We live in a time when "tolerance," "diversity" and "inclusivity" are considered by many to be 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, 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, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should 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 you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30).
Romans 10:13 is even more direct: "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall 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 shall know the truth, and the truth shall 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 begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
"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 gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 6:23).
'No One Comes to the Father Except Through Me'
John 3:36 warns: "He who believes in the Son [Jesus] has eternal life. He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." Absent acceptance of and belief in 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 Son—He who is the Vine: Christ Jesus (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 "the demons also believe and tremble" (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. "Yet to all who received Him [Jesus], He gave the power to become sons of God, to those who believed in His name" (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 at the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who are going through it" (Matt. 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 Cor. 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.
Matt Barber is founder and editor-in chief of barbwire.com. He is an author, columnist, cultural analyst and an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. Having retired as an undefeated heavyweight professional boxer, Matt has taken his fight from the ring to the culture war. (Follow Matt on Twitter: @jmattbarber).