Exclusive Nature of the Gospel


Only The Gospel

The Bible is replete with the notion that people must not put off pleading with Christ to rescue them from their sins, “ for He says, "… Behold, now is "THE ACCEPTABLE TIME," behold, now is "THE DAY OF SALVATION " 2 Corinthians 6:2 1 If it is true warning to believe “now” is true, then our responsibility  to tell people the gospel is pressing. There are a number of valid reasons for urgency in our personal evangelism efforts:

  • The holiness of God – by his very nature He cannot tolerate sin.
  • The sinfulness of men – every person is a sinner by birth and by individual act.
  • The fact that God will keep his word – He has promised to punish sinners.
  • The reality of hell – hell is a real place of eternal torment.
  • The temporary nature of life – here today, gone today.
  • Human immortality – we exist after death.
  • There is only one way to heaven – through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
  • Jesus claims exclusive access to heaven and God the Father – John 14:6

    In preparing his disciples for his coming death Jesus tells them that the way he must take to heaven and the Father is through the cross. They didn’t get it. So Jesus patiently explained to them that the only way they must take to heaven was not a cross but was Him. Jesus said to him (Thomas), "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me, John 14:6. Here is what Jesus meant by this exclusive teaching.

  • He is the way to God
    • A “way” assumes two points - how do we get from our sinful state to heaven. The whole point is that because Jesus’ way was the cross, he could become the way for others So, NIV Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit! Substitutionary atonement is in view! He navigates us from where we are to were the Father is!
    • So Christians were called those who followed the “Way”
  • He is the truth of God 
    • The point is that Jesus himself is truth incarnate! Not just that he tells the truth. Or that he points us to the truth.
    • So John elsewhere cites his name, I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. NIV Revelation 19:11
  • He is the resurrection life
    • Of course, he is referring to eternal life, not mere temporal life. Therefore “resurrection” life. 
    • On the occasion of raising Lazarus he declared, John 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. 

    So we must not think that the way to God for us is by imitating Jesus’ life or adhering to his teachings. We must recognize that the way to heaven is through the person of Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life. But there is more.

     

  • He is the one and only way to heaven – “No one comes to the Father except through me.” 
  • This is an exclusive statement.

    • First, the articles in the first phrase make it clear, the way, the truth, the life. No one of several acceptable ways!. In a day of relative thinking, we must understand that there is absolute truth!
    • Second, the “no one” terminology allows for no exceptions. It is universally impossible for persons to get to heaven via another road.
    • Third, the “except” term = ei mh = literally “if not”. It is clearly a term of exception - there are no exceptions to this rule!
    • Fourth, the only authorized route to heaven is “through” Jesus = dia indicating intermediate agency. The channel. 

    This is a very personal statement. The reference is to making an appearance before the Father. It is talking about who may enter into the presence of God! The term means to appear or make an appearance. The issue is you and God!

    The Bible claims that there is only one way to heaven.

    • NIV Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." 
    • NIV Galatians 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!
    • NIV Matthew 7:13 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 
    • NIV Isaiah 35:8 And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. 9 No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, 
    • NIV 1 John 2:23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
    • NIV Revelation 20:15 If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

    This claim that the gospel is exclusive is almost universally rejected. Just how does this exclusive claim set with people in our day? Boice (939) aptly observes, “Eliminate the true Jesus… with His exclusive claims; substitute another Jesus, and Christianity will be popular. But preach the true Jesus, and some will inevitably be offended.”

    Sadly, pluralism reigns in our day. This is the concept that, “…any notion that a particular ideological or religious claim is intrinsically superior to another is necessarily wrong…No religion has the right to pronounce itself right or true and the others false…” (Carson, Gaging 19).

    In short, this thinking that all religions are saying the same thing is relativism - there is really no objective truth (except pluralism of course). Another way to describe this prevalent view in our society is inclusivism. Salvation itself is available in other religions as well as Christianity. So, “…there is no longer any heresy, except perhaps the view that there are heresies.” (Carson 30).

    The true Christian gospel is the only hope any man has; Period! How can we even think of keeping it to ourselves? Urgent is an apt description of his plight and our responsibility.

    Notes

    1 Unless otherwise stated all Scripture quotations are from the Updated New American Standard 1995, Foundations Publications, California.

     © Copyright. Joseph Flatt. 2014. All rights reserved. May be used for educational purposes without written permission but with a citation to this source