Jesus is one of the ways to God
MYTH #4 – JESUS IS ONE OF THE WAYS TO GOD
PREACHER – ANTONIO COPPOLA
QUOTE 1 – “Jesus is a way, but not the only way to salvation, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church [Anglican Church in the USA], the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts-Schori has told members of the Diocese of Quincy.
In response to a question from the audience about her personal beliefs, the presiding bishop said that to insist Jesus is the only way to God is to ‘limit God.’ She said the God was at work in the lives of other faiths.
‘God is, at the very least, a mystery,’ Bishop Jefferts-Schori said. ‘God’s intention is for a restored relationship with all humanity. My job is to proclaim the good news of Jesus, but I cannot deny God is not at work in other ways,’ she said.”
QUOTE 2 – “I believe in the fundamental Truth of all great religions of the world. I believe they are all God given and I believe they were necessary for the people to whom these religions were revealed. And I believe that if only we could all of us read the scriptures of the different faiths from the standpoint of the followers of these faiths, we should find that they were at the bottom all one and were all helpful to one another.” – M. K. Gandhi
These two quotes have effectively illustrated the heart of tonight’s myth – Jesus is by no means the only way to God, instead there are many ways to God.
All religions and faiths are seen to pursue the same goal – love, peace, happiness, everyone getting on with each other, and ultimately all religions worship the same God or higher power. Jesus is seen as one of the ways to connecting with God, as is Buddha, Mohammed, Shembe, or the many thousands of Hindu gods. If we embrace the truth that is found in all religions, then surely we’ll end up more enlightened and get a bigger picture of God. Ultimately, everyone’s spiritual path is valid and is true, and everyone will find God and go to heaven and we’ll all live happily ever after.
If, on the other hand, you claim that there is only one way to reach God, and that is through His Son Jesus Christ, well, be prepared to be labeled a close-minded, intolerant, arrogant bigot. How can millions, if not billions of people be wrong and go to hell, simply because they did not believe in Jesus? How can we even think to claim a monopoly on the Truth about God? Everyone has the right to believe in their own truth, right? Who are we to judge anybody’s beliefs in any case?
Now let me just say here that personally, wouldn’t it be great if all roads did indeed lead to God? It would make things so much easier and simpler! No one would get angry and offended, it would all be chilled. The reality is that as believers in Christ, we cannot pick and choose as to what we believe about him. The Bible is the complete and absolute truth and has effectively revealed to mankind what God is all about. So therefore, we have to take seriously the following verses that fly in the face of current culture and are for millions of people, highly offensive.
Firstly, Jesus words about Himself in John 14: 6 –
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Acts 4: 11-12
“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
1 Timothy 2: 5
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
The consistent witness of Scripture is that Jesus is the only way to God. Now I would like to look at why this is so. I don’t believe that God did this to be narrow-minded and purposefully exclude people from knowing Him. I believe that there are some very good, logical and life-changing reasons as to why God has chosen that Jesus is the only way to Him. Let’s look at them…
Truth, Life, Way
Jesus is the Truth
All religions simply cannot be true. To say that they are, is like saying that 2+2 = whatever number you want it to equal. Basically the belief that all faiths are true is rooted in relativism, which says that there is no one absolute truth. What is true for me is not necessarily true for you. Why is believing this illogical and incoherent? The reality is that the universe exists on a set of absolute truths. For example gravity. In the same way there are absolutes in the spiritual. What we need to understand is that there are major fundamental differences between the world faiths.
For example, when I was in Israel some years ago, I was walking in Nazareth and came to the church which is built on the site where Mary was meant to have been visited by Angel Gabriel. Just outside the church was a huge banner put up by the Muslims, quoting from the Qur’an that Allah has no son. Now either God has a Son or He does not have a Son. We cannot have it both ways. One is right and one is wrong.
Buddhists don’t even believe there is a personal creator God, so either they are right or all Christians, Jews and Muslims are wrong. Hindus believe in many gods – we believe in one God. Jews honestly don’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah. He either is or he isn’t. Jews and Christians can’t both be right. Do we get the point? If we hold to the view that all truth is relative, it leads to us having to justify massive contradictions that simply cannot be resolved. The only way we can justify this sort of belief is to throw logic and rationality out of the window and embrace some kind of mysticism.
Jesus Himself claimed to be and to speak the objective, rational, absolute Truth (Jn 1: 1, 17, 8: 45, 14: 6). Now either Jesus is telling the Truth and therefore His Truth is the universal, absolute truth, as he has made universal claims such as claiming to be God and creating the universe, or he is lying and deceived, in which case we are wasting our time. We cannot have it both ways. We cannot claim to believe in Jesus without accepting his claims for universal truth.
Because Jesus says, “I am the Truth”, I will believe that He indeed is the Truth!
Jesus is the Life
Jesus says that He is the Life (Jn 14: 6) In fact, Jesus is the only option for us to experience true life.
Romans 6: 23
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
All of us are born as slaves to sin, and sin out of our own free will. Our original state is that of rebellion to God. As Andrew touched on last week, God in His justice meets out fair and right judgement to those of us who have sinned and are in rebellion to Him. That judgement is that we deserve to die (‘for the wages of sin is death…’). God is holy and cannot tolerate sin in his presence.
This is the state every single human being finds ourselves in. Sinful, under the judgement of God and heading for eternal death. Now no other person, or faith, or religion or spirituality except the Person of Jesus Christ, has ever claimed to solve our problem. On the contrary, in every other faith, the onus is on us to solve our problem. If you are a Muslim or a Jew, you better do enough good works to make sure God will let you into paradise. If you are a Hindu, you need to work hard on your journey of attaining enough enlightenment so you can improve on your position in your next life. Even if we don’t believe in anything, there is still this desire in us to try and do good and work hard because we know deep down that we are not good enough as we are. The blunt historical facts are simply this – Mohammed, Buddha, Joseph Smith, Nelson Mandela or even Oprah have never claimed to save anyone or to solve the universal human problem of sin.
Jesus is the only one who truly offers us true life. Because he has suffered on the cross in our place, for our sin, and has risen again to life – the problem of sin is solved once and for all. Where the onus was on us to make ourselves right with God, God has done it himself through his Son. This free gift of grace allows us to enter into eternal, abundant, God-breathed life right now and enjoy it for eternity. There is no other possible life outside of Jesus Christ simply because no one else and no other belief system even attempts to solve the universal human problem of sin. Jesus is the only one who offers us grace, so our option is to either accept this free gift, in which our sins are paid for, our salvation secured and thereby enjoy eternal life; or reject it and pay for our sin ourselves, and suffer eternal death and punishment.
Jesus is the Way
Because Jesus is the Truth and the Life – he is therefore the Way – the only Way. Now I think it’s important that we get a glimpse of the heart of God at this point. We often quote the verse, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and the only way to the Father (Jn 14: 6) and make it sound very exclusive, as if God has restricted himself to a small handful of people, and well, the rest are just not included. Let me say here firstly that the way of Jesus is exclusive. Even he says in Matthew 7: 13-14 –
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Jesus says clearly that not everyone will be saved – so universalism, the belief that everyone will go to heaven regardless what they believe (people like Rob Bell & Brian McLaren are pushing this strongly now) is totally incompatible with the teachings of Jesus and the rest of the Bible.
However I believe that we need to hold this truth in tension with other Scriptures that speak of God’s heart that all mankind would come to know him and that his heart and his love is indeed for all of humanity.
Eph 3: 8-9
“this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things…”
1 Tim 2: 3-4
“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
The heart of God has never been to restrict Himself to a select elite group. As the Creator of the heavens and the earth, his desire right from the beginning has been to restore Himself to His creation who has wandered from Him. This mattered so much to Him that He did all He possibly could to achieve this. He did this through Jesus, leaving the glories of heaven and came down to earth, humbling Himself as one of us and paid the ultimate price of his life, so we could return to our God. This act of history, far from being narrow and exclusive, is God the Father opening his arms and making his grace available to every single person from every nation and tribe on this earth, crying out, ‘I love you, come back to me my child, I have made the way to return through my Son’. The Way of Jesus is as universal, open and generous as you can get!
God places the ball squarely in our court. He has revealed his incredible plan of universal redemption through his Son clearly in the Scriptures. It’s in black and white for all to see, it’s not some exclusive secret. Jesus is the Way, Truth and the Life, simply because He has effectively and successfully restored us to the Father in a way no one else has done and can possibly do.
Where are you?
Is your way, the Way of Jesus, or are you walking your own way?
Is the truth that you have embraced, the Truth of Jesus, or your own truth?
Are you experiencing the Life of Jesus, or are you still living your own life?