Date: June 15, 2016 (Training)
Bible Text: | Betty Swann
Series: Pillar One
In today’s world there are a lot of religions. Many people are arguing about how to get to heaven. Is there even a heaven? Is there even a hell? Who goes there? Who gets to go to heaven if you have never heard about Jesus? Do you go to heaven? Is Jesus the only way? There is a lot of discussion, actually a lot of arguing, but you can only base what you believe on what is in the Bible. The Bible speaks the truth. God says, “I am not a man that I should lie.” And you never know when people are arguing with you what their real motivation is; what their real intentions are. They can confuse you. They can make you doubt, but what do you go to when you are in doubt?
There is someone watching this show right now who has recently been in an argument with friends or family members about salvation, the end of the world and the end of times. You thought you stood so strong in what you believe and you began to speak to them. All of a sudden, their arguments got more and more logical and you got more and more confused. This is the Lord’s word to you and you know who you are. The Lord says, “I saw you. I watched you. I saw you try to be true to me. I want you to strengthen yourself in your knowledge of Me to a greater level and I will give you another chance with these very same people. Stay true to Me, follow Me, but get to know Me better.” Now that is for someone. You say, “How do you do that? What do you know? How do you know to do that?” That is called a Prophetic Word. It is not what the lesson is about, but it is covered in the teaching on the Prophetic Word. I will just be speaking along on things, and all of a sudden I can feel the Holy Spirit nudge me and tell me, “You need to say this to this person who is watching because I want to touch them. I want to speak to them.” That was for you and you need to write it down any time someone gives you a Prophetic Word. It is very important that you write it down on a piece of paper as quickly as you can because you will forget parts of it. Ten years from now you can go back and look at it, and it will still speak to you.
There are many religions in the world. Some are new religions. Scientology is not very old, but seems to affect a lot of people, especially in Europe. There is a lot of opposition to it. There are old religions like Hinduism, Islam and Confucianism. There are a lot of old religions that are man’s way of trying to get to God or what they saw as God. What do I mean by that? Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam all have man trying to get to by their own efforts. Christianity is completely the opposite. First of all, it is a relationship way more than a religion. The relationship is God wanting to come down to people. He cannot do that because He is so Holy and we have sinned. You and I have sinned. Yet God wants to come down and reach us, touch us and He had to have a way to do it. He said, “I am going to send my only Son to give His life and whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.” And that is Jesus. So can Christianity be that exclusive? Yes. Can Christians really be that biased if they believe the Bible? Yes. What about the people who have never heard the name of Jesus? Will they go to hell? Is there really only one way to heaven, and that is through Jesus? The only thing we have to go on is the Bible. It is the only book in the whole world that is full of truth and no lies. We have to know what it says. The first thing you have to realize about life is that there are rules to life and there is somebody running the world. It is God and God has rules.
A lady stayed with me who was Jewish and a not a believer, very secular. I did not want to argue with her, but I wanted her to see Jesus in me. She was very willing and open to have discussions. She had her side and I had my side. I said to her, “What if you are wrong?” She said, “Nobody has ever said anything like that to me before.” I said, “You need to think about it. It is a pretty serious thing, it affects your life.” If you are running the world, football team, corporation, business, home or school, do you not have rules? Are there not rules about when you go out and when you come in? Don’t you have rules on this is how I say it is to be done. Sure you do. If you do not, you have chaos. God is the same way. He has set the rules for salvation and for going to heaven. No one changes that, no matter how much they disagree with it. No matter how much it makes them angry or no matter how much they don’t want to go that way. It is still God’s way and He sets the rules. A good illustration might be the rules of baseball. One of the rules is that when you hit a ball out of the ball park it is called a homerun. When you hit a homerun, you have to run all the way around the bases. If you do not touch first base first, then it doesn’t matter if you go all the way around the bases. You are out if you do not touch first base first. If no one touches you as you cross home plate, you are still out. Why? That is just the rule and the rule with God is you have to believe in Jesus. He is God’s only son and that He died for you. There is not salvation in anybody else. So, if God says you have to touch Jesus, you do.
John 3:16 is a Scripture that most Christians can quote, even if they do not know any other verse in the Bible. If this is the only one you know, it is the best one to know. We are going to look at it in the Amplified Bible, “For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world, that he even gave up his only begotten, unique Son so that whoever believes in, trusts in, clings to, relies on Him shall not perish, shall not come to destruction, shall not be lost but have eternal or everlasting life.” There it is. It is rule number one, first base. Listen to what “believes in” means according to this Bible. Trust in, clings to and relies on. You see there is more than just saying, “Oh yea, I believe in Jesus. Yea, I believe he’s a good man. I believe he did good things. I believe he was a Prophet.”
Do you believe He is the only son of God and that Salvation is only through Him? No. Well, that is what you have to believe. You have to trust that when God says that, He means it. Now, remember, right at the first of this verse I read to you, it said “God dearly prized the world.” You have got to realize you are very dear to God. You are very special to God. He knows your name. He knows the hairs on your head. He knew the day you were going to be born. He knows the day you are going to die. He knows everything that is going to happen to you. He knows when you sit down, what you stand up. He knows what you are going to say before you say it. This is God who dearly loves you, dearly loves you and wants a relationship with you. If He says, this is how you get it then you have to trust that that is right. You have to cling to that. You have to rely on it. People plan a vacation more than they plan and take care of their Salvation. Salvation is going to be a long, long time. Eternity is a long, long time. Being with God is forever and ever and ever. You do not want to make a mistake and say, “Well, I don’t believe that’s the way you do it because God has gone to great length and a lot of trouble and a lot of pain and a lot of heartache to make it possible for you to have this kind of eternal salvation.
What about the people who have never heard about him? What about the tribes, nations and languages in the world that have never heard about him? What about the people who live in the deep dark jungles; who do not read, write or have a written language? What about them? Do they just automatically go to hell and too bad? I do not believe that is what the Scripture teaches. I want to read you some Scriptures because this is what the Bible says: Look at this one, Romans 1:20-21, “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities, His eternal power and His divine nature so they have no excuse for not knowing God.” Yes, they knew God; but they would not worship Him as God or even give Him thanks. They began to think of foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. The first thing the Bible makes clear is that people do know there is a God. There is no doubt about that. Everybody in the world, whether they have ever heard of Jesus or not, they do know there is a God and they either choose Him and they worship Him or they make up their mind of what God is like and God says it is foolishness and He says, as a result, their minds become dark and confused. Is that how you feel? Do you feel dark and confused because of the thoughts you have had about God that do not line up with the Bible. Right there, God said 2,000 years ago that it would be like that.
Let us look at another Scripture. Ecclesiastes 3:11. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set Eternity in the hearts of men.” That is why you hear people say, “Well, I don’t now what is out there, but I don’t think this is all there is. I think there is something more and have wondered about it.” Maybe you have wondered about it. I have shown you two things already. The first is that God has put the knowledge of Himself in the sky and in the way the world is created. People have seen it and known in their heart that there is a God. They have either worshiped him or they have made up foolish ideas. The second one is that God has set Eternity in the hearts of men.
Now we are going to look at another Scripture. This is Psalms 19:1-4. “The Heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship. Day after day, they continue to speak. Night after night, they make Him known. They speak without a sound or word. Their voice is never heard, yet their message has gone throughout the earth and their Words to all the world.” What about the people who have never heard? Right there, it says, their words to all the world.
Have you ever heard of Helen Keller? She was a woman who was born blind, deaf and mute. As a result, her parents could not handle her. She was just a wild child. They did not know how to help her, could not talk to her or communicate with her. She could not hear them or see them. She was in a world all locked up, all by herself. Nobody could reach her. One day, they hired a woman named Ann Sullivan to come and work with her and Ann Sullivan began to teach Helen sign language. At first she was very rebellious, angry and would not pay attention or listen. But Ann Sullivan was very, very patient with her. One day as she began to use her palm to sign what things were. There came the day that she signed “God.” Helen Keller signed back to her, “Oh, is that what His name is?” You see, God had revealed Himself to her. Just like these verses I have read to you. He went to her in this quiet world that nobody could enter and He still was there and He still revealed Himself to her. She knew who Ann Sullivan was talking about.
Acts 10:34-35 takes place after is after Jesus died. It says, “Then Peter began to speak. I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.” You see, the Jews thought they were the chosen race. God had told them that. Jesus came to the Jews and so, in the beginning days of this new way with Jesus, they thought it was just to the Jews and yet Peter had an experience with Cornelius and God revealed a brand new thing to Peter and he did it in such an unusual way. He did it with a dream, a trance. In this trance, Peter saw all of these animals being let down into these sheep and God said, “Take them and eat them.” And Peter said, “No, Lord, I’m not going to eat those, You told us not to eat those.” And God said, “Take, don’t call it bad when I call it good.” And that was something Peter could relate to. Right after that God had been talking to a man named Cornelius who was a Roman soldier in another town in Caesarea, and he said, “There is somebody going to come and tell you how to know Me, give you more knowledge.” Do you hear what I am saying? If a person reaches out to God as God begins to reveal Himself to the person, God will begin to send more knowledge, greater knowledge.
Acts 10 describes Cornelius as a God-fearing man who helped others, but he did not know about Jesus. The New Living Translation says, “There was a man named Cornelius who lived in Caesarea. He was the captain of the Italian guard station there. He was a thoroughly good man. He had led everyone in his house to live worshiply before God. He was always helping people in need and he had the habit of prayer. One day, about three o’clock in the afternoon, he had a vision. An Angel of God as real as his next door neighbor came in and said, ‘Cornelius’ and Cornelius stared hard. He wondered if he was seeing things and then he said, ‘What do you want, Sir?’ The Angel said, ‘Your prayers and neighborly acts have brought you to God’s attention.’ Then he began to tell him. Somebody is coming.
I have a friend named Bill Weiss who, as a Christian, had an incredible experience with God. God took him to hell and when He took him to Hell. He was amazed to see billions of people there, millions and millions and millions of people there in deep torment. Then God showed him after that, above the earth and the heavens how detailed God was and how He watched over everything. I talked to Bill for about two hours and asked, “Bill, out of everything you saw, what impressed you the most?” He said, “There were billions of people in hell and that not one of them could say God didn’t give me a chance.” Do you hear that? There will not be any person in hell who can say God was not there. I lived in the jungle. I never heard about Jesus. It is not going to happen. One way or another, God will get to everybody and give them the chance because anybody going to Hell does not go there because they are this wicked, wicked person. They go there because they did not choose Jesus. It says that. You have to accept that. You have to rely on that. You have to trust in that because God is not a man that He should lie.
Have you heard that there are a lot of Muslims having dreams and visions about Jesus coming to them and saying, “I am who you are looking for, I am the Messiah. I am the way. I am the truth.” I had a friend who worked in a Muslim country and she kept writing and saying, “Please pray for my friend, Sarah. I like her so much. She is a total non-believer. She is Muslim and does not believe in Jesus, in God.” I care about her and pray for her best friend. For about nine months this girl would write and say, “Be sure and pray for Sarah. I just care about her, talk to her and just pray, just pray, just pray.” One day after nine months, Sarah came to this girl and she said, “Well, I had a dream last night.” “Really, what was it?” She said “In my dream, Jesus came to me and said, “I am what you are looking for. I am the answer.” She said, “I went to my friend and I said, I had a dream last night and her friend said, “I had a dream last night.” And they had the same dream and they became believers. That is God reaching out to someone who lives in a situation where there is no hope of hearing about Jesus, that He really is the answer. Her heart was open to God like these Scriptures that I have told you about. God reached down and touched this woman named Sarah.
I have one more Scripture for you where John is speaking in Revelation 7:9-13, “I saw a vast crowd, too great to count.” There will be billions in heaven from every nation, every tribe, every people and every language standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. Jesus is the Lamb. John saw these people, not just standing before God as if there are all kinds of ways to God, standing before the Throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands and they were shouting with a mighty shout, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the Throne and from the Lamb.” Do you hear that? Every tribe, every nation, never think that there will not be people from every tribe, every nation who will be in heaven, worshiping and saying, “Salvation comes from the Lamb. Jesus gave his life for the world. He willingly did it. He said, “I’m the way, I’m the truth, I’m the life.” You cannot make it any more plain it is in Acts 4, “Neither is there Salvation in any other for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” It says it. God is not fooling around with this. He is not playing games with you. He is not playing games with people. It is there in black and white and it is up to you to make the choice. You have to choose.
What was so special about Jesus? He never sinned. He never did anything wrong. He always pleased God. He laid down his life willingly for your sins and my sins so that we could spend eternity with God. If you have never done this; bow your head right now and say, “Jesus, I receive You. I believe You. I trust You. I rely on You. I cling to You. I believe what You have said, God, in Your word. There is no other way. I believe in You, Jesus. I receive You right now. Come into my life. Change my life. Change me. Give me a new life. Let me serve You. Tell me what to do, Lord. Help me to tell others.” You know salvation is like eating good cookies and not offering them to anybody else. You would not tell somebody about salvation and not offer it to them. You would not give people cookies right in front of their face and not offer it to them. Pray for people to be saved.
QUIET TIME QUESTIONS
1. How do other religions of the world try to get to God?
2. What is God’s rule or way about how to get to heaven?
3. John 3:16 says to believe in Jesus. What actions go along with believing in Jesus?
4. What do the following Scriptures say about people who have never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus and their salvation: Romans 1:20-21, Acts 10:34-35, Psalms 19:1-4 and Acts 4:12?
5. What is so special about Jesus to you?
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Topics: Basic Discipleship