”Jesus said…“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
For Christians, there is no getting around the fact that this door exists and proves all the alternatives false. Atheists are wrong: God is real and there is a world beyond this world and a life after this life. Pluralists make a grave mistake: There are not multiple doors leading to eternal life, and not all religions go to the same place. And universalists lie: Not everyone dies and goes to heaven. Simply dying does not usher anyone into paradise. The decision we make in this life for or against Christ ultimately determines where we go at life’s end. This assertion is non-negotiable if we are to accept Christ’s own words, but that doesn’t mean you are unloving or immoral for being a Bible-believing Christian. The question is how do you convey that truth?
Rather than condemning God for creating a narrow door, we should acknowledge none of us does this for our enemies. At home we do not throw open the front door to those who have harmed us, abused us, abandoned us, betrayed us, or maligned us. We do not leave a light burning to invite them in. We never welcome them into our home so we can love them and lavish goodness on them and feast with them. We are all hypocrites. God is better than us all. God owes us nothing, yet He has opened a door into His home.
These are hard words, but the world needs the truth. Our message is this: Don’t complain about the door. Don’t go searching for another door. Don’t try the thousands of doors of religion and ideology and philosophy. Don’t criticize the door. Don’t critique the door. Don’t just stare at the door. Don’t walk away from the door. And don’t place your hand on the wrong knob. Don’t walk through the wrong belief system—that is a trap. Instead, run to Jesus! Run through the narrow door that He’s swung wide open to you!
In our attempts to sound a little saner and more reasonable to the people around us, Christians have a long history of shooting to the stratosphere of theological detail. We lay out the cosmological argument, the ontological argument, the teleological argument, the intelligent design argument—but in the end, people are no closer to Jesus. For most people, He might as well be on Pluto.
The average person just needs to hear about Jesus. Whatever the conversation, your goal is to turn the topic to Him. When someone says, “There are all these other religions.” Well, let’s talk about Jesus. “A lot of paths lead to God.” Well, let’s see what Jesus thought about that. “Everyone goes to heaven.” Well, let’s check with Jesus. He is the expert on that.
The Bible is one story about one guy: Jesus. He is perfectly fascinating and totally compelling. Even though the majority of people in our focus groups barely knew anything about Him, they still liked Him. So, let’s play the only hand we’ve got. Let’s start with Jesus. Let’s finish with Jesus. Because if people are going to reject something, it should be Jesus. If they are going to trip over a rock, let’s clear the yard and leave them the right one.
As we convey this one story about one guy, we need to make sure people get the whole hard truth. If we actually believe in hell, in the hope of the Gospel, in the death and resurrection of Jesus, then we need to say that. Maybe not all at once. But “not all at once” does not mean “never at all.” Right from the start the best friends of Jesus preached that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). We can do no less.
Jesus said He has been given the duty of judging the world (John 5:19– 29). Ironically, they judged Him to be the sinner. People became so furious that Jesus would judge them that they had Him arrested, unjustly tried, and murdered. Now that Jesus has risen and ascended into heaven, we read in Revelation 20 that one of the final events in world history will be the return of Jesus seated upon a white throne as the judge of the living and the dead:
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11–15)
This is hard truth. But it is the whole truth that people need to know.
I was walking through an airport recently and saw a very elderly couple, easily in their 90s. They were shuffling along slowly, holding hands the whole way, looking incredibly happy together. Jesus wants a relationship with His people like that—intimate, connected, step-in-step, lifelong, always growing. And sharing that news with our world is anything but mean.
Some who hear that news will understand that the exclusive message of Christianity is actually a sign of God’s affection. Others will not. But our job is to make everyone aware. Salvation is a narrow door named Jesus. It is exclusive: There is one door. But the good news is that it is also inclusive: All are welcome. The narrow door divides heaven and hell, and it is closing. When people die, the door slams shut behind them, and they will stand before Jesus. He is the one who will judge them. Right now, He weeps, imploring them to run by faith through the door that He suffered, died, and rose to open. And we need to weep too, so that more people outside the church will see clearly that our “exclusive dogma” is an invitation for all to be included in the family of God. The decision is theirs, but you and I have to extend the invite. Who do you need to speak about Jesus to this week?