Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2012 3:57 pm
The Messenger, January 19, 2012
No One Else
By WALLY BUMPAS
Special to The Messenger
Imagine an elementary classroom where the eager students are practicing basic addition. The teacher asks, “Boys and girls, what is two plus two?”
Arms fly up and the teacher begins calling on the students.
“Three!” cries one.
“That’s right,” says the teacher.
“Four,” says another.
“Correct,” says the teacher.
“Five,” says the next.
“Excellent answer,” says the teacher.
“Seven,” says another blossoming scholar.
“Wonderful,” says the teacher. “All of you are correct and very bright students.”
Hopefully, all will agree that the above scenario is ridiculous. But if it is ridiculous, why, then, is it considered enlightened and broad-minded when modern people say that all religions are true, being different paths to the same God? Christianity says that Jesus Christ is God. Islam (for example) says that He is not. How can both these things be true at the same time? The logic is so simple that even the math scholars quoted above could hardly miss it.
The issue of the exclusive nature of Christianity is a critical one facing the modern American church. If Christianity is true, then religions that contradict it are false.
This sounds so harsh and narrow-minded, and Christians are becoming increasingly afraid to say it. It’s so much more accepting and polite to say, “His religion is true for him, like mine is true for me. We’re both right in our own way.”
But this is no different from saying that two plus two equals three, four, five or seven, depending on which you prefer.
Our journey through the Heidelberg Catechism has brought us to a group of questions that address this thorny issue very directly.
Q. 29 — Why is the Son of God called “Jesus,” meaning “savior?” Answer: Because He saves us from our sins. Salvation cannot be found in anyone else; it is futile to look for salvation elsewhere. This narrow answer simply reflects the Bible. Consider two of the most well-known passages: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jesus in John 14:6). And, “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).
Q. 30 continues the thought and works it out a bit: Do those who look for their salvation and security in saints, in themselves or elsewhere really believe in the only savior Jesus? Answer: No. Although they boast of being His, by their deeds they deny the only savior and deliverer, Jesus. Either Jesus is not a perfect savior, or those who, in true faith, accept this savior have in Him all they need for their salvation.
This question narrows the discussion a bit. If Christianity is true, then there is salvation in no other religion or belief system. To go a step further, if a person says he is a Christian, then his hope and security should be in Christ alone, not in himself (his good works) or in other people. Christians “have in Him all they need for salvation,” because He is a “perfect savior.” What does that mean?
Suppose the math scholars in the earlier illustration all grow up and go to medical school. They are learning how certain medicines will cure certain diseases.
For example, penicillin will cure an infection, but Alka Seltzer will not. Many medical conditions are treatable and curable, but only with the correct medicine. If the wrong medicine is prescribed, at best nothing will happen. At worst the patient will worsen and die.
Our fictional students have overcome the lunacy of their fictional elementary teacher and wouldn’t dream of prescribing just any medicine they like to a suffering but curable patient. “It doesn’t matter, as long as they’re taking something.”
So it is with man in his fallen and sinful condition. Christ, the God-man, in His person and work, is able to address exactly what is morally and spiritually wrong with us.
No one else is qualified.
The disease is very specific and 100 percent fatal. The remedy is perfectly designed and 100 percent successful (when applied). This is why we must insist, with the Bible, that “there is salvation in no one else.”
If we give up this point in order to be more “tolerant,” then we’ve given up everything. We will have no gospel (good news) to tell.
What exactly is wrong with us, and how does Christ meet that need perfectly? That will be the topic of our next article.
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Editor’s note: Wally Bumpas serves as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Dyersburg.