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Is Jesus the Only Way?

We have been talking about how we can discuss core Christian beliefs without “Christian” language. Before moving off this topic, I want to ask your help on one more thing. Jesus says that God loved world and gave his only Son (Jn 3:16). Is the “only” important, and how do you explain it?

The premise I am working from is that if we have explained the gospel properly, the uniqueness of Christ doesn’t need to be an issue that takes up a lot of time. If we have talked about the issues of our separation from God, the consequences of living and dying separated from God, and our inadequacy to do anything about the separation, then most people are going to understand that the rift between God and us can only be bridged by God. Certainly not by us. If we have adequately explained the atonement, then discussions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Spiritualism, or any other “-ism” are unnecessary, at least at first.

Now, please do not misunderstand. I do believe in the uniqueness of Christ. My question has to do with how we present the gospel in a limited time frame with limited vocabulary. I am wondering if it would be better to explain the issues above and allow them to lead inexorably to the conclusion of the uniqueness of Christ.

How does this sound?

We were created to be in fellowship with God. Because we have violated the relationship, we live separated from God and from true life. But because God is loving, Christ has done for us what we could not do for ourselves, and that is to take the initiative to repair the relationship. Only Jesus has done this.

Is it fair to conclude that it isn’t necessary to simply assert the uniqueness of Christ in evangelism, but it should be the natural conclusion to a balanced presentation of the facts of sin, separation, and the human inability to do anything about this? Of course, if the person asks about Christ’s uniqueness, then we discuss it.

Comments

Bill, I am just jumping into this discussion based on your post above, but what if one holds that salvation in Christ isn't just about Jesus solving human separation from God. What if Jesus also came to show us how to live life in the Father's kingdom. So salvation is entry into life with Jesus as we learn from him (as his disciples) how to live life in the kingdom of God--in fellowship with the Father. On this way of putting things, it seems like we need to know who Jesus is. He is not simply the one who could restore fellowship with God, he is also teacher on how to live human life in the kingdom of God. If so, it seems like we need to say something about his uniqueness. Otherwise he is reduced to our ticket in.

I think the significance of 'only' in Jn 3.16 is to show there is no alternative to salvation other than Jesus. Jesus himself stated this. Jesus is unique, and one way that I approach this in a non-biblical way is to state that Christianity hinges on the answer to, "Is Jesus alive, or dead?" Many see religion in terms of opinions and feelings. "You believe what suits you, and I'll believe what suits me." If Jesus is dead, and his body has decayed in the same as any mortal, then he is not unique, and Christianity is a joke. His being alive now is not true for anyone; we can have all the opinions and feelings we like, but nothing is changed, and our faith is worthless. On the other hand, if Jesus is alive, he is unique, existing physically and powerfully in heaven, and anyone would be a fool not to believe in him.

Your assumptions and statement falling back to properly explaining the Gospel would necessarily result in the question being moot is correct. The focus and attention should be geared toward communicating the Gospel message without fear and correctly. If the Gospel is preached, the -isms are no longer a question. Assuming this is true, then the Spirit is moving in the hearer and the uniqueness of Christ can be stated as God's word states: "I am the Way and the truth and the light. No one gets to the father except through me." John 14:6. We don't need re write, just maybe explain. One additional comment: if we are sharing the Gospel, then we should focus on slowing down and letting the Spirit work. Sharing the Gospel and having someone respond is one of the most beautiful things a Christian can experience. Don't rush it!

Of course Christ alone was “qualified” to offer himself as sacrifice for the multitude of sins committed by a multitude of persons by virtue of his divinity and supreme worth. As far as reconciliation between man and God, a mediator must relate to both parties. Christ alone, the only one having both divine and human nature, could accomplish this. So he paid for sin, “absorbing” its penalty, but then also continues to maintain a new reconciled relationship between men and God (as the one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus - 1Tim 2:5)

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” I believe the key word here is “power”. We need to just simply present the gospel as set forth in the scriptures. “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.” Now according to Paul the apostel in what he has stated in the letter to the Romans “all have sinned and —”. He also makes it clear that they all know it Romans chapters 2&3. In the Gospel of John 1:29 it says, “ The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” I think that most people do not comprehend this, ie, Jesus has paid for all of your sin do you believe this, yes or no? If He has done this for you and everyone else than what are you going to do about this, will you receive him now there may not be a “later”. I believe we need to “preach the word” just as it says because “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” It’s the Holy Spirit who quickens the heart of the sinner through the word, but it is up to the sinner to heed the word of God. We have nothing else to do with it, certainly not be any form of relevancy.

Perfectly said Bro. Bill. Simplicity is the way to explain the Gospel. Amen.

Christ's uniqueness. John 1, Ephesians 1, Philippians 2. Colossians 1, Isaiah 52:13- 53. Accountability to God imperfect through the prescribed sacrificial system: Hebrews 10:5-10 A final sacrifice once for all through a perfect sacrifice: 2 Corinthians 5:21 Are there other options? No - Galatians 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

I work as a missionary in Brazil, among (reaching mainly) many Catholics. They do say Jesus is unique, but they do not understand how sufficient is Christ. When presenting the Gospel, I like to think we need a vocabulary, at least to this people, that presents Christ as only and sufficient for their salvation. Thanks for allowing me to think of this.

Bill, I like and agree with your comments and approach regarding the presentation of the gospel and allowing the message itself speak to the uniqueness Jesus. One benefit is that it helps to keep the focus on the reason "why" and not just the answer. Yes, Jesus is the answer, but if I'm understanding you correctly, let's make sure we are fully addressing the question first... thus making a clear connections between our need and how God addresses this need through Jesus.

" If we have adequately explained the atonement" " if the person asks about Christ’s uniqueness" What prompts the Buddhist, Hindu, or Islamist to think about Christ? Something you said or wrote? Certainly not a God-person relationship discussion. To paraphrase some famous man, "I'd be a Christian if I ever saw one." I'd rather have a Buddhist, Hindu, or Islamist say, "my best friend is a Christian, so I love my best friend and Jesus."

Seems to me that the uniqueness of Jesus is exactly what we should be making clear to anyone, especially to those from polytheisic religious backgrounds. They believe in many ways and many God's. Scripture teaches one God, one way. Tell them what the word says, it's worked for 2000 years.

Modern day humans are interested in Truth....of course their perception of truth can vary. But Truth cannot be changed....I would say "Know the truth and you will find God". Then, hopefully, The Gospel will fall into place because The Gospel is a Paramount Portion of Truth.

When I inquire about the faith of someone else and it isn't in Jesus, I commend them for their for their faith and wish for them to be their best--best Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, etc. I accept whatever it is without the least effort to persuade them towards Jesus. They will invariably ask about my face and I will give my short testimony about how my life changed. That's all that I say about my faith unless questioned more fully. We become friends. When we part, I tell him that if his belief system fails him, then he should check out Jesus. I let him know about my weekly Bible study and my church. Unless someone is unhappy with their belief system, they won't change. They will know at least one Christian that they don't consider as a nut.

Words are symbols for objects or concepts. The word, "car," identifies an object. "Love," relates to a concept. Objects can be rather straight forward in meaning. Concepts give us much more trouble and often depend of the life experience of both the speaker and hearer. As a speaker, or writer, my conceptual range for the word, "love" may be slightly (or greatly) different than that of the one to whom I am speaking. My obligation as a speaker is not to use linguistic symbols that fit my conceptual range, but to do all in my power to use symbols that will match the conceptual range of my hearer. I was stuck by the phrase, "...created to be in fellowship with God." Most English speaking persons would understand the basic meaning of each of the word/symbols used. But, "fellowship" can have a wide conceptual range. It may have on meaning for persons familiar with the language of Christian proclamation, but not carry the same concept for the person who lacks that familiarity. I once had the opportunity to teach a Sunday School class made up of refugees from Cambodia. At the end of my first lesson I asked who would now accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. To my astonishment, each one raised a hand signifying a willingness to accept Jesus. I soon realized that they had not understood what I was asking. The translation had been adequate, but their concept of my meaning was not the same as mine. They understood me to be asking if they were willing to add Jesus to the list of gods they worshiped. What a tragedy it would it have been if I had gone on assuming their concept of meaning of the word/symbols used was the same as mine. The responsibility of clear communication was mine, not theirs.

According to the Scriptures, there are two essential truths that must be believed in order to be saved: 1. That Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, God Incarnate. The pre-existent eternal God became man in the person of Jesus Christ. He is called the Son of God by virtue of His virgin birth by the power of the Holy Spirit. Each of the Gospels begin with establishing that fact! 2. That He died on the cross for our sins according to the Scriptures. That is, He took upon Himself the penalty for the sins of all humanity for all time, and died as a substitutionary sacrifice. He was buried, and God raised Him from the dead on the third day, which is evidence and God's declaration of WHO HE IS and that HIS DEATH ON THE CROSS WAS ACCEPTED on our behalf. In order to be saved one must personally believe in and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is written that If you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, (He is God Incarnate), and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, (Meaning you believe in and trust in His substitutionary sacrifice on your behalf), you will be saved. Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame, and Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? That is the Gospel, the two critical elements! We must emphasize both. WHO HE IS and WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR ALL FOR ALL AND OFFERS TO ALL. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

According to the Scriptures, there are two essential truths that must be believed in order to be saved: 1. That Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, God Incarnate. The pre-existent eternal God became man in the person of Jesus Christ. He is called the Son of God by virtue of His virgin birth by the power of the Holy Spirit. Each of the Gospels begin with establishing that fact! 2. That He died on the cross for our sins according to the Scriptures. That is, He took upon Himself the penalty for the sins of all humanity for all time, and died as a substitutionary sacrifice. He was buried, and God raised Him from the dead on the third day, which is evidence and God's declaration of WHO HE IS and that HIS DEATH ON THE CROSS WAS ACCEPTED on our behalf. In order to be saved one must personally believe in and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is written that If you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, (He is God Incarnate), and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, (Meaning you believe in and trust in His substitutionary sacrifice on your behalf), you will be saved. Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame, and Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? That is the Gospel, the two critical elements! We must emphasize both. WHO HE IS and WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR ALL FOR ALL AND OFFERS TO ALL. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Is the "Only" important? Absolutely essential! The Gospel record of John, which according to the author is an evangelist document (John 20:30-31), begins by explaining the uniqueness of Jesus, and Paul in his introduction to the Romans, which is a thorough explanation of the Gospel, begins with the uniqueness of Jesus. I don't think it is possible to improve on the writings of men "born along" by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the central figure in the Gospel -- He is the Gospel: "So believe cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word [spoken about] Christ"! 1 Corinthians 1:22-24: "Seeing that Jews ask for signs, and Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumblingblock, and unto Gentiles foolishness; but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God". Dialog may follow preaching, but it cannot replace it. Is Jesus Christ the only way? Absolutely! John 14:6! Acts 4:12! 1 Timothy 2:5! Mike Bonham

only incorporates the idea of unique, incomprehensible, not merely single

Dr. M., I would agree that Jesus as the only way need not be the opening statement in evangelism. I would argue though that the statement in your article places too little emphasis on Jesus. I am not criticizing your belief, just the emphasis placed on Jesus. The uniqueness of Jesus is not that He alone has done these things you listed, but that He alone could do these things. He isn’t just the only One to have reconciled us to God, but is the only One who ever could. I believe it is necessary to address the uniqueness of the Son, the monogenes, not just His Work. Tim

Bill, I have always respected you and been eternal grateful for you Greek materials, but I think that if you leave Jesus out of your talk about the gospel it will result in 2 things: First, if you leave people searching, they may find the wrong answer. You can allow them to understand their own brokenness through the power of the Holy Spirit, but if you do not "Preach the Word" and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost, they may find another way that is not accurate to make their peace with God. If you leave Jesus out, Scripture says you are sharing a different Gospel "Let God's curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you." Galations 1:8. There are other passages that talk about preaching a different Gospel, as well. One other good one is II Corinthians 11:4. The best way I can think of to caution you is to have you look at this link that clearly talks about the true gospel of JESUS CHRIST. It doesn't belong to another, but to remove him from it is not the true Gospel, not the good news. Here's the link: http://www.sounddoctrine.com/another_gospel.htm. In an effort to be relevant, don't cease to talk about Jesus Christ. In an effort to be heard by others that spout a different religion, use Paul's tactics: Find something in their culture that shows they have a need or a hunger for truth, like that of the statue to the "unknown God", and capitalize on that need to reveal the truth of the GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. It is not the gospel, if it leaves out Christ, and it is in grave danger if you share about their need, and then you do not give them the good news. It is like coming into a room and telling everyone that a tornado is coming, but not telling them there is a shelter in the basement, leaving them to find their own place of safety. Some will find the shelter, but some will run outside and be swept away by the tornado.

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