In the US, we make this intellectual leap that just because all religious beliefs are equally tolerated under the law, they are equally treated before God. The Scriptures say otherwise.
In John 13-14. Jesus tells his disciples that He is going on a journey that they cannot follow him on – at least right at that time.
We are catching Jesus at a particularly vulnerable time in his life. You see, he knows what is about to happen to Him. He knows that He is about to be handed over to the leaders of the people to be crucified. It’s why He came to earth, but that doesn’t mean He wasn’t having very human thoughts about it. No one wants to experience death and betrayal. But Jesus had a great perspective about death. He knew that it wasn’t the end. He knew that God had a plan for Him (and people) even in death. But the thing we should take away from this reading as a heading is that all the words that Jesus is saying in chapter 13-17 are meant to comfort and give direction in the hard times of life. They are like a GPS for life. Next time you’re facing difficulty, read John 13-17. It’s beautiful.
Jesus had an answer to their questions about where to go. “Don’t worry,” says Jesus. “I’ll show you. If you stick with me, you won’t get lost.” That promise is still true for us today.
He is going to prepare a place for people. “In my Father’s House there are many rooms,” Jesus says. There is a serious hope for a life after death. And you know who prepares that life after death? It’s Jesus. He is the one who prepares. And if He’s the one who prepared it, He is the one who invites people to come be a part of it. Good thing there are many rooms!
This sets us up for what’s next…John 14:6-7 is one of the most difficult Scriptures in all of the Bible. Jesus states, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
Here are some key points from this week’s sermon:
- He is the only way to God. In a few words, the human quest for the God of the Bible ends in Jesus Christ.
- Other religions may lead to a god, but not every religion leads to the God of the Bible.
- Jesus is not saying your religion isn’t a way to find a god. He’s saying, if you want the God of the Scriptures, the God that I (Jesus) pointed to, then you have to understand you only come to Him by me!
- Faith in Christ is necessary for all people who are capable of actually trusting in Christ and believing the gospel.
This view of salvation is called exclusivism, and no matter what, many will still find it narrow and intolerant. And even though it’s not just a Christian’s OWN claim, but rather Jesus’ claim, in one sense they are still right. While Jesus makes an offer for all to receive Him, the way is still narrow and exclusive. The way to God is possible only through the Lord Jesus Christ. Only those who trust Christ truly know God. Only those who trust Christ will be welcomed into the Father’s house that has many rooms Jesus talks about in John 14.
Some Christians struggle with the exclusivism of the gospel. Many people say, “What about those who’ve never heard the Gospel in any way, shape, or form? What about infants who die or babies that are miscarried?” It’s for this reason that many have noted that C.S. Lewis likely did not like this view of salvation. Even the late John Stott, the famous British pastor and widely read author, expressed agnosticism: “The fact is that God, alongside the most solemn warnings about our responsibility to respond to the gospel, has not revealed how he will deal with those who have never heard it.”
There is not a compelling reason in Scripture that shows us or tells us that God can’t choose to reveal himself through other means to someone in a particular circumstance if he chooses to. For example, God could use special revelation to reveal Himself to babies (Like King David’s son in Scripture), and even remote tribal villages that respond to Him in the best way they can.
In the end, we can be confident that God will not judge anyone unfairly. The Bible does say He longs for all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. But there isn’t anything more antithetical to biblical Christianity than the idea that it doesn’t matter what you believe.
And check out Kevin DeYoung’s blog over at The Gospel Coalition.
Sermon Recording – I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life
If you missed our church service in Woodinville this week, you can download an audio podcast of our sermon on John 14 or watch the recorded video below.
- Read John 14.
- What kind of worldview were you raised with in your home? Did you have a religious upbringing? How was Jesus viewed and how were other religions viewed?
- What is significant about the claims that Jesus Christ made concerning Himself in John 14? How do you understand His claim? Why would Jesus say that He is the only way to God?
- What is Jesus describing at the beginning of John 14? How important is our expectation of having a place in God’s eternal Kingdom? Does this weigh in our belief about John 14:6?
- How is Jesus’ claim that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” more good news than it is bad news?
- How can this type of exclusivism be difficult for modern people to handle? Do you struggle with this? How could you tell someone about Jesus’ unique claim in a way that is full of grace and truth?
- Why can’t all religions lead to God? What is unique about faith in Jesus Christ and repentance as the only way to a relationship with the God of the Bible?
- Why is it so important to have an authority outside yourself when talking about the exclusive claim of John 14? How can you rely on the authority of the Bible and Jesus Christ?