As our church is focusing on Resurrection or Easter Sunday and identifying and focusing in on “our one” person (minimum) to invite to the Super Bowl of all Sundays coming soon, I was reminded of that one thing to do which instills so much fear into the heart of too many believers- talking God to CEO (Christmas and Easter Only) “Christians”.
As our church continues to move through the book of Romans (The Gospel of God), we’re in the section of scripture where the message of justification by faith moves from God’s divine sovereignty (Romans 8-9) to mankind’s responsibility to not only believe, but for Christians to prayerfully preach and present the gospel to the lost and unredeemed in our lives (Romans 10:5-21).
The challenge for disciples of Christ is what to say and how, as they share their testimony and God’s plan of salvation when they are confronted with, or in the midst of, unbelieving skeptics and critics of the faith.
All Roads Lead to God?
The disciple-making responsibility of the Christian, which begins with evangelism, is made more difficult by the rising trend of unbelief and agnosticism among us. According to recent research, more than half of Americans still say they believe in God without any doubts, but they are a shrinking majority.
In the past 15 years, the percentage who say they know God exists and have no doubts dropped from 65% to 53%, according to a national survey. Couple that with the growth of the religious unaffiliated and one may think Americans are increasingly rejecting God completely. In 1991, 6% of Americans claimed “no religion.” Today, almost a quarter of Americans (23%) say they don’t belong to any religion.
The rise of agnosticism (literally, ignorance of God’s existence) is affirmed by the fact that Americans aren’t embracing atheism (denial of God’s existence) as much as they are rejecting certainty about God. Today, 5% of Americans say they don’t believe in God at all—slightly up from 3% in 1993.
What Americans would prefer, is their own road or way to God or heaven or whatever place of paradise for eternity they have custom-made in their minds. The modern mantra of the unredeemed may be, “All roads lead to God, if there is a God at all.”
I would dare argue that most people today would love to be able to have access to God- if it were most any way they wanted. After all, why can’t there be more than one way to God? They ask, “Is it fair that Christians say there’s only way (John 14:6)?”
The question matters. The issue of how we know God or a heaven is real, is a critical one because it’s at the heart of what gives your life and mine meaning. It’s why we examine life, as someone said “A life unexamined, is a life not worth living.”
Might I dare to suggest that there is perhaps more than one way or road to God after all? In fact, the principles found in the Bible seem to suggest there may be as many as four roads to God. Are they four different roads or are they four paths to the same road?
In order to help Christians make other Christians by virtue of evangelism and the gospel, we’ll travel here on each of these roads or paths and see where they lead us..
The 4 Roads to God
Road # 1 Creation: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks (Romans 1:20-21, ESV).
Our world-view or philosophy of life, the way we choose to live, is generally predicated upon what kind of creature we think we are. It’s been said that we live as we think.
For example, If one thinks he’s just a higher form of an animal, and this world is all there is before we die, then you’ll live in a way consistent with that view.
However, if you believe that you were made in the image of a creator God who you are then accountable to for your life and one that may come, you’ll be prone to live that way.
So, essentially, mankind has two choices. Either we evolved out of slime accidentally, by random chance, or we have been intelligently designed or made with a heavenly pattern and purpose. The implications of this choice are profound as you try to find the road to God, or a road to God or just peace and love.
That was the case for Rosalin Picard, an MIT professor who in a biographical article of her life journey said, “In high school, I led a classroom debate team arguing for a godless form of evolution, confident my side would win because “this was science.” When the class voted and awarded victory to the creation side, I was dumbstruck. Most people didn’t understand science, I figured.”
This intellectual after several invitations from a godly couple, began to attend church worship services, heard gospel preaching for the first time in her life and after reading through the Bible, also began to truly think, as she added, “While I never heard actual voices or anything to justify summoning a neurologist, I felt this strange sense of being spoken to. It was disturbing yet oddly attractive. I began wondering whether there really might be a God.”
Road # 2 Conscience: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them (Romans 1:18-19).
The Bible in Romans 1 tells us that we “suppress” or push away the “truth” that God has “written in our hearts” (Romans 2:14-15) about ourselves and our nature without a right relationship with Him. So, our understanding of creation actually works through conscience to point us towards God.
As H.L Mencken said, “Conscience is the inner voice which warns us that someone may be looking.”
God’s word says our conscience can excuse or accuse us, or, it can indict or convict us. Just what would it convict you of?
It should convict you of your sin and rebellion towards God and the price we must pay for that rebellion and sin (Romans 6:23).
That inner voice did its work on Picard, who noted, “There were two passages I found especially troubling: Matthew 10:33 (“But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”) and Matthew 12:30. I resented what felt like an unwelcome ultimatum. I didn’t want to believe in God, but I still felt a peculiar sense of love and presence I couldn’t ignore.”
Road # 3 Communication: The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple (Psalms 19:7).
God could have chosen many ways to reveal himself and did so most generally to the entire world, through the roads of creation and conscience. It is through scripture (holy writing) however, in which He has primarily communicated to people through His written word.
It is through the words of this book that God gives new life which is why that same word states that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ”, according to Romans 10:17.
So, in this sense, the Bible tells us that the book itself, is necessary for life transformation- for redemption, and is a road to God and salvation from the penalty of sin.
But, can the lost trust the Bible? Well, no other book is like it- it is: reliable, prophetic, unified, durable, sufficient and authoritative. As importantly, it’s real. It explains us and our world in a way that corresponds to reality. It best answers at least four great questions that man-kind has been wrestling with for centuries:
- How did we get here (Creation)?
- Why are we here (Meaning)?
- Why are we the way we are (Morals)?
- Where are we going from here (Destiny)?
Road # 4 Christ: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Why must Jesus Christ be the final road and ultimate path to God? First, because the communication of God points to the Son of God. Second, because we need forgiveness for our sins that offend a holy God, and it is only He who provided that road to forgiveness for us with the death of His own Son.
Salvation is defined in the original Greek language of the New Testament as being a rescue or deliverance from something. That something is the consequence of sin, which separates us from God eternally and condemns us to judgment in hell (Hebrews 9:27).
The reason why Jesus is the only way of this deliverance or salvation (Acts 4:12) is because Jesus is God (John 10:30) and only God can forgive sin. Therefore, how did the Son of God accomplish this redemption? By being God incarnate, he made the only substitutionary sacrifice necessary and possible for sinners on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Having taken the unbelieving skeptic through at least one or more of these roads leading to God, the Christian would then be ready to confront the person they are witnessing to wit the fourth road, “What will you do with Jesus?” When considering a similar question, C.S. Lewis, the popular British author and philosopher argued that essentially Christ was either the Lord, a liar or a lunatic. He said :
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 with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Lewis is right and people must make a choice. The greatest news in the history of the world (the gospel) is that Jesus Christ- God in the flesh, died for sinners and conquered sin and death by His resurrection, as believers in Him will also.
So, what should we tell people to do? Virtually everyone wants a road to justice, love and forgiveness. Tell people – “your one,” to confess they’re a sinner before God, to repent, or turn from their life of sin and self and submit and surrender to Jesus Christ alone, trusting and believing in Him as the only one that can save them from judgment and then they will have found that one and only road to eternal peace, justice, love and forgiveness.
Put people on the road to redemption this Easter as Rosalin Piccard found it, when she concluded, “I once thought I was too smart to believe in God. Now I know I was an arrogant fool who snubbed the greatest Mind in the cosmos—the Author of all science, mathematics, art, and everything else there is to know.
Today I walk humbly, having received the most undeserved grace. I walk with joy, alongside the most amazing Companion anyone could ask for, filled with desire to keep learning and exploring.“