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Grace Bible Church - Gatesville, Tx
Grace Bible Church - Gatesville, Tx

Episode 115 · 2 months ago

In The Upper Room: The Way to Heaven

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In The Upper Room: The Way to Heaven

John 14:4-11

Dax Bryant - Preaching

John fourteen, the passage that weighed just read for us. That's where we'll be this morning, continuing our time here in the what we call the Upper Room discourse, that conversation that Jesus had with his eleven disciples. Now at this point on the night before he died, because you're turning there, I want to um recall, have you recall most of you are probably familiar with the story of John Newton. UM. If you're not, i'd encourage you to go look up some of the details of that this afternoon. John Newton was a, among other things, originally a slave trader who converted to Christianity, renounced that um previous occupation as a slave trader, and eventually entered the ministry pastor to church. And that is a ministry that that even today we continue to benefit from greatly. We still seeing many of the hymns that he wrote, most famously, of course, Amazing Grace, written by John Newton. Newton has proven by his many hymns he had a way with words. Near the end of his life, Newton was known for saying this, He said, although my memory is fading, I remember two things clearly. I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great savior. Another set of words by John Newton when he spoke of heaven also, I think just captures, uh the beauty of um, the difference between our thinking and God's thinking. Listen to what he said about heaven. Newton wrote, when I get to Heaven, I shall see three wonders there. The first wonder will be to see many there whom I did not expect to see. The second wonder will be to miss many people whom I did expect to see. And the third is the greatest wonder of all, will be to find myself there. I think that he's exactly right. When when you get to heaven, you'll be amazed by who's there. You'll probably be surprised by who's not there. But most of all, the greatest wonder of all will be the realization of what it means to find yourself there, that that God would stoop to save a wretch like you and me. I am sure you know the Bible doesn't say a lot about heaven. We will have all of eternity to contemplate the wonders of heaven when we're in that place. There's much to wonder about heaven right now but there's one thing, and it's in our text this morning, there's one thing about heaven that God does not want you to wonder about, and that is, namely, how to get there? How do you get to heaven? And of course you know, because you're a person, the human race has come up with all kinds of ways that we might reach heaven. But the words of Jesus here stand in firm opposition to all of that creative speculation that's out there in the text before us. Here in John fourteen is perhaps the most definitive statement and all of the Bible about how we get to heaven. But before we get there, let's let's remember the scene. Let's remember where we've been again. As I said, it is the night before Jesus's death. Judas the betrayer has already been dismissed from the room. The disciples hearts are in upheaval as Jesus tells them that he is going away and he's going to a place that they cannot follow him. Now these men...

...are trying to process that, these men who have who have given everything, they've they've burned all their bridges to follow Jesus, and now they're devastated. And so as chapter fourteen begins, Jesus begins speaking words of comfort to these men who are distraught. He says, they're at the beginning of chapter fourteen, me paraphrasing, uh, I know that you're you're troubled by this news that I'm giving you. But but I am going away for a purpose. I'm going to prepare a place for you in my Father's house, a place where there is room for all of you and all who will follow me. And if I'm telling you that, you can also trust that I'm coming back one day to take you to that place. And if you remember, we we looked at those verses a couple of weeks ago and we thought about how is Jesus preparing the Father's house? How is he preparing heaven for us? And we have to look to other places in scripture to try to answer that question, among other things. But maybe pre eminently Jesus is preparing heaven for us by interceding for believers at the right hand of the Father, by by making us ready for heaven. So all of that, Jesus says, I'm going away, I'm coming back, I'm preparing this place. I'm gonna bring you there, and that leads us to our passage where Jesus makes very interesting statement in John fourteen, verse four. He says, to these men who are they're confused, they're struggling to make sense of all of this, he tells them, and you know the way to where I am going. This is something that Jesus did quite a bit when he spoke. When he taught he would he would say something that he knew would would spark questions in the minds of his listeners, questions that he wanted them to ask so that he could answer them. And he does it right here. He says, you know the way to where I am going. Now that is a true statement. They do know the way to heaven because they know Jesus. The problem is they don't know that they know. I mean, they love Jesus, right, they understand him at some level, at least some of them, to be the Messiah. Peter has already confessed that Jesus is the Son of God at this point. But if I can say it this way, as a group, they don't They don't grasp how much he truly is God. He's someone special. But I don't know if they've understood that he actually is God, and that is one thing before this night is over, that Jesus wants them to be thoroughly convinced of who he truly is. So he makes this statement, you know the way to where I'm going? And it falls to Thomas here to ask the obvious question, the question that probably everyone's thinking in verse five, Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way? Right? In other words, you're you're talking about going away to this place you're gonna prepare it you're taking. We don't even know what place you're talking about. So how do we know the way to get to this place? He wants some details, He wants specific answers. The problem is the way to Heaven is not found in a set of directions that you follow to the letter. That's why just mere religious duty and ritual will never lead you to the Father's house. That will only lead you away from the Father's House. Because getting to heaven is not an issue of directions or GPS coordinates. Getting to heaven is an issue of qualification. Because even if you could find your way to Heaven, you could walk right up to the gates. You could bang on them. What would you discover,...

Well, the gates are closed and you're not allowed to enter. Why not? Because the issue is not the location of heaven. The issue is your qualification to enter into heaven. Last time, I don't know if you remember I mentioned there's a dress code that is required for heaven. You need a righteousness that cannot be found in yourself to enter into heaven. That's why you don't need a set of directions to get to heaven. That's why you need a person to enter heaven. And that's precisely what Jesus is getting at when he responds to Thomas. Look at verse six. I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. Thomas says, we don't know the way. Jesus says, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Now, if you have been in church for more than a minute, I'm sure you've run up against this verse. This is a familiar verse. We we know this verse. We've heard this verse, But we need to spend some time unpacking this verse because this verse is so often misunderstood. But before we deal with I think what's challenging about this verse which is the first phrase. We'll get to that first, we need to recognize that the second phrase of that verse is about as clear as it gets. No one comes to the Father except through me. That statement made by Jesus is absolute, exclusive, and very narrow. The question is is it true after all these years? Is it's still true? Because as you know, in our day, everyone has their own idea about how they can get to God. Right. In fact, it's claimed how you get to God doesn't really matter, because God has given us all kinds of ways that eventually lead to him to suggest, like Jesus does here, that there is only one way to God. That necessarily means that all the other ways are invalid, which doesn't seem very open minded or politically correct or tolerance. But Jesus doesn't seem to be worried about holding this rather narrow view of salvation. I mean, I don't think it could be any planer, could it. It is an absolute statement. Listen to the to the universality of this statement. No one, that's pretty all encompassing, right. No one comes to the Father one exception except through me, Jesus says, And so as he starts to speak with the disciples about the way to heaven. The first thing here is that is undeniably clear is that Jesus says he is the exclusive way to that place. And that is a truth that certainly rubbed off on the apostles. You you hear it in Peter's sermon in Acts, chapter four, verse twelve. Peter says, 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. Paul says something similar in First Timothy chapter two, verse five, For there is one God, and there is one mediator between man and God, the man Christ, Jesus. There's there's no...

...simpler way to state it. Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. But again the question is are you willing to bank your eternity on that? Are you willing to stake your life, both now and in the future by hoping in someone who makes a claim that is this narrow and uncompromising, Because in all of history, in all of the religions in the world, only Jesus claims this kind of unique qualification to be the only bridge between man and God. And so that's why he says, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. And this is the first phrase that we need to spend a little bit more time on packing so that we understand it properly. What does he mean? I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. And first of all, there's there's a couple of things to just to take note of that that help us get to the heart of what he's saying here. The first thing to notice is the emphasis that we find in the immediate context and the verses around this verse. So if you look just before where we started in verse four, and you know the way to where I'm going verse five, how can we know the way? And even the end of verse six is still part of the answer to Thomas's question that Jesus is the way. No one comes to the Father except through me. The the emphasis there, just in those verses right around verse six is on Jesus as the way to God. So when Jesus says I Am the Way and the Truth and the Life, that first phrase the way, carries a little bit more emphasis, a little more weight over truth and life. So he's not he's not saying here I'm the way. Yes, I'm the true and living way. Though that certainly is correct, but it's not the point. The the emphasis of the context is that Jesus is saying he is the way, the only way to God. So in some sense it makes those other phrases, the truth and the life kind of subservient to that first phrase, the way. And the second thing to notice helps back that point up. You see that little word in verse six, and that shows up a couple of times there, I am the Way and the Truth and the life. Grammatically, those those little hands are called ep exogetical, which which just means they're supporting words. They they their function is to explain and clarify, So you could you could translate this uh to to say something like I am the way because I am the Truth and the Life. The other words support the primary assertion that he is the way. That's the emphasis. That's what he's claiming here, that he is the way. But again the question remains, are you willing to put all of your eggs into that basket? Let me ask the question another way, and this will help us kind of think about the big idea we want to uncover this morning. Why should you place your trust completely in one man who makes such a narrow and uncompromising claim to be the only way to heaven. Why should you place your trust in one man who makes such a narrow and uncompromising claim to be the only way to heaven. I'm gonna give you two reasons why. Here's the first. Yeah, you...

...can trust that Jesus alone is the way to the Father because Jesus alone is the perfect revelation of the Father. Let me say that again. The first reason that you can trust that Jesus is the only way to the Father is because Jesus alone is the perfect revelation, the perfect revealing of who the Father is. And if that doesn't seem like a very strong reason for seeing Jesus as the way the only way to heaven, let me explain. As human beings, we have a handful of big problems that by default keep us out of heaven, and our text mentions a couple of them. The first is that our understanding of reality is is darkened by our sinful nature. So not only do we not how of the truth, by our very nature we lack the ability to even comprehend the truth. But but even so, because we are made in God's image, we we recognize that there is a such thing as truth, that truth exists somewhere. And so in our desperation for the truth, like a like a blind man groping in the dark, we come up with explanations for the truth. We even invent our own gods lowercase G to to suit our versions of the truth that we come up with. There's a little book. It was written about a hundred years ago, a little more than a hundred years ago, by this sociologist named Emil Dirk him. The book is called The Elementary Forms, the Basic Forms of Religious Life. And Dirk him he went out and he spent time observing some of the Aboriginal tribes, and he began to see how they, over time had recognized and honored certain values and behaviors in their society. And and as the years went by, those those dominant values that were treasured by society, they became symbolized in animals that the tribes then began to worship. And so the sociologist he concluded that that this worship of an animal that was happening was nothing more than just a symbolic representation of that tribe's own cultural values, and and reality is what the people are really worshiping is themselves, what they hold dear, and that's just embodied in this animal that they come up with. So for for this guy Durkheim, that's what religion really is, people worshiping themselves. And you know what, in vast majority of cases, I think he's right. The gods that people fabricate are nothing more than a symbolic representation of their own values and desires. That we see this in our own day. You don't like what the Bible says about gender roles, for example, well you can invent invent a God who is mother. You don't like what the Bible says about thin and wrath? Will you can invent a God who is only loving and only forgiving. You don't like that that you can't earn your way to heaven, the Bible says, so you invent a God that you can satisfy by your own power. And the danger of that approach is clear, isn't it. Scripture warns us that that worshiping a god of your own making is foolishness, It is path to destruction. So recognizing that, how can we be sure that we're not falling into that same exact trap when we stake our...

...eternity on this one man who says, I alone am the way to the Father. I alone in the way to Heaven. And the first reason that I'm trying to explain here is that because Jesus alone is the perfect revelation of the Father, he reveals one of the things that's keeping you out of heaven. He reveals what you don't know. He reveals the truth, the truth about who God is. Because listen, if you have to find God on your own, if you have to invent a God in your own mind, then, my friend, you are doomed to utter despair and hopelessness. There is no way to know the way to God if you don't even know who God really is, and so you have to start there. How can you know who God is? And the only way that that happens is not you inventing something in your mind. The only way it happens is that God has to take the initiative to make himself known to you the very thing that he's done in his word, and the very thing that he has done perfectly, completely, once and for all, in his son, Jesus Christ, who is the Word. That's what Jesus is saying here when he says, I am the way, because I am the truth. He is the perfect, absolute manifestation of the truth about who God is. That's how John's Gospel begins. It's been almost a year since we were there, if you can believe it. Back in John chapter one, verse eighteen says, no one has ever seen God, the only God who is at the other side. That's speaking of Jesus Christ, that God. He has made him known, he has explained him, he has revealed him. Is what the word means. Paul says in Colossians chapter two, speaking of Jesus, in him, the whole fullness of deity, of of who God is dwells bodily. Hebrews chapter one says that that Jesus is the exact imprint of his nature, meaning God the Father. Paul and Colossians one fifteen simply says, speaking of Jesus, he is the image of the invisible God. Why should you place your trust completely in this one man who makes this narrow and uncompromising claim to be the only way to heaven. We can trust that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Because only Jesus is the perfect revelation of the Father. He makes the truth about God known. That's what he's driving home with his disciples right here on this night before he leaves them. They believe he's the Messiah, right, They understand to some extent that he's the son of God. But just how much he is fully and truly God they have not yet comprehended. And that's why Jesus moves on to verse seven. We're gonna come back to verse six, But these next few verses that take us through verse eleven, they really build on and elaborate on this phrase that we find in verse seven. So Jesus says, if you had known me, you would have known my father also. And the word if there makes us sound kind of hypothetical. I think a legitimate and maybe even better translation would be, since you have come to know me, and that word no there speaks of the closest kind of intimate relationship. So since you have come to know me in...

...this very intimate, close way, you will know my father also from now on you do know him and have seen him. Do you catch what Jesus is saying there. It's a bold claim to say that to know him is the same thing as intimately knowing God. So Philip picks up on this right, and he says, in verse eight, Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us, Phillips asking for direct access, for an immediate display of God himself. And that doesn't that kind of remind you of of Moses inquiring of God, please show me your glory, not not really even knowing what he's asking for in that moment. And of course what Philip doesn't real lies is up for the past three years, he's had a privilege that Moses could only dream about, walking and talking and spending time with God in the flesh, living right in his midst And so Jesus says the Philip in verse nine, and I imagine we don't have the tone of how things are said in the Bible. But but I imagine this is with a tinge of sadness. Have I been with you so long and you still do not know me? Philip, whoever has seen me has seen the Father? How can you say, show us the Father? So so do you see the case that Jesus is building here? Make sure you get this. Verse seven, he says, if you know me, you know the Father. Verse eight, If you've seen me, you see the Father. But how how can this be right? How can a man say, when you look at me, when you oh me, you are looking at and knowing the living God. We'll notice also what Jesus goes on to say, verse ten, do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? And then in verse eleven, believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Now we have to think carefully here as we read this. Right, he's saying that there is complete unity between the Father and the son, a a sort of mutual indwelling. But at the same time, the Father and the Son are distinct persons. Right, So we're wading out into the deep doctrine of the trinity, This God who is one but is three, And as mysterious as that is, we we have to say that Scripture teaches unequivocally that God is three and God is one, which sounds like a contradiction. However, while God is three and God is one, he is not three and one in the same way. We know this, right, and and there are whenever you try to make an analogy about the Trinity, you are in deep trouble already. Right, But I'll give you an analogy that I know fall short already up front, so you don't have pick it apart later. I already know it's faulty. But like you, take my family for example, the Bryants are six things, and we are also one thing. Right, we are six individuals. We are one family now, and we do not share the same essence as each other as God does. But so that analogy breaks down. But when we speak of God as three, we're talking about his personhood. There are three distinct, coequal, coeternal persons, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. And when we speak of God as one, we're talking about God's essence. This essence is this character of who God is that is so...

...unified that to see one is to see the other, to know one is to know the other. There's no break. The problem is when we try to come up with those analogies we have we have nothing like this in our world, nothing like this in our relationships or experience. To really express this concept. It is a mystery. And while we readily admit that we cannot fully comprehend it or explain it, Jesus gives us two proofs of this kind of relationship between the Father and the Son, and those proofs here in the text are his words and his works. Right see it there in verse ten. Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? Watch what he says. Now. The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own authority. But the Father who dwells in me does his works. So this is a figure of speech that Jesus is using here. It's called an ellipsis uh. And ellipsis is when certain words, for the sake of trying to keep it short and concise, are are left out, just to state it more simply. So, while I am not adding to scripture here, allow me to kind of flesh out what's what's being left unsaid. And I think we come up with the implied idea of something like this. The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own authority, but they are the Father's words, and I'm speaking on his authority. That's what's being left unsaid. Also unsaid, the works that I do, I don't do those on my own authority. Back to the text, But the Father who dwells in me does his works. And we might add because those works come from him so what's he getting at the bottom line is he's saying this. Let me give you two proofs that I and the Father are one. My words and my works. My words are his words, my works are his works. And we've we've seen that over and over again in John's Gospel that Jesus says that the words he speaks come from the Father. To hear Jesus is to hear God's voice. To see Jesus is to see God himself. When we when we read about Jesus and and what he says, we learn how God acts, how God talks, how God feels. We learn what God's will is, We learn what God's promises are. We learn what he thinks about sin. If you want to understand the character of God, if you want to know the truth about God, you can look at his words, the words of Jesus. You can behold his son and see those words. And then there's his works. Turning water into wine, healing the official son, healing the paralyzed man, healing the blind man, feeding five thousand, raising Lazarus from the dead, all signs that the saving Kingdom of God is at work in the ministry of Jesus. That's why he says in verse eleven, believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on the account of the works themselves. Why should you place your trust completely in this one man who makes such a narrow, uncompromising claim to be the only way to heaven. It's because Jesus Christ alone is the perfect revelation of who the Father is. And and that first answer to our question deals with one of those major problems that keep us keeps us out of heaven, a lack of truth. Jesus supplies the truth needed to enter that place,...

But we have a second problem that keeps us out of heaven, not just a lack of truth, a lack of life. A lack of life as a member of the human race. You were born not only unable to comprehend the truth about who God is, but you were born alienated from God in in a condition that the Bible refers to as being spiritually dead. And the point being a dead person cannot seek out the way to God until that person is first made alive by God. So it's not I will find the way to God on my own, so that then I can ask Him for life. You know. The way that it works is that God and his sovereign grace makes you alive first, so that you can then discover that Jesus is the only way to the Father. So Jesus is saying here back to verse six, I am the only way to heaven because I am the Truth. But I'm also the only way to heaven because I am the Life. And that's our second reason to stake all of our hope on Jesus. Here, Why should you place your trust and this one man who makes this narrow, uncompromising claim to be the only way to heaven. Answer? We can trust that Jesus alone is the way to the Father, because Jesus alone is the source of spiritual life, he says in John chapter five. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will spiritual life found in the sun. John six, he says, I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. John ten. He says, my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life. John eleven he says, I Am, the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live. And everyone who believes in Me, whoever, everyone who lives and believes in Me, shall never die. I mean, there's no question Jesus is making it crystal clear that He is the ultimate and only source of spiritual life, and that fact is inseparable and indispensable to the fact that He is the only way, because a human being will never find his or her way to God until he or she is first made alive by God. Brothers and sisters, I know for for many of you this is not new, But but let me encourage you. You do not have to be embarrassed or ashamed of what the Bible says about salvation. You do not have to be nervous about the Gospel. You do not need to be afraid to look people in the eye and tell them with deep compassion in your heart, to say, my friend, I love you. And there are there are at least two things that I know of that are keeping you out of Heaven right now, a lack of truth and a lack of life. You cannot find your way to God if you don't know who He truly is. And the way to know the truth about who God is that's only revealed in Jesus Christ. But before you can even understand that truth, God must first make you alive. He must wake you up and open your eyes to the truth so that you can then cry out Him to make you come alive.

And then you will find that Jesus is the way. Because you are alive and you can know the truth. He is the only one who solves the problem. Who who gives you exactly what you need that is currently keeping you out of heaven, truth and life. Thomas Kempis He's a old, dead guy century Dutch theologian. He wrote a little devotional book called The Imitation of Christ. It was a book that John Newton um greatly influenced. John Newton he he said it this way must have been translated from Dutch into English, but because it rhymes, but I like it. He says, without the way, there is no going without the truth, there is no knowing without the life, there is no living. Why trust Jesus alone? Why stake everything on him? Why place your trust completely in this one man who makes these narrow minded claims about being the only way to heaven. Number one because Jesus is the perfect revelation of God. Only Jesus can reveal the truth about who God really is. And number two, because Jesus is the only source of spiritual life. Only Jesus can awaken you out of spiritual death and bring you into spiritual life. Our friends, you can spend the rest of your lives thinking about Heaven, and you will only scratch the surface of all there is to contemplate about that place. There's a lot to wonder about when it comes to heaven, but you don't have to wonder how to get there. There are people all around us who are gambling their eternity on their own ability to find the way to God. But just like it says in the Book of Proverbs, there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, its way is death. Jesus makes it clear that the only way to God is through him. That is why we can confidently trust what he says. It's he's the only way to heaven because he's the perfect revelation of the Father, and he's the only source of spiritual life. So application, it's always the hardest part of the sermon for me. So what well, I think in this case, it's quite simple. Where are you at with this one man who makes these claims? Are are you like Philip who has been around Jesus? Maybe maybe you've been around the church, You've been around people who call themselves Christians, and yet you still personally haven't truly experienced who Jesus is. The application is, if that's you come to Jesus, let not your hearts be troubled, as Jesus says earlier, because Jesus has been troubled for you. The way out of trouble is to come to know a father in heaven who loves you. And the only way that you can come to know that father and heaven who loves you is to come to know his son. No one comes to the Father except through me, Jesus says, So come, let's pray, h Lord. We know that we...

...cannot even believe these things that we've heard today, let alone trust in them. And unless you first make us come alive so that we can know the truth about who Jesus is, so that we can trust him as the only way to you, God, I pray if there are are people gathered with us this morning who who are spiritually dead, that you would make them alive. For for those people in this room who are already spiritually alive, but maybe asleep at the wheel, Father, would you wake us up renew our trust in and reliance on Jesus Christ as the way, because he is the truth and the life. Jesus is our only hope. And so we ask you only for what you've promised, that Jesus would return for his people, to bring them home so that we might see you face to face. Until that day, Lord, we groan. We long for heaven, even though we know that in the groaning we are being made ready for that place. But on that day, when our faith becomes sight, we will rest from all the groaning because we will rest in You, and we will worship you in the splendor of your holiness forever and ever. Amen.

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