If Bethel, a remote city on the western coast of Alaska, is your destination, you will arrive via boat along the Kuskokwim River or arrive by air. Travelers and tourists will note there are no roads leading to Bethel—except one. Each January, tourists and locals cheer on their favorite mushers at the Kuskokwin 300 Sled Dog Race—a nineteen-hour, three-hundred-mile race from Bethel to Aniak and back. It is that snow-packed path used by dog sleds that is the only road to Bethel.
To declare that all roads lead to Bethel would be to speak a lie, for the only road leading there begins at Aniak and is identifiable by crisscrossing sled tracks and a preponderance of packed snow. Long ago, Satan whispered, “All roads lead to God,” and many people have since accepted this lie as truth. All roads do not lead to God.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6, NASB). Jesus did not say, “I am a way.” We do not read of Christ proclaiming, “I am one of many ways.” There is exclusivity in Jesus’ claim, but we must either take Him at His word or reject Him as a braggart bloated with pride. There is no middle ground.
This point is well-made by C. S. Lewis’s trilemma: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (Mere Christianity, 1952, p. 55–56).
Muhammad, Confucius, the Dalai Lama, Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, and legions of other voices vying for the world’s attention do not speak with the authority of Christ Jesus. Each of these persons proclaims another way to God, but the roads paved by their teachings lead not to God but to the perils of God’s frightful judgment. Only Jesus can speak with authority about the way to heaven, because “the one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard” (John 3:31–32).
Nicodemus, a religious leader in Jerusalem, paid Jesus a visit by night (John 3:1–2). Hearing of Jesus’ miracles, this well-respected Pharisee greatly desired an audience with Jesus. Nicodemus opened the conversation with a complimentary statement: “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him” (verse 2).
Rather than acknowledge Nicodemus’ greeting, Jesus declares that, unless one is born again, he or she will never enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3). There is only one way to God. Apart from supernatural rebirth, there is no salvation.
But might the way to such spiritual rebirth also be found in the teachings of Muhammad or Krishna or, for that matter, anyone’s “higher power” of choice? Note Jesus’ statement a little later on in His conversation: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus did not say, “For God so loved the world that He gave Muhammad, Confucius, Odin, John Shelby Spong, Zeus, or Sylvia Browne, that whoever believes in any or all of them shall have everlasting life.” God’s plan of salvation involves His “one and only Son.” There is only one road to God.
Jesus came so that the world might be saved through Him. Apart from Him, there is no salvation, only judgment: “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:18–19, NASB). By the Lord Jesus’ own words, anyone who does not believe in Him is already judged.
Jesus’ claim of exclusivity is offensive to some. For this reason, believers who spurn the world’s version of inclusivity and tolerance are shamed. In some lands, Christians are even tortured and killed for their beliefs. Jesus foresaw the persecution that would be heaped upon those faithful to Him: “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:21–22, ESV).
There are not many roads to God; only one. God “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30) and trust in Jesus Christ, for “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). There is no other road to God, so “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3, NKJV).
Scripture says that anyone who teaches another way of salvation is a false teacher in danger of damnation (Galatians 1:6–9). Those who proclaim, “All roads lead to God,” are perverters of the gospel and deniers of “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
Residents of tall apartment buildings are thankful to have a fire escape. If the building in which they live were suddenly engulfed in flames and the elevators ceased operating, the residents would probably not whine about their lack of choices in finding an escape. Rather, they would gratefully take the one way to safety available to them. The fact that Jesus Christ is the only “fire escape” to rescue one from the certainty of hell should not be a cause of consternation but of praise.