The terror attacks in France, like the Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria, have disgusted us all. Radical Muslims, who believe that Allah is the one true God and that Muhammad is his prophet, have done terrible things in Allah’s name. Masked gunmen methodically killed twelve people, including a newspaper’s editor, as they shouted “Allahu akbar!” Are Muslims correct in their view of Allah that he is the one true God and Mohammed is his supreme Prophet? Or are Christians correct when they assert that the God of the Bible is the one true God and he has revealed himself through Jesus?
Is it not better to say that we are all saved in our own way? John Hick, in his book ‘The myth of Christian Uniqueness’, wrote:
“The Jews are saved within and through the Jewish stream, the Muslims are saved within and through the Islamic stream, the Hindus within and through the Hindu stream etc.”
Is Jesus the only way to heaven? 1 Timothy 2:1-7 provides us with an answer.
1. Yes, because there is only one God
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God… (v3-5)
One of the fundamentals of Christianity is that we believe in one God. We believer there is isn’t one God for Christians, one God for Jews, one God for Eskimos and one God for Muslims, but rather that there is only one God over all and for all.
If there were many God’s there would be many ways to be saved, but because there is only one God, who revealed himself in Jesus, salvation can only be through him.
2. Yes, because there is only one mediator
Here’s the problem: God and humans are enemies. You may not want to believe that, but that’s what Bible teaches. Looking at the state of the world, I would challenge anyone to say that people are inherently good and want to do what’s right, proper and honouring to God. The Bible says we are separated from each other and from God by sin. We all sin. God hates sin and we are God’s enemies. Massive problem. We need a mediator, a go-between, a negotiator, an intermediary. Interestingly, the different religions of the world recognise this to a degree and all claim to have intermediaries. African Tradition Religion claims the ancestors as mediators. Islam, the prophet Mohammed. Hinduism, Krishna. And the New Agers, the psychic medium down the road. The Bible, however, says:
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (v5)
According to Bible, God has provided the mediator between God and us. Notice it says between “God and Men”, not “Men and God”. It’s not as if humans could form a committee and appoint an ambassador to go negotiate with God in heaven. God has to provide a mediator, and he did so out of his own free will and good pleasure – in the person of God the Son. No other mediator will do because only a God-man can mediate between God and Men and Jesus was fully God and fully man. As man he can bear man’s sins. But as a man he could only bear his own sins or the sins of another, but as fully God he could bear all the sins of all God’s people for all the ages. In all of history there is only one qualified mediator.
3. Yes, because there is only one ransom
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.. (v5-6)
When Paul says that Jesus gave himself, he is talking about Jesus’ death. Jesus was not tragically killed, he willingly gave himself. And Jesus death was a ransom.
We’ve heard about ransoms recently. In the week before I wrote this post ISIS was demanding $200 million ransom from the Japanese government, or they would behead two Japanese nationals held hostage. A ransom is a price paid to secure release or to buy freedom. Here is the crucial truth we must grasp: we are hostages to a far more evil power than ISIS. We are hostages to that power who inspires people and organisations like ISIS. Today I heard ISIS beheaded one of the two hostages.
The Bible says we are hostages to Satan, sin and death. ISIS may kill you and you will die in this world; but to die as a hostage of sin, death and Satan you die, not only in this world, but in the world to come.
We may think the war ISIS is waging is bad (and it is terrible), but there is a far more terribly war going on that we cannot see. It is a war for the very souls of human beings who without Christ face an eternity in hell. We are hostages and we need ransom. Only Jesus the God-man could provide the ransom. Only Jesus the God-man could bear the wrath of God for our sin so we can be forgiven. Only Jesus the God-man rose again from being dead so that we can have new life even after dying in this world.
There is no other suitable ransom: no amount of religion, or good works, or money, or prayers, or transcendental meditation, or positive thinking, or psychic healing will be a satisfactory ransom; only the death of Christ will do.
4. Yes, because there is only one truth
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (v3-4)
When someone becomes a Christian, they come to the knowledge of the truth. In the midst of a world of competing truths and opinions, Christianity is the truth. Note that this verse presumes that we are born not knowing the truth. The trust does not come from inside out, but from outside in. When we turn to Christ our “eyes” are opened to see the world as it truly is, the true state of our hearts and we start to perceive the great majesty of Christ. If there were many ultimate truths, there would be many ways to God.
5. Yes, because there is only one human race
There is only one race – the human race. We are all, each one of us, descendants of Adam and Noah. Within the human race there are different cultures, languages and ethnicities, but we are all brothers and sisters created in the image of God. This is way racism is not only an affront to people, but an affront to God. How dare one creature of the dust think he is superior to another?
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men (human beings), the man Christ Jesus… (v5)
It’s not as if there was one mediator for Indians, and one for Jewish people, and one for white people, and one of black people. No. One human race, one mediator.
6. Yes, because there is only one holy book
v7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
Paul was appointed. The implication is that he was appointed by God. Paul was an “apostle” or official spokesperson for God. These verses that we are reading are not only Paul’s words, but God’s words. Many books today claim to be holy scriptures and are full of ideas and philosophies. Only one book has been authorised by God and is centred on a God-man who died as a ransom.
Just Jinger sings the words, “It doesn’t matter what book you read”. They are quite wrong, it matters a great deal. If there were many Gods, many mediators, many ransoms, many ultimate truths and many races, there would be many holy books. But since there is only one God, only one mediator, only one ransom, only one ultimate truth, and only one human race, there can be only one holy book – the Bible.
Who should we respond to the uniqueness of Christ?
If you are not convinced that Jesus is the only mediator, you owe it to yourself to investigate more the claims of Christ. To start I suggest reading through Mark’s Gospel in the New Testament while asking God to reveal his truth to you.
If there are not many ways to God, but only one way, then it’s crucial to understand what that way is and to follow it. Pray and work towards growing in your understanding of the Bible. Get connected to a good church.
The uniqueness of Christ is the cause of all Christian persecution and martyrdom. Over last the two weeks Muslims in Niger have destroyed 70 churches as a result of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Mohammed. More people have been killed in Nigeria by Boko Haram than have died in the entire Ebola epidemic. It takes courage to be a Christian. It takes courage to affirm the Jesus is Lord and no-one else. It takes courage to speak the truth in love.
John Stott, a Christian preacher and author, wrote:
“There is an urgent need for such heralds and teachers (of the gospel) today. It is not enough that the Son of God was born, died and was raised, or that he is the uniquely qualified God-man, ransom and mediator; this great good news must be made known, both heralded and taught, throughout the world.”