Gospel, Salvation, and Other Religions - Lesson 1
Theology of Religions
In this lesson, the concepts of Theology of Religion, Types of Religions, World Religions, Pluralism, Creation, Fall, and Redemption, the Image of God, Common Grace, Special Revelation, Approaches to Dialogue, and Biblical Guidelines for Dialogue are discussed.
Theology of Religions
I. Defining Terms and Concepts
A. Theology of Religion
B. Types of Religions
C. World Religions
II. Theological Considerations of Religions
A. Creation, Fall, and Redemption
B. The Image of God
C. Common Grace
D. Special Revelation
III. Dialogue with Other Religions
A. Approaches to Dialogue
B. Biblical Guidelines for Dialogue
- This lesson provides an overview of the various aspects of Theology of Religion, and explores the complexities of engaging in dialogue with other religions.
- You will gain an understanding of the exclusivity of Christ and its implications for other religions, as well as the challenges to exclusivity presented by atheism, theological pluralism, and other religions. You'll also learn how to engage other religions and live out Christian witness in a pluralistic world.
- This lesson will provide you a deeper understanding of how Jesus is the central figure of Scripture, and how Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in the New Testament.
- You will gain insight into the similarities and differences between the religions of the Ancient Near East and the religions of the Bible, looking at concepts such as Hebrew monotheism, the theology of salvation, and the theology of creation. You'll also explore how mythology and evil are portrayed in both the Ancient Near East religions and the Bible, as well as how the Bible incorporates cultural elements from the Ancient Near East religions.
- You will gain insight into the implications of polytheism from a biblical perspective and understand the nature of God and the roles of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
- In this lesson, you will gain a better understanding of the New Testament and its relationship to other religions. You will gain insight into the theological messages found in the various books of the New Testament, and learn how the New Testament relates to other religions in terms of Jesus, salvation, evangelism, and relationships.
- This lesson you will receive an overview of universalism, its historical context, and its implications for the Bible and theology. You will learn the different types of universalism and examine the biblical passages related to universalism, as well as the theological perspectives on universalism.
- You will gain an understanding of what pluralism is and how it has evolved over time. You will also explore the challenges to pluralism and the implications it has for religious dialogue and multiculturalism.
- In this lesson, you will gain an understanding of inclusivism, its history and theology, as well as its application in missions. You will learn that inclusivism is an approach to theology that respects and works with different religious paths, and offers a robust theology of salvation that is both inclusive and faithful to the biblical message
- This lesson will teach you about the presence and role of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, including Ancient Near Eastern Religion, the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, Wisdom Literature, and Prophets.
- You will gain a comprehensive understanding of the person and nature of the Holy Spirit, the role and ministry of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, the process of receiving the Holy Spirit, and the gifts and fruit of the Spirit.
- This lesson provides an overview of the critical questions related to the gospel, salvation and other religions, and the importance of asking them. It explores questions of homogeneity, essentialism and pluralism with definitions and examples.
With Todd Miles, Ph.D. Western Christianity’s interaction with world religions used to be, for the most part, overseas. Today, “religious others” often live next door. At a changing time when one public prayer spoken during the 2009 U.S. presidential inauguration festivities was addressed to “O god of our many understandings,” the evangelical Christian church should do more than simply dismiss non-Christian religions as pagan without argument or comment. The Church needs a theology of religions that is Christ-honoring, biblically faithful, intellectually satisfying, compassionate, and that will encourage Spirit-powered mission.
Dr. Todd Miles
Gospel, Salvation, and Other Religions
Theology of Religions
[00:00:10] Hello, my name is Todd Miles, and I am an associate professor of theology here at Western Seminary. I've been doing a lot of study recently on just the concept of of other religions and how how we as Christians are supposed to interact with them. And so I'm I'm excited to be able to spend this time talking with you about that, about this very issue. Over this time, you're going to get to know me a whole lot better than I will ever get to know you. So let me give you a little bit of information about myself. I am married. I have three children. I am an elder at Hinson Church, and right now I have the role of the lead preaching elder there. I have been a Christian since boy, since I can remember. I grew up hearing the gospel from my mother and my father. I went to Oregon State University, where I majored in engineering. I went and worked in National Laboratory for ten years as an engineer. And then I then I began to transition into more and more ministry, eventually came to Western Seminary, do my master divinity. And then I did my PhD at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in in, in theology. So that's just a bit about me. Let's talk about this whole concept of of a theology of religions. I want introduce it by taking us back to the inauguration of Barack Obama, president of the United States. Sunday morning, January 18th, Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, he steps to the podium in the 2009 inauguration events right near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. He opens up the inauguration festivities for Barack Obama with an invocation and he begins his prayer.
[00:02:06] O God of our many understandings. We pray that you will. And then he beseeches the Lord for a number of things. One interesting title that he gave our God rather than national outrage at this, what I would consider to be a very blasphemous and nonsensical address of the one who controls the destinies of the nations. This invocation was actually hailed by many as a demonstration of inclusiveness. Now, Robinson made headlines before he is an openly homosexual Episcopal priest. He had studied previous inaugural prayers and he was, quote, horrified at how specifically and aggressively Christian they were. And so he had promised ahead of time that his prayer would not be overtly Christian, nor would he quote any scripture because he wanted all people to feel that this was their prayer. Confusion over the identity of God is especially rampant among the younger generations. Lillian Mungo, writer and blogger for the Millennial Generation, she comments God all the way, The Creator, the one the inner GEs goes by as many names in this country as ever. I do believe that God is in everyone, though by what name He resides. There seems to me to be up to the person in question. Now, on any sort of analysis, this is logical and theological nonsense. But Mongo defends the oddity of his statements by explaining that for her generation, believing such things is simply considered good manners almost reminds you of the king of heart, the Queen of hearts in Alice in Wonderland postmodernity. This this age that we live in very skeptical towards truth claims of any kind. And tolerance has been elevated to the status of the prevailing human virtue. We have experienced a shrinking of the world due to advancements in transportation and communications technology, and this has caused a radical alteration in the theological and in the mis theological landscape.
[00:04:35] I mean, you think on that. Communications technology, transportation technology has begun to alter the way Christians think about God and has begun to alter the way in which we believe that we ought to be fulfilling and obeying the Great Commission. This is exemplified in in Western Christianity's interaction with world religions. Think about this. For the Western Church participants in the religions of the world, other than Christianity, and I'm going to call them. Religious others through this entire course. They used to be overseas. I mean, when I was growing up and I'm not that old at the time of this taping, I'm 42 years old. When I wanted to learn about religious others, any encounter that I had with them was either through a brief peripheral encounter by watching Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. It was by reading National Geographic, or it was when a missionary came to our church during missions week and spoke to us about the people that he was encountering. But today, religious others, they're no longer over there. They lived next door, maybe in the past as a Christian. It would have been easy to dismiss religious others as being pagan uncivilized. Their culture was barbaric because they were always over there. But now they live next door. They live next door to us. And we find that they're not necessarily barbarians. They're not cannibals. They they dress the way that we dress. They watch the same TV shows that we watch. They root for the same sports teams that we watch. They shop in the same grocery stores in which we shop. They're an awful lot like us. Some of them are even very pious. They're good neighbors. Some of them are better neighbors than our so-called Christian neighbors that we have.
[00:06:37] And so what are we supposed to do with this? We live in a religiously pluralistic world, and this is occasion to call for a renewed Christian theology of religions. I'll give you the definition of that here in a moment. This is but briefly. It's an investigation into the biblical understanding of world religions and how they fit into the redemptive purposes of God. So, by way, of course, outline here's what we'll be doing for the next ten weeks. The purposes of this class are many, but all are related to the promotion of the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That's my overwhelming burden in this. Over the next two weeks, I want to look at the uniqueness of Christ. I want to maintain on on biblical and theological grounds that conscious faith in the Gospel defined as the good news of the life and the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as anticipated and then developed and then presented in Holy Scripture. It is absolutely necessary for salvation. In particular, I want to defend what I believe to be the clear biblical teaching that our only hope of being reconciled to God, our only hope of living in the Kingdom of God is on the basis of Jesus Christ person and His work. Now, not only is our only hope for salvation grounded in Christ, but we must explicitly repent and trust in Christ in order to be saved. Because of this, only those who repent and put their faith in Christ, in particular, those who believe the Gospel will be saved. This is a very popular notion today. Yet it rubs against all of the cultural ethos, all of our cultural sensibilities that we have. And yet I believe that it's the truth.
[00:08:46] Because. Because it's the truth. It's a good thing. We have to cling to that. So we're going to be talking about here this the term that I'm going to use to defend this notion that you have to believe the gospel in order to be saved is called exclusive ism. And exclusive ism is challenged by some Christians, even some evangelical Christians who, while remaining convinced that the only hope and basis of salvation is the work of Christ, they question how God could unjustly condemn those who, through no fault of their own, were not recipients of the Gospel of Christ. Some of these people perhaps even rejected the Gospel of Christ, but they did it because they were culturally conditioned to. And that's not fair. Well, these well-meaning Christians and refer to them as inclusiveness throughout this time. They speculate that perhaps some of the evangelized who seek God, they will be saved on the basis of Christ's death, even though they have not consciously repented, even though they have not believed the Gospel. My goal is to demonstrate that not only is the reality of Christ death and resurrection absolutely necessary for salvation, but it has to be proclaimed and believed, if any are saved. It's through conscious faith in Jesus Christ and his work on the cross. And I want to walk through the biblical ground. Why this is a necessary truth and why it is a logical truth as presented in Scripture. We're in look at the Bible. We're going to study those passages that teach that one has to believe the gospel in order to be saved. We'll also look at the overall plot of Scripture. And I think what we'll find there is that Jesus saw himself as the very center of the biblical story.
[00:10:33] He is essential to life in the fourth and fifth sessions. We're gonna look at the Bible and see what the Scriptures say about other religions. We're going to ask questions like, Are there many gods? What is the role of the demonic? Where do other religions come from? We're also going to look at Jesus's interaction and the apostles interaction with religious others and then look to that for wisdom. We're going to find teaching on and how we are to speak, how we are to interact with those of other faiths. From that point, then we're going to look in detail at other proposals for salvation in this pluralistic world. In week six, I'm going to explain and then I'm going to critique Universalism. This is the idea that all are saved. Seventh week, we'll explain and critique pluralism. This is the idea that there are many paths to God. Now, not all are saved. That is not all. Get in. Whatever saved or get in means to each individual. But there is nothing unique about Jesus or his work in the mind of the pluralist in. And. We'll look at inclusive ism in detail. The idea that salvation comes only on the basis of the work of Christ, but God may apply that work of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. To some who, through no fault of their own, have not believed the Gospel. They do not know of Christ. In week nine, we're going to study the Bible's presentation of the Holy Spirit, which I hope to convince you that the role of the Holy Spirit, as presented in Scripture, is to glorify the Son of God and this inclusive mystic proposal that the Spirit is at work in other religions, regenerating people, saving them apart from any sort of Christ.
[00:12:27] Glorifying faith in Jesus is contrary to the Bible's own presentation of the relationship between the Son in the Spirit. And then finally, in the 10th session will conclude by looking at some important questions, some practical questions surrounding a Christian theology of religions, like is there salvation in other religions? Is there some truth in other religions? What about in a religious dialog? What about inter-religious cooperation in social justice endeavors? At the end of all of this, my prevailing goal is to convince you of the simple and necessary answer to the question What about those who have never heard the gospel? The consistent biblical response is Go tell them in the revelation of God, in Holy Scripture, there is no protracted philosophizing. There is no conjecture over the fate of the evangelize. There is, however, an urgent call to proclamation of the Gospel, and there is a developed biblical theology of mission. And so the question is, well, what about those in Papua New Guinea who have never heard the gospel? The biblical response is you go tell them. Well, what about those in Africa? You go tell them. Well, what about those? You go tell them what you go tell them. That's the biblical response to the question. What about those who have never heard any theological construction that we do that impedes zealous commitment to evangelism is unbiblical and it is unfaithful and it is dishonoring to Christ? Concurrent with the investigation of Christian interaction with world religions is a call for a review of the Christian myths theological strategy. I mean, after all, if the Holy Spirit is off saving people apart from gospel for a proclamation, why do it? There are doctrines that are being challenged right now, and they're defended in light of the strategy, like the doctrine of salvation, the doctrine of Christ, the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit.
[00:14:39] Gerald Anderson writing for back in 1993, he stated this No issue in theology is more important, is more difficult, is more controversial, or is more divisive for the days ahead than the theology of religions. The very thing we're going to be talking about here, he goes on to say, This is the theological issue for mission in the 1990s and into the 21st century, precisely where we're at. And I'm concerned I am concerned that if a pluralistic understanding. A universalist understanding or an inclusive understanding of salvation in a pluralistic world wins the day. The very heart will be cut out of the motivation to missions, and that can't happen. All right. What is a Christian theology of religions? Religious and philosophical pluralism. They have been empirical realities since shortly after the fall of man. I mean, if we consider religious pluralism to be the idea that there are beliefs in other gods or conflicting beliefs in one God, those have been around since the earliest chapters of Genesis. And they chronicle the sad reality that the world has rarely been unified in acceptable worship of the one true and living God. Early in human history, there were multiple religions. There is the worship of different gods, and there are incompatible convictions on the nature of reality, the nature of the moral universe that is the world that we have, that we live in. And that has been the world that we have always lived in since the fall. Where we're at today shares much in common with that of previous generations. But what has changed in our time? What has changed in our time is the public perception of religious pluralism. I mean, in the West, because of the rise of the global village, the increased communications technology, the relativistic mindset of postmodernity, what was once just a simple reality.
[00:16:39] Yeah, there are lots of religions out there has been elevated or cherished in the Western value system. I mean, the statement that there are many religions in the world is no longer a statement of simple arithmetic reality in our shrinking world. The fact the statement. There are many religions in the world is a statement of how things ought to be. We like the fact that there are many religions of the world. There ought to be religious diversity. And so the implications for Christianity and Christian mission there are enormous. Responding to this cultural, this social, this religious, this epistemological, how we think, how we know things. The shift is the responsibility of the church. You see, it's not going to do to simply dismiss non-Christian religions as pagan without argument or comment. We need a theology of religions that is at once to Christ honoring that is biblically faithful, that is intellectually satisfying, that is compassionate, and it will encourage spirit motivated mission Spirit Empowered Mission a theology of religions, therefore seeks in a coherent and a consistent manner to answer questions concerning the relationships among the world religions, about special revelation in general revelation and salvation in the nature of God. A theology of religions is not a description of the doctrines and the practices of the various religions of the world. So when I talk to you about a theology of religions, I'm not going to talk about the specific things that Buddhists believe and what we need to do to to argue against them. I'm not going to talk to you about what Muslims believe or what Wiccans believe or even what atheists believe. This is not a theology of religions, is not a comparative study of religions. It's not a specific evangelistic strategy or apologist or apologetics strategy tailored to to reach any one particular non-Christian religion.
[00:18:54] A theology of religions is foundational to those descriptive and apologetic tasks. It is important that we have a specific strategy for engaging Muslims in proclaiming the gospel to Buddhists. That is very, very important. It's just not what we're going to do here. These particular original religion is different. They have incompatible convictions on the nature of God and revelation, the human dilemma, salvation. Each particular religion will have a different theology of religions. We're going to approach it from a distinctly Christian perspective viewpoint. A Christian theology of religions addresses the reality and significance of religious others from a distinctly Christian perspective. It is the attempt to think theologically about what it means for Christians to live with people of other faiths and about the relationship of Christianity to other religions. A primary consequence a Christian theology of religion seeks to answer these questions. Is there salvation, outside conscious faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? And if so, how might it be appropriated? Why are people incurably religious? Where do the religious impulses and convictions arise? Where do they come from? Are there salvific elements or truths of God and redemption Outside, as Jude put it, the faith that was delivered to the Saints once for all our Christians to relate to religious others as they bring the gospel of truth to them. Formulation of a Christian theology of religions is not peculiar to a to the current setting. I mean, in the coming sessions, we're going to find it from the earliest missionary endeavors of the church that are recorded in the Book of Acts. Christians have consciously and strategically thought of the Gospels implications for religious others. And so this class is going to be distinctly and unashamedly Christian. It will reflect a Christian perspective.
[00:21:00] It's going to be based upon Christian presuppositions. It's going to be submitted to the authority of the Christian Scriptures while seeking to honor the Christ of Christianity with a call to Christian mission is called A Christian mission is rooted in the unique nature of God, as revealed in the Bible and the exclusive claims of Jesus based on His life and then his work. In order to understand that all that this Christian theology of religions entails, it's necessary to understand clearly the nature of Christianity and the Gospel. So all the conclusions that are presented in this in this class, they flow from my understanding of the gospel. First off, Christian theology of religions. What is it to be Christian? Well, historically, the term Christian was first applied to the disciples of Jesus, those who were committed to the teaching ministry and the fellowship of the church. We find that in Acts Chapter 11, verse 26, These folks had confessed faith in the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. We find that as early as Chapter two. And that confession was not just a simple. Attraction to the teachings of Jesus. Like, man, this guy has some good things to say. I'll try to fit him into my life, where it's appropriate, where it's convenient. No, this was a commitment to the totality of his person and work. Simply put, Christians were those who believed the claims of Jesus and they submitted to His Lordship claims and Lordship of Jesus are part of a story that began at creation. It includes the fall of mankind and in God's promise to rescue His people through the offspring of Abraham. We find those promises given to Abraham in Genesis 12 and in 15 we find them reiterated in Genesis 48 by Jacob.
[00:22:56] He's going to rescue his people through the heir to the throne. We find this in Second Samuel, Chapter seven, and then all sorts of prophecies about this one. Who is to come, this Messiah? Who is the who is the David X? And this is story I'm going to call it redemptive history throughout is orchestrated by God in history, and it's revealed to humanity through God's prophets, the biblical writers, this redemptive narrative, this redemptive story. It's anchored in history. It really happened. It focuses on Jesus as the savior of mankind in the Lord of all. And it's in Scripture, aided in the Bible. You see, Jesus put himself at the very center of the biblical story. We'll look at that. In a couple of sessions, Jesus saw himself as the fulfillment of the law, the prophets, the writings. That is what we come have come to know is the Old Testament. To be a Christian, therefore, in any historic or orthodox sense, is to submit to the entire revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ in Scripture and to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ. When I when I talk to you about a Christian theology of religions, I'm not interested in cultural Christianity. I'm interested in a sold out commitment to Jesus as your only hope, our only hope for salvation. So when I when I speak here, I want, you know, from the very beginning where I'm coming from. I believe in the worship of the one true God who fully exists simultaneously and without division or confusion in three persons the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I'm Trinitarian. I believe in the authority of Scripture that's grounded in the inspiration by the Holy Spirit. That makes this book qualitatively different than any other sacred text of any other relation.
[00:24:46] Religion qualitatively different. It's not just quantitatively better, it's qualitatively superior because it's written by inspiration of God. I believe in the supremacy in central city of the Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated in his life. Is his substitution Aeris death, His resurrection, His ascension. All these things are the hinge upon which all of redemptive and human history turn, I believe, and in the necessary, the necessity of personal conviction. Personal conversion. Regeneration. These things are necessary to enter the Kingdom of God. It's like Jesus told Nicodemus, You have to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God. Believe in the Lordship and guidance of the Holy Spirit, leaving the fellowship of the local Church for witness, service and worship. Believe in the exercise of personal piety through spiritual disciplines like prayer, meditation, Bible reading. We can have an actual relationship with the Creator of the universe. Through his son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, I am convinced of the priority of evangelism and mission manifest in a spirit empowered proclamation of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Gospel of Jesus. The name Evangelical and its distinctive stay. They bear testimony to the centrality of the evangel, the Gospel in evangelicalism. So when I speak of evangelicalism, when I say I'm an evangelical, I'm not talking about some 20th century or 21st century phenomenon that is politically tied to the Republican Party. I'm talking about being a gospel person, and that's the approach we're going to take here. So what is the gospel? Apostle Paul summarized his gospel message in First Corinthians 15 one through eight. Now, brothers, I want to clarify for you the Gospel. I proclaimed you. You received it and have taken your stand on it. You are also saved by it. If you hold to the message I proclaim to you, unless you believe to no purpose, for I passed on to you as most important, what I also receive that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures that He was buried, that he was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to see first, then to the 12th.
[00:27:17] Then he appeared to over 500 brothers at one time, most of whom remain to the present. But some have fallen asleep to me, appeared to James and to all the apostles. Last of all is to one abnormally born. He also appeared to me in a very succinct summary the Gospel. But it is packed with theological importance and significance. We're told here that Jesus Christ died for. And there there's a Greek word there that who paired it means on behalf of in the place of sinners. Christ died in the place of sinners. He was then raised from the dead for the justification of sinners. And it's this message that was preached by Paul, and it was believed for salvation by the Corinthians. You see that in first Corinthians 1511. We see that in first Corinthians 15, verses one and two, they're believing it. And it's by believing that they are saved. Really, that's the message, the gospel of John. You remember John 316 for God to love the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. In reflecting on Paul's good news message that the Gospel Coalition, this is an interdenominational group of pastors and theologians who are dedicated to clear and uncompromised proclamation of the gospel by the church. They offer the following statement that I think is very helpful. We believe that the Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ. It's God's wisdom, utter folly to the world, even though it is the power of God to those who are being saved. This good news is Christological centering on the cross and the resurrection that the Gospel is not proclaimed. If Christ is not proclaimed and the authentic Christ has not been proclaimed, if His death and resurrection are not central.
[00:29:11] That message in First Corinthians 15, Christ died for our sins and was raised. That is necessary to the Gospel. This good news is biblical. His death and resurrection are according to the Scriptures that that is. They were prophesied. It wasn't just that God reacted when He saw Jesus on the cross and said, Wow, what am I going to do? I, I guess I better lay the sins of the world upon Jesus. Now, no, Jesus was the lamb of God crucified before the foundations of the world. By the Plan of God. He's been in control of this entire thing. This good news is theological. It's Salvific. Christ died for our sins. He died to reconcile us to God. It is historical. That is, if these saving events did not actually happen in time, space history, our faith is worthless. We are still in our sins, Paul said. We are to be pitied more than all others. Later on in First Corinthians 15, this message is apostolic and it is transmitted by the apostles who were witnesses of these saving events generally and significance. What we read in First Corinthians 15 that that is a time this was written. There were living witnesses to the things that were written about. I, I would challenge any other sacred text to, to have that kind of authenticity, that kind of historical groundedness. And this gospel is intensely personal. That is where it is received, believed and held firmly. Individual persons are saved is really helpful, I think. Turn with me also two acts, Chapter two versus 22 through 24. Here we get, you might say the very first Christian. Evangelistic message in the sense that it was after Christ ascended and sent the Holy Spirit, this Spirit empowered message by the Apostle Peter at Pentecost.
[00:31:06] He says this Men of Israel hear these words Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through Him in your midst. As you yourselves know, this Jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, losing the pangs of death because it was not possible for him to be held by it. Here we find the same essential aspects of the Gospel. Jesus Christ, according to the Plan of God, was delivered up for death but was raised from the dead by God. In verse 33, we find that Jesus was raised. He was exalted to the right hand of God, where He has since sent the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of New Covenant promises. Peter summarized the significance of Jesus in this way in verse 36 of Chapter two. Let all the House of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. And when the audience heard this, they were convicted and they asked, What do we do? And note the response of Peter in verse 38 Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. That's the Gospel Church of Jesus Christ. It was buried in the context of mission in Gospel Proclamation. It was buried in the context of religious others that the Book of Acts speaks of this gospel proclamation to people who believe differently, who believe in other gods. Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father. He left clear marching orders for his followers.
[00:32:50] They were to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son of the Holy Spirit. You know, Matthew 28, 19 and 20. To enable this mission, Jesus promised that his authoritative presence would always attend his disciples. Matthew 28, verse 20. He promised that he would send His spirit to empower them to witness of him to the ends of the Earth in Acts Chapter one, verse eight. And when Jesus fulfilled his promise by sending the Spirit at Pentecost, the first sermon preached following the inauguration of the Church by the Spirit, it resulted in 3000 people repenting and believing. The Gospel sees a church. It exists for the glory of Christ and the sake of missions. When the church ceases to proclaim, she denies the fundamental reality of who she is, because the church exists by the Gospel and the church exists for the gospel. Purpose of the church is not changed today, as in the very first century, when Peter stood up to preach, the church is called to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who have been blinded by the God of this age so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel, the glory of Christ. Paul tells us that, said Corinthians four. The message of the cross remains foolish to those who are perishing. Paul warns us of that in First Corinthians one. But today there is enormous cultural pressure and there masquerades as a commitment to the value of tolerance to reject any truth claim that assumes superiority over alternatives. But what I want to say to you is that that the gospel makes just such a claim of superiority. You see, Jesus commissioned the church with a unique message of salvation.
[00:34:33] The church has been motivated to herald the message out of love for and obedience to Christ, and because apart from that message, they were convinced that there is absolutely no hope for anybody anywhere. When the prevailing wisdom of the world is that there ought to be religious diversity. Then the Gospel becomes suspect because the exclusive and necessary nature of its message threatens the way things ought to be. But it's the conversion. It is the Christian conviction that the world must hear and must believe the particular message of Jesus Christ as the way the truth and the life. And that runs headlong into contemporary sensibilities. But when the church alters the gospel message into something that's more palatable to modern sensibilities, it might be respected and it might be embraced by religious others. But such a message would not be the gospel. It would be a denial of who Jesus is and what he did to reconcile the world to God. And we dare not go there.