Is Jesus the OnlyWay to Heaven? (March 31, 2019)

Sermon Text: 1 Corinthians 1:18

Pastor Daniel Schmidt

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

There are some questions that have an obvious answer.  Back in the days of the explorers the question was “Is the earth round?”  At that time there were many people who thought the earth was flat.  But, of course, we know the obvious answer is, “Yes, the earth is round.”

In our world today there are questions being asked that we know the answer to. “Is a relationship between two men or two women all right?”  “Is abortion just another choice we make in life?”  From God’s Word we know that the answers to these questions are obvious. God’s Word makes it clear that marriage is between one man and one woman.  In his Word, God tells us that all life, including the life in the womb, is precious to him.

The question I would like us to spend a little time discussing this morning is this: “Is Jesus the onlyway to heaven?”  To us the answer is an obvious one.  But in our world today, there is so much misunderstanding about who Jesus is and how one gets to live with him forever in heaven.  So it is good for us to go back to God’s Word and hear how the Lord answers this question.

Is Jesus the onlyway to heaven?  To many of the Jews and non-Jewish people of Paul’s day the idea of Jesus as the only Savior of all mankind was a foolish thought.  As we read earlier from 1 Corinthians chapter 1, “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles…”  Many in Paul’s day rejected the teaching of Jesus Christ crucified as the payment price for all sins.  And because of their rejection God’s Word tells us, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…”  Is Jesus Christ the only way to heaven?  God’s Word is clear.  Those who reject the crucified Savior, who view the teaching of Jesus only as a foolish message, will not enter heaven.  Rather, they will be sentenced to a life that will never end in hell, separated from God forever.

Is Jesus the only way to heaven?  While you and I know the obvious answer, there are times when each of us here this morning is guilty of answering “NO!” to this question.  It becomes far too easy for us to play the “comparison game”.  We may think, “I know of members of our congregation that we see only at Christmas and Easter.  At least I go to Church every week!”  Or, we think we can tip the scales in our favor if we do enough good things to make up for the bad things we have done.  Or, we give in to the temptation and think to ourselves, “God knows how hard I am trying.  I can’t help it if I mess up every once and a while.”  It is in Proverbs 14 that we read, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  Anytime we look to ourselves and our own efforts as the way to get into heaven, you and I are those whom Paul was led to write about here in God’s Word before us: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.”

Is Jesus the onlyway to heaven?  God’s Word before us tells us, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” The message of God’s Word is powerful. Like the warm spring sun melting the snow piles that are left, the Gospel message of the cross melts our sin-cold hearts, and warms them with the forgiveness of all sins through our crucified and risen Savior.  It is the message of the Gospel that sets aside any human thoughts of winning a place in heaven.  As we read a moment ago, “Where is the wise man?  Where is the scholar?  Where is the philosopher of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

The story is told of a group of soldiers during the revolutionary war who were digging a trench.  As they were digging a man in civilian clothes rode up and asked the sergeant overseeing the project why he wasn’t helping to dig the trench.  To which the sergeant replied, “Sir, I am a sergeant. I don’t have to do this work.”  So the man in civilian clothes got off of his horse and started digging.  Once the trench was dug, the man got back up on his horse to leave.  As he was leaving the man said to the sergeant, “Next time you have your men dig a trench, please contact me and will be happy to come and help them out.”  Not recognizing who this man was that was offering his help, the sergeant asked, “And what is your name, Sir?”  “General George Washington”, was the answer.

As Pastor Pagels remined us this past Wednesday, Jesus, the one and only Savior, is true God.  Yet he was willing to put himself in the trenches for you and me.  He came to this earth as one of us.  Jesus willingly put himself in our place.  He humbled himself to suffer and to die.  As our Great Substitute, Jesus Christ paid for your sins and for my sins through his perfect life and his innocent blood shed on the cross. The glorious resurrection of Jesus assures you and me of your forgiveness and mine and our place at his side in heaven.  No more effort is due on our part.  Jesus Christ did it all.

Is Jesus the onlyway to heaven?  In Philippians chapter 2 we read, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  And the Savior himself says in John 14, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Has the season of spring begun?  The answer to that question is obvious.  Yes, even though it may not feel like it outside some days, according to our calendars the spring season has begun.  Is Jesus the onlyway to heaven?  While it may not be the “politically correct” answer to give, we know for a fact that there is only one way to heaven.  As God’s Word before us this morning tells us, “For the message of the cross [that is, the message of Jesus as the world’s one and only Savior from sin and the only way to heaven] is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  Offering all praise and thanks to Jesus Christ, the only way to heaven, we join in the song of praise found in Isaiah chapter 12, “I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.  Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD , the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”  Amen.