Jesus broke down barriers between male and female, rich and poor, Jews and Gentiles, young and old. And while he was a living example of inclusion, he also instructed us to follow him, exclusively:
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, but by me. John 14:6
Christianity: All are invited to follow an exclusive God.
And while this “exclusivity” feels really counter to modern politics and modern religion, 2 John and 3 John show us it was also contrary even in the early church.
Today’s focus on tolerance, acceptance, understanding, and inclusion are some of the same focuses of the early church. How do we love everyone, include all people groups, and also maintain the truth of who Jesus is, what he did, and that he is the only way to the Father?
1 John 2:21-22 No one who denies the Son has the Father.
As a Christ-follower, have you ever been asked that question of “so you’re telling me that you believe that the millions of Hindus, Muslims, etc, aren’t going to heaven”?
How do we handle that, without sounding unloving, self-righteous, or intolerant? The same way we can handle all questions of Christianity:
- On the majors, have conviction.
- On the minors, have tolerance
- In all things, have love. (John 13:35)
A pastor shared this in a sermon years ago and it stuck with me. I’ve tried to apply this approach to tough questions, debating conversations, or discipling new believers. And wouldn’t you agree, that belief in the saving blood of Jesus is a major? So we can (should!) approach those questions with conviction, with passion, and most of all, with love.
Jesus is my only rescue and he brought me beautiful salvation! I want to shout it from the rooftops that HE is the way to God – the best way, and THE ONLY way!
My earliest memories of my Grandpa Jerry include him wearing this belt buckle – and still the one he wears today. It doesn’t proclaim Jesus to be a smart prophet, kind human, or a good person. HE SAVES! Jesus alone SAVES! Like my Grandpa, I pray my life can be one that demonstrates the saving power of Jesus!
I love to share some of these additional scriptures with those questioning the exclusivity of Christ:
Acts 4:12 There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, and whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
Matthew 7:13 Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
Romans 3:22-26 The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe, for there is no distinction:for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Romans 10:9 Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 1:18-21 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
We don’t have all the answers, but we do know that we must believe in Jesus as our only hope for salvation. God’s ways are far beyond ours, and He will reveal all things in his time. Until then, lets heed John’s warnings in 2 & 3 John – letters to specific congregations and people, warning them to hold tight to the teaching of Christ. Don’t be deceived. Support the missionaries that are preaching the name of Christ. Continue walking in the truth. John was addressing this in the early church, just like it needs to be addressed today. Yes, still today, the exclusivity of Jesus’s saving blood is under attack.
2 John 1:9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
Holy Spirit, help us to be bold in proclaiming the name of Jesus! Give us opportunities to share your plan of salvation for all. Fill our hearts with an outpouring of love to cover our words. Thank you God, for including me and inviting me into an exclusive relationship with your Son. Amen.