Is Christ the only way?

 

As people look around the world, we see ourselves as something special. Mankind alone has personality, a rational mind and a conscience, and these are coupled with special ability to communicate and a desire for knowledge. The very world in which mankind lives drives him to the conclusion that there is something 'other.' He is a spiritual being with an innate desire to connect with the spiritual dimension of life. From the very beginning he has tried to understand himself and his place in the 'big picture.' Mankind the creature searches for a god to worship.

The large majority of Australians continue to acknowledge the existence of a divine being, or higher power, and profess to follow some sort of religious belief and practice. Some say that their religion is the only true religion, others will say that it doesn't matter what kind of religion you follow, as long as you are sincere.

Our multicultural society reflects an ever-increasing variety of religions, so how do we sort out right from wrong? When there are so many religions, what do I believe? When there are so many contradictions, how do I know what is right? You can certainly be sincere in your beliefs and steadfastly hold to a set of principles, but you can be sincere and still be sincerely wrong!

If mankind is a creature made for a relationship with his Maker, then it is fairly reasonable to suppose that the Maker would have provided the means for establishing that relationship properly. We do not need to search about blindly, or to spend our energies making our own gods to worship. God has shown the way and even provided the 'instruction manual.'

God has revealed himself, and given careful instruction as to how people might have a right relationship with him. God communicates with mankind through words, the words of the Bible, a special revelation of God's person and character and will. The Bible enables us to understand God, as well as to see ourselves rightly, and in proper relationship to God.

God created mankind for relationship with himself but mankind broke that relationship through sin. Death and separation from God was the result, but God had decided to provide the means for mankind's salvation. The record in the Old Testament books of the Bible&emdash;the history, poetry and prophecies&emdash;all have a clear focus forward. God would intervene in history through sending his Son as the most perfect revelation of himself to mankind. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Jesus Christ, the man who walked the roads of Palestine some 2000 years ago, was no ordinary man. Jesus made some extraordinary claims in his preaching and teaching, and the authority with which he spoke was attested through the performance of many healings and miracles. I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me you would know my Father as well (John 14:6,7).

Jesus Christ came into the world as the revelation of God to man&emdash;the living Word, but he was yet more than that. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, offered up himself as a substitutionary sacrifice for sin: While we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Jesus went to the cross at Calvary and took the penalty that sin deserved&emdash;death and separation from God.

In the most dramatic demonstration of the power of God, and as a sign of the acceptance of the sacrificial offering of Christ, and that truly he was the Son of God, Christ was resurrected from the dead. Jesus Christ had won the victory over sin and death.

The historical accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are well attested. There are eye-witness records in the different gospel accounts. There is the amazing change which came over the disciples of Jesus after his resurrection and return to heaven. There is the evidence of the spread of Christianity and the life-changing power that has affected millions of people over the years.

If God has taken the initiative, and revealed himself, then how do I respond to that fact? Do I take him at his word? Someone has said, "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it!" But whether I believe it or not doesn't change the facts. God said it and that settles it!

When Jesus Christ is clearly demonstrated to be the Son of God, and when he says, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me, what is he saying? He is simply saying that if you want to know the way to God, if you want to know truth, if you want to know life in all its fullness, then you need to know Jesus. He is the means of access to God. There aren't two ways, or twenty ways. There isn't any other way. Jesus has an exclusive claim.

The claims of Jesus Christ and the Bible confront us. And perhaps it's this that causes us to react and look for some other way to be right with God, some other religion that doesn't confront us so personally. After all, if the claims of the Bible are true then I must repent of my sin and humbly fall at the feet of Jesus and ask for his forgiveness, knowing that there is no way that I can do anything to earn a place in the presence of God.

Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2:11,12)

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What happens to those who never heard about Jesus?

 

This question should surely arise, not from mere curiosity, but from genuine compassion and concern for those who may die without knowing about Christ and the gospel--and who may be in danger of everlasting destruction.

It is a question which relates to the eternal destiny of man, and it is plain from the teaching of the Bible that all of mankind will ultimately go to one of two places--heaven or hell. This particular question is therefore asking whether those who never heard of Jesus and the gospel will go to heaven or to hell. For, there is no other place known in the Bible.

In seeking an answer, we cannot rely upon human reasoning, emotions, feelings or opinions. Rather, we must seek the mind of Christ on this matter as it is revealed in the New Testament Scriptures. So if there is an answer which may be known, it must be found in the Bible--in the Word of God.

The Biblical answer may be reasonably deduced from certain revealed truths in Scripture.

  1. All mankind without exception, (from the time of man's fall, Gen. ch.3) are sinners in the sight of God (Rom.3:9-23; Eccles.7:20). This includes those ignorant of Christ.
  2. Sin brings all mankind under God's wrath and curse (Rom.1:18; Eph.2:3; Gal.3:10), as well as condemnation and judgment (Rom.5:16,18). All without exception.
  3. Mankind's sin is highly offensive to our holy God and has separated us from God (Isa.59:2).
  4. It is the fact of man's inherited condemnation and actual sin, which keeps him from the presence of God in heaven, not his knowledge of, and rejection of Christ. The latter of course, will compound the guilt and condemnation of the sinner (Matt.10:14,15; 11:20-24). (Note, here we are reminded of the reality of degrees of punishment for the lost.)
  5. The gospel is the proclamation of God's gracious provision of salvation for sinners by way of the sacrificial and atoning death of his Son Jesus Christ. Only through hearing this 'good news' and through faith in Jesus Christ, can a sinner be justified, forgiven and saved from the wrath to come (Rom.10:13-17; John 3:16; Rom.5:1; 8:1).
  6. And importantly, this redemptive provision is the only way to salvation and heaven. See Acts 4:12, "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Also, John 14:6. Thus, there is no other way into the fold of Christ but through faith in Christ the door (Jn. 10).

We must conclude therefore, that those who have not heard of Christ and the gospel, are indeed condemned sinners who are perishing and who will suffer the eternal judgment of God, unless they repent and believe the gospel (Lk.13:3; Heb.11:6).

Finally, it was in the light of this awful reality that the Lord Jesus Christ commissioned his church to 'go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature' so that sinners may believe and be saved rather than damned (Mk.16:15,16). And it was this realization which has motivated thousands of Christ's missionaries to devote their lives to taking the gospel of salvation and hope to the lost multitudes in heathen lands such as China, India, Africa, South America and so many other places of darkness and ignorance. It should also motivate all believers to speak of the gospel to the ignorant of their own neighbourhood today.

NOTE: God the righteous judge, while not clearing the guilty, apart from Christ, will administer judgment by degrees, in accordance with men's deeds (Rom.2:1-16). People will be judged according to the light they have received. And further, we can be sure that every one of Christ's elect sheep shall be saved (Jn.10:27-29). In the comfort of this assurance, believers in thankfulness to God for his grace, will with concern and compassion for the lost, always pray that the Lord of the harvest will send forth labourers into his harvest (Matt. 9:36-38). Let us always pray, "Thy kingdom come."

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