back to Michael Green’s words, as I wrap this up, he said, “It’s a revelation, it’s a rescue,” and then he says, “and it’s an ensuing relationship with God through Jesus Christ.” It’s a relationship. The religions of the East and the Middle East believe in an impersonal God Who doesn’t allow you to know Him personally, though, you, as a Muslim, you can pray for mercy, you know, they pray five times a day, you can pray for mercy.
But there’s a guy, a number of years ago, there was a German scholar by the name of Joaquim Jeremias, and he did this extensive study a scholarly study on all the religions of the world. He studied all of their scriptures. There was not one stone he didn’t turn over, and he came to the conclusion that when Jesus Christ said to God, called Him Abba, Father, he said, He was the first person in the world to do anything like that. You have nothing like that in Eastern religions. You have nothing like it in Judaism. You have nothing like it in Islam. No one has ever been that radical. No one has dared to say, I want to open a door for you to have a relationship with God that is that intimate and that personal. Christianity really is not a religion. It is a relationship with the Living God, and the religions of the world, about trying to find salvation through your performance. Jesus seeks to forgive us of our sin that we might know Him personally, that we might be in right relationship with Him, and that we will know Him throughout eternity.
And what’s interesting, this, guys, is what led Mortimer Adler to become a Christian. I don’t know if you are familiar, but Adler, in my mind is one of the great thinkers of the last century, very famous philosopher, wrote over 50 books, taught at Columbia, University of Chicago, and eventually he became director of the Institute of Philosophical Research in Chicago. He’s probably best known as the co-editor of that 54-volume series, The Great Books of the Western World, and he lived to be 99, but most of his life, he was a pagan. And the reason I use that term is because that’s what he called himself. One of the books he wrote was, How To Think About God: A Guide For The 20th-century Pagan. And when he was asked about it, he said, well this was a book written for pagans by a pagan, but after 60 years of reading philosophy, studying religion, he concluded that God existed. Around 80 years old, that God existed, but then he began to wonder, Who is this God, what is His name, and so he began to search all the religions of the world to figure out, is there one that is true, because he realized they couldn’t all be true. And listen to what he said in his search, he says, “the most important thing,” he says, “The beliefs that I was looking for had to be consistent and compatible with whatever truths were known at the time, with certitude or probability in history and science and philosophy.” By the way, Adler had grown up in a Jewish family. He goes on to say, “With regard to the truth in religion, we are confronted with the question, which of the recognized world religions has the best claim of being true or which among them has a better claim than all others?” He concluded Buddhism, since it had no supernatural knowledge based on divine revelation, was nothing more than a moral philosophy masquerading as a religion. These are his own words. He said, Hinduism he rejected on philosophical and logical grounds, it’s just so incoherent, and then, he boiled them down to Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, because they were all monotheistic religions. And then, one day, he concluded, after all these studies, that Christianity was true, because, he says, “Islam and Judaism, though they have a transcendent God, they are somewhat removed from humanity,” and he says, the thing that he realized about Christianity, “Not only did you have a transcendent God but He came into the world to redeem man and thus experience a relationship with His people.” And so, listen to what Adler said. “And therefore, I took that leap of faith into the arms of Christ at the ripe old age of 82. And then he lived 17 more years, but the thing that struck him, the thing that impacted him the most, was the fact that God, the God of Christianity, Jesus was a relational God, and that you could know Him and that He came into the world so that we could get in right relationship with God.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Ravi Zacharias and then my concluding thoughts. Zacharias grew up in India. At the age of 17, he tried to commit suicide because life was so meaningless in this culture that was just all kinds of religions, and in his hospital room, he failed in his attempt, and was given the Book of John by somebody, and he says, he read the Book of John, and it opened his eyes to the reality and truthfulness of Christ. It spoke to his heart, he said, and now he’s one of the great intellectuals here in the world today. He lives over in Atlanta. In fact, he’s going to be at the debate on the third. He said, “I can now enjoy the benefit of time’s distant view. The Jesus I know and love today, I encountered at the age of 17, but His name and His tug in my life mean infinitely more now than they did when I first surrendered my life to Him. I came to Him because I did not know which way to turn. I have remained with Him because there is no other way I wish to turn. I came to Him longing for something I did not have. I remain with Him because I have something I will not trade. I came to Him as a stranger. I remain with Him in the most intimate of friendships. I came to him unsure about the future, and I remain with Him, certain about my destiny. I came amid the thunderous cries of a culture that has 330 million deities. I remain with Him, knowing that the truth cannot be all-inclusive. Truth, by definition, excludes.”
Guys, all that I’ve shared with you these last two sessions, is the reason I personally have given my life and cast my lot with Christ. Not the one who claimed to be the enlightened one, not the one who claimed to be a prophet and came to give us information about God, but Jesus, the one who claimed, I am the Bread of Life, Who claimed to be the Resurrection and the Life, Who claimed to be the Way the Truth and the Life, and then He proved it by rising from the dead, and guys, for this reason, He is the spiritual authority in my life, and therefore, it’s in His hands that I place my eternal well-being.
Let’s close in prayer. Father, I thank You for our time together and just what You have revealed to us through Your Son, not only the fact that You revealed Yourself to us but that You came to rescue us, and we do need to be rescued from our self-centeredness, from our depraved ways, and then after rescuing us, You tell us that we can know You. We can live our lives in relationship with You. We do thank You in humility, and with gratitude. We thank You for what You have done for us. It’s in Christ’s Name that we pray. Amen.