July 10, 2014 Broadcast

Christ the Only Way

A Message by R.C. Sproul

Why should God let you into heaven? How will you survive the Last Judgment? In short, what is the gospel? We asked some college students to respond to these questions, and you will hear their genuine and candid answers in this lesson. Ultimately, however, Dr. R.C. Sproul explains that Christ is the only way to God.

From the series: Ultimate Issues

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Further Study On This Topic

  1. devotional

    The Only Way to God

  2. question and answer

    Is it being narrow-minded for Christians to say Christ is the only way?

  3. devotional

    The Only Way to God

The Only Way to God

As the total rejection of Jesus by His own nears (John 1:12; 12:37–43), He begins to withdraw from the public and focuses His ministry on the disciples (John 13–20:31). Gathering in an upper room to share their Last Supper together, Jesus delivers the “Farewell Discourse,” preparing them for the time when He would not be in their midst bodily. Imagine the fear the disciples face when Jesus speaks of His departure. Where is He going? How will they survive without Him? How do they get to where He is going? Fully aware of such fear, Jesus comforts His sheep by giving them real peace — peace that rests on Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

It is in this discourse that we find the sixth “I AM” statement: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). This particular statement has three different attributes, two of which we have explored already in the past few days. Yesterday, we saw that Jesus is the source and power of life. This is a clear affirmation of His own deity because any reader of the Bible knows that only God is the source and power of life. The “I AM” statement we find in 14:6 reinforces the fact of Jesus’ equality with God when Jesus claims again to be the Life.

Likewise, we have also seen that Jesus is the only way to the Father. He spoke of this before when He called Himself the Door of the Sheep, and reiterates it again in 14:6 when He calls Himself the Way. This statement was offensive to the pluralistic culture of that day and remains so even in the twenty first century. Nevertheless, Jesus again affirms that if a person is to truly follow God, they can only do so if they follow God’s Messiah.

In addition to being the Way and the Life, in this statement Jesus reveals Himself as the Truth. He tells His disciples that He is the source, the normative standard of truth. Without Him, mankind would know nothing at all, and in coming to Him, His disciples arrive at the Truth itself. Because Jesus is the Truth itself, we can be confident regarding everything He says. We can be confident not only in His teachings recorded in the gospels but also the teachings found in the rest of the Bible. This is because Jesus tells us that all the Scriptures are inspired by God (Matt. 4:4;19:3–6). We can stand on Scripture’s teaching because the Truth Himself confirms it.

Is it being narrow-minded for Christians to say Christ is the only way?

Well, it certainly can be an expression of narrow-minded-ness for a Christian to say that Christ is the only way. I’ll never forget the first time somebody asked me that. I was in college, and my college professor looked me straight in the eye and said, “Mr. Sproul, do you believe that Jesus is the only way to God?” I wanted to jump out the window or find a hole to hide in because the question put me on the horns of a dilemma. It was a terribly embarrassing situation because I knew what the New Testament said. I knew that Jesus himself had said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except by me.” And other passages in the New Testament say, “There’s no other name under heaven through which men may be saved.”

I was aware of those passages of exclusivity that we find in the New Testament and that focus on the uniqueness of Jesus. This professor pressed me on it and asked if I thought Jesus was the only way. If I said yes, then obviously I would be understood by everybody in the class to be an unspeakably arrogant person. I certainly didn’t want that kind of a label during my college career. But if I said no, then I would be guilty of denying that unique exclusiveness that Christ claimed for himself. So I kind of hedged a little bit and tried to whisper my answer and said, “Yes, I believe that Jesus is the only way.” Well, the wrath of that teacher came on my head, and the teacher just began to lay me out and said, “That’s the most bigoted, narrow-minded, arrogant statement I have ever heard.”

When the class was over, I went up to the professor and spoke privately to her. “I know you’re not enthusiastic about Christianity, but do you allow for the possibility that people who are not arrogant and people who are not narrow minded could for some reason or other actually be persuaded that Jesus Christ is at least one way to God?” The professor said, “Oh yes, I can certainly understand that intelligent people could believe that.” It was the nar-row-mindedness that was bothering the professor. I said, “Don’t you understand that I came to the conclusion that Jesus was a way to God, and then I discovered that Jesus was saying that he is the way?”

If I believed that Jesus were the only way to God just because it happened to be my way, then the unspoken assumption would be that whatever R. C. believes must be true. This would exclude anybody who’s not in touch with what R. C. Sproul believes, and this, of course, would be unspeakably arrogant. Why should there even be one way of redemption? Sometimes we act as if God hasn’t done enough.

The Only Way to God

As the total rejection of Jesus by His own nears (John 1:12; 12:37–43), He begins to withdraw from the public and focuses His ministry on the disciples (John 13–20:31). Gathering in an upper room to share their Last Supper together, Jesus delivers the “Farewell Discourse,” preparing them for the time when He would not be in their midst bodily. Imagine the fear the disciples face when Jesus speaks of His departure. Where is He going? How will they survive without Him? How do they get to where He is going? Fully aware of such fear, Jesus comforts His sheep by giving them real peace — peace that rests on Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

It is in this discourse that we find the sixth “I AM” statement: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). This particular statement has three different attributes, two of which we have explored already in the past few days. Yesterday, we saw that Jesus is the source and power of life. This is a clear affirmation of His own deity because any reader of the Bible knows that only God is the source and power of life. The “I AM” statement we find in 14:6 reinforces the fact of Jesus’ equality with God when Jesus claims again to be the Life.

Likewise, we have also seen that Jesus is the only way to the Father. He spoke of this before when He called Himself the Door of the Sheep, and reiterates it again in 14:6 when He calls Himself the Way. This statement was offensive to the pluralistic culture of that day and remains so even in the twenty first century. Nevertheless, Jesus again affirms that if a person is to truly follow God, they can only do so if they follow God’s Messiah.

In addition to being the Way and the Life, in this statement Jesus reveals Himself as the Truth. He tells His disciples that He is the source, the normative standard of truth. Without Him, mankind would know nothing at all, and in coming to Him, His disciples arrive at the Truth itself. Because Jesus is the Truth itself, we can be confident regarding everything He says. We can be confident not only in His teachings recorded in the gospels but also the teachings found in the rest of the Bible. This is because Jesus tells us that all the Scriptures are inspired by God (Matt. 4:4;19:3–6). We can stand on Scripture’s teaching because the Truth Himself confirms it.

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