Sermon: Isaiah 43:10-12
February 5, 2017
Good morning. First of all, I also want to give credit where credit is due, so I want to acknowledge Steven Curtis Chapman, as it is his song One True God which provided some of the inspiration for this message.
The scripture text for today is from Isaiah 43:10-12.
10 “You are My witnesses,” says the Lord,
“And My servant whom I have chosen,
That you may know and believe Me,
And understand that I am He.
Before Me there was no God formed,
Nor shall there be after Me.
11 I, even I, am the Lord,
And besides Me there is no savior.
12 I have declared and saved,
I have proclaimed,
And there was no foreign god among you;
Therefore you are My witnesses,”
Says the Lord, “that I am God.
We live in an age where "choice" seems to be a religion unto itself. Everything requires a choice, and we need lots of options. Even buying groceries can be an overwhelming ordeal. Take milk, for example. I remember as a kid my Mom telling me, "Go to the store and buy some milk." That's was it. I'd get on my bike, I'd ride down to the grocery store, and I'd buy milk.
Now, however, think of the choices that have to made:
- Wallins in town... or Co-op in Churchbridge... or Yorkton?
- If I decide to get it in Yorkton, then do I go to Superstore, Walmart, or Co-op?
- Soy milk, or cow's milk?
- Skim, 1%, 2%, or Whole?
- Beatrice or Foremost?
- 1L or 4L?
- Great, got the milk. What's next? Beans.
- No-name, Clark's, Heinz, Bush's?
- Tomato sauce, molasses, maple syrup?
- Which one is on sale? Buy 1, or buy 3 and save?
- You see where this is going? When I have a grocery list with 25 items on it, it can get overwhelming. Yet, heaven help the person who tries to limit my ability to choose. Yes, choice has almost become a religion unto itself.
What about faith and salvation? How many ways are there to be saved? The world has approximately 7.5 Billion people in it. 2.2 Billion of those identify as Christians. That leaves 5.3 Billion people who admittedly are not Christians. Can they all be wrong? Or do they know something we don't know? As part of our homeschooling journey, we worked through a book called the "Handbook of World Religions." It listed 50 different religions that people subscribe to, and both Jedi and Pastafarianism were not included in the list, although they are recognized as religions in Canada, so I know it is not an exhaustive list. But just listen to some of these religions:
- Asatru: A reliance upon ancient Norse myths and legends. Salvation is attained by striving to live a robust, free, brave, honorable life. They don't really know what to do with the afterlife, however, so beliefs vary.
- Buddhism: Eventually reaching a state of nirvana (a series of rebirths through reincarnation until a state of perfection is reached, which brings an end to the suffering cycle.)
- Dadaji: God is within as an inner guide. Look within to find God, Truth, and Love.
- Juche (choo-CHAY): North Korea's state religion. The ruling family, currently led by Kim Jong Il, is to be worshipped. Salvation is solely material and consists of deliverance from the need to rely on others.
- Scientology: Man is basically good. Salvation consists of the deliverance from the endless cycle of lives by ridding the mind of negative mental thoughts and eventually becoming a free immortal spirit.
I haven't even touched on the many other religions listed in the book, some familiar, some not, such as:
- Falun Gong
- Hare Krishna
- Jehovah's Witnesses
- Native American Spirituality
- and many others.
Can they all be true? Can some of them be true? I could take time to examine the claims of each one of them, but that would take many, many sermons to cover. Instead, I want to put on my Biblical glasses and examine the subject from a Christian worldview. Is that perhaps biased? Sure. I'm ok with saying that, because my worldview starts with the Bible.
The Bank of Canada trains their agents to identify counterfeit currency by knowing and understanding the real thing. So, if we here, in a Christian church, start with the presupposition that Christianity is the real thing, then let's see what the Bible says about the exclusivity of Christianity so that we can recognize counterfeit faiths when we see them. Stay with me as I build my case.
First, in the very beginning, the Bible says that there was One voice in the dark.
Genesis 1:1-3 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
So any reference to any other entity or entities involved in the creation of the universe is incompatible with the Bible. No Greek gods running around like a cosmic soap opera... Atlas isn't holding up the world... the solar system didn't come about by accident... God wasn't just a good guy on some other planet before achieving godhood. There was One voice in the dark. One.
One breath that gives life. Genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Any other explanation as to how man got here is incompatible with the Bible. No molecules to man evolution. Aliens didn't dump us off here. Human beings are not just another animal. And my Grandpa was not a monkey. If you want to believe yours was, then suit yourself, but it's not compatible with the Bible. Period. One breath that gives life. One.
There is only One Lord. Isaiah 43:10-12 “You are My witnesses,” says the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, And besides Me there is no savior. I have declared and saved, I have proclaimed, And there was no foreign god among you; Therefore you are My witnesses,” Says the Lord, “that I am God.
In the same vein, there is only One True God. Isaiah 44:6 “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.
John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
1 Corinthians 8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
If we are believing in other gods, like the ancient Greeks, or the Hindus of today, then that is not compatible with the words of the Bible. And if we are like humanists, who say there is no god, or that we are our own gods, then we deny the existence of the One True God, and are disagreeing with scripture.
And this One True God is One Sovereign in Power. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, And You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all.
Any time we ascribe power or ownership or control to anything other than God Almighty, then we are not lining up with the Bible. The stars don't have that power... horoscopes don't dictate our destiny. Tea leaves don't tell our destiny. Fortune tellers and tarot cards are instruments of God's enemies. Instead of looking to the stars, we should be looking to the One who MADE the stars, because He has the ultimate power. People today put more stock in the suggestions of Oprah, Dr. Phil, and CNN than they do in the Almighty God.
He is One alone in greatness. Psalm 145:3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable.
Isaiah 42:8 I am the Lord, that is My name;
And My glory I will not give to another,
Nor My praise to carved images.
Isaiah 48:11 For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it;
For how should My name be profaned?
And I will not give My glory to another.
So often we give to another that which is due to God. We scream and cheer for musicians and actors and sports stars. The Super Bowl is today, and while Tom Brady is a very good football player, he is just that, a football player. We should not give him the honour of being worshipped.
And this is true of all men. Sometimes we get so caught up in who said something that we don't even care what was said. Let me tell you, just because Rick Warren said it, doesn't make it true. Just because Peter Mansbridge said it, doesn't make it true. I don’t take Brad Pitt’s counsel on world events. I don’t even like his movies! And for the record, just because Bryan Watson said it doesn't make it true. You need to understand what their true source is, and always take it back to what God said, because God is the only ONE who should be revered in that way. If it came from man's mouth, then question everything and compare it to scripture.
Jesus is The One and only Son of God. John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
God gave His only Son as a sacrifice for our sin. Our God died for us. Any faith that demands that you die for your god is not consistent with the truth of Christianity. It is not the same God. Allah is NOT the Christian God by another name, because Allah doesn't behave the same way towards men.
And any faith… any faith that denies Jesus as the Son of God is NOT compatible with Christianity. There is One Son.
And there is only One way to The Father. John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
This is where we start seeing the real implications of Christianity. If Jesus truly IS the only way to God, then all those other faiths are wrong. Period. All the attempts to achieve salvation outside of Christ are deadly in their error, because they leave their followers deceived into a false sense of security, and on the outside looking in when He finally judges all things.
There is only One Lamb That Was Slain. Hebrews 7:27 - He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.
And there is only One Resurrection through which we are saved. John 11:24-25 - 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[a] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.
He is The One Who Never Changes. Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Malachi 3:6a “For I am the Lord, I do not change."
He never changes. The truth He proclaimed in days gone by is just as valid now. Our society changes. Our tolerance level changes. We want to change the rules to suit our appetite. But His standards never change. Whenever you hear a Christian speaker talking about how Christianity needs to "get with the times" in order to be relevant, your warning lights should be on, big time. What was wrong back then is wrong today. And what was pleasing to Him back then is pleasing to Him today. If the culture is changing the doctrine of the church, then the church has lost her way. And we can’t say we haven’t been warned:
2 Timothy 4:3-4 - 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
2 Corinthians 11:4 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
What about the Bible itself? Some other religions have holy books? Aren’t they true as well? What about the Quran? What about the Book of Mormon? Well, according to the Holy Bible, there is only One Word.
2 Tim 3:16 - All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
Matthew 24:35 - Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
Matthew 5:18 - For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
So, either it’s true, and there is only One Word, and that is from God Himself, or it is false and the whole thing is a lie.
Folks, the Bible is the gold standard by which all other books are to be measured. Can other books, such as topical books written by people be helpful? Yes. I have an entire library full of them. But I can tell you that I have thrown more than one book that I bought into the fire because it directly contradicted the Word of God.
Are you seeing my point yet? Amidst all the noise and confusion that the world can produce, and all the choices that we are bombarded with, we have a compass. We hold the guide to True North right here in our hands.
There is One Word, which tells us about One True God. He was One Voice in the Dark, and He was the One Breath that Gives Life. He is One Lord, One Sovereign in Power, and One Alone in Greatness. He is the One Who Never Changes. He gave us the One and Only Son of God, Who was the One Way to the Father and became the One Lamb Who Was Slain, Who brought us victory over death by One Resurrection. No other way.
But while we are talking about things that come in One, I need to remind you that we are all One heartbeat away from forever. One patch of ice on the highway. One clogged artery. For those of us who have accepted that One Way to the Father, we know our place in Heaven is secure.
We all know someone who is still One step away from eternal life, but that one small step is one giant leap if that one heartbeat away comes one minute too soon. Let today be the day that you accept His invitation to become number ONE in your life. Then you can look back at this day as ONE day that changed everything.