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The Exclusivity of Christ

by | Mar 15, 2018 | Blog

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

There is only one way to God.

This central claim of Christianity has always been offensive. When the Pharisees heard it, they looked around for rocks to throw at Jesus (John 8:59) and made plans to kill him. If we made the statement today, someone might respond, “Isn’t it prideful and intolerant to say that Jesus is the only way to God?”

Instead of letting such questions put us on the defensive, we should welcome them. The exclusivity of Christ is the most delightful truth of our faith! If we look more closely at Jesus’ statement in John 14:6, we will see that it hinges on one word: “Father.” While other ways, “truths,” and religions might promise access to God, only Jesus can bring us to a Father. This is what sets the gospel apart. All other belief systems put us in a relationship where we must somehow earn our way to God. Sometimes, as the Jews of Jesus’ day believed, this comes through obedience to a set of rules. Today, we’re more likely to hear the claim that God will accept anyone who sincerely tries to be a good person. But both these options are bad news.

Even if we could do or be exactly what God wants, these methods establish my relationship to him through a commercial transaction. I give God my good behavior or my good intentions, and he pays me back with acceptance and blessing. He becomes my business partner.

Christ promises us something far better: the right to become children of God. Through Christ, we are invited into a relationship, not offered a deal. Through Christ, we can know love that is truly unconditional—the love of a Father for his children, the love that is given simply because we belong to him. This is why Jesus is the only way. Apart from him, we are enemies to God, unable to change this relationship. We couldn’t even negotiate a truce, because we have nothing to offer and no desire for reconciliation. Our only hope to approach God is through an entirely new relationship.

Jesus is the only begotten Son; the love of the Father is rightly his alone. The good news is that he has not kept this to himself: “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Jesus is the Way and the Truth, and he alone is the Life. We are not given salvation as a “thing,” but in a person who brings us into right relationship with God. The book of John is full of images pointing to this reality. Jesus identifies himself as the Bread of Life, the Living Water, the Light of Life. It is only in our union with him by the Spirit that we can come to God as Father.

Consider what it means to call the Creator and Ruler of the universe “Father.” It means, first of all, an end to our anxious toil. All other ways and “truths” are forms of endless, hopeless striving to make ourselves acceptable to man and God. Jesus identifies this work as sin: “Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” ( John 8:34-36).

When we are able to call God “Father,” we have confidence to draw near his throne, not wondering whether we have done enough to please him. An inheritance has been promised us, for we have be- come co-heirs with Christ, our elder brother. This inheritance is not just eternal life. It may be better to think of eternal life as what lets us actually receive our inheritance. The Father’s love for us is such that it will take eternity to give us all he has laid aside for us. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

Jesus is preparing this inheritance to share with us, as he explained to the disciples: “Let not your hearts be troubled…In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going” (John 14:1-4).

We do know. His name is Jesus, and there is nothing more humble, loving, and truly welcoming to all people than the claim that he alone is the way to the Father.

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