Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What—or Who—is the Way to Eternal Life?

By S. Michael Durham

A priority for Real Truth Matters is to emphasize the fact that Jesus is the gospel. It is a sad day when men say positive things and attach the title “gospel” to it and Jesus is left out of the equation. When everything is labeled the good news about Jesus it is odd that Jesus is hardly mentioned. Often people tell me how little their pastor speaks of Jesus. Recently at a celebrated Christian concert a worship leader from the largest church in the United States sang and never once uttered the lovely name of the Savior. Do you find that strange, as I do, or am I singing out of the wrong hymnal?

This morning I was meditating on Jesus’ words to His disciples before His arrest in John 14:4-6:

“And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

According to Jesus, the disciples knew where He was going and the way there. He was going to the Father and they supposedly knew the way to the Father. But Thomas interrupts—if not contradicts—Jesus and says, “We don’t have any idea of where you are going; so how could we possibly know the way there?” Jesus’ answer is famous. It is often memorized and quoted in sermons, witnessing encounters, and gospel tracts. It has become an evangelical pep rally cheer: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Our Lord’s answer forcefully declares two things. First, He needed no Mediator to get to the Father. He was the way to the Father. He went on to explain to Thomas that since he had seen Jesus, Thomas had seen the Father. Our Lord didn’t need anyone to lead Him to God. He was His own way to God. Therefore, since “you believe in God,” He asks them, “believe also in Me.”

Second, Jesus is powerfully stating that He, Himself, is the gospel. “I am going to the Father and since you know Me you know the way to the Father for I am the way, the truth and the life.” Most readers will probably say, “Well, of course, Jesus is the way to God, the Father. Everyone knows that. Jesus died on the cross and rose again so that we can get to God.” Yes, and praise the Lord that is true. He did die and rise again. But at the time He said this He hadn’t died yet. But He emphatically says He was the way to God even before His death.

Let me mix this up a little more. The disciples did not believe in either His death or His resurrection at this point. Even after it happened they didn’t believe in His death in an evangelical way. When the early reports came in that Jesus had risen from the dead, they didn’t believe what they were hearing. Yet, in spite of their unbelief in His death and resurrection, they were regenerated and had eternal life. Jesus removes any doubt of their spiritual condition when He said, “And where I go you know, and the way you know.” So how could they be saved if they didn’t believe in His death or resurrection?

The answer is the same as it was for any saint prior to Calvary—they believed God. They trusted God to be integral and faithful to Himself. For the disciples, they believed Jesus. They trusted in Him, in spite of the fact, they understood little of what He said. Am I suggesting that you or I need not believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection? That we can doubt it and still be saved? No, of course not! His death and resurrection are integral to who Jesus is and to God’s faithfulness. If we doubted the validity of either His death or resurrection we could not truthfully call ourselves a Christian.

All I want to show is that Jesus is the gospel, meaning the good news is Jesus and not just what Jesus did. In fact, it is because of who Jesus is that His death can save, and it was because of who Jesus was that He was raised from the dead. His death and resurrection do not legitimize Him but validate Him. His sacrifice in our place does not make Him “the way, the truth and the life.” He was already all of that and that is why His death can save.

Many people believe the historical fact of Jesus’ death and resurrection but they aren’t true Christians. And when they die they will not be allowed to enter the Kingdom of God’s dear Son. Why? Because they don’t believe in Jesus—they don’t believe Him to be enough. They do not see Him to be “the way, the truth and the life.” They do not love Him because they have never seen His glorious beauty and excellent virtue. All they see and all they know is a ticket master that has supposedly punched their ticket. He might as well take off His holy white garment and thrust off His golden belt and put on the garb of a train conductor. He is not altogether lovely to them. He is not the gospel to them; Jesus is not good news to them. He’s just a ticket puncher. And they love the ticket more than the Conductor.

Jesus is more than a conductor on the train to glory. He’s more than the train to glory. He is the glory. And if you know Jesus you have witnessed that glory, “the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

1 comment:

  1. AMEN!!! Praise the Lord that JESUS is ENOUGH!