Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Does Bishop Jim Swilley Believe that Jesus Christ is the Only Way to God? (repost)

Q. - Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God?

A. Undoubtedly!


It is written in the Scriptures that He is the Savior of ALL people, especially those who believe: This is why we've thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We're banking on the living God, SAVIOR OF ALL MEN AND WOMEN, ESPECIALLY BELIEVERS.
(1 Timothy 4:10 – The Message)


The main purpose of the ministry is to declare the evangel, or the good news, that the Lamb of God has taken away the sin of the whole world. He has saved everyone, but not everyone knows or believes it yet (and there is definitely an advantage to being one of the ones who “especially believes”…it’s the way into the Kingdom!). But in the same way that the Prodigal Son was always a son, even though he was lost and living in a pig sty, all of humanity is in the family of God (Ephesians 3:14, 15), but most of them are lost and living in their own “pig sties” of religion, unbelief, deception or bondage to sin. They’re just away from home (“All we like sheep have gone astray…”) and need to hear the Word of Reconciliation so that they can come to themselves, as did the Prodigal Son, and then come back to the Father of us all.

That’s why in John 14:6 we hear Jesus say so confidently “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and NO ONE comes to the Father except by Me!” He had already declared in Chapter 12 that if He was lifted up from the earth on the cross, that He would draw (literally the Greek uses the word “drag”) ALL people to Himself. The work that Jesus did on that cross for all of us is universal, unparalleled and unrivaled…the cross is the nexus (the thing that brings everything together) of the universe!

I don’t believe that Jesus Christ is competitive with or hostile and antagonistic to Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, Confucius, and others of that group (“They that are not against us are for us…”), because His atoning sacrifice and resurrection sets Him above and apart from every other sage, prophet, messiah, or spiritual/religious leader in history. All of the others were great seers and teachers, and should be honored for their contribution to world, but Jesus Christ alone is the Savior of the world. In a word, Jesus Christ is Lord.

But even though I believe that Jesus is ultimately the one way to God, I do not believe that all the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Hare Krishnas, agnostics and atheists, etc. are all going to eventually walk down the aisle of a Christian church and pray the sinner’s prayer and confess Romans 10:9 and 10…nor do I believe that they are damned and going to a place called hell if they don’t. Let me explain. Quite simply, Jesus of Nazareth perfectly embodied and manifested what we call “the Christ”, and it’s Christ that is actually the way to God. Jesus was and is the Christ, but the Christ was here before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. According to Paul, centuries before Jesus’ Incarnation, even Israel in the wilderness was “in Christ” : For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, AND THAT ROCK WAS CHRIST. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4 – TNIV)

And the writer of Hebrews said that Moses, while growing up in polytheistic Egypt, definitely knew “Christ”, even though he would have no way of knowing who Jesus was: By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. (Hebrews 11:24-26 – TNIV)

That’s why I always say There are those who know His name, but don’t know Him, as there are those who know Him, even though they don’t know His name. There is definitely one way to God and that is Christ…and flesh and blood cannot reveal Christ to us…one way to God/many ways to Christ…and Jesus is the Christ, but it is Christ, not Christianity that is the way, the truth and the life. Undoubtedly, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Way!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

AMEN AND AMEN!!!

Iconoclast said...

The Supremacy of Christ

13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

I LOVE THE BIBLE AND THE STUDY OF IT; I BELIEVE IT IS THE WORD OF GOD, Don’t forget that.
But now taking into consideration the whole world, and not just our own limited sphere of life. There are literally millions maybe billions of people in the world that are not as blessed as we are here in the good ole USA; many have little education, many cannot read or do not have a bible or any resources to study. Many have never seen a bible or heard the only name under heaven whereby we must be saved – “Jesus” or is it Yeshua or Jehoshua, or Mashiah Jehovah, or Jesús I guess here in America it would be Jesus Christ; I don’t know about you but I cant even begin to pronounce His name in some languages.The point is I don’t think it matters to God what sounds come out of our mouths as much as what you are meaning in your heart. There are many people that, even if they had the resources and could read would have difficulty understanding what they read. Some have real problems comprehending what they read - even here in the USA. Then you have all the ones that were born and raised in a culture that taught them a different understanding of who God is; this of course is completely out of their control. These people did not decided to be born and raised in these other places.
Now here’s the deal; with all this needed study of the bible and knowing certain verses, to come to believe in Christ; what are they to do? Are they excluded ? do they even have a chance to be saved in this life? ( I know all will eventually be saved in the end of the ages; but I am speaking of here and now) or do they even have that chance in this life, considering some of the requirements that some would impose for that to take place? are they without hope because of their uncontrollable life circumstances? Seems to me that if the study of the bible is God’s only means of communicating the word to bring us to salvation & maturity; then He is missing a lot of folks out there. I personally believe that God has many ways to communicate with people. I don’t think God is bound between two leather covers or limited to paper and ink. God is a little bigger than that. We also know that when the bible itself speaks of "the word" many times is not talking about written words but "a person" - The Lord Jesus Christ! (John 1:1,14) Also many times "the word" is referring to a spoken word in the now or a present thought. I honestly do not know how God is dealing with this; but I know he is being fair, loving, and merciful. And with that conclusion I would say he is not ruling them out of a relationship with Him because of circumstances beyond their control; knowing that God looks more at your heart than in your head. It is sad to say but there are some educated idiots out there teaching the bible too. (They can't help it they are blind and cannot see, I speak from experience) And there are some very uneducated people who have hearts of gold and faith to move mountains. I think this may be what Jesus was getting at when He said “many of the first would be last and the last first,” and “you must become as little children.”

Hannah Whitall Smith says this, “As the sunlight fills the air all around us and enters wherever there is an opening, the presence of God fills the whole universe and enters every heart that opens to receive Him.”

George Macdonald says concerning this, “The spirit of God lies all about the spirit of man like a mighty sea ready to rush in at the smallest chink in the walls that shut Him out from His own.”

Burning bridges,
Building new ones,
Iconoclast

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Brilliant, Iconoclast...thanks!