It is a bold claim we Christians make, a claim that puts us at odds with the great majority of people on this earth. Our claim is that, by the grace of God, we’ve got it right and they’ve got it wrong, that we know the way to be made right with God and they do not. This grand claim is not built upon anything we are or anything we’ve done but solely upon who God is and what God has done.
Some charge that this exclusive claim is unjust, unkind, unfair, un-humble. We insist it represents reality as God has revealed it. This bold claim is built upon several others, all of them exclusive in their own way.
There is one God. This is the most foundational claim, that in all the universe there is but one God, one supreme, uppercase God who created this world, owns this world, and who maintains supremacy over it. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). There are many competitors, many pretenders, but they are, at best, lowercase gods, perversions of what God created as good and very good. There is “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
There is one humanity. This one God created one humanity. He created one man and one woman from whom all of us are descended both physically and spiritually. He created these people perfect and watched as they rebelled. He created them for fellowship with him, but saw them resist, run, alienate themselves. We carry their DNA in every cell of our bodies and we carry their depravity in our every part—our bodies, souls, and minds. When it comes to our descent and its consequences, there is no distinction: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The one God rules in such a way that all are accountable to him, to acknowledge him and to submit to his rule. “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). There is one humanity, fallen into woeful futility, facing the terrible judgment of God.
There is one way. This God has not deserted us, despite our parentage and despite our actions. We carry inherited sin and we carry committed sin, we carry the burden of having alienated ourselves from God, of having committed treason against him. Yet he offers a way to recover all that we lost. One way. The only way. He offers it through his Son Jesus who says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus represents the path that spans the vast distance between God and man, the road that leads from isolation to friendship. He represents the only path, the only road, the only way.
There is one mediator. The separation between God and man is far too pervasive and terrible to be solved by those who caused it. We cannot navigate or negotiate our way back into God’s good graces. We need someone who is willing and able to represent us before God, to plead our case on our behalf. Jesus Christ is that one mediator. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). He stands between the convicts and the judge to plead their case, to insist upon their innocence, to demand that he has already paid their ransom.
There is one name. There is, then, just one name in which salvation is to be found. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). There is no other name by which we can be saved other than the name of Jesus. He is the way, he is the mediator, he is the name, he is the one. All the benefits he offers are ours when we plead his name, when we put our hope, our trust, our confidence in him and him alone.
The One and Only
Is it unjust, unkind, unfair, un-humble to insist upon the exclusivity of Jesus Christ? No, it is unjust, unkind, unfair, un-humble not to, for in doing so we are simply describing reality. In doing so we are offering hope.
If we are to return to God, we must go in and by and through Jesus Christ. We must go in and by and through Jesus Christ alone. He demands exclusivity. We cannot use Jesus to hedge our bets, adding a little Jesus to our own efforts or to another guru or deity. We cannot use Jesus as a preferred way while allowing others to follow their own ways, their own paths. For Jesus is not a way, but the way—the only way there is, the only way there ever has been, the only way there ever will be.