Can We Approach God Directly?
Is Jesus the Only Way to God and Heaven?
Today we live in what has been called a pluralistic world. Unknown to previous generations, the term pluralism may be defined as a condition in which numerous distinct ethnic, religious, or cultural groups are present and tolerated within a society (The American Heritage College Dictionary). We are particularly interested in religious pluralism.
Another definition, taken from Pocket Dictionary of Theololgical Terms, by Stanley J. Grenz, et. al, says: The advocacy and embrace of a social system that promotes the autonomy and ongoing development of diverse religious, ethnic, racial and social groups within the system. In theology, pluralism suggests that there are many paths to and expressions of truth about God and several equally valid means to salvation (p. 92). Again, we are particularly interested in the theological aspect of pluralism.
We find no basis for a rejection of other ethnic backgrounds, national backgrounds, or a rejection of color or gender issues. God has made the diversity we find in such backgrounds and the Christian should also be willing to embrace such differences. But we definitely are concerned about the false idea that there are many paths to and expressions of truth about God and equally valid means of salvation.
It is absolutely false that all religions have an equal claim to truth, that all of them are valid expressions of life and worship, and that all of them are paths to God and heaven. Truth will not allow this kind of conclusion. Truth is conformity to fact or actuality (Ibid.). Not all religions believe or promote conformity to fact or actuality, thus not all religions represent the truth. In prayer to God the Father, Jesus said, Your word is truth (John 17:17b). This surely means that whatever Gods Word affirms is true and must be accepted as fact or reality. Whatever God denies through His Word we must also deny. With this perspective, many questions about religion can be solved.
The question we are discussing here is utterly relevant to the matter of religion and what religion is true. Truth is exclusive. This means that if we many discover what is true, anything other than that truth is false. Any religion that denies the truth of God is also false. We know that if Buddhism is true, then Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam are false. On the other hand, if Islam is true, then Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity are false. The same is true for other world religions, including the various sects and denominations of Catholicism and Protestantism. If the Catholic Church is true, then the various Protestant Churches are false. If the Methodist Church is true, then the Presbyterian Church, the Pentecostal, and the Mormon Churches are false. The Law of non-contradiction will allow no other conclusion.
Further, consider the matter of Christ Jesus. Judaism says that one may come to God on the basis of a good moral life, apart from Christ. Islam says that they believe in Jesus, but they only affirm that He was a prophet and teacher and they deny that He was the Son of God who died on a cross and rose from the dead. Hindus are reported to believe in 33 million false gods whereas there is only one true God. Buddhism says that there is no personal God at all. We also know that there are various denominations and cults that profess to believe in Christ, but they may say that He was only a man, or that He is not eternal, or that His death was not atoning, or that He was merely a created Being. Thus, many religions fail to accept the truth of Scripture and fail to provide a legitimate way of reaching God the Father and the enjoyment of heaven.
The only question we wish to pursue here is whether we may approach God directly or must we come to Him through Jesus Christ as the Mediator between God and man. Lets notice a few verses that should settle this matter for anyone who accepts the Bible as Gods word and truth.
The Hebrew writer tells us, He [Jesus] is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (7:25). This says that we must draw near to God through Jesus Christ. He is the only way to God the Father. He is the intercessor and mediator. There is no other way if we hope for Christ to save forever and receive us as His chosen ones.
Most of us are aware of Peters inspired words to the Jewish Sanhedrin:
There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Here again we see that salvation only comes through the Name of Christ. There is no other way, including the way of Muhammad, Buddha, Joseph Smith, Krishna, or any other. Jesus is the only way to God our Creator.
In the upper room before His betrayal, Jesus told His disciples that they knew the way where He was going. Thomas replied, Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way? (John 14:5). Jesus declared in terms that could not be misunderstood, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me (John 14:6). He was saying that He is the only way to God the Father, He is the epitome of truth, and He is the only means of eternal life. Can we see how foolish it would be if we attempted to have the way, the truth, and the life in some other way? Can we see that if Jesus speaks the truth here (as He does), we must conclude that anyone who hopes to go to God the Father in heaven must do so through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Paul the apostle also shows us that Christ Jesus is the only way of salvation. He wrote, There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man of Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). How many Mediators were there? According to God, there is only one! We cant have access to God apart from the go between, Jesus Christ.
When Paul speaks of the union of Jew and Gentile in Christ (Ephesians 2), he says that through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father (v. 18). Here we learn that we have access to God through Christ. If we hope to have this access to God in prayer, in worship, or for salvation itself, we must go to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. This truth disallows all of those religions that claim that they are able to give us the ability to reach God. We cant reach God directly, but only through a Mediatorthe Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the plainest scriptures on having eternal life is found in 1 John 5. Notice this passage: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life (vv. 11-12). We all would agree that eternal life is the key concept here for to have life is to have the Kingdom, forgiveness, justification, reconciliation, and regeneration. Eternal life comes only to those who have the Son of God, Jesus Christ. This passage tells us that if we have Christ, the Son of God, then we have eternal life. If we do not have Christ, we cannot have eternal life. It is this simple.
First John has many statements that show Christ is the only way of salvation. John the apostle says this: Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also (2:23). Any religion or any person who denies the identity of Christ, His saving work on the cross, and His resurrection does not have God the Father. If one does confess Jesus regarding who He is and what He has done, then he does have God the Father.
Does this speak to religion? Yes it does. We know that Judaism denies that Jesus is the Messiah (the Christ). Islam vehemently denies that Jesus is the Son of God. Hinduism is polytheistic and doesnt even have a true conception of God. And, as we have noted before, Buddhism doesnt believe in a personal God. Liberal Protestantism may also plainly deny the Sonship of Jesus. The Jesus only Pentecostals (the Apostolics) would say that Jesus is God the Father, thus they also deny the Sonship of Christ.
As you have been reading through these clear Biblical passages, hopefully, you can see that Christ is the only way to God and eternal life in heaven. There is no other way. The many religions that say one may have access to God through living a moral life, or worshipping dutifully according to the religions practices, or believing certain tenets of the religion, are sadly mistaken. Those who reject God or Christ Jesus cannot have access to God.
You may know a dutiful Jewish person who is loyal to his beliefs, but if he denies the truth of Jesus Christ, he has no access to the God he professes to believe. You may also know a Muslim who prays toward Mecca five times a day. If he refuses to believe that Jesus is Gods Son or is the crucified and risen Savior, he also has no access to God. A Hindu may be involved in his ritual worship and elevation of false gods or images, but he has no access to God since he worships false gods and refuses to believe in the true and living God who has revealed Himself in Christ. You may have an Asian friend who is devoted to Buddha but who rejects the God of the Bible.
You may also know a devoted Catholic who says the he worships not only God but reveres Mary and other Catholic saints. But since he denies that we reach God only through the Lord Jesus, he thereby closes the door to true access to God through Jesus. A profession of worship and service is empty if one doesnt accept the truth of Christ Jesus and attempts to reach God in some other way.
Hopefully you can now see that we dont approach God directly; we need a Mediator! And that Mediator is Jesus Christ, the living Son of God. Also, hopefully, we can see that eternal salvation and eternal life comes only through Jesus Christ and those who attempt to go to God in heaven in some other way cannot arrive at this desired destination. Jesus is the one and only way to God. Are we willing to accept this fact and share it with others who are lost in their sins and have no Lord and Savior. Jesus is the only way!
Even though we do live in a pluralistic society, we need to maintain the truth of God and of His Son, Jesus Christ. Lets not allow society to pull us away from the truth of Scripture and into a false religion or humanistic perspective. As Jesus said, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me (John 14:6).