I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life

The only way to salvation in the Bible is through Jesus.

George Wright
May 24, 2020    40m
In this sermon Pastor George Wright examines the eternal truth that the only way to salvation in the Bible is through Jesus Christ. He explains, that it is critical to remember that although the circumstances are now troubling, we need to be sure that our changing circumstances don't change what we believe. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 Well, as we turn our attention to the word of God today, let me encourage you to grab a Bible and turn in John's gospel to John chapter 14. And if you're new to Shandon, or if this is your first time joining us for one of these services, we are in the midst of a series right now that is simply titled 'Who is Jesus'. And we are walking through seven statements that Jesus makes about himself in the gospel of John. These statements are often called the 'I am' statements of Jesus. And this week we are on the sixth of these statements, as Jesus says something that is incredibly powerful, but at the same time incredibly controversial.

George Wright: 00:44 So let's look at what the word of God says in John chapter 14 verses 5 and 6. I'd like to invite you, if you're willing and able to stand with me. And I know that may feel a little strange as you watch this on your TV or computer, but go ahead and stand, so that we can be reminded, the word of God is the foundation that the people of God are built upon, and the word of God reveals to us what God says is right and good and true. This is the word of the Lord, John 14:5-6, One of the disciples, Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." As we consider the word of God together today, let's have a word of prayer, asking God to use this time to speak into our lives as only he can, because we need to hear from the Lord.

George Wright: 01:55 Let's pray together. Heavenly Father, as we come before you now, and as many stand before you now. I pray, Lord God, that you would have your way among us, that your spirit would move among us, as we join together for this service online. We declare, as the people of God, that you can speak to us collectively and individually. And so I pray, Lord God, that is you speak to your church joining in online, that you would speak to our hearts individually. That we would hear what you desire for us to hear, that we would not be the same as a result of that which you say. You know what is going on in our lives right now, and I pray that you would speak to what we need to see and we need to hear, we commit this time to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. And if you were standing with me, go ahead and have a seat, get comfortable. Maybe grab another cup of coffee if you need it, grab your journal if you're taking notes, and let's step into this incredibly significant passage of scripture.

George Wright: 03:11 I'll say this right up front, John chapter 14 is one of the most problematic passages of scripture for our culture today. Jesus is making a statement of exclusivity, and we live in a culture today where the motto is all about inclusivity, the motto is all about tolerance, the all the motto is all about finding your way, finding what makes the most sense to you, finding your personal truth, rejecting claims of absolute truth, and doing whatever you can to follow your heart so that you can find happiness for what you want in this life. The cry of our culture is, find what works for you personally. And yet, Jesus messes that all up with the statement he makes about himself in John 14 verse 6, this statement flies in the face of our cultural priorities, because this statement is an exclusive statement about absolutely truth.

George Wright: 04:31 And I recognize for many people in the church, for many people who call themselves Christians, John chapter 14 presents a personal problem for those who want to fit in with the culture around us. If your desire, even as one who may call yourself a Christian, if your desire is to be inclusive of all belief systems, and your desire is to be tolerant of all expressions of claims to the personal path of enlightenment or personal truth, then John 14 presents a monumental problem for you. For Jesus is bold and Jesus is clear as he claims to be not simply one way to God, but the way to God. Jesus is saying, I'm not just one truth, but I am the truth. And so as we unpack these words, we really do have a line in the sand that is being drawn here by Jesus. We are stepping into controversial territory, and we must decide what will we believe about what Jesus claims. Because this statement in John 14 really does force us to truly and honestly consider what we believe about Jesus.

George Wright: 06:14 So with that in mind, let's look back at the context of where this statement was first made, so that we can have a greater understanding of the significance of what Jesus is laying before us. In John's gospel, chapters 13 through 17, represent a very beautiful sacred scene that Jesus shares with his disciples shortly before he goes to the cross. And beginning in John 13 we see what is often referred to as the last supper. This is where Jesus gathers with his disciples in the upper room to observe the Passover meal, and it's in this scene that we see Jesus lay out the ordinance of the Lord's supper, and tell them what this meal now represents in his body and his blood. It's in this scene that we see Jesus wash the disciples feet, and show them that he truly has come to serve, and then he implores them to go and do the same. It's in this scene that we see Jesus began to teach in a very intimate and personal way. In fact, it's the longest teaching we have recorded of just Jesus with his disciples as he's explaining to them what's about to take place, and praying for them in John 17. That they would stand together knowing that what they're about to endure is going to be incredibly difficult as Jesus goes to the cross.

George Wright: 07:53 So in this final, uninterrupted teaching time, this sacred moment that Jesus shares with these men that he has spent three years of his life investing in. We see Jesus explaining to them the significance of why he came, and the reason why he must leave them. And this creates a lot of confusion for the disciples. They're trying to understand, they want to see the big picture, they're trying to make sense of it all, but they just don't yet understand the significance of all that Jesus is laying before them. And so in John chapter 14 verse 1 we step into this statement, this beautiful statement Jesus makes about himself. And we see that it follows on the heels of Jesus acknowledging the disciples are embracing and experiencing a troubling time.

George Wright: 09:01 John 14 verse 1, "Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me, says Jesus." Now, why would Jesus say this to his disciples? Well in John chapter 13, we see that Jesus has just made three incredibly troubling statements for his disciples to consider. First, look at what we see in John 13:21-30 you can read this later. Jesus says in these verses to his disciples, that Judas, 1 of the 12, one of the disciples that has been walking with Jesus is going to betray him. One of their own, one of their boys, one of the insiders, part of the circle, part of the crew, he's going to stab Jesus in the back and betray him. This is a troubling statement to consider. But then we see in John 13:33 that Jesus says to the disciples, I'm about to leave you and where I am going, you cannot come. The disciples are thinking, what in the world, we've given our lives to follow you, we've left everything to go everywhere you go, and now you're telling us you're about to leave and we can't go with you. This is incredibly troubling for the disciples to consider, but then third in John 13 verse 38, Jesus says, before all the disciples that Peter is about to deny him, Peter has become figuratively the lead disciple, the one who has the closest personal relationship with Jesus. Peter was seen by the other disciples as a man of great faith, and now Jesus is saying, Peter is going to deny me three times. All of this is incredibly difficult to hear. The scene from John 13 while sacred and beautiful as the Lord's supper is instituted for the disciples, is at the same time incredibly troubling. They are terribly confused and overwhelmed at the statements that Jesus is making. This is the moment in the story where the plot seems to turn all together away from everything that the disciples envisioned for their time with Jesus.

George Wright: 11:58 And so in the midst of this troubling revelation, in John 14 Jesus begins to reassure his disciples that God is still in control. And this is really incredible what Jesus does, this is such a beautiful gift, because he knows they are about to have to decide what they truly believe about everything that he has said and everything that they had seen him do in his time on earth. In a sense, this is where the rubber meets the road for the disciples. In the midst of these troubling statements, and these troubling circumstances, will they stand on what they have said they believe about Jesus?

George Wright: 12:52 We stepped back into the scene, John 14 verses 2 and 3, Jesus says this, "In my father's house are many rooms, and if it were not so what I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." Jesus is providing such a gift for the disciples, as they really are troubled at the things he has said. Jesus is saying to the disciples, I know this is not what you envisioned, I know these are troubling statements, and there are troubling days ahead. But do not lose sight of what I have told you is true, do not lose sight of what has become the foundation of your faith. Yes, the circumstances are now troubling, but don't let changing circumstances change what you believe. This is so incredibly important. Jesus is saying, look, I know this is hard right now, I know this is confusing right now, but don't lose sight of the truth that I have laid before you. For what is about to happen, is exactly why I came, Jesus wants his disciples to know. This may be a surprise for you disciples, but it is not a surprise for me, so stand on the truth that I have revealed.

George Wright: 14:45 I just can't emphasize this strongly enough for those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, please don't miss this, we all will face troubling times. In fact, Jesus says, in this world, you will find trouble. Right now, globally, we are in the midst of a troubling time. And the reality is, when we face troubling times, and when we face changing circumstances, it is easy for us to be overcome by the situation that we are facing, to the point where we neglect what we say we believe. So Jesus is saying, please don't miss this, this is so important. Jesus is saying to his disciples, and I believe to me and to you today, your circumstances may change, but my purpose never will. Do not let changing circumstances cause you to neglect what you say you believe, let the truth of what has been revealed, Jesus is saying, be the foundation on which you stand.

George Wright: 16:20 The scripture continues, John 14, let's look at verses 4 and 5 as we step back into the story. Jesus says, "You know the way where I am going." But then Thomas speaks up, one of the disciples and, "Thomas said to him, Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Now, I want to say right here, I am so very grateful for Thomas. Now, Thomas often gets a bad rap. In fact, it's Thomas after the resurrection when some of the disciples have seen the resurrected Christ and Thomas was not there that he makes the comment, I will not believe unless I can see for myself. And he gets this nickname that even if you haven't spent a lot of time in church, you may have heard as a reference point, doubting Thomas. This is a phrase that is often used for someone who just cannot believe what others are saying, oh, he's just a doubting Thomas. But in all reality, I believe Thomas is an incredible gift to us, because Thomas is willing to speak up and ask the question or make the statement that many others are thinking about but are not just bold enough to say, Thomas speaks up in this scene, as Jesus is saying, look, I'm leaving you and where I'm going, you will know the way Thomas says, hold on, there's a lot of things coming at us fast right now. Jesus, you've said a lot, and I appreciate what you're saying and I hear you saying, don't be troubled. But Jesus, I'm just not sure I get it. I know you say we will know the way, but how can we know the way? Jesus, I don't know the way. I don't want to miss this, I don't want to mess it up. Jesus, please tell me, how can we know the way? Help a brother out, Jesus.

George Wright: 18:33 And that leads to this beautiful, controversial, statement that Jesus uses to provide this gift of tremendous clarity about who he is and why he came. John chapter 14 verse 6, "Jesus said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me." Jesus is saying to Thomas, and saying to anyone, who is seeking to understand who Jesus is and why he came. You want some clarity? I'll give you some clarity. I'll make this so clear, and so simple in what I'm saying, that if you're willing to listen, you cannot miss it. "I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me." This simple statement, revealing three earth shattering realities about Jesus that must be considered by those who want to know who Jesus is.

George Wright: 20:14 So let's break this down. Jesus claiming to be the way, what does this mean? Well, Jesus, in saying he is the way to God, is claiming to be. God. Why do I say it like that? Well, the only way to know the only way to God, is to be God himself. The only way to know the only way to God, is to have the knowledge of God, that only God can have. The only way to make an absolute claim about how to get to God, is to be God himself. Jesus is holding nothing back here, he does not want there to be any confusion at all. In fact, look at verse 7, he goes even further and he says, "If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on, you do know Him and you have seen Him." Jesus is saying, I and the Father are one. Jesus is saying to the disciples, I know the way to God because I am God. The only way to know the only way to God, is to be God.

George Wright: 21:39 Now, this is not the only time Jesus makes this claim. In fact, we see on several other occasions in John's gospel alone, that Jesus makes the claim to be God. And when he makes this claim, please don't miss this, it is incredibly controversial. In fact, this is the reason why the religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus. Because anyone that claimed to be God that was not God was worthy of death according to the Jewish law, that would be blasphemy. And so they hear this claim of Jesus saying he is God, and they want to eliminate him altogether. They know only God can claim to be God.

George Wright: 22:28 Let me show you one of these examples, John chapter 10. John chapter 10 beginning in verse 24, a passage of scripture that we actually looked at a couple of weeks ago. It says, "So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” They're saying to Jesus, look, you're claiming to be God, we think we hear that, so just go ahead and lay it out. The scripture goes on, "Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep." Here's what we looked at when we talked about, Jesus is the good shepherd. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (and here it is) I and the Father are one.” It is at this statement that the Jews are livid at what Jesus has said. They are angry to the point where they want to kill him. In fact, it is this claim of Jesus that sent him to the cross. The religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus, because they did not believe that he is God. And what they could not understand at the time, is the very thing they wanted to kill Jesus, was actually in fact the very reason why Jesus came to dwell among men. He came to offer his life as a ransom for many. He came to go to the cross willingly, so that you and I could know the love and grace of God poured out on those who believe in faith that Jesus is in fact who he says he is. He went to the cross to do for you and for me what we could never do for ourselves, Jesus went to the cross as the only worthy and acceptable sacrifice for sin, so that you and I could be forgiven and made right with God. Jesus is the only way to God. The only way to know the only way to God, is to be God.

George Wright: 25:30 But secondly, Jesus makes the statement, I am the truth. This statement is so significant, especially in a Jewish context to which Jesus was speaking, because Jesus is claiming to be the fulfillment of prophecy. Now, if you know anything at all about the scripture, you know there are many different prophetic statements about the Messiah that are laid out in the Old Testament. Over hundreds of years, written by many different authors, inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, there is prophecy after prophecy after prophecy that points to the coming Messiah. Now, I recently read an article that was talking about the statistical reality of some of these prophecies being fulfilled. And it said statistically speaking, for eight of the prophecies in the Old Testament, just eight of the prophecies to be fulfilled by one individual, look at this, was a 1 in 1 million-billion chance. That's a lot of zeros, 17 zeros, 1 million-billion. I don't even know if that's a real number. I know it's bigger than a quadrillion, which only has 15 zeros. A 1 in 1 million-billion chance that eight of the prophecies listed in the Old Testament could be fulfilled in one man. Now, I don't know a lot about statistics at all, in fact, I barely made it through my introductory math class at Carolina as a freshmen. But what I do know, is it was absolutely a long shot that anyone could fulfill just eight of these prophecies, and Jesus Christ fulfilled over 300 prophetic statements about the Messiah recorded for us in the Old Testament.

George Wright: 27:47 Jesus Christ, the living word of God, is the fulfillment of the word of God. He is by definition the truth of God's word, and no one comes to the Father except through him. For only God can claim the authority of absolute truth, and this is so important, because this means that the argument that many people put forward about who Jesus was, that he was simply a good moral man, or a good religious teacher, actually has no academic integrity whatsoever at all. If Jesus claims to be the truth, and Jesus claims to have the authority over all truth, and Jesus claims to be the fulfillment of prophecy about the Messiah as the living word of God, we cannot simply dismiss him as simply a good moral teacher. One of my favorite quotes about this topic comes from the classic work of C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. I want to read to you a portion of what Lewis writes. He says, "I'm trying to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about him. (Talking about Jesus) I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God." Lewis writes, "This is the one thing we must not say, a man who is merely a man and said sort of things that Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg, (great statement) or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice, either this man was and is the son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. If you have any academic integrity whatsoever, and you read the claim of Jesus in John 14:6 as the truth, you cannot conclude he was simply a good teacher or a good man. For he claims to have authority over absolute truth, and no good moral teacher would lie and build his entire identity around something that is not true. Jesus says, I am the truth. He is either the truth or he is no truth at all."

George Wright: 31:39 And then third and finally Jesus says, I am the life. In saying, I am the life, Jesus is claiming to have authority over death. Now, we talked about this at greater length last week in the message on John chapter 11, the I am statement of Jesus where he says, I am the resurrection and the life. We hit this truth again, because of how important it is. Jesus is saying, the only way that one can claim to be the life, is if that one has absolute authority and victory over death. And this is exactly what the apostle Paul writes about Jesus in First Corinthians chapter 15. Look at first Corinthians 15 in verse 54, the scripture says, "When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." The scripture reveals that sin leads to death, and the scripture reveals that Jesus leads to life. He is our hope, he is the promise of the word of God fulfilled. He is the confidence of things to come. He is the way, the truth and the life everlasting, for no one comes to the father except through Jesus. But in his love and grace towards us, he makes it crystal clear so that we will understand if you want to be right with God the Father, trust your life to Jesus Christ. The Lord and savior who has come to show us the way, who has come to be the fulfillment of truth, who has come to declare authority and victory over death as the path to life. This is the claim of Jesus, will you trust him at his word?

George Wright: 35:08 And if you are a follower of Jesus Christ today, will you stand firm on the promises of Christ, even as our circumstances change around us? Will you be confident in the truth, that our God never changes? The way the truth and the life, is inviting you to be right with God today, and united with God forevermore. This is the promise of salvation for all who are in Christ Jesus.

George Wright: 36:01 With that in mind, we close in a word of prayer today. Father, we thank you for the incredible simplicity and clarity of the statements Jesus makes about himself. Thank you, Lord God, for showing us the way. Thank you, Lord God, for laying before us the truth. Thank you, Lord God, for inviting us into life through the gift of Jesus Christ. Lord, I realize there are many who have been wrestling with the claims of Jesus, many who have been in the church for years in their life, who, who struggle with the exclusivity of what Jesus says about himself. I pray, Lord God, that you would build them up in faith and in confidence to stand firmly on what the word of God reveals. Oh Lord, thank you for showing us the truth.

George Wright: 37:19 And Lord, I pray specifically today for those who have been trying to find a way to be made right with you. They've been trying to possibly change their life and do better, or they've been trying to find a spiritual path that speaks to their hearts so that they can feel secure, they've been trying to find a way to be right with God, but the more they try, they recognize something's still been missing. I pray, Lord God, that today they would recognize there is a way to be right with God. There is one way to be right with God, and his name is Jesus. So I pray for all those joining with us for this message today who have never experienced the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, who have never embraced the confidence that is provided for those who trust their life and eternity to Jesus, I pray that today would be the day they would say in faith, Jesus, I'm ready to follow you. I believe you are the way. I believe you are the truth. I believe you are the life. And I need you. Please forgive me of my sin. Please give me this gift of life everlasting. Cover me in your grace and your mercy. I turn to you Jesus.

George Wright: 39:02 And oh, how we thank you, Lord God, that all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and confess with their mouth that he is Lord, and believe in their heart that he was raised from the dead, they will be saved. So we praise you for the gift of salvation, and we pray that more and more will trust in you as they see the gift of what Jesus Christ has done. Thank you for this time we share together in your word, use it for your glory in our lives. It's in Christ' name. I pray. Amen.

George Wright: 39:54 Well, thank you for joining us for this service online today. Next week we will wrap up this series, "Who is Jesus' and we look forward to joining again with you next week. God bless you. We are praying for you, and we look forward to the day when we can be together again, face to face. We're praying that it will come real soon. We'll see you.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206