Is Jesus the Only Way to God?
Dr. Jim Denison
A friend recently sent me this story by e-mail. It seems an elderly lady finished her shopping and walked out to her car, to find four males in it. She dropped her shopping bags and drew her handgun, proceeding to scream at them at the top of her voice that she knew how to use it and would if required—so get out of the car. The four men didn’t wait around for a second invitation, but got out and ran like crazy.
The lady proceeded to load her shopping bags into the back of the car and got into the driver’s seat. However, her key wouldn’t fit the ignition. She got out and found her car, identical to this one, parked four spaces down. She loaded her bags into her car and drove to the police station.
The sergeant to whom she told her story nearly doubled over with laughter as he pointed to the other end of the counter, where four pale white males were reporting a car-jacking by a mad, elderly woman. No charges were filed.
Now, when her key didn’t work in the car, what was the lady’s reaction? Did she say, “All keys are basically the same”? Did she complain that the car would only accept one key? No, she was grateful she had a key to her car (as soon as she found it!).
In our Yearning 2 Know series, we’ve asked what happens when we die, and what does the Bible teach about heaven and hell. Now we’ll ask the most confusing question of the entire series: Is Jesus the only way to God? Is he the only way to avoid hell and go to heaven when we die? And what practical impact does the answer have for us today?
What did Jesus say?
First, let’s make sure we know what Jesus actually said. Let’s get past all the popular opinion, and denominational differences. What did Jesus really say? In our text he states four facts.
One: he is God (v. 1). “Believe in God; believe also in me,” he says. Later: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (v. 9). The disciples are troubled about his impending death, but he is not. All is well, he claims—I’m in charge. I am God.
Earlier the Jewish authorities had tried to stone Jesus for blasphemy, “because you claim to be God” (10:33). Make no mistake: Jesus clearly claims that he is God. Other religious leaders claim to reveal God; Jesus claims to be God.
Two: he is preparing a place for us in heaven (v. 2). “Prepare” means to go before and make ready for the arrival of others. Other religious leaders speak of heaven, and even tell their followers how to go there. Jesus says he is going there first, ahead of us, to make things ready. No one ever made this claim before.
Three: he will take us there himself (v. 3). “Take you to be with me” means “to walk alongside of.” Jesus hasn’t gone home and left us directions for finding our way there. He will come back to us and lead us there, personally. Again, no one else ever claimed this.
Four: he is the only way to heaven. Others said, “I know the way, the truth, and the life” or “I teach the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Earlier he said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26). He is the only way, truth, and life.
Do you hear these claims to uniqueness? I am God; I am preparing your place in heaven; I will take you there; I alone can take you there. Jesus is the only way to God—the text makes this claim clear.
And this is by no means the only place where the word of God makes this claim. Remember John 1:14: “We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John 1:18 is dogmatic: “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.Acts 4:12 says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Jesus clearly claims to be the only way to the Father, and the rest of the New Testament says he’s right.
Aren’t all religions basically the same?
Now let’s ask some common questions. First, aren’t all religions basically the same? Don’t they all pray to the same God and teach the same basic ideas? Aren’t they just different roads up the same mountain?
Nearly two-third of all Americans think they are. 64% say they all pray to the same God. And 56% say that you can work your way to heaven by being good, no matter what religion you claim.
Hindu temples have increased 1000% in America in the last ten years. There are more Muslims than Episcopalians in our country. And they are people of reverence, too. I’ve seen Buddhists burn a year’s salary in paper money at the grave of an ancestor, and Muslims leave their mosques with their foreheads bleeding from praying on their rugs so fervently. What about them? Are they all the same? Decide for yourself. Consider these very basic facts:
Hinduism teaches that there are many “gods” but no “God”—no personal Creator who is Lord of all. We are “atman,” part of “Brahman,” and “moksha” or “salvation” comes through multiple reincarnations when we are absorbed into ultimate reality. No eternal souls or independent existence—we cease to be.
Buddhism affirms the four noble truths and eightfold noble path, by which we can come to “Nirvana,” a “blowing out” where we cease to be. No such thing as God in the sense of Lord; no heaven where we live personally with God forever.