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Isaiah 8:20 • tv188a
A television broadcast sermon delivered
Sunday, February 20th, 1983
Henry T. Mahan
Transcribed, edited and published
November 8th, 2012
Henry T. Mahan Tape Library
Zebulon Baptist Church
6088 Zebulon Highway
Pikeville, KY 41501
“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
I would like for you to turn to my message today to the Book of Isaiah. I will be speaking on the subject: “THE BIBLE, OUR ONLY INFALLIBLE WORD.”
I am reading a portion of Scripture from the 8th chapter of Isaiah verse 20. Now listen carefully to the Scripture. “To the law (to the Word of God) and to the testimony, if they; (that means the preachers, teachers, public speakers, or whomever), if they speak not according to this Word it is because there is no light in them.”
Now, that is our subject, the Bible is our only infallible source of information concerning spiritual truth.
Several years ago I found a letter in an advice column in a newspaper. I want to read you some portions of that letter; it is a very interesting letter and I would like for you to listen carefully as I read it. Here is what the letter said, “I would like to tell the person, the individual, from Philadelphia, whose cousin passed away, not to worry about whether she goes to heaven or not as a good person. Her goodness will precede her no matter where she goes.”
The letter continues, “I read an article by a certain reverend in which he said; ‘believing in Jesus Christ is the only way a person is saved and goes to heaven.’ If believing in Jesus is the only condition to getting into heaven, I refuse to go there. I wonder, (the letter continues), where the reverend thinks the millions of Buddhists and Islam’s go who do not believe in Jesus Christ.”
Now, I find this letter very interesting. I believe it deals candidly and plainly with four tremendous things. This person is writing the way that he or she feels. This is what they believe and this is the way they feel.
But, in writing this letter they are dealing with four tremendous things that concern me very personally and very deeply and they concern you.
Now, did you note these four things when I was reading the letter? You may recall them when I mention them:
First of all: This person talked about heaven. They said, “I am writing concerning the person whose cousin passed away or died. Don’t worry whether she goes to heaven or not.”
Here is the question: Is there a heaven, is there life after death?
This person is assuming that there is life after death, that there is a heaven to gain or a hell to shun. They are assuming that there is life after death.
Job asked that question; Job said, “If a man die shall he live again? Will the grave yield up the body,” the body that is devoured by worms and sees corruption, will it one day live again? Is there life after death? That is a tremendous thing; is there a heaven, is there a hell, is there life after death?
Here is the second subject that the person deals with and that is “goodness.”
What constitutes goodness in the sight of God? What constitutes righteousness in the sight of God? In the book of Job that question is asked. “How can man be just with God? How can he be clean that is born of a woman? Behold to the moon, it shineth not. The stars are not clean or pure in God’s sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man that drinketh iniquity like the water.”
The prophet asked this question: “O man what doth the Lord thy God require of thee?” So, this person talks about a literal resurrection, a literal life after death, in a place called heaven.
Then, this person talks about his goodness. What constitutes goodness and righteousness, who is a good person, who is a righteous person in the sight of God?
Now, here is the third tremendous thing that is included in this letter and that is salvation.
“What must I do to be saved,” believe on Jesus Christ or is there another way to be saved? Is Jesus Christ the only way to heaven? The disciples said to Christ; “We don’t know where you are going.”
He said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” They said, “We don’t know where you are going; how can we know the way?” They asked that question after three and a half years of a personal relationship with Christ.
They still asked the question, “We don’t know the way.” It is strange that everybody in the world today thinks they know the way. The disciples didn’t know the way. They said, “We don’t know the way.”
Is there a way to heaven? Is there a way to God? Is there more than one way to God? Is Jesus Christ the only way?
Here is the fourth question: What are the consequences of unbelief?
What happens to the millions and billions of unbelievers, those who reject Jesus Christ, if He is the only way? What happens to the millions of people who die in unbelief? Do they go to heaven anyway? Do they go to hell? Where do they go, those who reject Jesus Christ?
In Matthew chapter 7 it says, “Many shall say to me in that day; Lord, we have done many wonderful works?” Then God says, “I never knew you. Depart from me” and go where?
I want to think about these four things. You will have to admit that these are profound and important things. These are profound and important subjects. I don’t know of any four subjects that are more important.
Is there a resurrection? Is there life after death? What constitutes goodness in God’s sight? God is the judge; it will be before his throne that we stand, not before the thrones of men.
Then, what about salvation? Is Jesus Christ the only way to heaven? Is there another way?
What about people who reject Jesus Christ? Where do we go to find the answer; that is a good question? Where shall I go to find the answers to these questions?
If your children or if your neighbors or friends came to you this evening and asked you that question or those four questions, you would direct them where; would you direct them to their thoughts or whose thoughts?
I suppose that if we go to our thoughts then we have thousands of answers because there are thousands of people who have many different opinions about these questions. Whose thoughts shall we rely upon, shall we depend upon?
Then, shall we go to the religious councils? There are thousands of sects, cults, denominations, and all kinds of religious, ecclesiastical committees and preachers. Whose word shall we take? They all disagree; they all disagree.
Well, suppose we go to the philosophers, the philosophers of which age? They keep changing their opinions about these things. I am saying today, that there is one source of information, one infallible source of information in regards to these questions, in regards to spiritual life, in regards to a relationship with God, in regards to death, judgment, life after death, heaven, hell, righteousness, and salvation, anything regarding the soul and the soul’s relationship with God Almighty.
I am saying my friend, that there is just one reliable, infallible source, and that is the Word of God. There is no other place to turn except to the Word of God.
We can’t turn to our thoughts. God said, “Your thoughts are not my thoughts. Your ways are not my ways. There is a way that seemeth right unto man but the end is death and destruction.”
We can’t turn to our philosophers; they betray us in so many other areas. We can’t turn to the religious councils; they are at war between one another. Let’s turn to the Word of God. Listen to what the Scripture says: “To the Law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this Word it is because there is no light in them.”
Listen to Jeremiah 23: “The Lord said, I have heard what the prophets say that prophesy lies in my name. They say, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.” God says; “the prophet that hath a dream; let him tell his dream but he that hath my word let him speak my word faithfully.”
Paul wrote to Timothy and he said; “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.”
It is profitable for instruction in spiritual matters, instruction in the way of life, instruction in acceptance with God, instruction with a relationship with God “that the man of God might be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work.”
A man is foolish to reject the Word of God and turn to his own thoughts in matters concerning God and his soul. A man is foolish to turn to his own thoughts and to his own ideas away from the Word of God in regard to matters that concern the soul.
Now, let’s look to the Bible and see what the Bible says about these four things.
First of all: “If a man die shall he live again, is there life after death?”
The Bible says yes. Nothing else says yes. You have never seen anyone return from the grave. You have never met anyone who has returned from the grave. You have heard all kind of tales and stories that people have made up but you have never, actually, encountered anyone who died and came back from death.
You do not know whether there is life after death except for one word and that is the Word of God. Nature will not tell you, your thoughts cannot tell you, your friends cannot tell you, the doctor cannot tell you, and the preacher cannot tell you.
There is only one source and that is the Word of God. The Word of God says there is life after death. Listen to 1 Corinthians 15: (almost the entire 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians is devoted to the resurrection of the body) Paul says in verse 12; “If Christ be preached that he rose from the death, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?”
Paul said, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, (if this is true, and Christ is not risen), our preaching is vain, your faith is vain, we are false witnesses of God, we have no hope, and we are of all men most miserable, but now is Christ risen from the dead and has become the first fruits of them that slept.”
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15: “There is a resurrection.” He said, “I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. The corruptible shall put on incorruption; mortal shall put on immortality. It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.”
There is a resurrection! Job answers his own question: He said, “If a man die shall he live again?” He answered his own question in chapter 19: He said, “I know that my redeemer liveth and he shall once again stand on this earth. Though worms shall destroy this body; in my flesh I shall see God, not another. I myself, with these eyes, shall behold my redeemer. I am going to arise from the grave.”
Listen to the Master; in John the 6th chapter, our Lord declared that he would raise all of his people from the dead at the last day. He said, “I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of him that sent me and this is the will of him that sent me that all of which he hath given me, I will lose nothing but raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
In John 5 verse 24, the Lord said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
He said in John 6 verse 44: “No man can come to me except my father which sent me draw him and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Is there resurrection? Is there life after death? What is the source of your information? You may say, “I know that there is life after death.” How do you know? Well, you might just think it. Your thoughts have been wrong on other things. You have thought wrong on other things. How do you know that you are not wrong on this?
You have only one source of information and that is the Word of God. But, I say to you and the Word of God declares there is a resurrection; there is life after death.
There is a resurrection unto life and there is a resurrection unto death. There is a resurrection unto eternal glory and there is a resurrection unto eternal shame.
There is a resurrection unto eternal relationship with God in glory and there is a resurrection to eternal separation from God in hell. The Scripture teaches that and it is our only infallible source of information concerning life after death.
Now, the second question: “How can man be just with God? How can he be clean that is born of a woman?”
This letter mentions goodness. It said, “This person who died was a good person.” Let me ask you this; what makes someone a good person? What is goodness? What constitutes goodness?
I know that we are forever commending one another for our goodness. I hear people say, “Well; he is a good man or she is a good woman.” I know what we are talking about; we are talking about this person is good compared with other human beings.
That is what we are saying; this person is a good person compared to all the bad people in the world or she is a good woman or he is a good man.
Let me ask this: what does the Scripture say about us, about sons of Adam and daughters of Adam; what does the Scripture say concerning goodness?
One day, a man came up to our Lord and greeted Him in this fashion; he said, “Good Master; what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The Master said this to him; “Why do you call me good; there is none good but God.”
In other words, Christ is saying to this young man; “if I’m not God, don’t call me good.” Because, “there is none good, no not one, there is none righteous and there is none that understandeth.”
Psalm 14 says, “The Lord God looked down from heaven upon the sons of men (and he came to this conclusion); there is none good; they are all together become unprofitable; they are all gone out of the way; there is none righteous, no not one.”
The Scripture says, “To offend in one point of the law is to be guilty of the whole law of God. “Man at his best state is altogether vanity. Our righteousnesses are filthy rags; we all do fade as the leaf.”
What I am saying is this; compared to other human beings, you may be a fairly good person but when you compare your thoughts and your imaginations and your attitudes, actions, and conduct with God Almighty, with his holy, spotless, perfect law, when you examine under the searchlight of God Almighty’s infallible, perfect, holiness, you come up short; you fall short of the glory of God.
There is no goodness in the flesh! Paul said, “In the flesh, dwelleth no good thing. In the flesh no man can please God.” God said, “Every imagination of man’s heart is evil continually.” So, there is no good person.
How can a person be good in God’s sight? How can a person be righteous in God’s sight? How can a man be just before God? There’s just one answer to that and it is found in the Word of God. The only way a person can be good and righteous in God’s sight is to be clothed in the righteousness of God’s son, that is to have Christ as his representative, to have Christ as his substitute, to have Christ as his own righteousness.
Let me show you that in the Scripture in Romans 5:19: It says, “By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners. Even so, by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”
In 2nd Corinthians 5:21 it says; “He was made sin for us who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” In Jude verse 24 it says, “Now; unto him is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless, holy without blame, before his presence.”
1 Corinthians 1:30 says; “Of him are you in Christ Jesus who is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” In other words, our righteousness is not in ourselves it is in another, it is in our substitute, it is in our representative, it is in our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is what Paul was speaking about in Romans 10: He was talking about his religious friends. He said, “I bear them record; they have a zeal for God (they have a religious enthusiasm) but “it is not according to knowledge, for they are going about to establish their own righteousness.”
They are going about to establish their own goodness in God’s sight by their works and their deeds and their religious endeavors. But, he said; “they have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
He is not talking about God’s essential righteousness or God’s personal holiness; he is talking about righteousness and a holiness that God has provided through the obedience of Jesus Christ, for all who will believe, for all who will come to God through Christ.
In Adam we fell, in Christ we are restored. In Adam we became sinners, in Christ we become holy. In Adam we became corrupt, in Christ we become righteous. Christ is our righteousness. This is what the Word of God declares.
“In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily and you are complete in him. We are accepted in the beloved.” In other words, the Scripture is saying this; there is no righteousness in the flesh with which God can be pleased.
There is no holiness or goodness in any flesh, religious or contrary to religion. There is no righteousness in any flesh. All holiness and righteousness is in God. God became a man, dwelt in human flesh, was born of a woman, under the law, fulfilled it, honored it, and satisfied it in the place and stead of all who believe.
And through Christ Jesus and in Him and because of Him and for His glory, we have a perfect righteousness imputed or charged to us or reckoned to us because of what He did. Our righteousness is not in doing, it is in Christ’s doing. It is not in our doing it is in His works and His obedience.
There is righteousness and there is goodness and that goodness precedes us, yes it does. It is not my goodness that preceded me to glory it is His goodness, it is Christ’s goodness. “I am accepted in the beloved” and you are too (who believe on Him).
Here is the third question; believing in Jesus Christ, is that the only condition in getting into heaven; is that the only condition?
This person says, “If it is, then I refuse to go there.” Well, that is what the Bible says; that is what God’s Word says.
I don’t know where you are going to find an answer to this question; “how can we know the way?” The disciples said, “We don’t know where you are going.” I don’t know where heaven is; do you know where heaven is?
Everybody points up when they are talking about heaven; do you know where heaven is? Do you know the way to heaven? Do you know the way to God?
Do you know the way that a person, a fallen son of Adam that is guilty before God, under the judgment of God, the wrath of God, the condemnation of God, the sentence of death, the guilt of the broken law, do you know how I can get right with God? Would you tell me, would you tell me?
It’s not what you think, no; I’m not interested in what you think; I can think about it. I can go down to a hobo by the railroad crossing and find out what he thinks about it and his thoughts will be just as worthwhile as yours.
I want an infallible word. I want a word from somebody who knows the way to God. These disciples asked the Master Himself, they said; “we don’t know the way.” Christ answered and said, “I am the way, I am the way.”
Now, the person writing the letter said, “Is Jesus Christ the only way?” He said that He was; He said He was. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by me.” That is what He said and that is what He declared.
His disciples declared that; they said the same thing, they said; “he that believeth on the son of God hath life and he that believeth not the son of God hath not life and the wrath of God abideth on him.” That is what his disciples said.
Paul said, “Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, Christ Jesus the Lord.” Again, the disciples said; “There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”
Listen to John writing in 1 John 5: “This is the record that God hath given to us eternal life. This life is in his son. He that hath the son of God hath life. He that hath not the son of God hath not life.”
Now, my friends, if this is the question (Is Jesus Christ the only way to God?), then the answer from the Bible is; yes; He is the only way. There is no other way!
The apostle Paul was in Philippi and in jail. Do you remember the story how that jail was shaken by the earthquake? The Philippian jailer came to Paul and fell on his knees. Here is a desperate man. Here is a man about to commit suicide. Here is a man at the bottom of the barrel.
Here is a man down in the dust and here is a man pleading for his life, his soul, and eternity. He says to the apostle Paul; “what must I do to be saved?”
Now Paul, if there is any other way, you better tell him. Be honest with this man, now. What did Paul answer? He said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”
Now, if there is some other way, why did God send His Son? If there is some other way, why did Christ go through such an awful, terrible, ignominious, hateful, death? If there is some other way, why didn’t God give it in the Scripture?
All the way from Genesis to Revelation, I can only find one way. “Moses wrote of me,” Christ said. “Abraham saw my day and was glad.” David even said, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Job said, “I know my redeemer liveth.” Isaiah said, “He was wounded for our transgressions. By his stripes we are healed.”
All the way through the Scriptures there is but one way. “I am the door,” Christ said. “By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved and go in and out in find pasture.”
I’m not being radical or being fanatical; I am trying to preach the Word. I am simply saying to you that the Word is the only infallible source of information concerning a relationship with God. The Word of God says, “Christ is the way.”
In the book of Revelation, verse 5:9, it gives us the song of the redeemed in glory and this is what the redeemed all say; “Unto him who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own precious blood. And made us unto our God Kings and Priests unto him be glory both now and forever amen.”
So, my friend; I am being totally honest with you. If you take the Word of God, if that is your rule of life and faith, if you believe the Word of God, you have to believe this; that anyone who knows Christ is redeemed and anyone who does not know Christ is not redeemed, whatever redeemed means, whatever salvation is, it is in Christ.
Whatever righteousness is it is in Christ. Whatever our relationship with God is it is in Christ Jesus. That is the source of it; He is the fountain of all life.
Now; here is the last question: Where do people go who do not believe in Jesus Christ?
What about the millions of Buddhists, Confucius, Muslims, and they openly and publically state that they do not believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. They have their own messiahs, Confucius, Buddha, Muhammad, or whoever.
Well, can they not go to heaven? This is what Christ said, now listen to the Scripture: He said, “If you believe not that I am he, (what does He mean by) “I am he or I am?” That’s God’s name, “I am.”
That’s God’s name; He gave it to Moses. When Moses says, “I will go down and tell Israel that I have come to lead them out of Egypt, whom shall I tell them sent me?” He said, “You tell them that I am sent you.”
Jesus Christ said to these religious men; “if you believe not that I am you will die in your sins. If you die in your sins you cannot come where I am.” There’s your answer; “you cannot come where I am. If you believe not that I am he.”
When our Lord sent the disciples to preach, he said; “you go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. He that believeth not shall be damned.” That is what the Scripture says!