[This entry follows a sermon titled "Hope for the Hopeless." Click on the title to listen to the audio.]
Jesus is the only hope for the hopeless. The Scripture reveals a desperately sinful humanity with no hope of standing justified before a holy God. It is in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, God has all that is necessary so that all who believe in Christ are justified and have peace with God (Romans 5:1).
In Mark 9:14-29, Mark describes a hopeless father and his hopeless, demon-possessed boy. Originally, they encountered Jesus' disciples, and the boys condition was as hopeless after that encounter as it was beforehand...the faithless, prayerless disciples could do nothing. Yet, when Jesus descends the mountain and enters the scene, things change. He is supreme over the powerful demon, and He is supreme over His disciples. The supremacy of Jesus Christ over all things is one of the main highlights of this text of Scripture.
In our culture today, there is a plethora of religious choices for one who is searching. Yet, the Scripture is clear...the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not on an equal plan with these other religious choices. He is superior. Look at how Psalm 115:4-7 describes the other gods that men concoct and worship: "Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound from their throat." God is clear about these other gods: "I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God..." (Isaiah 45:5).
In other words, any god that is not the one true and living God is no god at all...it is vain imagination to believe that any other god even compares to the God of the Bible. This truth was illustrated powerfully in the city of Ashdod, when the Philistines had captured the ark of God and placed it in the temple of their pagan god, Dagon (1 Samuel 5). When they came into the temple the next morning, Dagon was face down in front of the ark. The people put the god back in place...one has to wonder why a god needs men to put it back in place, but that's beside the point. Again, the next day, Dagon was face down, but this time, both his hands and head were cut off. No god can withstand the presence of the God of Israel...unlike pagan gods, Yahweh's power is real, His presence is real, and He is living.
This is a significant theological truth. If we are truly believers in God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, then we must believe this as well. We cannot even entertain the thought that "we've chosen the religion that's best for us, and other people choose what's best for them, and we're all okay" Serving a God who says all other gods are dead, vain, hopeless, and worthless means something. We must believe what God says and actually live like it. We must do as the psalmist says in Psalm 138 - "I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise" (v. 1). In the midst of the pantheon of gods that fill men's imaginations and affections, our hearts and thoughts will be filled with praise for our God.
So, thinking in this way, evangelism is transformed. No longer am I trying to get my friend to "change his religious preference." I am seeking to help him see his false view of life and of himself and of religion, and I want him to see that the only true religion is one that exalts and trusts in Jesus Christ. Becoming a Christian is not "picking a religious path," it is having one's eyes opened to the only true God, to the hopeless condition of our souls, and to the provision made through the supreme life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. It's a shift from believing a lie to believing the truth...from exalting dead gods who can do nothing for us to exalting the living God who has done everything on our behalf.
Do we believe this about Jesus...that He is supreme? Is it reflected in the way we think, speak, act, and live? If not, what will it mean for us to live in a way that He is supreme in our hearts and minds? These are questions that each of us must answer on our knees...with open Bibles.