All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
By Sigrid Fowler
The assertion that Jesus is the only way to be savedseems narrow, even uninformed to many these days. If you’re a Christian, ask yourself how that statement strikes you. Have you come to grips with it? Are you content with yourconclusions? The topic goes right to the heart of what Christianity is. It must be seriously addressed by anyone who names the name of Jesus Christ and identifies as a Christian. Jesus is either the only way to be saved or he isn’t and that means for everybody, for anybody.
These are religious issues, and it’s useful to think aboutwhat religion is. First, it has to do with God. The “supreme being” is described in many ways by various religions, but religion isn’t culture. Religion isn’t just another way a culture manifests itself. If that’s the case, religion is a human creationwith little significant to say about a God of absolute knowledge, wisdom, power, with none of our human limitations and present in every place and every time. Culture has to do with human variety and customs, religion with absolutes. If religion is simply an aspect of culture, discussion of absolutes is irrelevant.
What we know about God—all those absolutes and what God wants us to do with them—must come to us by God’s own agency, not ours. Writers of the biblical books take this position. What they’ve left us isn’t a human construct but something revealed–difficult at times, open to interpretation, but how could such writing be otherwise? It’s about God!
What salvation is and how a human can be saved has everything to do with who Jesus is. Jesus said of himself, “I and the Father are One” (John 10: 30). The disciple we misname “doubting Thomas” would fall down before him declaring, “My Lord and my God” (John 20: 28). Peter said, “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1: 3 NASB). John says of the risen Christ, “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as a dead man” (Rev 1: 17). These men knew Jesus. Their testimony matches that of all believers: The presence of Jesus’ Spirit—his gift to those he saves—changes lives.
Describing his mission and the intention of the Father, who sent him, he told Nicodemus, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that anyone who believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3: 16). In other words, that person would live—eternally— and not die. In Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17: 3). He is defining life as knowing God.
The name Jesus, the equivalent of Joshua, means “Salvation” or “the LORD saves.”
When Jesus had dinner with Zacchaeus, the notorious tax collector, he repented, promising to repay those he had cheated. Jesus said to him, “Salvation has come to this housetoday” (Luke 19: 19). Was he making a pun on his own name? Perhaps. If so, it was altogether appropriate because salvation is exactly that—repenting, inviting him to save you, and receiving his Spirit. Commissioning his disciples before returning to the Father, Jesus said: “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16: 16). So, the saved person believes in Jesus and lives. Belief means trust, openness and obedience. Jesus said, “The one who has my commandments and keeps them, it is that one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, that person I will love and disclose myself to” (John 14: 21).
At their final meal together, Jesus told his disciples, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper that he may be with you forever—the Spirit of truth . . . you know him because he abides with you and will be in you” (John 14: 16, 17b). The risen Jesus met with his disciples and breathed on them, saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20: 22). John obediently writes what Jesus wants the church in Laodicea—and us—to know: “See,” Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with me” (Rev 3: 20).
It is Jesus who said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14: 6).