That is the question Satan asked Adam and Eve just before they stepped over the line and plunged humanity into sin. Satan continues to ask that question every day and especially to those within the Church. One of Satan’s primary tasks is to lead us away from the truth which God has spoken over time. A very long time ago, God incarnate, Jesus Christ, spoke this confronting truth:
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
The Truth is always confrontational and the truth about Jesus Christ is without doubt the most confronting truth of all. His exclusive claims are offensive to the humanist mindset which dominates this modern age of ‘inclusion.’ However, if there was any way to God other than through Christ, then Christ didn’t need to come and the entire Christian message is foolishness. If the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is not the only means by which we enter God’s Kingdom, then why did He come and why did He have to die?
You may already embrace Jesus’ exclusive claim to be the way, the truth, the life and the only means by which we can be reconciled to God. You may have grown up listening to preaching like that. If that’s what you still believe then I congratulate you and pray that God will strengthen your faith in that foundational truth and protect you from the tsunami of false teaching which is being unleashed on the Church and challenging that truth every day. That’s right, we have preachers in pulpits across this land who do not believe Jesus is the only way to God. They do not believe that the exclusive claim of Jesus in John 14:6 is what Jesus ‘really’ said. Some modern-day preachers also don’t believe that Jesus died in our place and exchanged His righteousness for our sin – in so doing they wipe out most of our hymns and worship songs and the majority of the New Testament!
But it’s even worse than that. Some theological colleges are actually teaching this stuff and deliberately churning out preachers and pastors who no longer embrace the foundational, fundamental truths of Who Christ is and what He has done. The Bible is being butchered as revisionist scholars completely re-interpret the basic tenants of our faith so they are more ‘culturally sensitive’ and compatible with modern, ‘enlightened’ thinking. The Truth Jesus brought was and still is counter-cultural and in stark contrast to the wisdom of the world.
That same Bible which is being ignored or misinterpreted warned us this would happen. The Apostle Paul said in the last days there would be doctrines taught by demons (1 Timothy 4:1) and that people in the Church would surround themselves with teachers who gave them what their itching ears wanted to hear, rather than the truth (2 Timothy 4:3).
So yes, my friend, Jesus really did say that He is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father unless they embrace the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as their own, by faith, and are transformed by that powerful gospel and the free gift of salvation found only in Christ. All of the New Testament and all of the early creeds and theological foundations of the early Church were built upon that cornerstone, that bedrock truth: Jesus is the ONLY way to God and the only door to eternal life in God’s kingdom. We can have all the inter-faith dialogues we like with Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and other faiths – it’s essential we build relationships with all people – so that we can introduce them to Jesus Who is the only mediator between us and God. That is the Truth. That is the Gospel. More precisely, Jesus is the Truth. Jesus is the Gospel. Jesus is God. Jesus is our only Saviour. Jesus is Lord, whether we recognise that Truth or ignore it – Jesus is still Lord. Is that truth confrontational for a devout Muslim? You bet it is! But it’s still the truth and if we really claim to love our Muslim brothers and sisters then why would we give them anything but the truth – especially when we know that this truth will not judge them like their own Koran does. This Truth will set them powerfully and gloriously free in Christ! No longer will they be trying to perform to please God and earn their ticket to heaven. They, like us, can declare they are spiritually bankrupt and will never please God.
By contrast to all performance-based religion, God asks us to embrace Jesus – the One Who always pleases God and has written our name on His perfect report card and handed it to the Father in heaven. “I once was blind, but now I see! I once was lost, but now I’m found!” Only in Christ can we say that! What the Bible says about Jesus and our salvation is the most important truth to embrace. It’s the gospel – the good news – the doorway through which we encounter God and God’s kingdom. But the Bible says heaps about us and our lives and sin and the Church and the importance of sound doctrine and selfless love always walking in step. Grace and truth – like two railway tracks or two sides of the same coin – should never be set against each other. Sadly, we hear lots about grace in some parts of the Church today and less and less about truth.
Grace without truth is not God’s grace and it leads to apostasy. Truth without grace is not God’s truth and it leads to hard-hearted legalism.
Both extremes are a blight on the Church and both extremes have inflicted so much damage on God’s people over the years. So I want to make it really clear that my calling from God and my purpose is to be a Minister of the Word and I cannot and will not compromise that calling. If, at any point in time, my calling and my commitment to the Truth, Jesus Christ, comes into conflict with others in the Church, I must continue to speak the Truth. I will do so with love, compassion, sensitivity and grace. The day I decide to back away from that calling; the day I compromise or ignore that Truth, is the day I resign and walk away from the Church. I feel this so strongly because I know what happens when people compromise the Truth in order to please men and women and appeal to the cultural trends around us. Look at the Church across this nation today and you can clearly see what happens when the Truth is corrupted, twisted or ignored. The result is a divided, fragmented, irrelevant and powerless Church. When the ‘word’ we are preaching is not the Word of God: Jesus Christ, then we cannot expect transformation in our society.
So how do we get back to those days when the Church was growing rapidly and was salt and light in the flavourless darkness of the world? How do we ensure that our grandchildren’s future even has a Church? How do we guarantee that this Church will not die with us? Quite simply, we need to answer YES again to this question, “Is that what God really said?” So many leaders, scholars, teachers and even Pastors and preachers have been effectively answering ‘no’ for too long and the Church as we know it is shrinking and dying.
The world would be a very different place if Adam and Eve had turned to Satan and said, “Yes, that is exactly what God said and we believe it, so get out of our garden!” The world would be a very different place if every preacher, indeed every child of God throughout history had continued to answer YES to this simple question: ‘Is that what God really said?’ Is there a cost in answering yes? Of course there is! Believing God’s truth can cause great tension and conflict in families and whole communities. Jesus warned us that following Him and accepting His word would be costly. But what alternative do we have? Our own eyes and ears confirm what happens to the Church and the world around us when we answer no to this question and re-interpret or reject what God has said.
Jesus warned us that the way is narrow and the path is at times treacherous if we choose to follow Him. But that path leads to the fullness of the Kingdom of Heaven. There is no point praying, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven..” unless we also say yes to this question and travel that narrow path – for that is the way God’s will is done on earth and all of heaven is released in our midst when we say yes to this question and live within the truth of what God has really said!