There was a recent news article about a neurosurgeon who had always discounted his patient's "near death" experiences as their mind's creations while gasping for life. But his own "near death" experience that has convinced him that there is a life after death. When asked if he had become a Christian, he denounced the idea that there was any one particular path to the truth. He implied that all paths will lead to heaven.
But religions that have absolute opposite truth claims cannot both be true. For example, Christians say that Jesus is God, and others say He is not. Both cannot be correct. They could both be wrong, using human logic, but they cannot both be right. Either Jesus is God or He is not. But if both are wrong, then how could it be true that all paths lead to salvation? (See John 1:1-14; 8:24 & 58; and 10:30; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:16, and 6:15; and other passages from Scripture)
Our own searches for God fail because we begin not with good intentions, but with self-serving goals. We will not allow, by our nature (thus desires), for God to reveal Himself to us, but that's the only way we can learn of Him. One 16th century theologian described his earlier life in pietic religiosity as a failure because, "(I) did not...acknowledge my sins and lack of reverence for God. (I) did not understand original sin.
A 21st century theologian recently wrote, "The riches of Christ cannot be searched out; they are unsearchable! That's the work of God." God does that work through His servants who reveal things of Him that the servants do not fully comprehend but know are true. Abraham raised his knife to sacrifice his son, but God spared Isaac, but not God's own Son. (Genesis 22) The 8th century BC prophet Isaiah pointed to the One who would suffer (Isaiah 7:14: 9:1-2; and chapter 53) and 5th century BC servant Micah told of Jesus' birth and work. (Micah 5:1-2)
Sunday, January 6 begins the Church season of Epiphany. The Three Year Lectionary begins by reading how the Magi went to find Jesus to worship Him. They did not follow their own hunches, but followed God's Word which spoke to them. (Matthew 2:1-12). The next Sunday (January 13) recalls the baptism of Jesus after which the Father revealed His delight in whom this Man was (and is). (Luke 3:15-22) The following Sunday gives us the account of Jesus' first miracle, the wedding at Cana, where He changes water into fine wine.
The Christian journey can begin (as with the Magi) with going to where Jesus can be present--now it is in the bread and wine of Holy Communion in church. The Church is where the person is baptized and saved (1 Peter 3:21), and the whole life of Christian living is witnessing miracles just as magnificent as at Cana.
Jesus told His disciples, "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me." (Matthew 16:24) Denying oneself involves recognition of one's sins and lack of reverence for Him. His Word will sound clearer and the next life promises more joy where death will no longer be near or anywhere. Gloria Deo--Glory to God.
Pastor Timothy Matthew
is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran
Church in Kennett.