The following are my notes from Al Mohler’s message at T4G 2014.
We need to be reminded of what brought T4G together. In 2006, we said:
“We are brothers in Christ to stand together for the gospel. We believe the gospel is misunderstood and compromised. We need to recover the gospel and stand together for it.”
We came together in 2006 to set forth a set of affirmations and denials. If you look at articles 9 & 10 you can see what we believe about evangelism. We have come together to be unashamed for the gospel.
The open door of the gospel is the only door for salvation in the gospel. Why is it necessary to say these things? It has been necessary in Acts and necessary now.
Reasons Why These Things Are Necessary
1. Shift to a cultural condition to post-Christianity.
The people with whom we are in contact in our community are post-Christian. It has taken one generation and exclusive claims are seen as naive. The Christian worldview is out of step in our society. It is bad theology and bad etiquette in our world.
2. The Generational Shift Within Evangelicalism
Christian Smith that people hold in our churches is moralistic, therapeutic, deism. If you hold to this worldview, then you will not hold to the exclusive gospel of Jesus Christ.
Imagine a college students moving into the door together and one young man is from India is talking to an evangelical and he asks the evangelical if his family is going to hell. Many students are figuring out a way to get out of that question.
3. A Century of Protestant Liberalism
Protestant liberals redefined the authority of scripture and the gospel they led to teaching people that every religion is possible. They would say that Jesus was not the only way, but he is the best way. They would say some religions are steps that are all leading the same direction. They would say the truth is the light and the religions are the stain glass windows. The truth is the light and Christianity is just the most beautiful.
If you no longer believe in the exclusivity to the gospel, then missions becomes an imperialistic embarrassment. This is why the protestant liberals have stepped back from foreign missions for the last few decades because of that embarrasment.
However, we have come together because we believe otherwise. One God. One Christ. One Gospel.
This is the first problem we face is that there is only one way. To say there is only one is one of the most controversial issues we face today. Political philosophers say that one of the greatest sins of humanity is monotheism and those who worship a monotheistic God. If we could only get rid of monotheism, then we would get rid of judgmental deities and so many evils in the world.
We need to note that the Christian gospel is a mono redemptive message and not just a mere monotheism religion.
Let’s turn to John 14:1-7
Here in John 14 Christ declares himself to his disciples as he prepares for the cross, his burial and his resurrection he want them to know where he is going. Thomas asks where he is going and he says he is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through me.
If this were the only word we had, then we would have a conclusive word. Less there be any misunderstanding he uses definite articles he is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. He then affirms and denies. He says he is the way and that no one can come to the Father except through HIM.
It is the claim of singularity. There is no way out of this text without denying the exclusivity of Christ and many have made their way out of it in this way.
Thomas says he does not the way, but Jesus says “you know ME! I am the way.”
This is controversial now. It was controversial then. In Jesus day. In the early church.
In John 10 we hear Jesus say that he is the door of the sheep. He is the good shepherd. He is the door.
In John 11 we hear Jesus say “I am the resurrection and the life.” Whoever believes in him will not die. He is THE resurrection. He is THE Christ.
In Acts 4 when being put in prison for healing a man who couldn’t walk they said “There is no other name by which we can be saved.”
They were asked a great question. Don’t you want to hear someone ask you by what power and what name you are preaching and serving? So that you can say that it is by the name and the power of Christ.
The open door is the only door. It is an apologetic challenge and more than any generation it has become more urgent than any other. But if we see this is a burden to bear, then we misunderstand and construe the gospel. Every morsel of the gospel is pleasing and what saves us.
Let me invite you into an experiment and pretend that religion is a human construct and we are going to observe without any revelation.
The first thing we observe is there is great diversity. There is a long catalog of religions. At the end of the 19th century they saw every religious leaders and said it was so neat. It is like an art musuem. They celebrated the diversity of religions.
Yet, the commonalities are not so common. Some are theistic and some are polytheistic. Most have holy books, but how does God speak. They disagree on all the major points of doctrine. The only way to say they agree and have commonalities is to not ever really look at them.
Universalism says everyone will be accepted, but not everyone agrees in heaven or want to go there. So even when we talk about universalism are we talking about.
Consider Roman Catholicism that until Vatican II there was only one salvation through the church and they were exclusive. Then since Vatican II they have adopted a radical inclusivism. Pope John Paul II was one who promoted this more than anyone else.
The idea of an anonymous Christianity has been suggested in the midpoint of the 20th century, where people do not understand that they are Christians when they are in fact Christians. This is not anywhere in the Scriptures and there is no reason for us to have urgency for evangelism and foreign missions. What is an unreached people group and why should we go tell them the gospel if they are already Christians and do not know it.
The theological costs are too great and we will lose the gospel if we believe in relative manifestations of meaning. We have not gathered together for the relative manifestations of meaning, we have gathered for a gospel that saves us because we need a savior.
This is not a burden we bear to defend the exclusivity of Christ, it is the good news of Jesus Christ. The open door is the only door. It is our life and it is the gospel we declare. It is our salvation.