How Can Jesus Be the Only Way to
may seem unfair, unjust, or even arrogant for Christians to say that Jesus
is the only way that a person can have a relationship with God. These
misconceptions, however, can be cleared up by coming to a clear understanding
of the issue. After we do this, we will look at some objections to this claim.
Christians did not invent the idea that a person can only be saved by
Christians say that Jesus is the only way to God because Jesus Himself said
He was the only way to God. It is Jesus' claim, not our invention. Consider
these verses where Christ eliminates alternative ways to God: "I am the way,
and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me"
(John 14:6). "For unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins"
Christ's apostles later affirmed His claim: "And there is salvation in no
one else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among
men by which we must be saved, " Peter says in Acts 4:12. Paul writes "For
there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus"
(1 Timothy 2:5). It is not arrogant for Christians to make such an exclusive
claim since we are only relaying what Jesus taught and being faithful to
what Jesus told us to do (Matt. 28:19). If we come to understand why Jesus
is the only way, we will see that it is not unfair for Him to make such
Why is Jesus the only way?
Every person is separated from God by their sin and in need of forgiveness.
Because God is just as well as loving, we cannot cross this gulf and have
a relationship with Him (eternal life) unless the penalty for our sin is
paid--eternal death. If God did not judge our sin, He would no longer be
Living a good, moral life cannot save a person because good works do not
pay the penalty for sin. Just as we can only pay a $50 speeding ticket with
$50 (not by baking cookies for the judge or even paying $49), only
death can pay the death penalty for sin. Being religious cannot
save a person either, because religion does not pay the death penalty.
Fortunately, because of His love for us, God sent Jesus to die in our place
to pay the death penalty we deserve for our sin. Jesus chose to do this because
He loves us, and was the only one able to do this because He is fully God
(He had to be infinite to pay the penalty for more than one person) and He
is fully man (He had to be a sinless human to pay the penalty for a sinful
human). Jesus is not only sinless, but He is 100% God and 100% man.
On the cross, God judged Jesus for our sin so that we wouldn't have to be.
That's why He is the only way to God--only Jesus was willing and able to
die for us to pay our death penalty, thus providing forgiveness for
our sins. No one other religios leader has done this; no one else could have
So now there are two options. Either a person can pay this penalty
themselves--and so not be saved--or Jesus can pay it for them--and be saved.
In both ways, God is just because the penalty is paid. The decision is ours
to make, and all we need to do is accept God's offer of forgiveness in Jesus.
Either we pay the penalty, or we trust Jesus to save us and He pays the
To summarize, we can receive forgiveness and eternal life only through Jesus
because only He has taken away our sin and bridged the gulf between us and
God. It took His death to pay the penalty for our sin. If there had been
any other way, Jesus would not have died (Gal 2:21). Considering the
sacrifice Jesus made, we should not think it is unfair that there is only
one way, but we should be glad that there is any way at all. Now we
will look at some problems that people have with accepting this exclusive
Objection #1: Christianity is too narrow
Just because something is narrow and exclusive does not make it wrong. Life
is full of things that are narrow and true. For example, we want the airplane
pilot to land on the runway, not the highway; to land right-side up, not
upside down. Truth is always exclusive of error. Two plus two equals four
is very narrow, but it is still right.
The problem comes if people are insensitive about saying that Jesus is the
only way. It is unfortunate that this sometimes happens, but just because
the presentation was wrong does not make the message itself
wrong. If someone went around killing people in the name of love, we wouldn't
conclude that love was wrong, would we?
We must also understand that Christianity is not the only religion that makes
exclusive claims. Judaism and Islam, among other religions, also make exclusive
claims. All religions cannot be true because they disagree with each other
on major issues, such as how to be saved. For example, Christianity says
that salvation is a free gift from God. Every other religion says that salvation
is not a gift, but that we must earn it. How can salvation be free and earned
at the same time? So this leads to the question, "Why should one believe
Jesus' claims and not the others?"
Objection #2: There are so many religions that we cannot know who is
We can believe what Jesus said because He gave evidence that validates His
claim. Jesus not only claimed to be the only way to God, but He also claimed
to be God (John 5:18; 10:30-33). He then rose from the dead, proving
that what He said was true. There is more evidence for Christ's resurrection
than any event in ancient history. Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed and all of
the other religious leaders of the past are still in their tombs. But not
Jesus. Who would you believe?
Objection #3: Truth changes from person to person
Sometimes people say "It may be true for you, but it is not true for me."
But simply believing something cannot make it true. We believe something
because it is true, not to make it true. People used to believe that the
earth was flat, but that did not make it flat; it was still round. Jesus'
statement in John 14:6, "No one comes to the Father, but through Me,"
is a universal truth. It applies to everyone, even if they do not believe
it. And since Jesus is God and rose from the dead, He has the authority to
Objection #4: It doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you are
A common belief today is that God will accept people no matter what they
believe, as long as they are sincere. Sincerity, however, cannot determ ine
whether something is true. It is possible to be sincerely wrong, because
faith is only as good as its object. Several years ago a nurse in a large
hospital changed an oxygen tank for one of her patients. She sincerely believed
that there was oxygen in that tank, but the next nurse to check on the patient
found him dead. The tank had been wrongly labeled at the warehouse and contained
nitrogen, not oxygen. This nurse was sincere and had a lot of faith in that
tank, but the nitrogen still had terrible consequences for her patient.
To further illustrate that faith is only as good as its object, let's say
that I put all of my trust into a potted plant to teach me calculus. Will
I learn calculus from this plant? No, because it is the wrong object. In
the same way, a person can not get to heaven by trusting in religion or good
works, because that is trusting in the wrong object--these things cannot
pay the penalty for our sin. Only Jesus can.
Lastly, we must always remember that people of other religions can be saved,
but not by their religion. If they come to Jesus, He will save them. The
invitation is open to all.
What about those who lived before Christ?
The basis for salvation has always been the same--Christ and His death on
the cross. Even the people who lived before Christ were saved because of
Him. The means of salvation has also always been the same--by grace (God's
undeserved favor) through faith. The content of this faith, however, differed
before Christ and was not as specific, but it still pointed to Christ. In
the Old Testament, God commanded the people to do animal sacrifices, because
these pointed to the time when Christ would die once for all to take away
sins. These people still had to respond to what God had revealed.
Scripture quotations are generally from the New American Standard Bible,
copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, by the Lockman
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