As you may recall, we started this series of posts with an empathetic ear to those calling for a more open, welcoming, and accepting church body. I personally think a wider welcome in our churches is a good thing, but there is one point where the road narrows dramatically. The road to salvation is very narrow, passing through the death and resurrection of one man, Jesus Christ.
The reason this is so important is because we have a generation coming up that has been raised on salad bar religion. They have been taught to pick and choose their truth from a variety of religious traditions. And in this setting, the idea that Jesus is the only way comes across as too narrow, too intolerant, and too divisive. While criticism about our generational issues is something we need to honestly consider, we cannot bow to any criticism of this core truth: Jesus is the only way to heaven.
Over the next several posts we are going to dive into the middle chapters of the gospel of John to discover the claims of Jesus regarding this issue. Many today believe a misconception that Jesus never said He was the Son of God, or never said He was the only way to salvation. As we will see going forward, that is just not true. Jesus’ Christ claims, His Son of God claims, His Messiah claims all point to His death, burial, and resurrection as being the only way to heaven. His divinity claims and His exclusive promise that all who believe in Him will have eternal life are critical to our gospel message.
In the introduction to his gospel, the apostle John presents Jesus as the divine Son of God from the outset. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:1,14). This is followed by the testimony of several eyewitnesses. John the Baptist said of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29), and “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God” (Jn 1:34). Andrew, later in chapter one, identified Jesus as “The Messiah” (Jn 1:41). And Nathaniel addressed Jesus with, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” So many divinity titles and this just in chapter one!
The testimony of these eyewitnesses is powerful, but what did Jesus say about Himself? We will begin to answer that question with a visit to John chapter 5 and the Pool of Bethesda.