I am the Door

An Ikthus East Sermon, April 2016

TEXT: John 10:7-10

INTRODUCTION:

There’s a saying that goes this way: “Jesus is the Answer. What is the question?” The point of this saying is not that Jesus is the answer to all kinds of questions, but that Jesus is the answer to the deepest questions in life. That is, the only way to find true meaning and purpose and satisfaction in life is by entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. And I think that’s the point of all these metaphors that Jesus used to describe himself. They are figures of speech that communicate in a very powerful way who Jesus is for us. When he says, I am the light, it’s a powerful way of saying that through me you can have true enlightenment. When he says I am the bread of life, it’s a powerful way of saying that through me you can have true satisfaction, and when he says I am the door, it’s a vivid and powerful way of saying that it’s through me that you can enter into eternal life.

1. JESUS IS THE DOOR TO SALVATION

(a) Jesus is the only way to be saved.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” (John 10:7)

According to New Testament scholar William Barclay –

“But when the sheep were out on the hills in the warm season and did not return at night to the village at all, they were collected into sheep-folds on the hillside. These hillside sheep-folds were just open spaces enclosed by a wall. In them there was an opening by which the sheep came in and went out; but there was no door of any kind. What happened was that at night the shepherd himself lay down across the opening and no sheep could get out or in except over his body. In the most literal sense the shepherd was the door.”

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

(b) All those who teach any other way are false teachers who rob the sheep of true life.

“All who came before me are thieves and robbers…” (John 10:8a)

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9)

“Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.” (1 John 2:22-23)

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.” (1 John 4:1-3)

(c) We who teach and preach should be careful to offer in our preaching and teaching not the wisdom of this world, but the gospel of Jesus Christ – because only the latter saves.

“Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe… [We] preach Christ crucified…” (1 Corinthians 1:20,21,23a)

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and vain deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

(d) True Christians stick to Christ and his gospel; they will not listen to false teachers. They can discern the true from the false.

“All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.” (John 10:8)

“So Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.’” (John 6:67-69)

“They are from the world; therefore, they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:5-6)

“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting.” (2 John 9-10)

2. JESUS IS THE DOOR TO SAFETY.

“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out find pasture.”

“To be able to come and go unmolested was the Jewish way of describing a life that is absolutely secure and safe.” (William Barclay)

See Psalm 121, especially verse 8. See also Romans 8:35-39. There is absolute safety in Christ.

3. JESUS IS THE DOOR TO SATISFACTION.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

“Men lead lives of quiet desperation.” (Henry David Thoreau)

It is possible to have everything and still feel empty. It’s also possible to have nothing and yet have everything.

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8)

The apostle Paul was living life to the full even though he was in prison because he found satisfaction in Jesus Christ.

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11b-13)

Paul could rejoice and be at peace – even in prison. Abundant life is not dependent on circumstances.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice… do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4,6,7)

The abundant life does not consist in owning a lot of material things.

“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 11:15)

The abundant life consists of faith in God’s faithfulness, which gives rise to a sense of security, and results in a life of generosity and good works.

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

The abundant life is a life of unselfish giving and not selfish hoarding. It is the life which Jesus lived.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:24-25)

True for You, But Not for Me?

Here’s how N. T. Wright, in his book Simply Christian, deals with the “It’s true for you, but not for me” dismissal of the Christian faith:

Saying “It’s true for you” sounds fine and tolerant. But it only works because it’s twisting the word “true” to mean, not “a true revelation of the way things are in the real world,” but “something that is genuinely happening inside you.” In fact, saying “It’s true for you” in this sense is more or less equivalent to saying “It’s not true for you,” because the “it” in question – the spiritual sense or awareness or experience – is conveying, very powerfully, a message (that there is a loving God) which the challenger is reducing to something else (that you have strong feelings which you misinterpret in that sense).

Religion and Science

Sometimes people ask if religion and science are opposed to each other. They are – in the sense that the thumb and fingers of my hand are opposed to each other. It is an opposition by means of which anything can be grasped.

— William Henry Bragg, British physicist who with his son won the Nobel Prize for physics for their work in X-ray crystallography

A legitimate conflict between science and religion cannot exist. Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.

— Albert Einstein

(Quotes taken from John Blanchard’s Has Science Got Rid of God?)

The Need for Apologetics

words deceiving

world dissolving

wicked acid rain

 

buildings crumbling

bridges falling

badly bleeding brain

 

vision fading

darkness growing

dim the Holy Sun

 

Christ is weeping

turning leaving

faith is on the run

 

numbness spreading

night expanding

feet on sinking sand

 

storm is raging

waves are rising

where is safe dry land

This article was written in springnote.

Discipling the Christian Mind

(Notes on a talk for the August 25, 2009 Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship summer camp at Humayan, Bago City, Negros Occidental, Philippines)

I.DEFINITION AND EXPOSITION

Discipling the Christian mind is simply disciplining and developing our mental powers, much in the same way you develop your body’s muscles, for the glory of God and for the sake of Christ (Matt. 22: 37; I Cor. 1:30, 2:16; Phil. 2:5). It involves developing our reasoning powers in the power of the Spirit so as to distinguish truth from error, right from wrong (Heb. 5:14), as well as to overcome opposing arguments (II. Cor. 10: 4, 5). It involves growth in spiritual wisdom (Prov. 4:7; Eph. 4: 17ff.; Jas. 1:5; Ps. 119:99), as well as the accumulation of useful knowledge.

II. EXPLANATION: WHY DISCIPLE THE MIND?

A) For our own benefit (Rom. 12:2; II Pet. 2:3, 4). Knowledge of God, of his ways, his character, his truth and promises, plays a major role in our spiritual regeneration and transformation.

B) For the benefit of fellow believers (II Tim. 3:15-17; I Tim. 4: 6).

C) For the benefit of non-believers (II Tim. 2:24; I Pet. 3:15; Jude 3).

III. QUOTATIONS

A) Charles Malik: “[The] greatest danger confronting American evangelical Christianity [Note: applicable to Filipino evangelicals] is the danger of anti-intellectualism. The mind in its greatest and deepest reaches is not cared for enough. But intellectual nurture cannot take place apart from profound immersion for a period of years in the history of thought and spirit. People who are in a hurry to get out of the university and start earning money or serving the church or preaching the gospel have no idea of the infinite value of spending years of leisure conversing with the greatest minds and souls of the past, ripening and sharpening and enlarging their powers of thinking… For the sake of greater effectiveness in witnessing to Jesus Christ Himself, as well as for their own sakes, evangelicals cannot afford to keep on living on the periphery of responsible intellectual existence.”

B) J. Gresham Machen: “False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the receception of the gospel. We may preach with the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which, by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion. Under such circumstances, what God desires us to do is to destroy the obstacle at its root.”

C) C.S. Lewis: “The intellectual life is not the only road to God, nor the safest, but we find it to a road, and it may be the appointed road for us… [A] cultural life will exist outside the Church whether it exists inside or not. To be ignorant and simple now – not to be able to mee the enemies on their own ground – would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated who have, under God, no defence but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered… The learned life then is, for some, a duty.”

D) The Apostle Paul: “Do not be children in your thinking; be babes in evil, but in thinking be mature.” (1 Cor. 14:20)

E) Nicholas Wolterstorff: “The church needs scholars to assist her in the task of seeing precisely how the biblical vision applies to our present social realities and to assist her in the task of interpreting this social reality of ours.”

F) St. Bernard of Clairvaux: “There are many who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge: that is curiosity. There are others who desire to know in order that they may be known: that is vanity. Others seek knowledge in order to sell it: that is dishonorable. But there are some who seek knowledge in order to edify others: that is love.”

IV. PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS:

A) Daily Bible reading, Scripture memorization and meditation (Ps. 1:1-3; 119: 9,11)

B) Reading the great books, the classics (both secular and sacred) (Ecc. 12:11). We learn a lot from reading. We save time too, because then we stand on the shoulders of giants. Also the benefit of contact with great minds: “Iron sharpens iron.”

God, Man and Morals

Just a couple of chapters more and I’ll be through with Francis Schaeffer’s Trilogy. I’m now in chapter 2 of the 3rd Book in the Trilogy, He is There and He is Not Silent, where Schaeffer describes man’s dilemma: man is noble and he is also cruel. How do you account for both his nobility and cruelty? But before we can answer that we have to reckon with the fact that man is finite and personal; that’s a given. But how did he begin, i.e., how did he come to exist? Well, one answer is he is the product of time plus chance plus energy plus matter, in other words, he had an impersonal beginning. But an impersonal beginning spells the death of morality. As Schaeffer explains:

If we accept the impersonal beginning, finally we will come to the place where man’s finiteness and his cruelty become the same thing… With an impersonal beginning, morals really do not exist as morals. If one starts with an impersonal beginning, the answer to morals eventually turns out to be the assertion that there are no morals… With an impersonal beginning, everything is finally equal in the area of morals.

I think what Schaeffer is saying is that without a personal Creator-God to give us existence we have no foundation for morality, there is no absolute standard by which we can distinguish right from wrong. Right cannot be better than wrong if both are simply the products of impersonal chance. Schaeffer goes on to say:

So we find man cast up with a feeling of moral motions which in reality leads only to a complete cosmic alienation, because if you begin with the impersonal, in the universe as it is, there is no place for morals as morals. There is no standard in the universe which gives final meaning to such words as right and wrong. If you begin with the impersonal, the universe is totally silent concerning any such words.

I am reminded by something Dostoevsky put into the mouth of one of his characters in his novel The Brothers Karamazov (I’m quoting from memory): “Without God everything is permissible.”

Lost But Not Nothing

I drank a cup of strong coffee tonight and thus could not sleep. It’s midnight yet I’m in no way drowsy, so I picked up my copy of the Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy. As I read the following passage made quite an impression on me that I simply had to post it here:

The Bible teaches that though man is hopelessly lost, he is not nothing. Man is lost because he is separated from God, his true reference point, by true moral guilt. But he will never be nothing. Therein lies the horror of his lostness. For man to be lost, in all his uniqueness and wonder, is tragic

(Inter-Varsity Press, 1990 ed., p. 268)

I guess if truth were to be told, all of us, at one time or another, have sensed the fact of our lostness without God, but we have come up with many ways to dull the pain. The thought that there is a God to whom we are accountable is too frightening and burdensome. Think of all the fun we would miss if God is really out there! Could it be that the denial of God’s existence is not really the result of an objective view of the pertinent evidence but simply the offshoot of the realization that God’s existence is a threat to man’s cherished freedom to sin with impunity?