“There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” —Acts 4:12
Coach Joseph Kennedy will be reinstated as a high school football coach after he was fired seven years ago for leading prayers on the field after games. This after the US Supreme Court sided with him last June. Critics alleged that he was forcing his faith on his students, which violates the cardinal virtues of our postmodern culture: tolerance and inclusion.
Such inclusion is on display now in the UK after Rishi Sunak became the first British prime minister of color and, as a Hindu, the first non-Christian. Britain now has a Christian king, a Hindu prime minister, a Muslim mayor of London, and a leader of the opposition who married into a Jewish family.
In other news, the Associated Press reports that a record number of LGBTQ candidates are running for office and notes that “some breakthrough victories are likely.” Meanwhile, the Presbyterian Church USA will add a “nonbinary/genderqueer” category to official church statistics. If you disagree, many will say that you are homophobic and as dangerous to society as if you were a member of the KKK.
One more related story: Pew Research Center and the General Social Survey agree that the percentage of religiously unaffiliated Americans is higher than ever before. Only 63 percent of Americans consider themselves to be Christians, declining from 90 percent in 1972; 29 percent are religiously unaffiliated, up from 5 percent in 1972.
Does the growing number of people with no faith grieve you? If not, why not?
Imposing my polio vaccine on you
We have focused this week on the privilege and necessity of being bold and public with our faith. Let’s close by exploring the necessity of sharing our faith with our skeptical culture.
Almost half of Christian Millennials (47 percent) believe that it is wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will one day share the same faith. This fact should not surprise us: postmodern relativism has indoctrinated generations of Americans with the claim that all truth claims are relative and subjective. If all truth is personal, what right (or responsibility) do I have to “impose” my personal beliefs on you?
Consider an analogy.
Polio is making a comeback in the US due to declining vaccination rates. After Dr. Jonas Salk discovered a vaccine against poliomyelitis in 1953, all children were inoculated against the disease, myself included. This is unfortunately no longer the case.
Now imagine that science found a cure for polio that does not require a vaccine. Why, then, would I impose on you the vaccine I received as a child? Alternately, imagine that there are scores of different vaccines available, each of them as effective as any other. Again, why would I impose my vaccine on you? If I tried to do so, how would you respond?
“No one comes to the Father except through me”
In a similar fashion, many Christians today discount or even dismiss the need for sharing their faith with unbelievers.
Some are universalists, believing that because God loves all of us, all of us will go to heaven. Others are “Christian universalists,” believing that Jesus died for everyone, so everyone will go to heaven whether they believe in him or not. You don’t need to know about Jonas Salk to benefit from his vaccine; you don’t need to have a personal faith in Jesus to benefit from his sacrifice, or so some say.
However, God’s word regarding the necessity of personal faith in Christ is clear. Jesus famously said of himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Peter said of his Lord, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The book of Revelation reports, “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life [through faith in Christ], he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). And Jesus’ statement is definitive: “Whoever believes in [Christ] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18).
Three practical responses
Of course, postmodern skeptics will say that these biblical claims are “our” truth and that they are under no obligation to make them “their” truth. Let’s consider three practical responses.
One: Pray for God to do what you cannot.
You and I cannot convict a single sinner of a single sin or save a single soul. This is the work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8). Pray by name for the lost people you know, asking the Lord to draw them to himself.
Two: Look for ways to join God in answering your prayer.
God’s Spirit is at work today in lives he intends you to influence tomorrow. Ask his Spirit to prompt you when he wants you to meet a need in Jesus’ name (cf. 1 Peter 4:10). Ask him to give you the words you are to say when you are to say them (Luke 12:12). Then trust that he is using your ministry whether you can see immediate results or not.
Three: Begin today.
C. S. Lewis, in his 1939 sermon “Learning in War-Time,” encouraged Oxford University students during the Second World War: “Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment ‘as to the Lord.’ It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.”
Fulfilling our “one purpose” in life
Oswald Chambers states: “The great essential of the missionary is that he remains true to the call of God and realizes that his one purpose is to disciple men and women to Jesus” (my emphasis). But he also reminds us that we must experience for ourselves what we would share with others: “The one great challenge is—Do I know my risen Lord? Do I know the power of his indwelling Spirit?”
Have you asked God’s Spirit to empower and use your life yet today?