The following e-mail arrived with a familiar question:
“Is Jesus Christ the only way to God? What about the people who just don’t get it? Is there a loophole? I believe in Jesus because I have been given grace and enlightened, but is it everyone’s only chance?”
Here is my answer:
First, lots of people today struggle with that so you’re in good company.
Second, the only way to answer this question is to go by what God says. After all, he’s in charge and he gets to set the entrance rules for heaven.
Third, there are no “good people” in the ultimate sense. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23) who are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1). Even the good things we think we do are “filthy rags” in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6). Said another way, we’re all in the same boat, and the boat is going down. If God doesn’t do something, we will all perish together.
Fourth, the bottom-line answer is “Yes, Jesus is the only way to God.” Look up these verses: John 14:6, Acts 4:12, 1 Timothy 2:4-5. Does God love the world? Yes-John 3:16. Does God want anyone to perish in Hell? No-2 Peter 3:9. The whole purpose of God giving his Son was to provide a way of salvation. If there was or is some other way outside of Jesus, then God made a terrible mistake by allowing his Son to suffer and die for our sins.
If we could just “clean up our act” or “be good” or even “be religious” or “join the church” or give money or light candles or make sacrifices, if any of that mattered in terms of our sin, then God made a terrible mistake and the death of Christ is history’s greatest tragedy.
Fifth, we know God is a God of justice and a God of mercy. No one will go to hell who doesn’t deserve to be there. Because of his great mercy, God will save anyone who comes to him through Jesus Christ. There is no doubt that we will see some people in heaven we didn’t expect to see there. But even those people will be in heaven because they trusted in Jesus Christ and not because they followed some kind of Plan B.
I’m glad that God makes the final judgment because only he can read the human heart. I don’t speculate on eternal destinies of individual people because as I’ve said many times, “I’m in sales, not administration.”
Final point. It’s important that we don’t apologize for the truth that Jesus is the only way to God. We should be bold and say that openly and take the criticism that comes with it. If Jesus really is the only way, then we need to get busy spreading the Good News so that everyone will have a chance to believe and be saved.