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December 6, 2009 am

“The Way”

 Today we often hear reference to the term, “Christianity”.  It is an interesting term defined by Random House dictionary as, “1. the Christian religion, including Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox churches.  2. Christian beliefs or practices; Christian quality of character… 4. the state of being a Christian.” (www.dictionary.com) According to these definitions, we need to understand that the term “Christianity” is not found in the Bible and is actually a denominational term.  When most of your friends (or enemies) use the term they are not thinking of the Biblical teaching necessary to become and live as a Christian, but ANYONE or ANYTHING pertaining to following Christ.  We need to be careful as we use the term to NOT leave the impression that we endorse the denominational or Catholic concept of professed Christianity.

However, it is interesting to note that in the first century there was a term used, often derogatorily, which described followers of Christ and His teachings.  It is the term, “The Way”.  What does that term mean?  IN our lesson this morning, I want to examine this term as it was used in the Bible and make some application to our lives as we notice that Jesus truly is THE WAY!

 I.                    The Way

a.        Used in the book of Acts.

                                                   i.      Saul persecuted “the way”.  Acts 9:2, says he went to Damascus.  Acts 22:4 Paul said, “I persecuted this Way to the death.”

                                                  ii.      Acts 19:9 speaks of those who spoke evil of “the Way”.   Vs. 23, “And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way.”

                                                iii.      Acts 16:17, “this girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, ‘These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.”

                                                iv.      Acts 22:14, 22, before Felix Paul said, “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.”  As a result of Paul teaching, vs. 22 says, “But when Felix heard these things, having a more accurate knowledge of the Way, he adjourned the proceedings…”

                                                  v.      Acts 18:25-26, speaking of Apollos, “This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.  So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue.  When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

                                                vi.      Putting all these passage together, it seems that the expression, “the Way” was understood to be things pertaining to the teachings of Christ, both by followers and foes. 

b.       Why was this expression used?

                                                   i.      John 1:23, John the Baptist who prepared the way for Christ when asked who he was said, “I am, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord.’”

                                                  ii.      While we are not given the specific origin, the PROBABLE origin had to do with the teachings of Jesus. Specifically John 14:6 where Jesus said, “I am the Way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

                                                iii.      Throughout His ministry He taught of two ways.  Matt. 7:13-14 mentions the way the leads to destruction and the way that leads to life.

                                                iv.      Matthew 21:32, where Jesus spoke of John, He said, “John came to you in the way of righteousness…”

                                                  v.      Matthew 22:16 where some of His critics try to entrap him they sent one who said, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth…”

                                                vi.      Thus it is obviously that it was something Jesus taught and they understood it.  First century Christians knew when they used that expression they were following Jesus.

 II.                  Jesus is the Way!

a.        Understanding the use of the term, how is Jesus “the Way”?  The short answer is in every way that shapes our lives as Christians.  He set the example and He did everything necessary to give us hope and direction to achieve heaven after this life.

b.       The way to heaven John 14:1-3.  As Jesus was preparing to die, He instructed His apostles.  He told them he had to leave.  But the reason was to prepare a home in heaven for us.  Friends, that is what all that we do is about.  1 Peter 1:3-5 speaks of our heavenly inheritance made possible “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Heb. 12:1-2 after speaking of that “great cloud of witnesses” in Heb. 11, persons of faith who looked for and received a heavenly country (11:13-16) we find we press toward that goal line. And our Lord is there, at the finish (in heaven) waiting for us.

c.        The way to God –When we sin, we are separated from God. Jesus provides the way back to Him. 
In fact, we must always remember He is the ONLY way back.  John 14:6, Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  Earlier in His ministry Jesus talked about being the Chief Shepherd.  John 10 records His description of the sheepfold.  He noted that there is only ONE true way in.  Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” (John 10:1)
Ephesians 2:18 says, “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”

d.       The way to truthJohn 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”   Jesus came to reveal truth, teach the truth and fulfill the truth.  If we want the truth, we have to turn to Him.  John 8:31-32 says, “The Jesus said to these Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” 
Before Pilate, Jesus again stated this when asked if He was a king.  Jesus answered, ‘ You say rightly that I am a king.  For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’” (John 18:37)

e.       The way of life John 14:6 again. He came that we might have life.  I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” (John 11:25)   It is interesting to note that Jesus is life not only in offering eternal life, but also the way to LIVE during this life.   John 10:10 says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” 

f.         The way of peace – Peace is continually sought in the world.  Between nations, among our friends and acquaintances AND within ourselves.  Jesus offers a peace that is unlike anything this world offers.   John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  
 John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

g.        The way of unity – Unity is so desperately needed.  Where there is no unity, there is no peace.  Where there is no unity, SOMEONE is not following the way of Jesus. 
Jesus died to bring to an end division – Ephesians 2:13-17 teaches this as Christ put to death the enmity of the law and reconciled all to God. 
John 17:20-21 – again we are reminded of the prayer of Jesus.  He taught unity and He demonstrated unity.  It comes through believing in Him and by understanding the unity that exists between the Father and the Son.

h.       The way of prayer – never forget the power or importance of prayer.  Jesus prayed and He taught about prayer often.  We learn from Him HOW to pray (Matt. 6:5:15, Luke 11:1-13, etc.)
But even more than that prayer is only made possible THROUGH Him.  Heb. 4:14-16 – He is our High Priest interceding for us.
1 John 2:1 – My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.   And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

i.         The way of bearing fruit yet another lesson He taught His disciples.  We need to bear fruit, but it MUST be in Him.   John 15:1-2, 5-6 notes that we must bear fruit by abiding in Him. 

 

These are some of the ways; Jesus is “the Way”.  Others could be added, but these are sufficient to remind us of where our hope ought to lie – in Him!  Let us never cease to think of Jesus as the way and let us never cease to think of THE WAY!  Should we use that term today?  It is certainly scriptural, but regardless of what we call ourselves (according to scriptures) let us constantly look to Him as the Way.  He is the only hope we have of salvation.  But more than that, as we live our lives let us continually look to Him to guide us in the way we should go as well.

(Based on an outline by Mark Copeland, http://executableoutlines.com/way/way_01.htm )