Pastor John R. Wiuff
People cannot come to me unless the Father who sent me brings them to me. I will bring these people back to life on the last day.
No one else can save us. Indeed, we can be saved only by the power of the one named Jesus and not by any other person."
Options, I love them. I want to have many choices and styles to choose from. If I have many choices then I will be able to make the best choice that fits who I am. Since we are all so different, no one choice can fit everyone. Right?
We in America really believe that diversity and freedom to choose from the many based on personal preference of the individual is a universal truth and even a divine right.
We could say choice is our “cup of tea.” There are more teas in this world than just Lipton. In fact many Americans are discovering how diverse and wonderful the choices the world offers us in exotic teas. Not only that, we are slowly realizing what ancient people knew for millennium, that they are actually healthy for us as well as tasty.
I have brought several teas this morning and I have several different teas for us to choose from. Which is your cup of tea? Some are dark black breakfast teas, while others are light herbal, and one a very exotic ancient tea with healing powers. If I were to ask you which is your cup of tea, which would you choose. You would most likely want to smell the leaves and maybe have a taste test, while comparing which appeals to your senses the most.
The choice we make and how we make it is very much the way we approach the various claims of religions. Some religions talk about following rules, and others your bliss, while yet others say the whole thing is an illusion. The world provides us with many ways it claims that we can find our way to heaven. Many even tell us we can determine for ourselves what “heaven” will mean if we just choose their ‘cup of tea.’
In our series on a Biblical Faith we have to face a very difficult fact. The Bible tells us in all the different cups that are being offered, there is only one that will allows us to enter into the only Heaven there is, and all the other cups are poisoned. That might not be the news you want to hear, but if the Bible is right, it could be the most important hint you will receive in your life. If you knew that of all these teas I brought today were actually poisonous and one could cure all your health problems, which one would be your “cup of tea?”
The mood in America that like choices is offended by the idea that I would suggest that not only is their one way to a real Heaven, but that all other paths are poison and lead to death. One commentator on American Culture said…
"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own."
- ILN 8-11-28 (G. K. Chesterton)
What he means is that I should stand before you and tell you that every tea here is just as good as the next, even though I know they will all get you killed except one. This isn’t about taste or preference. This is about life and death.
Despite the choices that are before us this morning and everything we have been told over the years we still are confused about the decision we need to make today. Barna Research shows us in their research.
More than four out of five Americans claim to be Christian and half as many can be classified as born again Christians. Nine out of ten adults own a Bible. Most adults read the Bible during the year and a huge majority claims they know all of the basic teachings of the Bible. How, then, can most people say Satan does not exist, that the Holy Spirit is merely a symbol, that eternal peace with God can be earned through good works, and that truth can only be understood through the lens of reason and experience? How can a plurality of our citizens contend that Jesus committed sins and that the Bible, Koran and Book of Mormon all teach the same truths?
Barna Identifies Seven Paradoxes
Regarding America’s Faith
December 17, 2002
What this means is that despite what the Bible tells us, we choose to believe that any choice we make is good one, because we just want it that way. This belief that we can decide whatever we want despite what the Bible says has persisted in what American’s believe for decades now. There is a very good chance that someone reading this message or listening to me right now, are among those who believe one cup of tea is as good as another.
Recently a woman expressed what most Americans experience. She grew up church hoping and although her parents thought religion was important she didn’t really understand why they felt that way. Now that she is an mother herself she has come to this conclusion…
No matter what Church I went too the message was still the same. To live life loving yourself, loving and caring for the people around you and to make choices in life that would make Christ proud. We can’t be perfect. No one is, but the secret is to do your best. Failure only exists in the ones who choose to give up. The ones who try never fail. No matter what the outcome.
In my opinion, all roads lead to one God. There isn't any wrong or right religion. If it works for you and it gives you the strength, wisdom and serenity to live in happiness and the will to do good then so be it. 1.
(See foot note…)
Somehow this dear lady grew up in church, attends church now with her children, and still thinks that the Bible says, “Chose any cup of tea you want as long as it helps you find happiness and peace.”
Yet the Bible that most of us owns warns us that not just any cup will save. All will kill and only one has life. Which cup is it?
35. Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
The Bible tells us that Jesus has come to the end of His three year ministry and all that is left to do is to die for the sins of the world upon the cross. Jesus has the same problem I have today and every other pastor who holds out the true and trusted words of God. The problem is that people do not believe the Word of God when it declares that there is only one cup the gives life, and all the others kill.
Jesus came so we would choose the right cup, and live. God is not cruel because He does not give us enough choices. God is good because He is doing everything He can right now to get you to make the right choice and live. God is not narrowed minded, but desperate that we live. He is not pushy but urgent that we understand the danger we are in at this very moment if we choose wrong.
The choice we are given today is Christ or nothing. We must believe that God provides in Jesus the only way to be saved from our just judgment in hell or loose out forever. The only way we are going to see a resurrection is if we make the right choice.
A better analogy is to go back to our teas. What if I told you that you are dying from a fatal disease? Then what if I told you that only one of these teas could save you and all the rest wouldn’t hurt you, but they couldn’t save you from what’s wrong in your body? The Bible tells me that I have fatal disease and it is sin. I want to ignore God and go against my conscience. That nature, that sinful bent is what makes us terminal. Yet on the table is a cure, but only if you chose to believe what the Word says and drink from the right cup.
If you ask a doctor: "Have you ever had to tell someone that they were going to die soon?" He would most likely tell you that it was the hardest thing he did as a physician. But in most cases, he would detect a problem and give them a course of action that, if followed, would save their life.
That doctor isn’t being cruel or harsh. He is being deadly honest and giving hope. Yet even this clear choice is not enough to believe.
41. At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42. They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
43. “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47. Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48. I am the bread of life. 49. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
The trouble with making a good choice today about what cup we will drink is that we consider how we are doing right now and see no need to change. We getting along and life is not perfect, but good enough. Unless we are desperate why would we give up our options and commit to only one path? Why get married when you can still have fun with several partners? Why get tied down with kids when you can travel and enjoy life? Why buy a home and be stuck with a job and a mortgage when you can travel the world? In other words, why give up freedom of choice for the commitment of a demanding relationship?
When this part of Christ’s short life on earth takes place time is running short. If Christ wore a watch, He would be looking at it and tapping it with His finger. Soon He would be arrested, stand trial, and be crucified on the cross. Time was running out and those who liked Him but were not committed needed to make a choice. They would not make it through the test that was coming if they did not decide to give up their choices and commit to Him as their only hope.
For our choices to narrow and believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved from an eternity in hell and enter heaven, we need a divine intervention from God. The Bible calls this a conviction. This is an inner sensation of God in our hearts telling us that we need to make this choice or miss our chance to be saved from this world and it’s many choices. This conviction is a deep sense of knowing, a conviction that the Bible is right and all other voices are wrong. We know in our conscience this is the only real choice we have if we are going to live. God narrows the choice for us by this spirit of conviction and without it no one will commit to Christ alone as their only hope of salvation.
Has God placed that conviction in you? Have you made the choice? If you think you still have options, as most American’s do, then you have not experienced the benefits of believing the convicting Spirit of God. When we really believe God’s word, there are no other choices left. Our entire hope is on the Lord Jesus Christ, His death and His resurrection.
53. Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
66. From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
If you lack that God given conviction, all you have to do is ask for it. Just say a prayer to God and ask Him to give you the gift of a convicted spirit. King David in the Old Testament did this when he prayed,
23. Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24. See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
If you ask Father God, He will send the Holy Spirit and convict you what you must chose and narrow your focus to Jesus Christ. He may have already accomplished this in your life because someone else asked Him to bring conviction into your life. But that gift is wasted if we don’t commit to Christ as our only hope.
Jesus made His disciples choose. Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Today I am asking you to make the choice. Now is the time to commit. To accept Jesus and declare Him as your only hope of salvation is the decision we must make today. There are only two possible answers today and that is ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ We must choose.
On the communion table this morning we have a cup for you to drink. This cup represents Christ Himself. His blood is represented by the grape juice and His body by the bread. The only way drinking this juice and eating this bread will make any difference in eternity is if you commit to Christ and reject all other options of salvation. He must be Lord of all in your life, or Lord of nothing. This is no time to hold back because we are going to need this single minded focus in the days, months and maybe years ahead. Just like the disciples before Easter we must be all in and trust on Christ for everything. No other religion or philosophy will save you. They can not cure what is wrong with your heart. They can not remove the cancerous sin from our lives. Only this one cup, the cup of Christ can save us now.
Will you say yes be coming and receiving the Cup of Christ or will you say no and keep your options open? Decide now. Heed the conviction you asked for earlier and make your choice. Now is the day of salvation.
1. Stacey Chillemi is the managing editor for the magazine UZURI. She is the author of Epilepsy You're Not Alone; Live, Learn, and Be Happy with Epilepsy; Epilepsy and Pregnancy: What Every Women Should Know; the children’s book My Mommy Has Epilepsy and My Daddy Has Epilepsy ; and two collections of poetry, Keep the Faith and Eternal Love. She has recently been featured in Woman’s World Magazine and the New Jersey Star Ledger.