In the state that I live in, one of the large public universities is called, “The Ohio State University.” For those who attend college there, or have graduated from this institution, it is considered important to include the word “The” when stating the name of this university. Some will even lean into this first word, referring to it as, “The Ohio State University”.
Now, it’s certainly not the only state school in Ohio. There are a number of other fine universities1 in this state, both public and private. A couple of them even have the word “Ohio” in their names. What makes this school “The” Ohio State university? I don’t know.
However, there are other things that are truly unique. The term “bible” can correctly be used for a variety of books (and comes from a Greek work for “book”, as I understand it), but “The Holy Bible” is a reference to a very specific compilation of writings.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
2 Timothy 3:16 NLT
In the same way, many spirits may be set apart for special purposes, but “The Holy Spirit” is a unique person of the triune God, for instance. And, while there are many things that people put their hope in, God has identified Himself as “the God”.
Beyond that, though, Jesus (who is God) identified Himself as the only way to God. As one of His followers shared after Jesus’ resurrection:
For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,
‘The stone that you builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.’
There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
Acts of the Apostles 4:11-12 NLT
Jesus is not just one path to God. There is no “backup plan” to find salvation. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (see John 14:6).
For those who don’t like this idea, this may sound narrow-minded or unnecessarily constrained. Sometimes, we just don’t want to listen to authority, even when we acknowledge that it exists. Other times, this occurs because we want our own opinions to be true. (Lest you think that I’m singling out non-Christians, I suspect that there are even followers of Jesus who privately wish that their friends who have passed away while still far from God could be saved.) Like a movie plot where there seems to be impossible odds, but some improbable event saves the protagonist, we seek another way out.
However, no matter how much we really want something to be true (when it’s not), wishing for another outcome is not the same as actually impacting whether or not that outcome will actually occur.
When we look for other ways to God (other “solutions”, as it were, to meet God – often with an image in mind of God that comes from our own imagination, rather than who God already is), what we miss is that the incredible climax of history has already occurred! We were lost in sin. We deserved death for willfully choosing to rebel against God (in big ways and in small ways). We had no hope of earning back our chance to live the way that God created us to live: in peace and harmony with God. That is where humankind was in the penultimate act of history. We had no way out, and the only place that we – as fallen human beings – could exist was away from the presence of a Holy God. If someone was watching history like a movie, or reading it as a novel, they would be cringing, wondering how humanity was going to get out of their predicament.
Then, Jesus Christ (the way, the truth, and the life) came on the scene. He stepped in, heroically paying the debt that we could not, and providing a miraculous – and undeserved – solution for our condemnation. Like a hero arriving at the perfect time into a dire situation, he slayed death and freed the prisoners (us).
But we’re not in the middle act of history any more. We aren’t waiting for some new way for God to intervene so that we can be saved. That era has already come and gone, and our role is to be the freed prisoners in the celebratory conclusion of history, showing others how to unlock their chains, as well.
As I see it, God is not selfish or artificially limiting mankind by providing only one way back to Him (since all of us ruined our first chance to remain in His righteousness in the first place). Instead, God is unfathomably merciful to have provided redemption at all.
I hope that you have found this path, and the joy that comes by walking on it. If not, I pray that you will find the grace of God to be both undeserved and unmerited, as well as a way out of our current bondage that we would be unwise to ignore. There’s no need to keep looking for an answer. The Answer is already here.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.