Of all the questions leveled against Christianity, few others cause such heated controversy: “Is Jesus the Only Way to God?” For many people, Jesus’ words equate exclusivity with arrogance:
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. —John 14:6
The exclusivity of those words is unmistakable. Millions question: “How can Jesus be the only way to God? That’s not fair. It leaves out too many people.”
But if you think about it, the real question isn’t, “Is Jesus the Only Way to God?” but rather we should ask, “Is God holy”?
Here’s why that’s the real issue.
All Religions Can’t be True
To say all ways to God are equally valid assumes Christianity is the same as other religions. But it isn’t. In fact, it stands completely unique.
- All other religions try to earn God’s approval by works—good deeds done to tip the balance against all the evil deeds you’ve done.
- If it’s our sin that separates us from God, then it’s our sin that has to be removed. Good works don’t do that any more than sugar in a cup of poison makes it drinkable.
- Christianity teaches that you can come to God only by God’s grace through faith in Jesus—who died for your sins and rose again (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).
If Jesus’ exclusive words are true, then His statement is one of grace—not arrogance—because it tells how a sinful person can be reconciled with a holy God.
(Photo: All religions can’t be true if one contradicts)
The real question is, “Is God holy?” Because if He is holy—and He cannot abide any sin in His presence—then a mountain full of good works makes no difference, because, after all, what are you going to do with your sin?
Jesus died on a cross to pay the penalty for our sins. His resurrection three days later proved that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice—and that He will accept any person who believes in Jesus (John 3:16).
What about Those Who Haven’t Heard of Jesus?
If Jesus is the only way, how can God justly condemn those who have never heard of Jesus? Again, the question begins from the wrong perspective.
Rather than asking, “Why aren’t they saved?” the more basic question is, “Why are they lost?” The Bible answers it this way:
The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. —Romans 1:18
Notice against whom God reveals His wrath. Not against those ignorant of Christ, but against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.
- In other words, God condemns no one because of ignorance of Jesus, but rather, because of personal sin.
- Think of it this way: people don’t die because they lack a doctor—they die because they’re sick.
On the other hand, those who have never heard of Jesus, but who do respond to the revelation of creation, God will send them more revelation—and ultimately, the message of Christ. See this post for how a snowman helped make this clear.
Our Consciences Confirm Our Guilt
Even people who never hear a word of Scripture have an awareness of their sin, because they break their own moral standard—however high or low it is (Romans 2:14-15).
If a man who has never heard of Jesus robs another family, why does he then claim injustice when his own family gets robbed?
We don’t have to look at the “heathen” to see it. We do the same things:
- We cut off other people on the highway, but we hate it when it happens to us.
- We lust after someone else’s spouse, but we get angry when someone ogles ours.
- We freely talk about other people, but we resent others talking about us.
No one who stands before God to be condemned one day will say, “That’s not fair.” We have all violated our consciences and we stand condemned.
Grace is All-Inclusive
In all honesty, God has no obligation to forgive our sins—only to judge them. If God saved only one person out of the billions born it would still be a testimony to His amazing grace.
But He has done more than that. So much more!
God provides forgiveness of sins and a promise of life in heaven for anyone—ANYONE—who believes in His Son, Jesus Christ.
There has always been only one way to God—even in the Old Testament. God’s exclusive way to Him is all-inclusive.
If a person could get to heaven apart from Jesus, the Great Commission would not have been, “Make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:18-20). Instead Jesus would have said: “Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone about me; if they don’t hear about me, they will all slide into Heaven on a loophole.”
On the contrary, Christ said to tell the world.
Because God is holy, the world needs a Savior, and God provided Him.