Here's the file from the sermon I gave on October 15, 2006. Click it to view the slides or right-click and select "Save target as . . ." to download the PowerPoint file. It has some speaker notes under the slides.
Unfortunately, the recording equipment didn't work properly that day so I don't have the audio. I may add the audio later.
I closed the message with this video. Check it out: That's my King!
Background: We have Laity Sunday once per year when lay people lead the services. I'm not sure if this is a Methodist thing or just one of our traditions. I had an opportunity to do the sermon a couple years ago and it was a real blessing. I realized many months ago that if I got another opportunity I would speak on this topic: "Jesus is the only way." I realize that should be a rather "duh" statement for a Christian church, but sadly there are many people in church leadership positions of many denominations who parrot the "all religions lead to God" stuff. Our pastors are stellar and orthodox but many members could use a refresher on the essentials of the faith.
I went to a class of allegedly mature believers last Spring and was stunned that more than half held that heretical view. They were truly indignant to the claim that Jesus was the only way. I've prayed for an opportunity to share this message with grace and boldness. Please pray that people will be open to this truth and that non-believers will be convicted by the Gospel message.
The basic perspective is that if you are a Christian, this is the view you must hold. The Bible doesn't even hint at another path and has 100 or more passages pointing out that Jesus is the only way. This resource from Stand to Reason was quite helpful in finding lots of verses.
I blogged on some of the sub-points at the 4Simpsons blog. Here's one of them:
Matthew 26:39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane the night before He was crucified, He was in physical and emotional anguish to the point that He was literally sweating blood. §Picture him face down on the ground, asking God the Father if another way was possible. What was God’s answer? No. The cross was the answer.§If we deny that Jesus is the only way, we mock the cross and we mock the millions of persecuted Christians and martyrs over the centuries who could have avoided pain, suffering and even death if they just denied that Jesus was the sole source of salvation.
§If you think there are other paths to salvation, then picture yourself telling that to Jesus on the cross.
This is my outline from a talk I gave at church at a different time. I am amazed at how many Christians do not believe Jesus is the only way or aren't equipped to explain why He is the only way. It is natural and logical for people to wrestle with this topic because it is so serious and important.
o There is only one way to forgiveness for your all your sins and to be reconciled to God.
o There is only one way to true transformation in your life.
o There is only one way to eternal life in Heaven
o The only way to transformation, forgiveness and eternal life: Jesus.
The claim that Jesus is God and that He is the only way to salvation and eternal life has been a dominant and essential view of the church for 2,000 years. There are 100 passages (one hundred!) in the Bible clearly stating that Jesus is the only way. That doesn't make it true (there are other reasons we can show for why the Bible is true). But it does show that the Bible is clear and emphatic in stating that Jesus is the way and that no Christian should claim otherwise.
What the Bible says
1. Jesus is the only source of salvation for the world.
2. God the Father chose Jesus to be the way.
3. If you reject Jesus, you have rejected the Father.
4. We are sinners in need of a savior. Belief in Jesus rescues us from God’s wrath.
5. Jesus is the one who promises forgiveness from sin.
6. The Bible warns that many imposters will claim to provide other ways of salvation.
7. There are no other alternatives for salvation – see Jesus’ prayer in Gesthemene
8. The Gospel was for all nations – Why would Jesus have given the Great Commission if there are other ways?
9. Jesus will judge each of us on the final day – Not Buddha, Mohammed, or Khrishna
Here are just a few verses:
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Acts 4:11-12 He is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 16:30-31 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
1 John 2:23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
1 John 5:11-12 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Luke 10:16 He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.
Luke 12:8-9 I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.
John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.
John 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.
John 10:7-8 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them."
Pluralism (the belief all religions are equally valid) is bad thinking
o Discourages critical thinking
o Self-refuting (mutually exclusive, contradictory) claims can’t both be true. Either both are false or one is true, but both can't be true. Examples:
God can’t be personal (Christianity) and impersonal (e.g., Hinduism) at the same time.
Jesus either died on the cross and rose again (Christianity) or He didn’t (e.g., Muslims believe it was a body double)
Jesus was the Messiah (Christianity) or He wasn’t (Judaism)
Jesus was the eternally existing One who made all things (Christianity, John 1 and elsewhere) or he was a created being who was the spirit brother of Lucifer (Mormonism)
o Why evangelize if other paths are adequate? Another problem with pluralism and universalism is that it decreases the urgency for us to share the Gospel. If people hold to the mistaken notion that all paths are valid or that everyone goes to heaven, they won’t see any reason to share the truth of Jesus.
o God is who He is – regardless of what you think He is, that doesn’t change Him into what you want Him to be. What makes people think that their personal preferences get to determine the properties of the creator of the universe?
Why are some Christians so quick to say there are other paths to God?
o Fear / political correctness
o Haven’t considered the implications of multiple paths
o Underestimation of God’s abilities and fairness
o I find that some people want to believe in universalism because it liberates them from the hard and potentially risky work of preparing to share their faith and doing so when they have opportunities.
If you are worried about the people who haven’t heard about Jesus . . .
o First, don’t be worried. God is in control and it is His job to reveal Himself. God is perfectly fair and just. Acts 17:26-27 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
o Second, ensure that you have made the right decision about Jesus based on what has been revealed to you.
o Third, consider if you should be doing more to tell people about Him.
Spread the word!
Help fund missionaries
o What about the guy on the Island who hasn’t heard of Jesus?
I’m tired of hearing about that guy. Will somebody please go share the gospel with him? :-)
Seriously, this common question has good answers. But dig in, and don’t use it as an excuse to avoid evangelism or to be a universalist (one who believes everyone goes to heaven, including an unrepentant Hitler).
What about those who dismiss or distort the verses about Jesus’ exclusivity? (e.g., liberal / progressive Christians)
o They appear to believe in Dalmatian theology, where the Bible is inspired in spots and they are inspired to spot the spots. Saying the Bible isn't fully inspired by God may seem like a humble premise, but it actually makes many strong (and unfounded) claims: That God couldn't, or wouldn't deliver His word to us in a reliable way, and that despite God's alleged failings, flawed humans are able to discern which parts were inspired and which parts were not.
o Advanced Dalmatian Theology: God is also changing spots and adding spots, and only telling liberal Christians in the United States.
“Aren't all religions are equally true and valid?” (Hinduism, Buddhism, general pluralism)
o Then Christianity must be valid . . . But one of the claims of Christianity is that it is exclusively valid.
o How about the Wahabi Muslims?
o Ask Muslims if they think the God of the Bible and Allah are the same.
If someone says, “Jesus was just a good teacher”
o Liar, lunatic or Lord example from C.S. Lewis - “You must make your choice. Either this man [Jesus] was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman: or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool; you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But don’t come to Him with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He hasn’t left that open to you. He didn’t intend to.”
“It is wrong to change people’s religious beliefs”
o Then why are you trying to change my belief about evangelism and Jesus’ Great Commission?
If someone says, “There is no truth,” then ask, “Is that statement true?” Their statement is self-refuting, but they don't realize it.
If someone says, “It is wrong to condemn anyone,” then ask, “Then why are you condemning me for condemning someone?”
If someone says, “I think all religions are equally valid”
o Ask, “What do you mean by that?”
o All religions have things in common
o Give white pill example (aspirin & cyanide) – the key is the differences, not what is the same
o Ask, “How did you come to that conclusion?”
What if someone “sincerely believes” in another path?
o What counts most is the object of the belief, not the sincerity (Ice example: lots of faith in thin ice means nothing when you fall through it, but a little faith in thick ice is all you need. The question is the object of faith, not the amount.)
o Sincerity doesn’t change reality!
Do people go to hell for not believing in Jesus?
o You don’t go to Hell for not believing in Jesus. You go to Hell for being a sinner. But isn’t God merciful? Yes, He is. That is where Jesus comes in. You can try to stand before your God with your righteousness, or with Jesus’ righteousness.
Are there any exceptions to this? Perhaps for those who haven’t reached the age of accountability or those who have mental problems. But unless you are one of those, let’s skip the exceptions and focus on the rule that applies to you.
Should we tolerate other religions socially and politically? Absolutely yes. To do otherwise would be un-American and un-Christian. Jesus was God in flesh. If He never forced anyone to believe, why would we think we can? But must we tolerate other religions intellectually and assume all their claims are equally true? No! To do so would be an intellectually bankrupt proposition.
I pray that the body of Christ would focus on what is truly said in God’s word, and consider the implications of making the false claim that there are other paths to God besides Jesus.
o Original Christians were called “The Way” (not "a way"). Christianity was non-pluralistic from the start.
o Original Christians (and many since) were persecuted for making exclusive claims and for not worshiping Cesar as a God.
o Jesus would not have had a large following and would not have been killed if He didn’t make exclusive demands.
o If Jesus isn’t the only way, don’t tell Him. I imagine He would be disappointed to know that His life, death and resurrection weren’t necessary to reconcile God and man.
Revelation 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Jesus is your only way to salvation, lasting hope and real peace and eternal life. Your eternal destination depends completely on what you decide about Jesus Christ.
“Jesus is the way. If you are a Christian committed to the authority of the Bible, this is the view you must hold.” (Jesus, the Only Way – Stand To Reason)
Also see Jesus, the Only Savior by Greg Koukl