Sometimes in conversation or in witnessing to others people are astounded that I actually believe they must believe exactly like me or they will not be saved. You may have just read that and may be astounded yourself. The reason I feel this way is because I believe what the Bible teaches, and if you really, I mean really, believe what the Bible teaches then you will have to agree with me on this issue.
Take for example John 14:6. Yeshua the Christ here proclaims that He is the way, truth, and life, and that no one can come to the Father but by Him. Now, this sounds pretty exclusive to me, and I believe it with all my heart. I believe that the Son is the way to the Father, He is the means by which anyone in Adam can be at peace with the Father. Because I believe the Bible, I believe John 14:6. Because I believe John 14:6 I am forced to believe that anyone who doesn't believe in Yeshua for who He is as portrayed in Scripture will be forever lost; they will not have salvation for their soul. If you really believe the Bible then you will have to agree. If you do not agree, then you must have another worldview besides a Biblical one. In other words, if you do not agree then you really do not believe the Bible, you only give the phrase lip service.
People want to "tip-toe" around others and be politically correct rather than being up front about their belief system. Don't get me wrong, I do my best to be friendly to everyone, and I know that you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be gentle in our approach with others, all I'm saying is that if someone asks me a question about what I believe, I'm not going to lie to them or tell them the half-truth. I must be up front with them, and if needs be on certain issues, tell them that unless they believe as I do, they cannot be saved. I realize this may sound strange to some, but the reason for the sound is because people have not been taught out of the Bible in churches, or at least they've not been taught the totality of Scripture. Pastors deceive people by the droves because they quote Scripture; that's right, the Pastor quotes Scripture, straight from the Bible and the people think, "Well, how could he be wrong, after all, he is quoting Scripture." The problem lies, not with the quoting of Scripture, but with the quoting of only portions of Scripture; the portions that can be manipulated by the Preacher to his own advantage. Multitudes of verses, doctrines, and subjects go untold in churches today. People are then deceived into thinking that doctrine doesn't matter because the preacher preached last Sunday that love is the greatest thing of all. He quoted directly out of 1 Corinthians 13 - how could he be wrong.
The passage isn't wrong, but we cannot quote it with a full neglect of all of the other passage in Scripture promoting sound doctrine and teaching. We must be forthright in proclaiming what the truth is, not being ashamed at all of our exclusivism. Yeshua was an exclusivist, I want to be like Him.
We need to be able to read the Bible with are eyes wide open. I have found that people generally (not always) read Scripture from the perspective of their upbringing. Baptists read the Bible as though it was written by Baptists, Presbyterians as Presbyterians, Sacred Name groups as Sacred Name groups. It is difficult for most to read Scripture apart from what they were or are being taught Scripture states. What we've have to learn to do is to read Scripture in the original context in which it was written. We must also understand the author of the text, the people to whom the text was written to, and the culture at the time. When we are not commmitted to reading Scripture in this way we will often come away from our Bible reading thinking that this verse or that verse really shouldn't be in our Bibles. It's not our "denominational" way, so to speak.
One verse that may seem out of place to some is Ecclesiastes 10:19. The Scripture reads (KJV), "A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry, but money answereth all things." Alot of people will be able to "stomach" the portion of this text that talks about a feast. I've attended many a feast in my life, a get together of sorts with family and/or friends where there is much, much food to the liking. When a feast like this is held there will inevitably be laughter, and why not? It is enjoyable to laugh with others in a clean, fun way. It is enjoyable to here someone say or speak of something that is humorous to the ear. The Bible agrees and not many will argue - a feast is made for laughter.
The next sentence in the passage says that wine maketh merry. This is more difficult to swallow for the average Bible reader, but is it not just as true as the sentence previous to it? If we have no problem accepting the first part of the verse what makes us what to rip out and throw away the second part? And after all, doesn't wine make merry the heart? According to the Psalmist it does.
"He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart." [Psalm 104:14-15]
Once again, notice the surrounding context here. People will have no problem whatsoever about grass for cattle, and herbs for the service of man. Not one will argue about oil making a man's face shine and bread strengthening a mans heart. However, when we come to the phrase that says wine which makes the heart of man glad we seem to balk. "Oh that can't really mean what it says, can it?" we wonder. Yet the text speaks clearly, agreeing with the author of Ecclesiastes, and with numerous other texts in Scripture. Wine truly makes merry the heart. This is not a statement of sarcasm or rebuke; the author is not here trying to speak in such a way as to warn the reader not to make his heart merry. He is just giving a simple statement of truth, right along with a feast, and right along with grass, herbs, oil, and bread.
Yesterday I had the priviledge of reading a discussion between Christopher Hitchens (atheist) and Douglas Wilson (Christian theist) titled "Is Christianity Good for the World." What a read! There are so many points I could attempt to convey to you about the book, but there is one thread through Wilson's writings that stands out to me and that is how on earth does the atheist account for morality? Wilson constantly demands that Hitchens thinking inside his own atheistic "bubble." It seems that atheists want to make statements like "Why does evil exist?" or "Look how many hypocrites there are in the Christian faith!" Wilson combats these seemingly powerful statements by asking the atheist how he defines evil? What does he mean by hypocrisy? How (given his belief that there is no Creator) can he determine what is evil and/or hypocritical? How can he say that a fellow atheist who makes the decision to murder or rape a person is acting wrongly? What standard does he have to tell him such is evil?
I'm reminded of the time I did some work for a woman who told me she was an atheist. After a little while I approached her and asked if she would have had a problem with me greeting her with a slap instead of a handshake? She replied, "Do what?!?!" I repeated by asking again if she would have thought me to be wrong by greeting her with a "hello" and a slap across the face. She said she would think I was crazy, and thus I continued by asking "Why?" Why is it that she would think I was crazy? Was it because she felt it to be un-courteous? But why? If I'm just the product of a "big bang" and so is she, and I wish to convey my greeting with a slap instead of a handshake, how can she condemn me? She may rather have a handshake, but that's nothing more than her preference, in her worldview. Of course, I know why she thinks the slap is not appropriate, there is something deep inside her that acknowledges the existence of Yahweh, the Creator of heaven and earth.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.