Grace For The Journey
In an age of tolerance and compromise, the idea that there is only one way to do something is roundly rejected. There are many voices today that disagree that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Last year (Christian Today.com article, March, 2018), a mega-church pastor in New York City, “widely regarded as one of the most influential pastors in New York City,” made this statement in a sermon he preached, “There was a time when you would see people in the pulpit say, ‘Well, if you don’t believe in Jesus your going to Hell.’ That’s insanity in many ways because that is not what Jesus even believes. And so, the key is you believe in God. And whatever your path is to God I celebrate that. Personally, I celebrate that.”
According to this pastor, those words apply to anyone who believes in God, regardless of his or her faith background. He explained that differences in faith have already created so many barriers between people, not only among Americans but those from other cultures as well. He then reiterated that the focus should be on things that bring people together, not on those that create division. The article stated that “the pastor’s words received applause from those who were listening to his sermon.” Now that is alarming. But it does not end there. This pastor is also a Trustee on the Board of Directors of Chicago Theological Seminary. The dean of that institution responded to reports about this pastor’s sermon by saying, “Institutionally, we do celebrate multiple paths to God and to God’s wisdom and truth and that’s what I understand also to be (his) position.”
Today, declaring Jesus as the “Only Way” to God is considered narrow-minded, intolerant, inconsiderate, divisive, and now even insane. So, it’s not surprising that the New Testament’s message of forgiveness through Jesus Christ alone is not received by many.
But we get another view when we take an honest look into the Bible. A view from God Himself. If anyone ought to know and be right about this issue, I think we would agree it certainly would be Him.
When we begin our search on what the Bible says about Jesus being the only way to God, we see discover that Jesus Himself said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Jesus is saying there isn’t any other pathway
To the Father except through Him.
Peter confirmed that narrow point of view by saying there is salvation in no one else besides Jesus (Acts 4:12).
Peter, confirmed that narrow point of view when he says in Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Peter is taking Jesus’s words and carrying them forward into the mission of the church by saying there isn’t any other name you can call upon in order to be saved.
Another amazing way Jesus addresses this is that He makes the embrace of Himself as the crucified and risen Messiah the litmus test of other religions. If you are talking with somebody who has their set of religious beliefs and you want to test to see whether they have saving faith, put Jesus and His fullness on the table for them and see if they will embrace Him. Jesus said in John 8:19, “You know neither Me nor My Father. If you knew Me, you would know My Father also.” In other words, knowing Jesus is the condition of truly knowing the Father, that is God, the creator of the world.
Jesus Himself is saying
There isn’t any other pathway
To the Father except through Him.
In John 5:23 Jesus said, “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Me.” Jesus makes Himself, the honoring of Himself, the litmus test of honoring the Father. In John 6:45 Jesus says, “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” If a person won’t come to Jesus as the Savior, as the One who died for sins, and as the One who rose from the dead, then Jesus says all their claims notwithstanding, they haven’t learned from the Father.
Let’s go to Paul in the New Testament. One of the most amazing passages is Romans 5:12 and following. There Paul sets up Adam as the head of the human race – all of us who have fallen and are under condemnation. Christ is the second Adam – the head of a new humanity — so that in Christ we are now counted as righteous the way we were counted as sinners in Adam.
In Paul’s mind, the problem of the entire human race, every religion in the world, and every tribe and people in the world is the same: namely . . .
We are alienated from God in Adam.
Jesus comes into the world
As the answer to that problem.
So. Paul’s conception of the remedy from our human condition is Adam brought it into being and Christ is the only answer to it.
There isn’t another answer out there
There isn’t another problem out there.
Paul’s conception of how to think about being remedied from our human condition is:
Adam brought it into being
Christ is the only answer to it.
Then Paul spells it out for church’s mission in Romans 10:14-15 where he says, ““How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” Then in Romans 10:17 he clarifies, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
I think that sequence is Paul’s decisive word about the church’s mission in regard to “are there other ways out there for people to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved?”
The Bible declares,
“No, there is one name; It is Jesus.
They have to hear about Him.
In order to hear about Him,
There must be messengers
To share the gospel.”
That is the way faith is awakened. And salvation comes through faith.
Finally, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews was not hesitant to make a “narrow” point about Jesus. God led him to say in Hebrews 1:3, “When He (Jesus) had by Himself purged our sins, (He) sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
The writer of Hebrews
Spent the first ten chapters
Of his epistle
Pointing out that Jesus
Did what no one else
In Israel’s history
Had been able to do:
Provide salvation from sin,
Once and for all.
The writer is led by God to point out that Jesus was superior to the angels, to Moses, to the thousands of Aaronic priests, and to the sacrifices of those priests – “By Himself [Jesus] purged our sins [and] sat down at the right hand” of God – something no one else could have done.
If we honestly search the Scriptures regarding this issue our findings and final conclusion will be:
Yes, the Bible does present Jesus
As the One Way among all the religions of the world
Which is why there is such a weighty
Mandate on the church
To spread the gospel
To all the peoples of the world.
There is no salvation
Without knowing, embracing,
And believing Christ as the One
Who died for our sins and rose again.
Are you willing to embrace the Bible’s presentation of Jesus as the only Savior of the world? It may not be popular, but it is true – Free justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”