Is Jesus Christ The Only Way To God?
There are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of religions in the world. Have you ever wondered which one is the right one? Some persons, of course, say that none of them is right; but even that viewpoint is a religion of sorts which its proponents say is the right one. Logically, then, at least one of them must be the right one. A more popular opinion is the one that says that all religions lead to God. Jesus is the one way, but then so is Buddha, and Mohammad is yet another way, and so on. In other words, it doesn’t really matter which road you take, for they all lead to God. So says the popular view.
Since the question concerns Jesus and God, it is essential to first hear what they themselves say about the matter. What does the Bible say?
What Did Jesus Christ Say?
For some strange reason, many folks think that Jesus was a sort of “universal guru” who approved of all religions and all persons. He was a peaceful chap with flowers in His hair who never spoke a discouraging word. But when we read the New Testament, we find a totally different picture of Jesus. His most direct words on the subject at hand are recorded in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, but through Me.” Notice that Jesus Himself said this, and not merely His followers. Jesus Christ Himself proclaimed that He is the only way to God.
These words tell us several things. For one, Jesus is telling us that He is the way, the only way. He is not saying that He is one among many ways; He is saying that He is the one and only way. Therefore, Jesus Himself rejected the notion that all roads lead to God. There are many false ways, but only one true way. Wherever those other ways lead, they do not lead to God. Moreover, Jesus said that He Himself is the way. He did not say, as Buddha was reported to have said, “Find the way and follow it.” No, Jesus said, “I am the way. Follow me.” In fact, the four Gospels are filled with instances in which Jesus commanded people to follow Him (Mark 1:17, for example). Yet we are only to follow God Himself (I Kings 18:21). We are to follow Jesus for the simple reason that He leads to God and is God Himself.
Next, He said, “I am the truth.” At best, philosophy can only ask the question, “What is truth?”, as Plato did. It tries to answer the question but fails miserably. Jesus is the answer. He is the truth. And He alone is ultimate truth. Furthermore, He is the truth, not one truth among many. These powerful words stand in stark contrast to the silly idea, “That’s true for you, but something else is true for me.” Jesus us the ultimate truth for all mankind. One more thing: Jesus tells us that ultimate truth is personal, not abstract. Truth is a person, not a principle. So, then, the answer to the search for the meaning in life in not merely in right doctrine, but in the right person – Jesus.
Then Jesus said that He is the “life”, spiritual life. We are spiritually dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1), separated from the life of God (Eph. 4:18). But Jesus is the very life of God, and came to give us spiritual life by restoring us to a proper relationship to God (John 10:10, 11:26). He alone is “the life” and the only meaning to life.
The other vital thing that we learn from these words of Jesus is that He dogmatically announced, “No one comes to the Father, but through Me.” There are no exceptions. It was as if He said, “If you want to get to God, You have to come through Me. I have the monopoly on God.” He was either arrogantly proud or perfectly right. Scripture leaves us in no doubt about the matter. Jesus was absolutely right. He alone is the way God.
What Else Did Jesus Say?
In John 10:9, Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he shall be saved.” Of course, not all men enter through Him. This does not mean they enter in through another way; rather, it means that they do not enter in at all. Jesus totally rejected the popular notion that God is a castle on a hill with many doors. Jesus said, “I am the door”, the only door. He opens and no one can close. And He closes and no one can open (Rev. 3:7). Jesus changed the metaphor slightly and said, “I have the keys” (Rev. 1:18). If you want into Heaven with God, you have to go to Jesus.
In the Sermon in the Mount, Jesus had this to say: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). All men are one of two roads. Most are on the wide road that leads to destruction, that is, eternal Hell. Oddly, many people think that they must be right because the majority of people agree with them. Wrong. Most people are wrong and are on the wrong way. Truth is not determined by a majority vote. These words tell us something else. Jesus taught that most me go to Hell to suffer for their sins (see Matt. 25:41). Jesus rejected the view that says that all men will be saved from their sins and make it to Heaven with God, regardless of their religion. If they do not turn to Jesus, they will certainly go to Hell, not to God. By contrast, Jesus is “the way” to God. He is the narrow way, what Peter called “the right way” (2 Pet. 2:15). Are Christians narrow-minded to say that Jesus is the only way to God? We sure are. Because Jesus Himself was. The one way to God is a narrow way.
The consequences of not knowing God are staggering. In addition to existential loneliness and moral guilt in this world, there is eternal damnation for those who do not know God (Psa. 9:17). Now, in a sense we all know that God exists. Why? Because God has told us through Nature that He exists (Rom. 1:18-23). But no man personally knows God by himself. Jesus had some words on this subject, too: “nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:27). No man can personally know God without an introduction. Jesus is that introduction. To know Jesus is to know the Father (John 8:19, 14:9). Jesus said that he decides who will have the privilege of knowing the Father. So, Jesus is not only the only way to know God, but He decides who will get to know God through Him.
What, then, of those who reject Jesus and His words? Jesus addressed this in John 8:24, “Unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in you sins.” Our eternal destiny is determined by whether we acknowledge the true identity of Jesus Christ. Those who believe in Jesus shall be saved from sin and know God (Acts 16:31). Those who do not believe in Him will not know God but will be eternally damned (Mark 16:16; John 3:18). That is total exclusivity. Jesus said, “Everyone therefore who shall confess him before My Father who is in Heaven” (Matt. 10:32-33). Not only is Jesus the only way to God, but He is also the Judge on Judgement Day. Those who trust and know Jesus go to Heaven; all others go to Hell. Jesus Himself said so in uncertain terms in Matt. 7:23 and 25:41.
What Did the Followers of Jesus Say?
All of the followers of Jesus have agreed with Him. In Acts 4:12, Peter preached, “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 was dogmatically exclusive on Jesus being the only way to God. Notice that he said that we “must” be saved through Jesus, not just that we “may”. Salvation by Christ is imperative. We are commanded to believe in Him.
Then there was Paul. In 1 Tim. 2:5 he wrote, “There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” Jesus is not one of many mediators; He is not a good guru among many. He is the only mediator between us and God. Paul often stressed this word “one”. Elsewhere he said, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:4-6). To be without Christ, he says, is to be without hope (Eph. 2:12). Christ is our only “access” to God (Eph. 2:18, 3:12).
Paul’s major book was the Letter to the Romans. In the first three chapters, he shows how all men are sinners under the wrath of God. In the next few chapters, he describes God’s way of salvation through Jesus Christ. Romans 10:14-17 is a key section for the question we are discussing. Paul reasons that since there is no salvation except through Christ, there is no salvation for those who never hear of Christ. Immediately someone will object, “That’s not fair!” Paul deals with that, too. All men everywhere are sinners “without excuse” (2:1). No man deserves salvation. God did not have to give us any way of salvation at all, and He is totally just to give us only one way – His way.
But Cannot We Know God Our Own Way?
God makes it perfectly clear: “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). If we are going to be saved from sin and know God, it must be through God’s way. We cannot know God by human wisdom or philosophy (Col. 2:8; I Cor. 1:21). Why? Because our minds are spiritually blinded by sin. The fact is, we are running from God, not trying to find Him (Rom. 3:11). There is no “sincere seeker,” and even if there was, sincerity itself is not enough. We need truth, not merely sincerity. One can believe something and be sincerely wrong. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Pro. 14:12). How foolish, then, is the nonsense that says, “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.” It does matter. It is a matter of life and death. God doesn’t say, “Pick a card, any card.” God says, “Follow Jesus Christ.”
Nor can any of us earn the right to know God. Good works are indeed our duty, but they do not earn a ticket to Heaven (Eph. 2:8-9). No man can ever come to know God by saying enough prayers, contributing to charity, fasting, attending religious meetings, lighting candles, trying to keep the Ten Commandments of the Golden Rule, being baptized, joining a lodge, or any other good work or ritual.
God’s way of salvation is by God’s sheer grace. God grants us the high privilege of knowing Him and His forgiveness solely by His free love and mercy. We could never do enough good works to merit that. Also, this salvation is received by faith alone, not by human merit (Gal. 2).
Incidentally, this means that salvation is not achieved through repeated reincarnations and paying our debt through karma. That is Hinduism, not Christianity. There is no reincarnation (Heb. 9:27). We die physically but once. There is, on the other hand, resurrection. Sometime in the future, all of us will be raised from the dead and stand before God to be judged. All the “karma” in the world will not help us then. Only Jesus Christ can help us. We get ready for that day now by faith in Christ.
What Makes Jesus Christ So Special?
There are two things that make Jesus Christ the only way to God. The first is who He is. Just who is this Jesus of Nazareth? Well, for one thing, He was a perfect man. He was the only human being ever to go through life without ever once sinning. That separates Him from all other people, including the so-called “great religious leaders.”
Furthermore, Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. He Himself said so (John 8:24, 58), as did His followers (John 1:1, 20:28; Heb. 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1, etc.). He was thus the God-Man. He was the only man to be God, and this was the only time God became a man. This too distinguishes Him from Buddha, Mohammed and all other religious men. Being God in the flesh, He alone is the perfect revelation of God (Heb. 1:3). God is invisible, but in Jesus Christ we can now see God (John 1:18; Col. 1:15).
God repeatedly says, “I, even I, am the Lord; and there is no savior besides me” (Isa. 43:11; Hos. 13:4). But Scripture also says that Jesus is the only savior. Why? Because He is also called “God and Savior” (Titus 2:13; 2 Pet. 1:1) and “Lord and Savior” (2 Pet 1:1, 2:20, 3:2, 3:18). He is the only savior, for the simple reason that He alone is God. No mere human being can save us – no priest, rabbi, pope, guru, or prophet. They promise much but deliver nothing. The priest with his beads and candles is not any better than the witch doctor with his feathers and bones. They are not in the same class with Jesus.
Secondly, Jesus is unique because of what He did. He died as our substitute: “Christ died for our sins” (I Cor. 15:3). Remember, He was sinless and did not deserve to die. None of us can pay our debt to God, even by death and Hell. But Jesus paid our debt for us by dying on the cross and suffering the wrath of God in our place. Furthermore, He rose from the dead (I Cor. 15:4) and will return again to Earth one day. No other “great religious leader” died for us. Karl Marx did not die for our sins, and neither did Buddha. Moslems can show you Mohammed’s grave, but Jesus rose from the grave.
What Does God Think of Other Religions?
God says over and over that He alone is the one true God (e.g. Isa. 44:6). God Almighty utterly condemns atheism, polytheism, pantheism, and dualism. God is there, and the only true God is the God of the Bible. He is our creator. All other “gods” are false gods. Allah is a false god; Brahman is a false god; Krishna is a false god. They are mere idols. Scripture goes so far as to say that they are really demons (I Cor. 10:20). Obviously one cannot come to know the one true God through any of those false gods.
Likewise, all the prophets of other religions are false prophets. Jesus said, “All who came before me were thieves and robbers” (John 10:8). They were wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15). They did not get their messages from God, and therefore they cannot lead us to God. In fact, they only lead away from God. This applies to their writings as well (the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, etc.). God Himself said, “If they do not speak according to this Word [the Bible], it is because they have no light in them” (Isa. 8:20). Simply put, one cannot know the one true God by reading the religious texts of non-Christian religions. Why? Because they are lies and frauds. We know God only through reading God’s true book, the Bible.
So, then, “Comparative Religion” is wrong to assert that “All religions are basically the same.” Such a claim is utter nonsense. Islam and Judaism believe in one God; Hinduism believes in many gods; while Buddhism believes all is God. They contradict each other and so cannot all be true. However, there is a sense in which they are all alike. They are all alike false religions. Some are closer to truth than others. But none of them lead to God. They all lead to Hell. Paul warned of false religions, including perversions of true Christianity, in Gal. 1:9, “If any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed!” False religions are accursed and bring down God’s damnation on all who follow them.
The good news is that God does have a way of salvation. He has given us a bridge whereby we can know Him. Jesus Christ is that bridge. Are Christians dogmatic to say that Jesus is the only way to God? Yes. We are dogmatic because God is dogmatic. Why do we believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God? Because God says so.