About a month ago, I felt like I was in a spiritual depressing tailspin. Whether it was my more-than-two-week sickness, a constant feeling of exhaustion, my wired-personality, spiritual warfare, or some of all of the above, life looked dark and gloomy.
As I went to bed, I decided to browse the internet—not always a good thing—starting with articles on spiritual depression. I came across megachurch pastor Jarrid Wilson, who committed suicide over three months ago after having struggled with depression for many years.
Since the internet is a never-ending “pit” of articles, from the good, the bad, and the ugly, I certainly had my share of reading, including a variety of opinions about Joshua Harris’ recent deconversion from Christianity.
The spectrum of Christianity ranges from the ultra-conservative to the ultra-liberal. No wonder that outsiders may not be able to see the forest for the trees—to see the gospel for what it truly is. As I pondered all the various opinions, I had to see everything in light of the claims of Jesus Christ in order to keep my sanity.
Jesus’ Three Claims
One of Jesus’ most controversial statements is: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Without any vagueness, He claimed that He is the way. What does that mean?
It means that Jesus is the only way to the Father. All men’s own ways to reach and relate to God are entirely futile, even though they may feel good and right. His exclusive claim excludes any other way, including God’s own law, morality, conservatism, good works, other religions, etc.
He also claimed that He is “the truth.” Apart from Jesus, there is only deception and delusion. If you were to throw away your winning one hundred million dollar lottery ticket, you would be left with zero dollars. The same is true with rejecting Jesus as “the truth.” You are then left with what isn’t true.
Jesus ended His three claims with “I am . . . the life.” As God, Jesus has life within Himself (John 1:4). He’s eternally self-existing. Everyone and everything derives life from Him, whether natural or spiritual. The fact that He is “the life” means there’s no spiritual, eternal life apart from Him.
At the end of His three claims, Jesus summarized them with these words: “No one comes to the Father except through me.” His exclusive claims exclude all other imaginary ways to the Father. There’s certainly no uncertainty about what Jesus claimed for Himself.
The Three Possibilities
While I’m not sure who first expressed this trilemma, there are basically three possibilities when it comes to Jesus’ exclusive claims. He is either an incredible liar, a delusional lunatic, or the Lord who He claims to be.
If He was a liar, Christianity is by far the greatest deception that mankind has ever experienced. The far-reaching consequences of Jesus as a liar are incomprehensible. Additionally, if He was a delusional lunatic, there’s simply no comparison with others who’ve had delusional conceptions of who they were. Or, He truly is who He claims to be: “The way, and the truth, and the life.”
The Bible expresses that one’s acceptance or rejection of Jesus’ claims isn’t so much an intellectual issue, but a moral one: “The light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19). It’s an innate love affair with the darkness.
The apostle Paul wrote that man, by nature, prefers to “suppress the truth” that he knows about God, “because God has shown it to them” (Rom. 1:18-19). Man prefers to exchange “the glory of the immortal God” for anything and everything else (Rom. 1:23)—emptiness over substance.
A Bigoted, Narrow-Minded Conviction
There are millions who reject any authentic expression of Christianity as bigoted, narrow-minded, racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, unloving, etc. That would certainly be true if Jesus was a liar or a lunatic.
What if He truly is “the way, and the truth, and the life,” as He claims to be? What if He truly is the only way to the Father—the only way to eternal bliss? The Bible is either God’s infallible word or it is not. If it is, this is the God of the Bible to whom Jesus is the only way: “In your presence there is fullness of Joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).
I’m fine if you consider me a bigot, narrow-minded, racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, or any other derogatory name, but you cannot claim that I’m unloving if I believe Jesus’ claims and Him as your only hope of salvation.
My only “crime” is seeking your temporal and eternal well-being, even if I Jesus’ claims were entirely untrue. I do agree that such “crimes” can be expressed with either know-it-all-pride or broken-hearted humility.
Certainly, I don’t want to force you into some Christian straightjacket that seemingly robs you of all your supposed freedom. Rather, if the claims of Jesus Christ are true, He’s the only possible freedom you can have: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
The Bottom Line
Undoubtedly, the bottom line is simple: Jesus’s exclusive claims or either true or false. While it may seem like circular reasoning, the determining factor is His resurrection. If He indeed rose from the dead, all His claims are true. On the other hand, if He didn’t rise from the dead, Christianity is the greatest hoax ever.
The apostle Paul expressed that with these words: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:17-19).
Throughout His ministry, Jesus certainly had His controversies, causing major divisions. For example, we read: “There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, ‘He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?’ Others said, ‘These are not the words of one who is possessed by a demon’” (John 10:19-21).
What do you believe about Him? Please don’t say He was a good teacher, advocating love and morality. His exclusive claims exclude that option. He claimed to be the only way to God, the Father, which He either is or isn’t. There are no grey areas when it comes His exclusive claims.
Jan Blonk was born and raised in the Netherlands (“yawn” is the Dutch equivalent for John). He permanently moved to the U.S. in 2001 and is the author of It’s All about Jesus: The Bible’s Grand Testimony, a one-year devotional about the person and work of Jesus Christ. All his books are used as a fundraiser for the spread of the gospel through reputable ministries: www.thecauseofchrist.com