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I Am THE WAY
By David A. DePra
Thomas said unto him, Lord, we know not whither you go; and how can we know the way? Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:5-6)
This is one of the most familiar passages in the Bible. It ought to be, because in it is so much foundational Truth. But how many of us have really thought about what Jesus is saying in these verses? You will notice that He did NOT say, "I have a way to teach you, and some Truth to teach you, and I will show you how to find eternal life." Nope. Rather, He said I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life. What does that mean? How IS Jesus those things?
Incidentally, anyone who doubts that Jesus never claimed to be God, ought to read this passage. He doesnít say it outright as He does in a few other places. But any mere man who would say that HE IS Ė the Way, the Truth, and the Life, is either a liar, lunatic, or isnít merely a man. He is God. Read statements like this one by Jesus and you can no longer call him a good teacher only. Good teachers donít say things like this about themselves.
The Only Way
Jesus had just told the disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them in His Fatherís house. This was a promise of inheritance Ė which is what the term, "My Fatherís house," almost always means in the Bible. He said, "You cannot follow me now, but will follow Me afterwards." He meant it all spiritually, and was speaking about spiritual things Ė the inheritance of which they would begin to experience in this life. But the disciples could not, at that point, have been expected to understand what He meant. So they immediately understood Him in a natural sense, and wondered how to follow Him to His Fatherís house. Thomas stepped up and asked the obvious question, "Lord, we donít know what you are talking about, or how to follow you to Your Fatherís house. How can we possibly follow you there afterwards Ė we donít know the way." Thatís when Jesus said, "I am the WayÖand no one comes to the Father except by Me."
In this verse Jesus states very clearly that He is the only Way to God. This is repeated in the Bible a number of times, including Acts 4:12. However, in this day and age, people are becoming more and more hesitate to believe Jesus. Televangelist Joel Osteen has twice in the past year denied whether it was for sure that Jesus is the only way to God Ė once on Larry King Live, and the other time on The View. He took a lot of heat after the first time on Larry King, issued a rather obscure apology on his website, and then proceeded to do it again on The View. Sorry, after twice, this isnít a slip of tongue or a mistake made under pressure. The man simply doesnít want to offend people Ė and so he helps them reject or neglect Christ. Robert Schuller has openly done the same for decades. So have many other well-know preachers. Today many in the pulpit are following suit. It is inexcusable Ė especially for those who claim Christ has called them to ministry.
There are a couple of things we need to come to terms with about this. First, Jesus said He was the only way to God. The Bible affirms this elsewhere. If you and I donít want to believe that, then letís at least be honest enough to say that Jesus was a liar, or at least insane. And letís be honest enough to admit we do not believe the Bible is inspired of God. And if that is the case, then it really doesnít matter what the Bible says Jesus claimed, because even that might be a total fabrication. There are no other options here. This one is cut and dry.
But there is yet another issue. My salvation is based on the fact that I see that Jesus Christ is God, my personal Savior, and my Lord. To be saved, Iím not required to know all of the theology of those things about Christ, nor to be able to doctrinally explain it all. But since I cannot be saved unless I repent of my sin and believe on Christ, it only follows that if I am saved I GOT THAT WAY by embracing the revelation of who Jesus Christ is. Otherwise, in whom is my faith? So what this means is that if I am presently denying that Jesus is the only Way to God, or seriously doubt that, it means I havenít really seen who He is Ė God Incarnate. And if I havenít seen that, then I havenít seen what I must see to be saved Ė and thus, Iím NOT saved.
Of course, many of us donít want to face the discomfort of that possibility. But the Bible is very clear about this. Jesus is the only name given under heaven by which we can be saved. Why?
It isnít because God is narrow-minded. It is because Jesus is the only one who is God become man, who lived a sinless life, who bore the sin of the world, who rose from the dead, and who ascended to heaven. He is the only Savior because He is the only one who can save. You can argue all you want about whether God should accept someone who comes to Him through Buddha, or someone else, but in the end, the question is whether the person in question has LIFE IN THEM. Buddha cannot impart life. Jesus also said, "I am the LIFE." In Him alone there is LIFE, because He alone REDEEMED us.
I know all of the objections about the millions and millions who have never heard the gospel. People object and say that God would not send millions to hell simply because they never heard. They are right. He would not. But this doesnít mean there is another way to God other than Christ. Neither does it mean, as Calvinism teaches, that God has already ordained who is going to heaven and hell, and so if a person has never heard, it is proof that God never intended to save them. No. If someone has never heard the gospel, it simply means they never had a chance to hear Ė they have made no choice. Especially the very young. My answer is that God will provide a means by which they can be saved in Christ Ė yes, outside of this life. This is NOT a, "second chance." For those who have never heard, it is their one and only chance Ė equal to the one and only chance that those who HAVE HEARD are being given NOW.
Anyways, back to the subject at hand. Jesus is the only Way to the Father, because He alone is God become man, who won redemption. Thus, if I deny, or cannot say for sure, or are unwilling to say for sure, that this is the Truth, I have either NOT SEEN it is the Truth, or refuse to see it. In either case, how can I be saved if I will not say for sure that the very Savior who died for me is not who He says He is? Why bother repenting and believing in Christ if He is one of many ways to God?
Now, you will notice that when I say that if you deny Jesus is the only way to God that, "you cannot be saved," that I am not meaning that in the sense of God refusing you salvation as a "punishment" for your doubts. No. What I mean is that if you deny Christ as the only way to God you are evidencing the fact that YOU have not seen salvation is in Christ. You can't have seen it -- the essential Truth necessary FOR salvation. That is WHY you are denying, or at least doubting, the Truth on this matter.
Ministers who are wishy-washy on this matter might think it is because they donít want to offend people, but the fact is, the gospel Ė if the Truth is taught Ė will always offend people. One way it has always offended people by opening stating that Jesus is the only way to God.
Doubt the seriousness of this matter? Here is what the apostle John had to say:
Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist that denies the Father and the Son. Whosoever denies the Son, the same has not the Father: (but) he that acknowledges the Son hath the Father also. (1 John 2:22-23)
The good news is that if you have sincere doubts about Jesus being the only way to God, you can turn right now to God and be open to Him for the Truth. He will show you that Jesus is the Way. God wants to draw people to Christ because Christ is the only Way to Himself.
The Way NOW
Jesus is the only Way to God as it pertains to salvation. But that is really only the tip of the iceberg. Jesus is also the Way to God in all things pertaining to the Christian life.
One particular issue comes to mind here. Many Christians have been taught about A WAY that is supposedly, "Godís way." Usually this consists of rules, principles, a certain way of doing things, and especially believing certain doctrines. We do need some of these things. Christians need to know how to live, and often what to do in life. And we must hold to sound, Biblical doctrine. And we might even say that these are, "Godís way." But as I stated before, Jesus did NOT say, "I have come to teach you Godís way." No Ė although He taught plenty. Rather, He said, "I AM THE WAY."
Now in this is wrapped up the Truth of grace. It tells us that keeping laws is not the way to God. It tells us that joining the right church is not the way to God. It tells us that being under the right list of teachings is not the way to God. It really tells us that there is NO WAY to God except one: Jesus Christ.
There is NO WAY to be righteousness in Godís eyes except through Jesus Christ. Most Christians easily assent to this Truth Ė as a doctrine. But then so many go out and try to make themselves righteous by works, or end up feeling totally condemned because they know their works are good enough Ė which is the flip side of the same problem. These are other WAYS. No. Jesus is the only WAY to God Ė nothing about us will do.
How else is Jesus THE WAY? Well, letís take an example: Have you ever been afraid that you were out of Godís will Ė which is another way of saying you are afraid that you are out of Godís WAY, i.e., the way He has for you? Perhaps you thought that the solution to this was to pray to God that He would provide for you the information you need to correct course. Or maybe you thought that it was up to you to figure out the answer. Or perhaps you thought that God was up in heaven waiting for you to, "push the right buttons," to discover the key, or waiting for you to, "pray the right prayer." If you have ever tried any of these things, you have hopefully discovered THEY DONíT WORK.
So what is the solution? The solution is amazingly simple: Turn to Christ. He is THE WAY. But what do I mean by that? I mean that it doesnít matter how far off the track you might be, the moment you turn to Christ, you are back IN THE WAY Ė and again headed in the right direction. Thus, God isnít waiting for you to figure out anything. He is saying, "Keep in Christ. Keep surrendered. Things will unfold."
Some of us are very afraid we are going to make a wrong turn and get out of Godís will. Well, it is possible to do that, isnít it? But God is saying to us that we need to walk forward, trusting Him to know what to ALLOW in our lives as far as mistakes are concerned. And we need to walk forward, trusting that no matter what turn we take, that He will also be faithful to get us back on track. We can be sure He will, because all of the paths we take are not THE WAY. They are A way in a certain sense Ė but as long as we are in THE WAY, seeking Christ in all things, we are in Godís will.
There are a number of ways to say the same thing: There are always new beginnings with God. No matter how far off the track you get, the moment you turn, you have a new beginning. Of course, Iím not talking about rebellion here, although I would say that if you have rebelled against God and deliberately gone your own way, there really isnít any other option but to turn back to Jesus! Even THEN there is a new beginning possible.
My point is that Jesus is THE WAY. And as long as our relationship with God is based on HIM, and what He has done for us, we are in GODíS WAY. God may allow us to take a path that will teach us a lesson about our own ways. But as long as we are abiding in Christ, we are in HIS WAY Ė and the lesson is part of it. He is faithful to bring us back to where we are supposed to be.
This ought to be a great comfort. It does away with the fear that we could be deceived Ė if we are abiding in Christ. If we are abiding in Christ, we may not understand many things, and we might even be presently confused or perplexed. But THE WAY is clear because Jesus is THE WAY, and we are abiding in Him.
Jesus said, "I am THE WAY." As we abide in Him, and turn to Him, we are in Godís will. One means of doing this is to say, "Father in heaven, I have no clue. If it is up to me to figure this out, I am lost. I donít know the way. And if it is up to me to BE what I need to be, I am lost. I therefore turn to you. Make Jesus the Way to me Ė and IN ME. Do in me something that will enable me to be what you want me to be in this situation Ė one with Christ. I surrender to You for that Ė no matter what it takes. Bring me into adjustment with Christ Jesus to your glory."
Do you want Godís will? It is not necessary to first figure it out Ė to first know the way. No. Open to God that He might first make you INTO HIS WILL Ė by revealing Christ in you. Tell Him that whatever it takes, you want Him to form you together with Christ so that you can BECOME Godís will, and thus, be given Godís will in this life.
This is nothing more difficult than to constantly pray that God would give us a THING called, "His will, "all the while we be unfit for it. No. First, give YOURSELF to God. Do you really want Godís will? Well, that is the first step -- doing so is, in fact, Godís will. Let Him make you to BECOME Godís will in Christ. Then you can have Godís will. This is also how Jesus is THE WAY. Christ in us is THE WAY to enter into the things of God, and into His purpose for us.
Jesus said, "I am the WAY." For two thousand years, the church has tried just about every other way. The call is clear Ė come back to the Person of Jesus Christ. Individually, and as a church. Allow Him to live and move in us personally Ė and the WAY will become clear.
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