Monday, 14 May 2012
Who Is Jesus and how can he be 'the Only Way' to God?
Many adherents of other faiths are prepared to recognize Jesus as a great teacher, prophet, leader and reformer - even perhaps as one way to God.
Are we not then being arrogant, intolerant and narrow-minded by suggesting he is the only way?
First we must admit that the world's religions do have many things in common - they all recognize a spiritual dimension and have broadly similar moral codes. But closer examination also reveals a multiplicity of differences - for example compare the teaching of the world's six major faiths (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism) on the nature of God, life after death, creation, sin and salvation. They cannot all be right!
Perhaps all contain aspects of the truth. Maybe. But if one is true in an absolute sense, then it follows logically that none of the others can be also. It's one or none.
Christianity makes three distinct claims with which no other religion agrees:
1.The deity of Christ ie Jesus is God (Jn 1:18)
2.The authority of the Scriptures ie The Bible is the Word of God (2 Tim 3:16)
3.Salvation by grace through faith (Eph 2:8)
Each of these claims is rooted in the teaching of Jesus and the apostles - a denial of any is a denial of Christianity.
That Jesus is the only way is asserted by Peter, Paul and indeed Jesus himself. (Acts 4:12; 1 Tim 2:5; Jn 14:6). Whoever does not believe in Christ stands condemned (Jn 3:18). Whoever acknowledges Christ will be acknowledged by him on the day of judgment (Mt 10:32; Lk 12:8) but whoever denies him will be denied (Mt 10:33, Mk 8:38; Lk 9:26; 12:9; 2 Tim 2:12). Anyone who is not for Christ is against him (Mt 12:30; Lk 11:23).
The exclusive claims of Christ are based on the teaching that he is himself God. This is directly stated in at least eight passages of the NT. (Jn 1:1-2; Jn 1:18; Jn 20:28; Acts 20:28; Rom 9:5; Tit 2:13; Heb 1:8; 2 Pet 1:1) and strongly implied in others (Mt 1:23; Jn 17:3; 5; Col 2:2; 2 Thess 1:12; 1 Tim 1:17; Jas 1:1; 1 Jn 5:20).
Furthermore Jesus said and did things that in the Old Testament only God said and did.
1.He called himself - 'I AM' (Ex 3:14 cf Jn 8:58; 6:35; 8:12,24; 11:25; 14:6; 18:5; Mk 14:62)
bridegroom (Is 62:5; Jer 2:2; Ezk 16:8 cf; Mk 2:19f; Jn 3:29; Rev 19:7)
shepherd(Ps 23:1; 80:1; Is 40:11; Ezk 34:15 cf; Jn 10:11-16)
the first and the last(Is 44:6; 48:12 cf; Rev 2:8; 22:13)
Others called him -Lord (Heb=YHWH, Gk=Kyrios)(Rom 10:9; 1 Cor 12:3; Phil 2:11; 1 Tim 6:15; 2 Cor 4:5)
2.He accepted worship - (Mt 4:10 cf; Mt 2:2,8,11; 14:33; Mk 5:33; Jn 9:38; Mt 28:17; Lk 24:52)
3.He created the world - (Gn 1:1; Ps 33:6,9; 148:5 f cf; Jn 1:1,3; Heb 1:2; Col 1:16;)
4.He existed before his birth (Jn 17:5; Jn 1:1)
5.He forgave sins - (Is 43:11,25; 45:21 cf; Mt 1:21; Mk 2:7-10; Lk 7:48; Acts 4:12; 5:31)
6.He said he would judge the world - (Is 5:16 cf; Mt 25:31-46; Mk 8:38; Jn 5:22-30; 2 Thes 1:7-10)
We can tell from the reactions people had to him, that there was no doubt about what he was claiming. They either worshipped him (Mt 14:33; 28:17; Lk 24:52; Jn 9:38; 20:28) or accused him of blasphemy (Mt 26:65,66; Mk 2:7; 14:63,64; Lk 22:70,71; Jn 5:18; 8:5,8; 10:33; 19:7). He was killed because he claimed to be God.
Given the NT's unequivocal claim of Jesus Christ's divinity we cannot say that he was merely a great moral teacher, since a great moral teacher would not lie about his own identity. There are only four options open to us in considering a man who claims to be God: either he is a liar, a lunatic, a legend or the Lord.
Someone who deliberately lied about his identity would be a demonic deceiver and trickster. Someone who falsely believed himself to be God and told others so would be a deluded lunatic. The third option is that he never existed, or that his followers misinterpreted and distorted what he said, in other words that the story is a legend. Or finally we could conclude that he was who he claimed to be - the Lord.
As Christians, we assert on Jesus’ own authority that he is both God the Son and the only way to God.
But what do you think?