As I ponder the question, “Is Jesus the only way?” I am reminded of how many times as dad I have to tell one of my eight children, “Because I said so!” “You may not understand right now that it is for your own good so I you need to obey.” “No you cannot jump off the roof, no you cannot play in the street, no you cannot have ice-cream for dinner, no you cannot play baseball in the living room, no you cannot wake you’re your sister up, no you cannot go to the park on your own, you are only two.” As a dad of eight children and a man who has had over ninety foster kids come through his house I fully understand that children do not always understand what is best for them. I have come to the conclusion that God must feel like I do as dad sometimes, saying to us no you cannot serve both money and me, no you cannot live your life totally self-centered, no you cannot call me Allah or Buda or Ginger or Bob – I am Jesus, the way, the truth and the life no one can come to the Father (God) except through me, the real me not someone you have made me up in your mind! The answer to the question is yes, Jesus is the best way for us to live in contrast with the things we think is best for us, and no, not every road leads to heaven. To be reconciled to God through Jesus is where we find true joy and happiness!
I think this question is very relevant right now in the Christian community with the all the buzz going on with Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins.” (Just to be clear, I am not saying one way or the other, what Bell might be saying in this book because I have not read it, but what is being said about the book is bringing this question to the forefront of the Church right now.) The Universalist idea that all roads lead to heaven no matter how they live or what god they choose to follow, is an insult to our intelligence (even if I wish it were true, for the sake of the lost!). To say that all roads lead to heaven is like saying, “That no matter what color you thought was your favorite, for example orange, in the end all colors is blue.” To think that no matter what our choices are here on earth, good, bad or indifferent, do not matter because all will be with God in the end is to misunderstand God Himself. We misunderstand His divine mercy and justice. God is completely just and completely merciful, through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. Through this sacrifice God’s wrath towards sin has been justified and He is able to show us mercy. In Romans 5:6-10 Paul writes about God’s mercy and His need for justice because of His wrath towards sin, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” All roads do not lead to heaven! God hates sin, Habakkuk 1:13 tell us, “Your eyes (O Lord) are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.” God needed to deal with the sinful nature of mankind, and through Jesus has built a bridge, saying to all mankind, “I made a way, where there is no other way, I’m telling you the truth, no one else can reconcile you to God, and through me is where you will find true life.”
Is Jesus the only way to heaven? I believe this is the wrong question because it is not about getting to heaven. In his book God is the Gospel, John Piper essentially asks whether we are in love with God: “The critical question for our generation – and for every generation – is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?” I think, sadly, many people would say yes to Piper’s question! I believe one of the right questions is, if there is a God, does He care about us, and if He does, what can I do to please Him and know Him. I believe this to be true as well I understand that this is only possible through the cross where my sin is dealt with, but for what reason did I need to deal with my sin? Was it only to go to heaven? No, it was so that I am able to be reconciled to God! To do what I was created to do – worship God in spirit and truth for eternity. To be able to be in right standing with God for eternity!
Piper, J. (2005). God is the Gospel: meditations on God's love as the gift of himself. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.