Is He or Isn’t He?
CNN’s Larry King seems to want an answer to the question, “Is Jesus the only way to God?”
Over the years he has asked it repeatedly on his TV show Larry King Live. On January 12, 2000, his program’s topic was “Should Christians stop trying to convert Jews?” On April 24, 2005, the question arose again during a discussion of “What happens after we die?”
Two months later, King interviewed pastor and best-selling author Joel Osteen and asked, “What if you’re Jewish or Muslim, [and] you don’t accept Christ at all?”1
Is there only one way to God? The world’s 6.7 billion people need to know. Unfortunately, many will not like the answer.
Orthodox Rabbi Schmuley Boteach told Larry King in 2000, “I cannot accept that there is a morality, in a spiritual system, which denigrates me as a Jew and says that I am going to burn in hell even though I have lived a good life….This barbaric element which has entered into religion has got to be put aside.”2
On the April 2005 show, four out of six people on King’s religious panel said there are many paths to God. Dissenting were atheist Ellen Johnson, who doesn’t believe in God at all, and Dr. John MacArthur. MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Southern California, alone declared that, according to Scripture, a person will not go to heaven apart from Jesus Christ.3
Osteen was not so steadfast. Twice he said he did not know if Christ was the only way to heaven. The next month, he issued a public apology: “I believe with all my heart that it is only through Christ that we have hope in eternal life. I regret and sincerely apologize that I was unclear on the very thing in which I have dedicated my life….I believe that Jesus Christ alone is the only way to salvation.”4
Osteen’s equivocation demonstrates an important reality: There is no middle ground when answering the question, “Is there only one way to God?” The reply must be either yes or no. And the Bible is the only place that contains the correct answer.
What Does Jesus Say?
The Bible records Jesus’ own words in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” The statement, of course, is a great source of tension. People who reject Christ as the only way must reject Jesus’ words. And people who believe Christ is the only way to heaven also must believe that many will not get there.
Jesus was clear, however. He plainly stated there is only one way to heaven, and He is it.
To obey Jesus often brings rejection. To publicly claim He is the only way to heaven will ensure you a reputation of being narrow-minded, unkind, hateful, and intolerant.
However, Jesus is not the only subject on which the Bible takes a narrow view.
Prior to the Jewish People
There was only one way for Adam and Eve to remain in the Garden of Eden. Man, originally in complete communion with God, had to obey God’s command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said, “In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). They disobeyed God and were expelled.
There was only one acceptable sacrifice for Cain and Abel. Abel followed God’s way, and his sacrifice was accepted; his brother Cain’s was not. Jealous of Abel, Cain killed him.
In the days of Noah there was only one avenue of deliverance from the worldwide flood: the ark. Once the door was shut, no one else could go in. To be sure, Noah had warned of God’s judgment; but no one listened. A week before the actual flood, God closed the ark’s door and sealed the only means of deliverance (7:16).
In Old Testament Days
In Egypt God gave Pharaoh one option: “Let My people go” (Ex. 5:1).
At the Passover in Egypt, only the blood of the lamb on the door saved the firstborn in each family from death (12:13).
When Jewish people sinned, there was only one way to approach God for forgiveness: through sacrifice at the Tabernacle or Temple. And on only one day of the year (Yom Kippur), only one man (the high priest) could enter the Holy of Holies (Lev. 16).
There was only one way to move the Ark of the Covenant (1 Chr. 13:9–10) and one way by which the Syrian commander Naaman could be cleansed of leprosy (2 Ki. 5:1–19).
The Old Testament, in fact, is filled with restrictions and instructions that show God had a precise way He want-ed things done. Any other way was unacceptable to Him.
Why, then, does it seem strange that there is only one way today for people to come to God?
One God, One Messiah, One Bible
The best explanation for mankind’s unwillingness to accept God’s way is also found in the Bible. The prophet Isaiah said, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way” (Isa. 53:6). King Solomon said, “There is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin” (Eccl. 7:20). And the apostle Paul wrote, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
In other words, people are sinners and do not want to believe God because it would mean believing the truth about themselves. They would rather believe they have the power to get to heaven through good works. God points out the narrow path that leads to Him, and many say they would rather travel a different road.
Here is the answer to your question, Larry. There is only one way to God. And contrary to what people think, Jesus is the greatest gift of love and grace this universe has ever seen. The God of Israel came to Earth in the person of Jesus the Messiah to pay for your sin and mine. He was our final Sacrifice. He bought our redemption and set us free. All we must do is believe Him, and He gives us the gift of eternal life. There is only one way to God, Larry. Through faith in Jesus Christ.
- CNN Larry King Live, “Interview With Joel Osteen,” aired June 20, 2005 <http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0506/20/lkl.01.html>.
- CNN Larry King Live, “Should Christians Stop Trying to Convert Jews?” aired January 12, 2000 <http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0001/12/lkl.00.html>.
- CNN Larry King Live, “What Happens After We Die?” aired April 14, 2005 <http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0504/14/lkl.01.html>.
- “Joel Osteen Issues Apology,” June 25, 2005 <albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=137>.