“Jesus Can't Be The Only Way, Can He?"
“Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, can’t go around it, got to go through it!” Do these words ring any bells? They are the lyrics from one of my favorite music activities as a kid, which eventually became a book, “Going on a Bear Hunt”. In elementary music class we would stand in a circle, the music would play, and we would go on an imaginary bear hunt. As we came across different obstacles on our journey (tall grass, a wide river, or a dark cave), we had to recognize that only one route was possible for each. We couldn’t go around the river or fly over it, we had to wade through it. When we finally came to the “bear”, we ran back through the obstacles once more, ending with a room filled with giggling 2nd graders.
As I think about those fun times now, I can’t help but notice a very important principle present in that children’s song: the idea that, at times, you come across something with only one way to get through it. The question is, will we accept it or foolishly try to go another way?
This brings us to an issue that is very prevalent today: is Christ the only way? You see, it has been the assertion of Christians through the ages that the only way to heaven, the only way to eternal life with God, is through the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the world doesn't like that sort of absolutism. We live in a world that asserts all "spiritual paths" can lead to God, or gods, or whatever you believe is the end point of mankind. Yet the Bible's teaching remains: Christ is the only way. There two important aspects of this truth that we must look at: 1) Christ plus nothing is sufficient for salvation and 2) Christ is the only way to God.
Firstly, as I’ve mentioned in previous articles, many other quasi-Christian groups and organizations do not necessarily deny the need for Christ, faith, or grace. However, the belief of historic Christianity, as fought for by the Protestant Reformers, is that Christ, faith, and grace are alone adequate and sufficient to save sinners. The Reformers pointed to the Bible’s teaching that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross not only made salvation possible, but actually achieved salvation for His people. “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Jesus speaks these last words on the cross signifying that the task that was before Him had been accomplished.
What was His task? The angel that appears to Joseph in his dream makes it very clear, “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Did you catch that? Jesus WILL save His people. It was the very reason Jesus came to earth, the very reason that God became flesh, the very reason that He suffered and went to the cross. And He did not fail.
The Apostle Paul, dealing with false teachers who were also teaching Christ plus something for salvation, writes that “if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose" (Galatians 2:21). Paul’s point in the letter to the Galatians is that it is all or nothing. Either you put your faith in Christ and are saved 100% by Him, or you can try to follow religious laws and rituals. But by doing so you separate yourself from the grace of God (Galatians 5:4). Christ alone, His righteous life and sacrificial death is all we need for salvation.
Secondly, because so many have an unfettered desire to be liked and accepted by pop culture, the idea the Jesus is simply one way among others to get to God, is rampant. However, this idea is not only antithetically to the teaching of the Bible but completely disregards Jesus’ own words. Speaking to His disciples Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Jesus is making a bold claim, that He alone is the exclusive way to God. To be a true follower of Christ is to recognize that apart from Him, no person will be justified before the righteous judgment of God. The world cringes at such statements. However, Jesus was not the only one to say this.
The Apostle Peter preaching to the religious leaders in Jerusalem about Jesus says that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Likewise, the Apostle Paul writes that “there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). It is Bible passages such as these that should cause us, as it did the Reformers, to proclaim that we believe in Solus Christus, that is, Christ alone. For it is only in Christ that we have any hope of salvation.
Think back now to the children’s song I began with. As we go on the bear hunt that is life, and come to the wide river, what can we do? We have to go through it. Why? We can’t fly, it’s too wide to jump across, there is no bridge in sight, therefore we must get wet. Do me a favor today and take a long look at yourself and your heart. The Bible says that we all have sinned and we all deserve punishment (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Do you recognize that? Can you be honest with yourself for a moment and see how your whole life is filled with sin, with lying, thieving, sexual immorality, lust, anger, jealousy, hatred… how are you going to get through it, to the other side of the “wide river”? There is only one way in the song and there is only one in life. The way to have your sins forgiven is through Christ. So jump in and run to Christ alone.