February 25, 2012

Zechariah 13:1 “On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.”

Because Japanese in general is very indeterminate about singular and plural, it is striking that this verse specifies that one fountain or spring will be opened. The Bible never posits multiple paths to salvation, the way Buddhism insists on multiple paths to “enlightenment.” This makes some people say that Buddhism is “tolerant” and Christianity is “intolerant.” Sorry, that argument doesn’t wash. If there is only one way to salvation, then saying there are many does no good to anyone, and greatly decreases the probability of someone finding that one way. Actually, that’s what the devil is after. He hates mankind for receiving the salvation and intimacy with God that he rejected, so he does all he can to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10) Anyone who has found the singular fountain that cleanses, that is, the blood of Jesus Christ, should know that there could be nothing else with that saving power. Amazingly, many Americans have been so deceived that they accept other religions as equal to Christian faith. I have no such temptation, living in a nation that is filled with idols and false religions of all sorts. However, Japanese are used to practicing two religions, sometimes at the same time, (Buddhism and Shinto) and many have trouble understanding why they can’t just add Christianity as a third. Even genuine Christians have trouble refraining from idolatry when their family setting is strongly Buddhist and/or Shinto.

This is of course a problem I deal with all the time as a pastor in Japan. One missionary friend was rather lenient on this score, using the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5 as his justification, since Naaman is convinced that Yahweh is the true God, but he asks forgiveness in advance for idolatry connected with his position in the court of Aram (2 Kings 5:18). I have trouble with that, because it fails to let others know that Jesus is the only Savior. I need to help people understand that they are indeed being watched, and their whole lives should point people to Jesus as the only Savior. We can’t force anyone to believe, but it condemns them to destruction to say, I have Jesus as my Savior, but you can choose any savior you like. Precisely because salvation is found in no one else, (Acts 4:12) I need to encourage all the believers to be lovingly clear on this point to everyone, and especially to those they care most about.

Father, You’ve given me many friends over the 30 years I’ve been in Omura, yet most of them aren’t committed to Christ. How clear have I been about salvation to them? Help me be very clear indeed, by the power of Your Spirit, so that they may be led from deception into Your truth, from darkness into Your light, from death into life, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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