The Most Offensive Verse in the Bible

This morning I preached on 1 Timothy 2:5 and dubbed it "The Most Offensive Verse in the Bible."  Granted, this text may not actually be the most offensive verse but it certainly contains the most offensive truth.  Namely, that salvation is found through Jesus Christ and Him alone.

There is one God and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (I Timothy 2:5)

My outline of this text was simple.  I sought to merely take this verse apart word-by-word and put it back together.

1.  One Sovereign Master (There is one God)

A.  An emphatic statement (There is)

Not maybe, might be, or perhaps.  There is one God.

B.  An exclusive statement (one)

Into a polytheistic culture Moses said, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One."  Paul agrees.

C.  An evident statement (God)

The heavens declare the glory of the Lord.  Creation itself testifies to the existence of God.  Only the fool has said in his heart "There is no God." (Psalm 14)

2.  One Single Mediator (One mediator also between God and men)

A.  The depravity of man (One mediator)

The reason we need a mediator is because we have offended God by our actions and our nature.

B.  The demands of justice (between)

The holiness of God demands that we be separated from Him.  God in His righteous judgment cannot fellowship with us in our sin.

C.  The desire of God (God and men)

The mediator extends from God to men and not from men to God.  God is initiating, extending, and offering salvation to mankind.  Since He is the offended party, He alone retains the right to determine the terms of reconciliation.

3.  One Saving Messiah

A.  His humanity (the man)

While never ceasing to be God, Christ became man.  (John 1:1, 14)

B.  His deity (Christ)

The clear teaching of Scripture is that Christ was Divine.  Not all man and no God.  Not all God and no man.  Not 1/2 God and 1/2 man.  He was 100% God and 100% man.  He was as much man as if He was not God at all and as much God as if not man at all.

The reason that is important in His qualifications as a mediator is this:  A bridge must be able to touch both banks of the river.  A mediator must be able to understand and relate to both parties.  Certainly there are many religous leaders who can relate to humanity.  But only One can relate to both God and man for only Jesus Christ was both human and divine.

When Bible-believing Christians speak of the exclusive nature of Christ we are not intending to speak in a derogatory way of other religious leaders.  We are simply saying, "That bridge is out."  For example, you can leave the river bank of humanity on a bridge called Mohammed and you can travel that bridge for a while.  But before you get to God, the bridge will be out and you will fall headlong into hell.  You can travel the bridge of Confucius, Buddha, or Joseph Smith.  Before you get to heaven and to God, the bridge will prove too short and you will fall into an eternity of judgment.

If you travel the bridge of Mary worship...bridge out.  If you travel the bridge of water baptism and so-called, "holy communion"...bridge out.  If you travel the bridge of good works and membership at the Southern Baptist church...bridge out.  If you are traveling the extra-biblical bridge of a "confirmation class" you will soon find that bridge, too, is out.

C.  His agony (Jesus)

"Jesus" means "The Lord Saves."  By His grace, God did not merely design a great bridge (the man Christ) but He also built that bridge at a place called Calvary (Jesus).  For a bridge to work, it has to get off the architect's drafting table, off the structural engineer's desk and get planted in concrete and steel.  "The man Christ," God in human flesh offered Himself as a sacrifice for sin.  Through His death, burial, and resurrection He actually built the bridge of Divine reconciliation.  Rather than opening the bridge with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, He simply cried out, "It is finished."

By far, the most commented-on portion of the message so far was my recitiation of several interviews in which prominent preachers gave less-than-stellar answers regarding the exclusivity of salvation through Christ.  These transcripts are available online.

On June 16, 2005 Billy Graham appeared on Larry King Live

KING: But what about those faiths…like the Jews, the Muslims, who don't believe (in Christ).
GRAHAM: That's in God's hands. I can't be the judge.

KING: You don't judge them?


KING: How do you feel when you see a lot of these strong Christian leaders go on television and say, you are condemned, you will live in hell if you do not accept Jesus Christ, and they are forceful and judgmental?

GRAHAM: Well, they have a right to say that, and they are true to a certain extent, but I don't -- that's not my calling. My calling is to preach the love of God…You can get off on all kinds of different side trends, and in my earlier ministry, I did the same, but as I got older, I guess I became more mellow and more forgiving and more loving.
Wow...preaching that faith in Christ is required for salvation is now a "side trend?"  Given his age, this would be almost excusable as a misstatement except for the fact Dr. Graham has a long-documented history of duplicity on this issue.

Joel O’Steen on Larry King Live, June 20, 2005

KING: What if you're Jewish or Muslim, you don't accept Christ at all?

OSTEEN: You know, I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know ...

KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They're wrong, aren't they?

OSTEEN: Well, I don't know if I believe they're wrong. I believe here's what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God with judge a person's heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don't know. I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know.
It is rather telling that the pastor of the largest religious group in America does not understand this basic fundamental of the faith.

Jeremiah Wright at the National Press Club in April 2008

MODERATOR: “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the father but through me.’ Do you believe this? And do you think Islam is a way to salvation?”

WRIGHT: “Jesus also said, ‘Other sheep have I who are not of this fold.’”
Wright's clear implication was that Jesus said that He had sheep who were not, in fact, Christian believers. Ironically, he only quoted ½ of John 10:16 where Jesus said, “I have other sheep which are not of this fold. I must bring them also and they will hear My voice. They will become one flock with Me, the One Shepherd.”

My prayer is that God will use this message in a polytheistic and pluralistic society to remind believers and non-believers alike, "There is one God and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."