“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Jesus in John 14:6. Probably one of the most offensive things Jesus ever said.
Lots of people have different ideas of how they can be saved – by being a good person, by helping out those in need, following a certain religion. And many don’t even believe they need to be saved at all. Which is what makes this comment from Jesus so offensive to so many. Because essentially He is saying that unless you follow Him, no matter what you do, no matter what you believe, it won’t be enough. It won’t save you.
Allah won’t save you.
Buddha can’t save you.
The Book of Mormon won’t get you into heaven.
Door-knocking won’t earn you salvation.
Good karma won’t be enough.
Being a good person won’t save you.
Going to church on Sundays isn’t enough.
The Prophet Mohammed can’t bring you to God.
Only Jesus is Truth. Only Jesus is the way to the Father. Only through what He did on the cross is anyone saved.
That’s a bold statement, with drastic consequences. For if we believe it to be true (and the Bible tells us that it is) then it must have a dramatic impact on our lives. For firstly, we must ensure that we are truly saved. We must ensure that we have put our faith in Jesus, and accepted that amazing thing He did for us on the cross, dying in our place and aren’t trying to earn our salvation in some other way. And secondly, it will impact in every way how we live our life. For if we believe that only those who accept Jesus as the way, the truth and the life are going to enter heaven then we are left with the unpleasant reality that all those who do not accept Jesus as the way, the truth and the life won’t enter heaven. They’ll be going to Hell.
And that is a view you’ll not hear expressed too much in Christian culture today, because it is deemed offensive by the outside world, so we tend to tone it done, emphasising God’s love and neglecting to mention the fact that non-believers are going to Hell. And so often you hear of people who say they are Christians, but that their faith is ‘a personal thing for them, not something they’ll share with others.’ Which seems to me a blatant contradiction. How can you believe that those who don’t accept Jesus as saviour will end up in Hell, and not want to try and do something about it? Not want to try and point people to Jesus? Not want to try and save them?
Because the thing is, at the heart of the Christian faith is the belief that salvation is purely by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus, made possible by his death on the cross. If you remove that you remove the very thing that makes the Good News good. Maybe it is time for us to stop the softy-softy approach. Maybe we need to stop worrying about who we offend, and get sharing the radical message that only Jesus can save out there. (Not ramming it down people’s throats, but not totally neglecting to mention it either.)
And maybe we need to spend time examining our own lives, making sure that we are fully aware and grateful of what Jesus did for us on the cross, and ensure that we are totally reliant on that alone to save us, not attaching any extra unnecessary strings. And making sure that we don’t swallow the lie that you can get to heaven without Jesus, that we don’t need to share His message because people don’t need it. Jesus makes it very clear that they do. And He makes it clear that it is up to us to tell them. No one can come to the Father except through Jesus. Do our friends know that? Have we told them?