Obviously the most famous Bible verse in the world. Many say it is pretty much the summarization of the whole message the Bible sends to humanity. I recently listened to a sermon by Bishop Dag Heward-Mills on this verse, and I remember how he lamented that many pastors today would struggle to actually preach on this, when past servants of God like D.L. Moody could preach on this single verse for weeks! And one morning, as I thought of how someone I know would try to dispute the fact that Christ is the only route to eternal life, this verse came to me, and the Holy Spirit dissected it into parts for me. I had never thought of it that way, but thanks be to the Teacher, the unbelief of others only helped to strengthen my faith.
Now look at it this way…
For God so loved the world – the Creator of the heavens and the earth loves the people of earth so very much, despite the fact that they dwelled in sin and rebellion against Him
That He gave His only begotten Son – that in the fullness of time, He sent down His beloved and irreplaceable Son with Whom He shared the same divine nature to receive the punishment that should have been given to man
That whosoever should believe in Him – that the humans on earth who would believe that the Son had died for them and would receive this precious gift of salvation
Should not perish – would not have to face what they actually deserved for being tainted with sin: eternal separation from God which is equal to everlasting torment
But have everlasting life – but would rather have the chance to be reconciled to God and have fellowship with Him, thus having eternal life.
I’ve never had the Gospel shown to me that way. Beautiful, isn’t it? Only the Holy Spirit could do that!
Now let’s take note. God loves humanity so much, even though the first humans disobeyed Him and allowed the very thing He hates to infect humanity in its entirety. So much that He sent His Son, the One Who shares in His likeness, to come down to earth. I mean, if this Son is begotten, which from the original Greek word means He has a nature similar to His Father, then it’s obvious that God’s love for humanity really is more than we could ever imagine! An inexplicable love!
But then, as I looked deeper at the well-known verse, I realized this: it screams out the fact that it is only through the Son that everlasting life is attainable. God gave His Beloved so that those who believe in Him wouldn’t have to perish.
If there were other pathways to heaven, as some have claimed to have come about after Christ, and they truly have been approved by God, then these questions pop up in my mind.
- If Jesus really is that dear to God considering the like nature They both possess, then why would He give His Son as a ransom so we wouldn’t have to perish, only to bring up other ways later on? If that is the case, then it means either one of two things: Jesus was telling lies when He and Nicodemus spoke that fateful evening and in actual fact was not the begotten Son, or if He was, then God didn’t actually treasure Jesus as much as He thought He did, meaning Jesus had been deceived by His Father. Which means that One of them was lying. And that’s kinda scary. Putting my faith in a God Who has the capacity to deceive? I don’t think that sounds good. I wouldn’t trust anyone who I know has a shade of deception in them.
- Let’s say Jesus was right. Let’s say these words were the truth. Later on, we have other religions fully ordained by God as alternative routes to heaven. Then doesn’t it mean that the plan had somehow failed? Was Jesus’ sacrifice inadequate enough to do the full job? Looking at the wording, Jesus made it clear that those who believe in the Son would not perish, obviously meaning that those who don’t will perish. If the Father decided later to bring in other avenues, then it seems He failed in trying to make Jesus the only avenue, and that sounds pretty dangerous to me. It’s like playing in a Champions League final and depending on an unproven striker that’s never played in such a match before, a terrible gamble. You need a proven, world-class match winner in top form to win the game for you. In like manner, for a situation as vital and crucial as the eternal destiny of humanity, if He picked His Son, only to pick out other avenues later, then He certainly cannot be trusted, because if He failed before in such a big issue, what’s to say He couldn’t fail again in a smaller issue? And would you really want to entrust your eternal fate to a deity who can’t even seem to get it right at the first try? … But wait! Hol’ up a minute! If Jesus is God’s beloved Son and is so special to Him, then He obviously gave us His very best, like I mentioned? And with these other routes coming up later, meaning what Jesus did is insufficient, that means God’s bestest plan flopped, right? Then can we trust these other ways to work? Hmmm….
I’m going to shorten this to an extent. If I will go strictly by His words, then this is what I believe: a God who is perfect and flawless in all His ways couldn’t have possibly erred in sending Jesus to this world to be our atonement. The work was perfectly completed, and the fact that He rose up from the dead is testament to that. If any other avenue was truly ordained by God to be a route to Him, then it only means Jesus was a liar or a failure in the task He performed, or God messed up in His attempt to save humanity once and for all, and had to provide alternatives. And if that is the case, then Christianity in itself is one big error, and generally we cannot be assured of eternal safety.
Listen, as far as people of other religions are concerned, I got love for them. They’re all created in His likeness and image, so I better love them. But when it comes to truth, I certainly can’t mince words, and it couldn’t come any better than the verse that is so well-known to man. It is truth that transcends the ages and remains as valid as it was when it left the lips of Jesus. It is only in Him that one can escape the wrath of God and condemnation and have eternal life. No other name. No other way.