Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE ONLY WAY TO HEAVEN?”

John 14.6

 

From time to time, I find that faithfulness to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ requires that I make controversial statements that risk offending people. Today is such a time. Allow me to rehearse the development of one controversy and then another one that brings me to the message I have prepared for you from God’s Word today.

You may remember from news reports that the Department of Defense had invited Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham, to speak on the National Day of Prayer. However, when a stir was caused by remarks Graham had made in the past about Islam and Hinduism, the Department of Defense uninvited him. He prayed on the steps of the Pentagon anyway. What Franklin Graham said about Islam was that it was an evil religion. About Hinduism he said, “No elephant with 100 arms can do anything for me.” He went on to say in a USA Today interview,

 

“None of their 9,000 gods is going to lead me to salvation. We are fooling ourselves if we think we can have some big kumbaya service and all hold hands and it’s all going to get better in this world. It’s not going to get better.”[1]

 

It was those kinds of comments that resulted in him being disinvited by the politically correct class. Then, last Sunday a Pulitzer Prize winning conservative columnist named Kathleen Parker wrote a column disputing Franklin Graham’s views, disagreeing with his comments, and criticizing his position that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only true message of salvation.[2] Rather than reading her entire article, allow me to read Albert Mohler’s summary of her comments. Mohler is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky:

 

Kathleen Parker’s column is indeed revealing. But the most revelatory aspect of her essay is its unmasked hostility toward any belief that there is only one way of salvation. This is the so-called “scandal of particularity” that causes so much secular offense. In recent years, the Roman Catholic Church has officially embraced forms of inclusivism in order to reduce this burden, and liberal Protestantism has embraced just about every relativistic alternative, from outright universalism to various forms of inclusivism, in which people are believed to be saved through Christ, but not through any conscious knowledge of Him. The universalists argue that all religions lead to the same truth. Inclusivists argue that all faiths eventually lead to Christ, even if He is not known. Both are repudiations of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The column by Kathleen Parker is yet another signpost of the current age and the worldview of the secularized classes. In their view, what evangelicals believe about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is just out of bounds and embarrassing.[3]

 

Kathleen Parker, and everyone else of her persuasion, assumes that anyone who embraces the notion that Jesus Christ is the unique savior of sinful men’s souls is arrogant and conceited. They would argue that we are narrow-minded and biased, and that we misinterpret the message contained in God’s Word, the Bible.

I dispute that objection. The Bible teaches, and therefore I believe, that there is only one way to the presence of God, and that unique way of salvation, that single stairway to heaven, is Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the living God.

Allow me to share with you some of the many reasons why Bible-believing Christians deny that there is any other way to heaven than Jesus Christ, God’s precious Son:

 

First, SALVATION BELONGS TO GOD, AND HE ALONE DECIDES HOW MANY WAYS OF SALVATION ARE AVAILABLE TO SINNERS

 

You are likely familiar with the name Jonah, who was the Jewish prophet dispatched by God to the city of Nineveh, but who fled in rebellion and was swallowed by a great fish prepared by God.[4] “Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly,” and said, “Salvation is of the LORD.”[5] Jonah grudgingly admitted something that Kind David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, had gloried in centuries earlier, when he pleaded with God following his terrible sin. In Psalm 51.12, he wrote, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation.” Obviously, then, David knew what Jonah admitted, that deliverance, rescue, salvation belongs not to the one who needs deliverance, the one who is helpless to fend for himself, but to the one who initiates, the one who instigates, the one who plans, the one who prepares and purposes to save. Thus, it must be admitted that salvation belongs to God, from start to finish, and He alone reserves the right to save by one means or to save by various means.

On his deathbed, Jacob acknowledged it was the LORD’s salvation, Genesis 49.18. In Exodus 14.13, Moses acknowledged that salvation was the LORD’s. Samuel’s mother, Hannah, admitted the same when she prayed to God, in First Samuel 2.1. Read the Psalms and take note of the numerous times David refers to salvation as belonging to God. In the New Testament, Luke records a portion of Simeon’s prayer as well as Paul’s words when he arrived at Rome, both men agreeing that salvation is God’s.[6]

Who could argue that God alone has the right to determine the particulars of the salvation that belongs to Him? So then, whom did God decide would be the savior? Listen to the angel dispatched to Joseph to inform him about the birth of the Christ child. In Matthew 1.21, God’s holy angel said, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

 

Next, SALVATION IS FROM SINS, AND ONLY JESUS EVER EVEN CLAIMED TO POSSESS THE POWER TO FORGIVE SINS

 

Salvation in the Bible refers to a spiritual deliverance from that spiritual malady of sin that resulted in sinners committing sins. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” Romans 3.23. Romans 6.23, “For the wages of sin is death.” Therefore, you see, the Apostle Paul is in wholehearted agreement with the Jewish prophet Ezekiel, who wrote, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”[7]

Sin is an extremely serious matter with God. God is holy and sin is a terrible offense to Him, that cries out for punishment. So serious is this matter of sin with God that Hebrews 12.14 warns us that without holiness no man shall see the Lord. Yet man, being a sinner himself, cannot himself address his own sin problem. Job 14.4 declares as much, when it asks, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” Therefore, you are faced with the same dilemma every other sinner faces, the need for forgiveness. However, who has ever even claimed the power to forgive sins? Certainly, it cannot be expected that no one who has not claimed the power to forgive sins could possibly forgive sins. Add to this the fact that the unsaved cannot turn from sins to the Lord by their own strength, and you are left with the Lord Jesus Christ as the only solution to the problem God has with your sins.[8]

Confucius never claimed the power to forgive sins. Neither did Abraham, Moses, Buddha, or Mohammed. If only one man in human history claimed the power to forgive sins, then perhaps it is neither so outlandish nor arrogant to ascribe to Him the unique power to forgive sins. What do you think? Did Jesus know what He was saying when he told the man who was sick of the palsy, “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee”?[9] The Bible and history both say yes.

 

Third, SALVATION IS PURCHASED BY THE DEATH OF AN INNOCENT, AND ONLY JESUS PAID THE PENALTY OF OTHER’S SINS

 

The Bible very clearly teaches the necessity of sins being punished. It is an outrage to God’s holiness for His creature to sin against Him, and that spiritual crime against God demands just punishment. However, the Bible also teaches that an innocent can pay the penalty for a guilty party’s sin. That is, one who is innocent can suffer the punishment that is properly due the guilty person.

We see this in the ram caught in a thicket by his horns dying in Isaac’s stead, in Genesis 22.13. We see this throughout the books of Exodus and Leviticus in the ritual sacrifices of innocent animals in the stead of guilty sinners in accordance with the Mosaic Law. Of course, we see those various Old Testament types fulfilled in the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary for sinners. John the Baptist anticipated this when he declared in John 1.29, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

The question, however, is how are we to interpret Christ’s death on the cross? In the Old Testament, Christ’s sacrifice is predicted to be that of a Substitute suffering punishment on behalf of the guilty, Isaiah 53.5, “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.” Then, in the New Testament, the Apostle Peter summarized what Jesus did on the cross perfectly, when he wrote in First Peter 3.18, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.”

Who in history ever died a substitutionary death to atone for the sins of other people? Has anyone ever claimed to have done so noble a deed? Has anyone ever claimed that another has done so noble a deed? Thus, it would stand to reason that if Jesus is alone among all so-called religious leaders as the substitutionary sacrifice for men’s sins, then He alone is the savior. Who else could be the savior?

 

Fourth, SALVATION IS BASED UPON FULFILLED PROPHECY, AND ONLY JESUS FULFILLED THE PREDICTIONS SET FORTH FOR AN ACCEPTABLE SAVIOR

 

We have already heard from the prophet Isaiah, written more than seven centuries before Jesus Christ. There is also the 22nd Psalm and the 110th Psalm, both written by King David fully one thousand years before the coming of Christ to die on the cross for our sins. This is the same person whose nationality was predicted 1600 years in advance, whose tribe was predicted 1500 years in advance, whose family was predicted a thousand years in advance, whose place of birth was predicted seven centuries in advance, whose time and manner of death was predicted six centuries in advance, whose betrayal was predicted six centuries in advance, whose manner of burial was predicted five centuries in advance, and whose resurrection from the dead after three days and three nights was predicted on numerous occasions.[10]

Was there any advance warning of the births, the nationalities, the family ties, the times of death, the manners of death, or the manners of burial of any other religious leader in history? Who stands beside the Lord Jesus Christ’s claims, and the claims of His holy apostles, that He and He alone is the savior of sinful men’s souls? I tell you, no one.

 

Fifth, SALVATION IS BASED UPON THE CONQUEST OF SIN, DEATH, HELL, AND THE GRAVE, AND ONLY JESUS ROSE VICTORIOUS ON THE THIRD DAY

 

The Bible strongly declares and very tragically illustrates that the wages of sin is death. Every living soul save for Enoch and Elijah has been claimed by our enemy death. Though death did not enter the human realm until men became sinners by means of the Fall of Adam into sin through rebellion against God, death has since then become universal. Since Adam, death has been our greatest and most intractable enemy. Therefore, to be a savior worthy of the name, you have to be able to conquer not only death but also that which causes death, which is sin. Death is not conquered by avoiding it, by seeking to live forever. Rather, death is conquered completely by first submitting to it and then rising up to break its grip on you, as Jesus rose from the dead.

How do we know Jesus conquered sin, death, Hell, and the grave? That is not a question skeptics should ask anyone in this congregation. We know Jesus conquered sin, death, Hell, and the grave because of His glorious resurrection. So, how do we know He rose from the dead? We know He died. We know His earliest disciples were convinced they saw Him after His resurrection. We know Christianity’s greatest enemy, the Apostle Paul, became convinced he saw Jesus after His resurrection. We know Christianity’s greatest skeptic, James, was convinced he saw Jesus after His resurrection. Finally, there was the empty tomb, a fact that is not known to have been disputed by any of our Lord’s contemporaries in Jerusalem or anywhere else.[11]

Did Abraham rise from the dead? No. Did Moses rise from the dead? No. Did Confucius rise from the dead? No. Did the Buddha rise from the dead? No. Did Mohammed rise from the dead? Only Jesus predicted that He would rise from the dead, claimed that He had risen from the dead, and was said by hundreds of His followers that they had seen Him raised from the dead. Therefore, only Jesus, the One who conquered sin, death, Hell, and the grave, has any right to be called savior.

 

Sixth, SALVATION IS BY GRACE, AND ONLY JESUS IS CONNECTED TO ANY CONCEPT OF SALVATION BY GRACE

 

Grace has to do with the goodness of God manifested toward the ill deserving. Grace has respect to sinful man as guilty.[12] Thus, when we read Ephesians 2.5, “by grace are ye saved,” and Romans 11.6 (“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”), then we know that whatever else salvation is, it must be both undeserved and unearned by any personal deed or merit.

However, you must recognize that every approach to personal salvation existing in the world today, except for the salvation that Jesus provides, is based on earning a place in paradise, or a better station in karma, by doing personal deeds or through some type of merit. Listen to all the songs of all the religions in the world and you will hear only Christian’s songs that say,

 

Jesus paid it all,

All to Him I owe;

Sin had left a crimson stain

He washed it white as snow.

 

Or, how about this one, again giving credit and glory to God and His Son, Jesus, instead of claiming a reward for an achievement of some kind:

 

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see.

 

Only the salvation of Jesus Christ is a salvation for the undeserving, a salvation for sinners, a salvation for the unworthy, and a salvation for those dead in trespasses and sins with nothing to commend ourselves. Therefore, in yet another aspect, the faith once delivered to the saints is fundamentally different from any other belief system in existence anywhere in the world. If Jesus is a way to God, a way to heaven, then He is the only way, for no other way is anything like His way.

 

Seventh, SALVATION IS THROUGH FAITH, AND ONLY JESUS IS HELD UP TO BE THE APPROPRIATE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

 

In what do you presume to have confidence for a better life in the hereafter if you are a Hindu? Your own performance. In what do you presume to have confidence for a better life in the hereafter if you are a Buddhist? Your own performance. In what do you presume to have confidence for a better life in the hereafter if you are a Confucian? Confucius did not in any way address the afterlife, so that question has no answer. How about if you are a Muslim? Islam has no appropriate object of saving faith. No one becomes a Muslim until he has uttered the Shahada, which is a work.[13] Obedience in Islam is based on the Five Pillars of Islam, duties which do not guarantee anyone a place in Paradise. Neither is Allah an appropriate object of faith in the Muslim religion, since there is thought to be no possible way of knowing for sure that a Muslim will be permitted entrance into Paradise, unless he dies in a holy war.[14]

Think about it, my friends. Who else in all of history said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”?[15] Who else said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live”?[16]

Abraham never made such claims. Moses never made such claims. Buddha never made such claims. Mohammed never made such claims. Only the Lord Jesus Christ made such claims. And they were more than claims; they were statements of absolute truth because He is the true and only Object of a sinner’s saving faith. No one is saved by a religion. No one is saved by a church. No one is saved by a belief system. However, Jesus saves those who have faith in Him.

 

Eighth, ONLY GOD CAN ACTUALLY SAVE SINNERS, AND ONLY JESUS OF ALL SUPPOSED RELIGIOUS LEADERS IS GOD MANIFEST IN THE FLESH

 

Allow me to quickly read a number of verses to you. As I read, pay particular note to who is identified as the savior:

 

Isaiah 43.3:      “For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.”

Isaiah 43.11:      “I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.”

Isaiah 45.15:      “Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.”

Isaiah 45.21:      “Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.”

Isaiah 49.26:      “. . . and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.”

Isaiah 60.16:      “. . . and thou shalt know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.”

Hosea 13.4:      “Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me.”

 

This is the LORD, the God of Israel declaring that He and only He is the savior.

 

Luke 1.47:         “And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”

 

This is the Virgin Mary owning that she is a sinner who has God as her savior. Only sinners need a savior.

 

Luke 2.11:         “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

 

Yet this is a holy angel telling the shepherds that the newborn Christ child is the savior.

 

John 4.42:         “And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”

 

Inspired by the Holy Spirit to record this for us by the Apostle John, this is what the Samaritans understood about Jesus.

Second Timothy 1.10:   “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

 

Inspired by the Holy Spirit to write, this is what the Apostle Paul says about Jesus.

 

Second Peter 1.1:            “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

 

Agreeing with the Apostle Paul, the Apostle Peter owns Jesus as our savior.

 

First John 4.4:      “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.”

 

Finally, the Apostle John’s testimony is that God the Father sent His Son to be the savior of the world.

We know that God is the only savior. He said so many times. However, the Bible also declares that Jesus is the savior, according to an angel, according to apostles, according to believers, and even according to Jesus, Himself. So, how can only God be the savior and yet Jesus is the savior, as well? Simple. Jesus is God. Abraham is not God. Moses is not God. Buddha is not God. Mohammed is certainly not God. Yet Jesus is God, which is both why and how He can be the savior.

 

With all of these facts accumulated, is a person arrogant and rigid who simply accepts the Biblical testimony about Jesus? Are we who follow the Bible and own Jesus as the unique savior of sinful men’s souls narrow and prejudiced? I will admit that we are narrow, but that is because God is narrow, and Jesus is narrow. We are not, however, prejudiced. We are, rather, convinced by the clear and undeniable testimony of God’s Word.

In Matthew 7.13, Jesus commanded, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.” The broad-minded way leads to destruction. The majority view is the wrong view, according to Jesus. He bids men to enter by way of the strait gate, which is the narrow gate, and He is that narrow gate, as He reiterated in John 14.6, when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Eternal salvation, access to God the Father and a place in heaven comes to you through Jesus Christ or does not come to you at all.



[4] Jonah 1

[5] Jonah 2.1, 9

[6] Luke 2.30; Acts 28.28

[7] Ezekiel 18.4, 20

[8] Bruce Demarest, The Cross And Salvation, (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, hardcover edition 2006), page 255.

[9] Matthew 9.2

[10] Galatians 3.16; Genesis 49.10; Psalm 132.11; Micah 5.2; Daniel 9.24-27; Deuteronomy 21.23; Psalm 41.9; Zechariah 11.12-13; Isaiah 53.9; Matthew 12.38-40

[11] If you would like a business card-sized card presenting the case for the resurrection of Jesus, as well as a suggested reading list of books dealing with the resurrection of Jesus Christ for use in the defense of the Christian faith, send me your mailing address and I will send that card and reading list information to you.

[12] Henry Clarence Thiesen, Introductory Lectures In Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1949), page 132.

[13] Anis A. Shorrosh, Islam Revealed, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1988), pages 27-28.

[14] Ibid., pages 34-35.

[15] John 14.6

[16] John 11.25

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org