The Way Up The Mountain
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me”
— John 14:6 (NASB)
Our culture loves pluralism. Our society accepts different beliefs as both worthwhile and valid. Any man may believe as he pleases, with one exception. There is one religious, base, supreme ethic which guides our culture: pluralism.
Picture a mountain. At the top of this mountain is God. That one religious, base, supreme ethic says that no matter which way you go up the mountain you will make it to God. Every way is true and every way leads to life.
Christianity holds pluralism in contempt. We say that Jesus Christ is the only way that is true and the only way that is life. In fact, He is the way, the truth, and the life. He’s the only way up the mountain.
God is Not Pluralistic
God’s Word leaves no grey area on this subject: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). Speaking to the woman at the well in John 4, Jesus said, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” Here, Jesus is teaching that God has brought salvation through the Jewish people. And He is that salvation.
Paul also taught that Christ is the only way to God: “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Even as the apostles spread the gospel in the book of Acts, they never once proclaim any alternative route to God than the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the apostles explicitly warn people away from the false gods which they are serving.
The Burden of the Mountain
Though it is often portrayed as freeing, in truth, religious pluralism places a great burden on people. I’ve heard people say, “if someone is really trying to be a good person, I think God will let them into heaven no matter what religion they are.” If this is true and there are many roads up to God, people must work their hardest to ascend the road they choose.
If they choose Islam, they’d better be a perfect Muslim. If they choose Buddhism, they’d better be a perfect Buddhist. If they choose atheism, they’d better be a perfect atheist. Even if they choose Christianity, they’d better be a perfect Christian. Only the perfect can earn their salvation. Religious pluralism sets a person before the mountain and says, “Choose whatever path you like; I hope you’re strong enough to make it to the top.”
Christ Climbed Down
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is fundamentally different. God’s Word teaches us that “none is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:10-11). Sinners in their endless striving for purpose, fulfillment, and life are only willing to gain it in any way that does not require submission to Jesus Christ.
The natural man stands at the base of the mountain with one fist towards the mountain and the other hand enjoying his evil.
But, this is grace: Jesus Christ has descended the mountain. The Holy Spirit empowers us to turn from our sin and love God. And in Christ’s grace, He does not place us in front of that mountain to try, and fail, to make it up ourselves. He hoists us onto his back and takes unworthy, helpless sinners to the top. And then, after the long, exhausting journey, when He finally reaches the top, He sets us down…and dies.
It is in this grace, that our striving ends. We rest in the great work of Christ on our behalf. It is from that long trip on His back that we receive our salvation.