Rev. Houck is pastor of Peace Protestant Reformed Church in Lansing, Illinois.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
In the first part of this chapter, Jesus tells His disciples about His Father’s house. Jesus is going to that house to prepare a place for each of His people. But Thomas does not understand what Jesus is talking about. He declares to Jesus that he does not know where the Lord is going and he does not know the way to get there. Thomas knows that Jesus’ Father is God Almighty Himself, but he does not know where He is and how to get to Him. That is the question that has plagued mankind from the beginning of the world. Men from all over the world and throughout history have asked, “Where is God, and how do I go to Him?”
That question has been answered in many different ways. Each answer has brought about the invention of a different god and a new religion. In the ancient world of the Bible, each nation or territory had its own gods. There were hundreds of them. Each one of these gods was held up as the true God, and the service and rites of each were the way to the true God.
In our modern world there are many world religions that claim to have the true God or gods and the way to them. The following are the religions listed in a book on world religions: Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, Buddhism, Jains, Hinduism, Sikhs, Parsis, Zoroastrianism, Baha’i, Islam, Judaism, and ethnic religions. Most of these religions proclaim that they are the true religion and the only way to the true God.
Today, however, we see something that is relatively new. In the spirit of ecumenism, we are told that it does not matter which religion we embrace because they all lead to the true God. A Protestant minister, a Roman Catholic priest, a holy man of Islam, and a Buddhist monk can all participate in a united worship service because they all serve the same god. We are told that there are many ways to God. Pick the way that suits you best. They will all lead you to God. This philosophy is not only the view of modernists, but many in “Reformed churches” embrace this idea. Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists are all going to heaven. They will all find the true God.
The answer to the question, “Where is God and how do I go to Him?” is found in the words, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life….” Jesus is the way. He is the way to God. He is the road that leads to God. Look at verse 9: “Jesus saith unto him …he that hath seen me hath seen the Father….” Look at verse 11, “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me….” Jesus is so much the way to God, that when we see Jesus we see the Father. Jesus is in the Father, and the Father is in Him.
This truth is found in many other passages of Scripture. Jesus says in Matthew 11:27, “…no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” Concerning Christ the apostle Paul says in Ephesians 2:18, “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”
Jesus makes it clear in this text that He is the only way to God: “…no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Jesus does not say that there are many ways to God and He is one of them. He does not encourage us to pick any religion and be faithful to its teaching and we will find God. Jesus says, “I am the only way to God. There is no other way. No one will find God unless he goes through Me.” Thus we read concerning the name Jesus in Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
This truth has something very important to say about the modern religious scene. It teaches us that Jews do not know the true God and are not going to heaven. Muslims have not found the way to God. They are lost. Those who adhere to Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and Baha’i, even though they may be very religious, are under the condemnation of God and will spend eternity in hell. Why? None of them embrace the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.
That brings us to the question, “How is Jesus Christ the way to God?” He is in two ways. First of all, He is the way to God because of what He has done for us. We read in Hebrews 9:12, “…by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He shed the blood of atonement. He shed the blood that alone satisfies the justice of God and makes us acceptable in God’s sight. After dying for us, Christ took that blood which He had shed, entered into the real temple of God in heaven, and presented the blood of atonement to the Father. By that action He obtained eternal redemption. He opened the way into the most holy place, where God dwells. The veil that blocked the way has been rent from top to bottom. Jesus Christ has made a road to God for us by suffering and dying for us. That is how He is the way.
Christ is the way to God also from the point of view of His work in us. We by nature are totally depraved. We not only do not know the way to God, we don’t even want to know the way. We are not even looking for Him. We read inRomans 3:11, “…there is none that seeketh after God.” We seek God only when Christ opens our hearts, regenerates us, and gives us faith and repentance. Christ must put the love of God within us, before we will desire God. Christ must irresistibly call us out of darkness into His marvelous light, if we are to seek God and His salvation. Jesus puts it this way in John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me….” Only Christ can bring a person to God, because only Christ, by His Spirit, renews the heart and gives faith in God.
Jesus not only professes to be the Way, but He also proclaims that He is the Truth. Before we consider that matter, let us notice, negatively, that all other religions are the lie rather than the truth. Judaism is the Lie. Islam is the Lie. Buddhism is the Lie. Confucianism is the Lie. Taoism is the Lie. All non-Christian religions are the Lie. They tell us that their teachings and rites will lead a person to God, but they do not. They lead us away from God. All non-Christian religions lead us to idols. Their gods are not the true God. They are nothing. The apostle says in I Corinthians 8:4, “We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.”
That non-Christian religions are the lie means that they are of the devil. They are the devil’s counterfeits. The devil does not want man to find the true God. Therefore he devised something that appears to be the way to God, but that is instead the worship of the devil. Thus we read in I Corinthians 10:20: “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God….” When the adherents to false religion go through their rituals and ceremonies, they worship the devil, not the true God.
That means that billions of people have been deceived. There are countless numbers of people who embrace the teachings of non-Christian religions. They think that they are serving the true God or gods. But they have been deceived. The devil has tricked them, just as he tricked Eve in the Garden of Eden. They have embraced the Lie rather than the Truth.
But notice what Jesus says in this text, “I am the way, the truth, and the life….” Jesus is the Truth. He does not say, “I have the Truth,” or “I give you the truth.” He says, “I am the Truth.” There are many other passages in the Bible that teach that Jesus is the Truth. In the first chapter of John we have verses 14 and 17, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, …full of grace and truth.” We read inJohn 1:17, “…grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Jesus Christ is the embodiment of the Truth. He is all Truth. Outside of Jesus Christ there is only the Lie.
Jesus is the Truth because He is God, and God is Truth. We read in II Corinthians 1:18, “But as God is true….” God is True. That is the nature of His very being. The psalmist says in Psalm 108:4, “Thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.”
Not only is Jesus the Truth because He is God, but He reveals to us the God of all Truth. When the eternal Son of God came into this world, He revealed the Truth. He brought Truth with Him andshowed it to His elect people. He revealed the truth to us when He preached and taught. He revealed the truth to us when He performed miracles. He revealed the truth to us by His suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. He reveals the truth to us by His Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, whom He poured out upon His church on the day of Pentecost. Thus we read in I John 5:20, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true….” Because Jesus came and worked in our hearts an understanding of the truth, we know the true God.
That Jesus is the Truth is related to His being the Way. He is the Way because He is the Truth. Jesus Christ is the Way that leads to God because, as the Truth, He is the revelation of God. When someone has Christ, he has God. That is exactly what Jesus told Philip. We read inJohn 14:9, “…He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?”
That Jesus Christ is the Truth who reveals God to us implies something very important about Christianity. True Christianity is not a religion of feeling and doing, first of all. That is the emphasis of the non-Christian religions of the world and of false Christianity. Eastern religions are pantheistic in nature. They believe that everything is god. What we have to do is get in harmony with the universe and then we will be in harmony with god. Thus we have to feel right with the world. We have to let our inner nature lead us. “Follow your heart,” they say. World religions tell us that our beliefs are not nearly as important as doing service to our God and getting that good feeling when we do it. That is why there can be so much cooperation between religions. Differences in beliefs are minimized so that we can all work together doing what has to be done.
But true Christianity is not that way. It puts the emphasis on belief. A Christian is someone who believes the truth. The Christian knows that there is truth. That truth is revealed in Christ and Christ is revealed in the Holy Scriptures. Thus Scripture is the truth. The Christian does not go to human sources to try to find the truth. The Christian goes to Holy Scripture to find God, Christ, and the truth.
That is so true, that when a Christian believes on Christ for salvation, he believes what the Bible says about Christ. A person cannot be a true Christian unless he believes the truth that is in Holy Scripture. There is no other way of believing in Jesus. A true Christian believes all that is written in the Word of God. By believing the truth written down in Holy Scriptures, we believe in Christ who is Himself the truth. Thus we learn the Way to God.
That brings us to the last point, which has to do with life. Jesus says, “I am the life.” Before we look at that, let us notice that there is no life in the non-Christian religions of the world. All the great religions of the world hold out to their people some kind of wonderful life to come. The Muslim is told that if he lives a good life or gives his life for the cause of the faith, he will enter paradise. In paradise he will lie on soft couches and drink cups of wine handed to him by beautiful maidens. The Hindu is promised nirvana. First he must go through a series of incarnations. If he is good in this life, he is incarnated as a higher being until he finally becomes one with the universe.
All of this, however, is nothing but the lie. The non-Christian religions of the world cannot give life. Not in this lifetime or in one to come. The religions of the world can give only one thing, and that is death. They give death in this life. An idolater knows nothing of peace, joy, and satisfaction. His life is nothing but death. In the life to come he will be cast into the lake of fire, which burns with fire and brimstone. That is the second death. Thus we read in Revelation 21:8, “Idolaters…shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” What is more, the non-Christian religions of the world are nothing but death, because they do not have Jesus Christ. We read in John 3:36, “…he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
But for the Christian it is different. Jesus proclaims, “I am the way, the truth, and the life….” Jesus is life. He doesn’t just have life. It is not simply that life is in His possession or that He is the source of all life. Jesus Christ is life. We read in John 5:26, “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” Jesus says in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection, and the life….” Jesus has life in Himself. He is eternal life. There is no life apart from Him.
Because Jesus Christ is life itself, He is the only source of life. All life that there is came from Jesus Christ. The natural life of this world came from Christ, for He created the world. Jesus Christ gives life to the angels and to devils. He gives life to plants and trees, to birds and bees, to fish and animals, and even to man. Jesus gives spiritual life to man. That anyone knows God, trusts in Him, and loves Him is because Jesus Christ gives that person life. Regeneration is the giving of life. It is the giving of eternal life, resurrection life, the life of Christ. The Scriptures are filled with passages that teach us this. We read in John 1:4, “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” InJohn 6:35 we read, “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life….”
What is this life that Jesus gives to those who believe on Him? It is the life of fellowship with God. God’s life is the covenant relationship of love that exists between the three persons of the Trinity. The Father knows and loves the Son and the Spirit. They know and love Him. They are friends who walk and talk together. They have communion with one another. Christ’s life is the very same. It is His covenant relationship with the triune God. He knows and loves God. He walks and talks with God. He has communion with God. That is the life He gives to us who believe on Him. Eternal life is the life of fellowship and friendship with God in Christ. Because Christ has given us life, we know God. We love God. We know God’s love of us. We are the friends of God. We have communion and fellowship with God, all because Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the way to God because He reveals the truth to us, and gives to us eternal life. That is why we are Christians, not Muslims, Jews, or Buddhists. Jesus Christ is the only way to God.