Jesus Christ: the Only Way to God
Q: Do you really believe Jesus Christ is the only way to God? If so, why and HOW can you believe that? What about all the good people in the world who don’t believe? What about all those who have never heard of Him?
A: We believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, because (1) we believe that God is the only way to God, and because (2) we believe Jesus Christ IS God, and this is The Way that He has provided to Himself.
When we first came to Jesus Christ, it was more related to experiential evidence (see Kristalyn’s testimony) than to scholarly evidence, but the truth of His biblical claims was verified in our minds by the awesome results of our believing in Him. Since then, the experiential evidence has multiplied exponentially in our lives, and we know Jesus in a very personal way. He is like another member of the family, and we could no more disbelieve Him than we disbelieve one another (even less so, for we each are but imperfect humans). But since then, we have continued to study the Bible and apologetics and have had our beliefs confirmed by the evidence demonstrated through scholarship and logic as well.
We believe the Gospel accounts of Jesus Christ to be historical documents, not mythological ones. There are three basic test for historical authenticity ~ the bibliographical test, the internal evidence test, and the external evidence test ~ and, in short, the Gospel accounts pass all three of these (see More Than a Carpenter by Josh and Sean McDowell for more details).
We therefore believe the words of Jesus Christ recorded in the Gospels to be actual words spoken by Him. In the book of John, He claims to be “the way, the truth, and the life” ~ not A way, A truth, and A life ~ and further, He claims to be the ONLY way to God the Father, not one of many or even a couple.
If Jesus literally made this claim, then He had to either be telling the truth, lying, or delusional. The quality of His life and the positive impact of His teachings over the last two millennia do not indicate that He was lying or delusional. If He were lying in saying that He was the only way to God, we would have to consider Him a cruel teacher. If He were delusional, He would not be worthy of consideration … He would be just another lunatic who thought He was God. Either way, He could not be considered the great prophet and wise, holy man that He showed Himself to be.
But ultimately, He demonstrated His deity by predicting His own death and resurrection and then accomplishing them as described, going willingly to that torturous demise (for the crime of claiming to be God) and fulfilling that glorious return to life, as promised.
A collection of data that, when taken together, is evidence of the resurrection:
1. Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is a historical fact, recorded in the Talmud b. Sanhedrin 43a, by Cornelius Tacitus in his Annals, xv. 44, and by Lucian of Samosata
2. After Jesus died, His disciples thought they had been wrong about Him being Messiah & God. They were depressed and went into hiding.
3. The body of Christ disappeared from the tomb and has never been located. If it had been, the Jewish and Roman authorities would have wielded it, since they desperate wanted to destroy Christianity. Rather, the authorities made up stories about how the body was lost, since they had none to procure. However, there were guards stationed at Jesus’ tomb who were to protect the body on pain of death.
4. The Bible records that three days after His crucifixion, Mary Magdalene was the first person to see that Jesus had risen from the dead (Mark 16:9), followed by more than 500 other believers. At that time a woman’s testimony had no value in a court of law. Therefore, Mark would not have recorded this in his Gospel account if it were not true, for it did not lend credulity to the story.
5. When the other disciples saw Him, they came out of hiding. After His resurrection, they began to preach boldly everywhere, to the point of death. Eleven out of the appointed Twelve Apostles died gruesome deaths for their faith. The twelfth, John, was boiled in oil but unable to be killed, so he was instead exiled to the Isle of Patmos at which he wrote the book of Revelation.
6. Christianity grew rapidly and enormously, despite tremendous persecution and being illegal.
7. To this day, believing on Jesus as Lord and God creates instant and striking changes in the lives and worldviews of believers.
The experiential evidence cannot be minimized: our lives and the lives of numerous people around us bear the stamp of utterly changed hearts and lives, bearing witness to Jesus’ biblical claims. He says, for example,
whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. ~ John 4:14
And that is the experience of everyone we know who has put their trust in Jesus Christ as He is revealed in His written word, the Bible: there is no more spiritual thirsting, nor is there fear of eternity.
There is a trendy idea espoused currently by some, especially teachers of Eastern spiritualities and those whom they have influenced, that it doesn’t matter whether Jesus truly existed as a unique and actual, physical man and did and said all the things that the Bible. They suggest that it’s enough to be influenced by His good ideas. To them and to any who are entertaining such ideas, we would ask, does it matter whether Adolf Hitler actually existed and did what he did? Or is it enough to know that it would be really terrible if someone did murder six million Jews plus numerous other “undesirables”? Again, does it matter whether Rosa Parks existed and did what she did? Or is it enough to know that it would be really inspiring if someone actually did stand up for justice as she?
Through these illustrations, we are making the point that it very much does matter whether each of these persons is actually historical or just an inspiring mythical character. It is at least as important whether Jesus is a historical person who historically died on a cross and historically rose from the grave three days later, or whether that is all just an inspiring, metaphorical, mythological story. If the first is true, there is certainly much more at stake, due to the very serious claims He made.
Likewise, to assert to believe in Jesus without believing the claims He makes in the Bible is nonsensical. In what are you believing then, if not His words, since that is all that we have left of Him?
Here are some of His claims:
no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. ~ John 3:13, referring to Himself as the Son of man, and making a claim to be deity
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. ~ John 3:16-18, referring to Himself as the Son of God
35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.
36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. ~ John 3:35-36
he that hath seen me hath seen the Father ~ John 14:9
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. ~ John 14:18, referring to after His death
I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. ~ John 14:6
Jesus draws a line on which all hearers of His words must take a side. Believe Him as He presents Himself, or disbelieve. There is no other option.
Christianity, as a worldview, is fundamentally irreconcilable with all other faiths, indeed with the very idea of religion itself. The concept of God Himself paying for our sins and overcoming death for us is not something offered by the religions of the world. In every religion that has a clear concept of right and wrong and recompense for wrong-doing, that recompense must be paid by the individual human, whether it be through good deeds, petition, or spiritual practices. Only in Christianity has God paid the recompense and offered pardon freely, entirely through His grace. This is why Christianity is not a religion at all: it is a relationship.
Regarding all the “good” people who don’t believe … The Bible says that no-one is good save God. Our ideas of goodness pale miserably in comparison to Goodness Himself. As an example, check out the kind of righteousness described by Jesus Christ in the book of Matthew, chapter 5. No-one comes close to that kind of goodness.
The Bible also says that all people who have the maturity of moral understanding have in fact crossed even their own consciences. Check within right now. Have you ever done something that you knew was wrong? How many times? Can you even remember? You don’t know the global impact of your wrong-doing. To you, it may be a small matter, but it is not so to the Judge of the universe who does indeed know the impact.
When a person commits a crime, no amount of self-directed good deeds afterwards can remove from their record the crime that they committed. There is a legal debt, and justice demands that it be paid by someone. The judge can even step in and pay the debt, but it must be paid. And only the judge can decide the penalty. Even if the criminal is granted pardon, they must sign the contract that grants them such.
In the Bible, God is the Judge, and as Jesus Christ, He has in fact already paid a penalty sufficient to cover the debt created by every wrong-doing of every human over all of time, by His death on the cross. In order to receive the pardon though, you must sign the dotted line. You do that by simply believing this gospel message in your heart. Without that pardon, no person of moral accountability has the perfect righteousness necessary for eternity in the presence of Goodness Himself.
As far as the hypothetical situation of those who have never heard, there is no actual evidence that such people exists. There are missionaries taking the good news to the farthest reaches of the planet for this very reason. There are numerous missionaries who have shown up to an isolated people, only to find out that they had already had a direct revelation of Jesus Christ. Just as God did in the Bible, He continues to reveal Himself directly to those who have not yet received the message from other people.
God declares that He has revealed Himself through nature to all people as the omnipotent and eternal Creator. Anyone who believes in this revelation and genuinely seeks to know Him will be led to the good news of Jesus Christ. Because He is God, He can make it so.
For further reading on this subject, please check out the following articles:
Why is Jesus the Only Way to God? ~ Josh McDowell
Jesus is the Only Way to God: True or False? ~ Lee Strobel
Jesus Is the Only Way to Heaven Because God Is the Only Way to God ~ J. Warner Wallace
Is Jesus Christ The Only Way To God? ~ Curt Daniel
Is Jesus the Only Way to God? ~ Norton Herbs
10 Reasons to Believe In Christ Rather Than Religion
It’s OK to Say Jesus Is the Only Way ~ Jonathan Dodson
Do All Religions Lead to God? ~ Kenneth R. Samples
How Can Christ Be the Only Way to God? ~ William Lane Craig
The Jesus Legend ~ Paul Rhodes Eddy, Gregory A. Boyd
The Case for Easter ~ Lee Strobel