In today’s postmodern culture, the one point of orthodoxy is this: “There is no absolute truth.” Many people argue that absolute truth does not exist. Instead, morality and religion are simply preferences with no right or wrong. Therefore, everybody can be right even if their beliefs contradict one another.
Of course, postmodernism is self-defeating. When a person says, “there is no truth,” he is making an absolute truth statement. By asserting there is no right or wrong, he is making a moral judgment that all truth claims are wrong. As a result, the postmodernist’s argument is inconsistent.
We must understand the crumbling foundation of postmodernism, because Jesus makes absolute exclusive claims about the path to heaven. Without seeing that postmodernism makes absolute exclusive truth claims, a person may see Jesus’ words as being narrow minded and antiquated. However, everyone believes in absolute truth.
What does Jesus say? In John 14:6, Jesus responds to Thomas’ question about the way to heaven. Jesus had finished telling the disciples that he was going to leave. He told them that they knew the way to follow him. Despite Jesus’ statement, Thomas did not understand. After asking about the way to heaven, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
The way to heaven is not through a path but a person. Thomas thought in terms of direction. Imagine taking your Garmin and putting “heaven” in the address bar for your destination. This is how Thomas viewed Jesus’ statement. On the contrary, Jesus meant that by trusting in him as the Son of God and the only means of forgiveness, then you will go to heaven. At the same time, Jesus is the way to truth. As God, his words are perfect. Therefore, he is trustworthy. If a person contradicts Jesus, then Jesus is right and that person is wrong.
Jesus is also the only way to life. Eternal life is a major theme throughout the Gospel of John. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.” A sinner can only have forgiveness and everlasting life through Jesus Christ alone. John 3:36 continues by giving the opposite consequence, “Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” By rejecting Jesus as the only way, a person will die in their sins. God as a good judge will declare the sinner, “Guilty!” Then, he will be sent to an eternal hell.
Back in John 14:6, Jesus stresses the point of exclusivity again. He says that “No one comes to the father except through me.” Jesus is the only mediator between God and man. Therefore, the world has many paths to hell, but there is only one door to heaven. That door is Jesus Christ.
What are the implications? First, universalism is false. When a person dies, he will either go to heaven or hell. Unfortunately, many people will go to hell. Second, all religions of the world cannot be equally true. Jesus Christ makes an absolute truth claim which cannot be reconciled with the beliefs of atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. Hence, religious adherents from the various perspectives cannot join hands and pretend that our differences do not matter when the truth about eternity is at stake. Third, either Jesus is a liar or he is true. However, he cannot be one of many ways to heaven. His words demand absolute acceptance or outright rejection. What do you choose?
At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he started out by saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:15). Since this statement is Jesus’ first recorded words in the Gospel, then it sets forth one of the main themes of his ministry. Given its importance, what does Jesus mean by “repent and believe?”
The Louw Nida Greek lexicon defines the word, “repent,” as “to change one’s way of life as the result of a complete change of thought and attitude with regard to sin and righteousness.” Repentance is a new relationship with sin. Instead of embracing sinful thoughts and actions, a repentant individual now agrees with God that sin is lawbreaking. As a result, he desires to hate sin and to love God.
The New Testament uses the term in three ways. First, repentance is a description of those saved from God’s wrath. Jesus says “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3). If sin is still your friend, then God is your enemy. Second, heaven rejoices when sinners repent. After telling the parable of the woman who found her lost coin, Jesus says, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Lk. 15:10). Heaven erupts in celebration over one sinner who turns from his rebellion against God. Third, by God’s grace, a changed life produces the fruit of repentance. John the Baptist warned the Pharisees and Sadducees to “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt. 3:8). A person may believe in God’s existence, but if he still loves, cherishes, and enjoys his pet sins, then God’s grace has not transformed him. Therefore, he is still lost.
If one side of the coin is repentance, then the other side is believing. The Greek lexicon defines it as “to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance.” Jesus uses this term in John 3:18. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” If a person does not trust in the Savior alone, then Jesus says that this person is already sentenced for hell.
When a person believes in the Lord, he trusts in Jesus’ truth claims. He believes that Jesus is the Son of God, died on the cross for sinners, defeated the grave three days later, ascended to heaven, and will one-day return. However, believing is more than mental assent.
For example, if I build a wooden chair and allow you to inspect it, you may agree that it is well-built and can support your weight. Yet, you do not show that you trust in the chair until you bend your knees and set your entire weight upon it. At that moment, you personally trust that the chair will support you. In the same way, many people know that Jesus is God and agree that the gospel is true; however, they have not personally trusted in Jesus Christ alone for the removal of sins and everlasting life.
Do we only repent and believe once? No! Christians continually turn from sin and believe in Jesus. It is a fruit of being born again. Therefore, if you are a Christian, continue to flee from sin and run to Christ.
Last week, we examined the question, “Is Man Good?” After looking at the Biblical testimony, we concluded that man has been corrupted by sin. In fact, we have evil desires, motivations, thoughts, and actions. All of us are lawbreakers. Hence, we stand condemned before the perfect, good judge since we have rebelled against him. In these dire circumstances, is there any hope for forgiveness?
Yes, if we look to Christ crucified. At the cross, Jesus accomplished six things. First, he died for sinners. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities.” Jesus physically felt the pain of nails going through his flesh. He agonized in misery before giving way to suffocation. As a result, Jesus died for those who transgressed his law. He took their place even though he is perfect so that sinners could have eternal life.
Second, Jesus satisfied God’s wrath against sin. Since God is a good judge, he loves holiness and hates sin. Therefore, God rightly has a controlled wrath against our sin. When Jesus went to the cross, God placed him there “as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:25). Propitiation means to satisfy. With his sacrifice, Jesus paid the penalty for sinners through his perfect atonement. Being God, he had the quantity and the quality of payment to satisfy the Father. Since he is man, he had a human nature which could die as a sacrifice.
Third, Jesus’ death gives us his righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” This is the great exchange. Christ traded spots with sinners. He took the sins of his people and died a condemned man. Yet, condemned sinners receive the reward for Christ’s perfect life which is eternal life.
Fourth, for those who believe in Jesus, there is no fear of hell. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Christ’s sacrifice accomplish redemption once and for all. “It is finished” (John 20:30). Therefore, if you repent of your sins and trust in Jesus alone, then you have peace with God. Your sins will not be brought forward as evidence against you on the judgment day.
Fifth, Jesus’s sacrifice sets us free from the power of sin. Romans 6:6 says, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” The cross broke the links in the chain of sin for Christians. We have been set free to serve the Lord.
Sixth, Jesus’ death on the cross reveals God’s love and glory. He sent his son to die for ungodly sinners. On the tree, Jesus shows the glory of God’s wisdom, power, and holiness for accomplishing his plan. However, this good news is not for everyone. The Bible does not teach universalism. Many people will perish in the fires of hell, because they reject the gospel. There are only two choices. Either Jesus bore your sin on the cross or you will bear your sin forever and ever in hell.
Brandon was born and raised near Springfield, IL. He graduated from Illinois College in 2007 with a B.A. in History and from Moody Theological Seminary in 2010 with a Master of Divinity. He is a PhD student in Historical Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City and an ACBC certified Biblical counselor. In April 2016 Brandon accepted the call to pastor at Faith Baptist. He loves history and reading and has a heart for street preaching and evangelism.