Jesus Christ of Nazareth said, “I am the way the truth and the life no man comes to the Father but by ME.” The Apostle Peter declared in Acts 3, “There is no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved than the name of Jesus.” Yet it is this central truth and doctrine of Christianity that stirs resentment, controversy, debate, and even persecution around the world. As the voices around us become louder and more intense, it is essential that we as Christians be thoroughly persuaded of the truth of this doctrine. It is not enough to know it or believe it, but to know why it is that indeed Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the only way to the Father and to eternal Life. For if all we have is the belief without a solid grasp of the reasoning and scriptural foundation behind it, we can ourselves be easily lead astray.
With so many different religions and objects of worship in the world, so often the question is raised, how can one religion, Christianity, among so many religions in the world, proclaim itself to be the single and only path to God? This very question, though the basis for much resentment and debate, is in itself an error. For it is not the religion of Christianity or any other religion that exists, past present or future, that is the path or way to God. It is the person of Jesus Christ who is the way and the only way to God and eternal life.
How is it that Christ can make this assumption? What is it that qualifies him to make such a bold declarative statement? What is it about Christ that sets Him apart from all the other religious icons and figures that have emerged throughout the ages? This truth hangs on two essential events in Jesus life – the first being his death on the cross and the second being his resurrection from the dead.
First, the atoning death of Jesus pays the debt of sin that we all owe. “For the wages of sin is death.” God told Adam in the garden not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for in the day that he did he (and all coming after him) would surely die. When Adam partook of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he unleashed an avalanche of death that has plagued our world since that time. Because God gave to Adam dominion, that is to say control over all the creatures of the earth, death not only came upon man but upon every species of life that existed and that would ever exist on Earth. Thus Christ came not only to redeem man unto himself but to pay the price that will ultimately vanquish death from the world. Is it possible to imagine a world without death? Yet that is the state of the world to come, a world without sickness, disease, death, sorrow, or pain.
The scriptures explain that even before the world was formed by God a plan was formulated for the redemption of man after that he should fall. Revelation 13:8 “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Ephesians 1:4 “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love”. Before the world was even created and Adam placed in the garden, God had a plan in place to redeem fallen man back to himself. In examining the issue, we are compelled to first consider the heavenly angels including the angel Lucifer which rebelled against God and sinned, much as man did. Scripture nowhere states that God offered even the opportunity of redemption for them. Only a sure expectation of eternal damnation and torment in the lake of fire and eternal separation from God. It is this eternal Lake of Fire which is also the destination of ALL mankind without intervention from God himself. One has to wonder why God has chosen only to offer redemption to man and not the Angels who are a far more superior and spectacular creation of beings than we. What makes us so special? We find the answer to this in the book Genesis where God declares “Let Us make man in Our image”, and the fact that God himself breathed into man the breath of life and made him a living soul. The scripture states that “God so loved the world” and “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Because of the love of the Creator for man, He was compelled to save us from our own judgment. We will never in this life nor the next I think, fully understand the reasoning or God’s justification for why he has chosen us.
In order to pay the sin debt God required that blood be shed. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission for sin. While God instituted the animal sacrifices of the Levitical law, these were but a substitute till the second Adam (Jesus), one with pure, sinless HUMAN blood could be the sacrifice to redeem man back to God. For God required a pure, spotless, and sinless human blood sacrifice to pay the sin debt for human/man’s sin. This issue goes to the first point as to why only Jesus could be qualified. While other religions cite their founder to have died, Jesus Christ of Nazareth stands out from among them for one very important reason. He is the only one, first off, born of a virgin and conceived of God the Holy Ghost. By his immaculate conception and virgin birth He, Christ, broke the blood line of sin that has been passed down from Adam until now to every man and woman conceived and born into the world. Further the sinless life of Christ. While other religions can lay claim to their founder or leader’s death, no one but Christ can lay claim to divine conception, virgin birth, and the sinless pure life. The birth of Christ is what points to the divinity of Christ. That He was and is divine, other worldly not of or from this world.
Next is his extraordinary life. While the Bible details for us the miraculous and astonishing works that Jesus performed in his life, so powerful was his life, that he does not go without mention by the historians of that time. Josephus, the noted Jewish historian of the time of Christ, writes saying “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.” No one can deny the enormous impact that just the life of Jesus alone has had on society down through the ages. Christ demonstrated his divinity, his other-worldness not just by the signs and wonders he performed but by the type of some of the miracles he wrought. He healed those who were considered unhealable. No one before Jesus had been healed of disease or abnormality that they had since birth. Yet Jesus healed them. He demonstrated his authority over the world of the spirits by casting out devils and demons from those possessed by them. His power over even life and death was evident because he raised men and women from the dead. The most noted of who was Lazarus, because he had been dead four days. A period of time which the Jewish people of that time believed that resurrection was not possible because they believed that a person’s spirit hovered near the deceased body for three days but after that it departed. Yet even after four days when Jesus called out his name Lazarus came forth out of the grave! Jesus demonstrated his command over the elements by commanding the wind and the seas and they obeyed his voice. What is most notable about Jesus’ life is that all of the signs, wonders, and miracles were not done selfishly for his own advancement but for the benefit of those to whom he was ministering and so that their faith and the faith of those who witnessed his power could be enhanced and in many cases renewed.
Looking now to Christ’s death on the cross. Christ’s death on the cross and the events surrounding it were in no way ordinary. We have already established God required an offering of blood to pay for, or atone for, the sins of man. That man might regain his position and standing with God and avoid eternal separation from God and eternal damnation. This had to be human blood. Again, this had to be pure human blood else any man could have died to pay the sin debt. But God required a man untouched by sin. To begin the death of Jesus and the events leading up to it and surrounding it stand in human history as the zenith of injustice, corruption and cruelty. The fact of the conspiracy between the Jewish hierarchy at that time and the Roman government to carry out the execution of a totally innocent man, a man who was guilty of no malice, no crime only a worker of good works stand as humanity’s most horrible example of cruelty and injustice. The fact of his death is irrefutable. There is no denying it because it is not only recorded in the Holy Scriptures but is also referred to in the historical accounts written at that time. Further Christ’s death and how it was carried out fulfilled all the requirements of the Jewish law with respect to how the sacrificial lamb was to be offered up for atonement. He was the first born, he was spotless sinless. He had been tried or examined by the priest even the high priest. He was even offered up or executed outside the city. The scripture says in 2nd Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” He became sin for us! Every sin we can think of or imagine he became for us. From the little white lie to the most hideous, vile, repulsive act of human depravity we could possibly conceive he became for us! Further in his death he took upon himself the judgment that was meant for us! Did Mohammad do that? Did Confucius? I think not.
If His perfect life and atoning death weren’t remarkable enough there is yet more that adds to the credibility of Christ. Now we come to his resurrection. Because of all the miracles, signs and wonders he performed, when Jesus was yet on the cross, they mocked him in saying “he healed others why can’t he heal himself?” They taunted him saying “Save thyself Healer Heal thyself.” Yet Christ died and three days later he demonstrated his ultimate authority and power over death when he himself, after having died, came up out of the grave alive! While Jesus’ death on the cross paid the debt for our sin, without His resurrection we would have no hope beyond the grave. There are some who hold that there is no resurrection of the dead that once we die our spirit and soul go to its final destination, either Heaven or Hell. The doctrine of a bodily resurrection of the dead was a subject of debate in the time of Christ and still is to this day. Jesus settled the question in his life here on earth when at the tomb of Lazarus he told Martha “I am the resurrection and the Life, he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” When we consider the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead we come to realize that the work that Jesus came to do was not only to save our spirit and soul from the second death but to redeem our physical body as well. At the resurrection of the dead on the final Day of Judgment, our bodies will come up out of the grave and be reunited with our spirit and soul to stand in judgment before God. Hence the spirit, soul, and body of the ungodly will be cast together into the lake of fire! The noted Jewish historian Josephus in his treatise on Hades says that the wicked dead will receive their bodies to themselves in the same state it was when they died. With the same infirmities, weaknesses, pains, etc. He says further that the wicked will be cast into the lake of fire where the fire quenches not, where there is no rest from the pain day or night and the worm dieth not. What a horrible state that awaits those who reject God’s plan of salvation. But for the redeemed our bodies shall be changed! The scripture says corruption shall put on incorruption and mortality shall put on immortality! This knowledge further enhances and expands the work which Jesus came to perform. He has redeemed us not only in spirit and sou, he has redeemed us in spirit, soul, and body! As his death paid our debt for sin, his resurrection paves the road for our eternal life! The scripture refers to Christ as the first born from the dead! Meaning that though there were individuals in both the Old and New Testament that were raised from the dead, each of these people lay back down again. They died twice. Jesus is the only man to have died and rose again to life and live forever! Hence he has purchased not only our redemption but our eternal life as well.
Upon considering these facts that are undeniable, facts that can be traced through history, we are forced to ask the question “Is there any other man or religious figure throughout history that rises to the level of Jesus Christ?” When considering the facts, one must answer this question with a resounding no! Modern argument says that there is one God but many faces or many paths to God. On the surface this may seem a reasonable argument. However, if there is one God, common logic would dictate that he would not have to create multiple paths back to himself or plans of redemption. Purely standing on intelligence, with the buffet style choices before us in terms of paths to God, I am compelled to choose Christ based on the overwhelming evidence alone that his life and works so far exceed that of any other religious figure in history. Surely the Apostle Peter was correct when he said “There is no other name given under heaven whereby men must be saved”. No other man was immaculately conceived, no other man is so obviously divine, no other person lived the exemplary life as Christ. No other man can boast the works that Jesus demonstrated. Who else but Jesus walked on the water, healed the blind and the lame, cleansed the leaper, cast out demons, raised the dead and commanded the winds and waves? Is there any other? No! Is there any other man who was so viciously executed without just cause? And surely there is no one besides Christ who conquered the grave! Where is Mohammad of the Islamic faith? He is in a tomb! Confucius; he too is in the Grave. No one but Jesus has come out of the Grave and ascended to Heaven.
So, in conclusion, we must reaffirm that it is in Christ alone we can place our trust for our redemption, salvation, and eternal life. The book of Hebrews says “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation”.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Rev. Robert Goodbread