We live in a time when "tolerance," "diversity" and "inclusivity" are considered by many cultural virtues that supersede all others. This popular relativist notion disregards something far more important: Truth.
Yet, and to borrow from Pontius Pilate, "What is truth?"
Jesus is truth. Either that or, as C.S. Lewis famously observed, He is a liar, a lunatic or the "Devil of Hell" himself.
Christ was both tolerant and intolerant — utterly exclusive and wholly inclusive.
He said in no uncertain terms: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).
Let's break that down.
Jesus asserted over and again that He is the only way to God the Father. Note that, rather conspicuously, He did not say: "No one comes to the Father except through me, the Buddha, Muhammad, Ganesh or L. Ron Hubbard."
Philippians 2:10-11 assures us, "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
That's every knee: Every atheist, agnostic, Muslim or Jew; every Buddhist, Hindu, Scientologist and everyone in between, living, dead or yet-to-be born.
Yet Christ also promised us this: "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light" (Matthew 11:28-29).
Romans 10:13 is even more direct: "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Nonetheless, the Scriptures remain explicit. Jesus Christ is the one and only path to God the Father and, ultimately, eternal salvation.
The thing about truth is that it's true whether you choose to believe it or not. Jesus did not merely speak truth, He is truth. He is truth personified — the embodiment and source of everything under the sun and all that is true, precisely as He claimed to be.
And He claimed to be God.
As mentioned above, one of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes points out, as only Lewis could, that Jesus was either the Son of God, as he maintained, or He was a liar, a lunatic, or, worse, the "Devil of Hell."
Wrote Lewis: "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).
Eternal life. This is the glorious hope followers of Christ have in Him. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
"Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (John 17:3).
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
'No one comes to the Father except through me'
John 3:36 warns: "Whoever believes in the Son [Jesus] has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."
Absent acceptance of and belief upon Christ, we will neither see God the Father nor His Son, who is eternal life.
God both created and loves — in a way incomprehensible to the finite human mind — every human being ever born, or otherwise. He wove us together in our mother's wombs and numbered our every hair. Yet God the Father has but one begotten Son. The rest of us, in order to become God's children, must be adopted and grafted into the vine by, in and through the One who is the Son — He who is the Vine: Christ Jesus (see John 15:5).
Those who are not adopted by God are not children of God.
Indeed, to become a child of God, we must ask God, through Christ, to adopt us. We mustn't just believe upon Him — for "Even the demons believe that" (see James 2:19) — but, rather, we must also receive Him as Lord and Savior. We must follow Jesus, the one true God, as our only God.
"But to all who believed him (Jesus) and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12).
The pluralist notion that, "There are many paths to God," is an insidious lie spread by the father of lies himself.
Jesus said, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it" (Matthew 7:13).
Jesus is the "narrow gate."
Indeed, as I've said before, the Bible is one of two things: It is either simply an ancient text chock-full of creative tales and loose philosophies no more relevant to our daily lives than a Tony Robbins self-help book, or it is what it says it is: the inerrant, inspired Word of God. It can be nothing else.
If it is the former then, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" (1 Corinthians 15:32).
If it is the latter, and I believe with all my heart, soul, mind and strength that it is, then you'd be wise to heed Christ's explicit forewarning that He is the exclusive way, truth and life.
Because eternity is a very long time.