by Bill Nugent
In an English literature classroom in a college in the eastern U.S. in the late 1950s, sat a student named R.C. Sproul. He was barely nineteen years old and he had recently made a commitment to receive Christ as Savior and to follow Him as Lord. It was known around campus that Sproul made a radical commitment to Christ.
This young man, R. C. Sproul (a.k.a. Robert Campbell Sproul, 1939-2017), would go on to become one of the greatest conservative theologians of the twenty-first century. His books, articles and daily radio show would have an enormous impact on many lives, including my own.
The instructor asked: “Mr. Sproul, do you believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven?” Sproul was completely caught off guard and was flustered and embarrassed with all eyes on him. This was an English class, maybe in a philosophy class such a bold question would be appropriate. Sproul stammered and muttered something like “I believe in Jesus . . . and . . . Jesus has said in John 14:6 that He is the only way to the Father so I guess that’s why I do, in fact, believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven.” The instructor probed him a bit more, ridiculed his answer and summarily moved on to other matters.
On his way out the door after class, the instructor, who was a woman (that too was a bit unusual in the 1950s) took Sproul aside and apologized for confronting him publicly about his personal beliefs. Sproul shrugged it off and accepted the apology. The experience got him to think deeper about his faith and the reasons why he believed in the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ.
On hearing this vignette from R.C. Sproul, I too have given deep thought as to what I would say if someone asked me if Jesus is the only way to heaven. To outsiders, it seems simplistic and closed minded to say that Christ is the only way. We live in a plural society where all belief systems are (supposedly) tolerated. In spite of the current postmodern pluralism, there are thought police marching to and fro, trying to bring cultural conformity and enforce political correctness. The thought police are not too fond of Jesus at all, much less His claim of being the only way to a blissful afterlife.
I must acknowledge the fact that 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). Someone might object and ask: “How could Christ make such an exclusive claim?” If someone asked you if you believe Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, how would you answer?
I would start by saying that Christianity is not just another works based religion. In Christianity you don’t earn heaven by doing good deeds like showing kindness to others. In Christianity, good deeds are important but they don’t earn heaven. The Christian Gospel is the claim that Jesus Christ died for our sins. Christ suffered and died while taking the penalty of our sins upon Himself. Christ is the sin bearer. This puts Christianity in a class by itself.
If Christianity were just another works based religion, Christians could point to other faiths and just say that if you do good works according to Hinduism, Buddhism or Islam you’ll get to heaven. In Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam there is no savior. Under those faiths you are your own savior. You save yourself by good works. Christianity is the only faith which has a Savior who actually saves you from your sins. Your and my good works are not good enough; only Christ’s work, in dying for our sins, can save us.
For the outsider, the question remains: “Why should I believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead to free me from the consequences of my sins?” My answer to that would be to say that Jesus proved that He is the Son of God by coming in fulfillment of over three hundred messianic prophecies written in the Old Testament hundreds of years before His birth. No one else in all of world history can make this claim. (See J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy, Revell, 1980.) Jesus also worked miracles in front of eyewitnesses.
Jesus is the promised Messiah of Israel. The Old Testament prophets foretold that the coming redeemer (Christ) would suffer and die and bear the penalty of the sins of the people. “The LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
In addition to fulfilling prophecies Christ worked miracles in front of eyewitnesses and these are recorded in the New Testament. In the centuries since Christ’s coming, many miracles, dare I say millions of miracles, have happened in Christian gatherings where the Gospel of Christ is preached and honored. This is continuing proof of the divine origin of the Gospel of Christ. A central claim of the Gospel of Christ is that Christ is the only way to God. This is because Christ is the only One who died for our sins.
When Jesus first gathered disciples on the hills of Galilee nearly two millennia ago, He didn’t simply say “I’m Jesus, listen to Me, obey Me, follow Me.” On the contrary, He worked dramatic miracles such as healing the eyesight of people who were born blind and healing those who were crippled and even raising the dead. (See John 9:1-11, Luke 7:11-22.) People listened to Him, saw the miracles, and followed Him!
Christianity is accredited by miracles! Jesus said: “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me and I in the Father” (John 10:37-38 NASB).
Jesus foretold that His followers would also work miracles. Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father” (John 14:12 NASB). In the nearly two thousand years since the time of Christ there have been millions of miracles worked in answer to the prayers of Christians around the world. Every answer to prayer is a miracle. These millions of miracles give further proof of the truth of the Gospel!
Christianity spread all over the world because of the miracles worked by the apostles, disciples and missionaries. The miracles, including many miraculous healings, backed up the preaching of the Gospel of salvation. Jesus never led an army or sat on an earthly royal throne. As the poem, One Solitary Life, adapted from a sermon by James Allan Francis, published in 1926, says of Christ in its closing stanza: “all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings who ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.”
Christ taught things contrary to the machismo of first century Hebrews. He said to turn the other cheek and go the extra mile. These peaceful words were against the worldly thinking of the day, and even our own day. In Latin it’s called contra mundum (against the world). Christ does permit self-defense in Luke 22:36. Yet, in spite of Christ’s difficult sayings, people believed and obeyed Him because they saw the fulfilled prophecies and the miracles. They knew Christ spoke from God. They believed Christ’s claim to be the Son of God and His claim to be the only way to God. Christ’s gift of salvation and His teachings were accepted far and wide over the centuries so that billions of people claim to follow Christ today.
To sum up, I say that Christianity is proven by three hundred prophecies and three million miracles. Three million miracles is a very conservative estimate. No other faith comes close. The religion with the best miracles wins and that religion is the Christian faith. Say to the unbeliever “My religion can beat up your religion!” A central claim of the Christian faith is that Jesus is the ONLY way to receive forgiveness of sins and entrance into heaven. All of the claims of Christ are ultimately backed up by three hundred prophetic fulfillments and three million miracles. Peter, the apostle, reiterated the claim of Christ to be the only way, when he said: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Buddha doesn’t have 300 prophetic fulfillments and 3 million miracles.
Vishnu doesn’t, Shiva doesn’t, Krishna doesn’t, Mohammed doesn’t, Charles Darwin doesn’t, Karl Marx doesn’t have three hundred prophetic fulfillments and three million miracles.
We must be aware that there are occultic signs and tricks. The Bible predicts that the antichrist will come with lying wonders and occultic signs. Even in the days of Moses, when Moses stood before Pharaoh, the magicians worked wonders. However, the miracles through Moses were greater than the secret arts of the magicians. (See Exodus 7:10-12.)
If someone asks me why I believe Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven I will simply say: “Three Hundred fulfilled Prophecies and Three million miracles!”
Someone objects and argues that my analysis is a crude appeal to external proofs. Christianity is a matter of the heart! He says: “I know Christ is real because He lives in my heart!” I agree. Christ lives in my heart also. God revealed Christ to me many years ago and I received Christ as Savior and I follow Him as Lord. God has given internal and external witness to the truth claims of Christ. God has given us the internal witness of Christ in our hearts. God has also given us proof of Christianity in the form of fulfilled prophecies and miracles. We should thank God for that!
If you haven’t yet received Christ as Savior, you can do so right now. He’s only a prayer away. “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). I invite you to turn to Christ today to receive forgiveness of sins and everlasting life!
Steps to salvation:
Jesus said “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).
Prayer to receive salvation:
“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for us at the terrible cost of His suffering and death on our behalf I invite you to pray this simple prayer:
“Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
If you prayed this prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!