This question stems from John 14:6 where Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to Father except by Me.” Jesus claims He is the exclusive way to reach God which means He excludes all other founders of religions, religious leaders, and religions.
Some find Jesus’s declaration offensive. The world is filled with religions. Christians are the only religion which can have a relationship with God? If there is a heaven, only Christians can go to heaven? Don’t all religions teach the same thing?
I believe Jesus’s claim only makes sense if what the Bible says about the world — and about Jesus — is true.
We share a sense something is fundamentally wrong with the world. There are many joys, many beauties, much good to celebrate and appreciate. But the “brighter side of life” is mingled with pain, atrocities, injustices, etc. We live in one world with two divergent testimonies.
The Bible in general and the New Testament in specific says sin is responsible for that darker side. For example, the Bible’s explanation for pain and suffering hinges on sin, its effects, and consequences.
Sometimes I suffer because of my own sins.
Sometimes I suffer because of other people’s sins.
Sometimes I suffer because sin is in the world.
But sin affects more than my experience. The ultimate consequence of sin is it separates us from a holy God
This is a different diagnosis than other religions. All religions generally agree something is amiss; they diagnose the root issue differently and prescribe different remedies. For example, Islam says the problem with the world is pride, the answer is submission. Buddhism says the problem with the world is suffering and the answer is transcendence. Christianity agrees that both pride and suffering are problems, but they are viewed as symptoms of the real problem with the world — sin. The answer to “Is Jesus the only way to God” hinges on whether or not we accept this as the correct diagnosis.
Jesus was sent by God to deal with the world’s sin problem. He says to Nicodemus in John 3:18-21:
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.
The light symbolizes Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, the one who revealed truths directly from God. The condemnation is human beings love darkness rather than light because our deeds are evil. God sent Jesus to expose our sin problem and to offer us a way of escape.
Later, in John 8:24 Jesus says, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” What will happen if we do not believe in Jesus? We will die in our sins; our sins will remain unforgiven upon death; we will die with sins on our record. However one phrases it, the outcome is the same: belief in Jesus rescues us from our sins.
He continues in verses 34-36,
Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
Habitual sin is slavery to sin. In Jesus’s day, slaves were not a part of the household, which means we cannot be a part of God’s family if we are enslaved to sin. Jesus frees us from slavery to sin and freedom from sin makes us a part of God’s family
If sin is, in fact, the root cause of the world’s problems, then Jesus is the solution. He exposed our love for evil rather than good. He offers a way to escape from sin for those who believe in Him. And if we are slaves to sin, we cannot be a part of God’s household
Jesus has the right to make these claims because He is the One who died for our sins. John 3:14-16:
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Moses crafted a bronze serpent and lifted it up because fiery serpents were killing the children of Israel. In like manner, Jesus was lifted up because sin is killing us. Jesus is the only way because of His death and resurrection — this separates Him from all other founders of all other religions and sets Christianity apart.
Finally, and most importantly, Jesus is the Son of God. He was with God in the beginning. He was, and is, and will always be God (John 1:1-3). “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18). Again, these claims differentiate Jesus and the religion He founded from all other rivals.
You may not believe sin is what is wrong with the world; if you choose to believe otherwise, seeing Jesus as the only way to God will not make sense. You may not believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus; if that’s the case, it will be difficult to accept Jesus as the only way to God. And if Jesus was just a man and not the Son of God, my belief that He is the only way may seem offensive or close-minded or both. But if sin is our problem and Jesus is the answer, He easily becomes the way, the truth, and the life