A recent blogger, alleging to be a Christian, but apparently wise in the ways of the world, wrote that among several important Christian teachings he would change, is the idea that Christianity is the only way to God. It is valuable for us to remember, especially during this Lenten and upcoming Easter season, why Christians believe Christ is the only way to reconciliation with God, and that there is no other way.
This, what some may call intolerance, is fundamental to Christianity. One of the early references to Christians was, “belonging to the way” (Acts 9:2). Jesus claimed, “I am the way the truth and the light, no one comes to the Father except by me.” (John 14:6) This is more than just a statement. This is shown by Jesus life, and especially his sacrifice and death.
“If you are willing, remove this cup from me …” (Luke 22:42) If there is another way… Jesus petitioned on Maundy Thursday night, in the garden of Gethsemane, that he not have to die. Why did God sacrifice his Son? Just for the Heck of it? No! Jesus came to Earth for us because it was necessary! God suffered the humiliation of punishment and death because there is no other way. “There is no other name under heaven, … whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)
Christianity is not merely a philosophy or a way of life. If that were so, it would be only one way among many. Christianity is a sacrificial religion, though not in in the sense of repeated offerings by priest to appease God. There was only one sacrifice, that made by God for humanity on Good Friday. (Heb 9:12) The sacrifice of the unblemished, innocent passover lamb (1Cor 5:7). With his blood on our door posts, the Angel of Judgment passes over us. We wash our robes white in the blood of the Lamb (Rev 7:14). God made the sacrifice for us because we cannot do it ourselves. We are rebellious, sinful, disgusting to God’s sight. We cannot make ourselves worthy. God, in his grace and love for us, fixed things for us.
Isaiah tells us that all our good works are as filthy, bloody rags (Is 64:6). We come before God in our rebellion and say, “I did this, and that “good“ work. You owe me!”. If we are lucky, he responds, “Depart from me you foolish little man.” Of course he could also say, “Here is a list of your offenses, your rebellious actions. You disgust me.” Good works are merely the status quo, what God expects of his people. We don’t get extra credit for doing what is expected of us. When a murderer appears in court, it would be an unusual defense that leniency should be granted for one or two murders, because of the billions who were not murdered. The stop light violation is not set aside for the thousands of stops made for lights. We cannot appeal to God that we have kept 80% or 95% of his commands. It is the 20% or 5% or even 1% disobedience that convicts us. How can we in any way, on our own, make up for disobedience and rebellion? We cannot earn righteousness before God when the best we can do is what is expected of us. We cannot compensate for the times we “know better than God.” There is no other way. Jesus says, “be perfect” (Matt 5:48), and we cannot be.
Yet, God reaches out to us. He makes the perfect sacrifice. He becomes human is our place, humiliated, born of an unmarried woman, falsely accused, whipped and beaten without cause, executed as a common criminal (Phil 2:8). He receives an undeserved punishment. In our place, he is sacrificed. He redeems us. Peter tells us he has redeemed us from the slavery of law, sin, and death. He has purchased us, not with gold or silver, but with his holy precious blood (1Peter 1:18-19), because there is no other way.
How bad can it be, trying to appease God without Jesus. John says it is like calling God a liar (1John 1:10). God gives us a way, the way. By refusing that gift, thinking we can do it on our own, refusing the way God gives us, we claim he is lying to us. We claim that Jesus sacrifice is unnecessary. We fool ourselves.
So all our own ways will fail. We need a Savior. There is only one way, God’s way, The good News is God has gives us a Savior. Thanks be to God that he did send his Son to redeem us, to humble himself to bear our punishment, to sacrifice himself for us. Thanks be to God that he showed the acceptability of that sacrifice by raising his son from the dead on Easter Morning.
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this
That caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul!