The Inclusive and Exclusive Gospel (I Am the Way, the Truth and theLife)

 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”    John 3:16

The gift Jesus gave us on the cross is a gift available to all people.  The gospel is radically inclusive.  Every person is given the opportunity to take hold of it.  There are many wonderful and inspiring examples of God's acceptance of people who come to Him.  I could talk about Jeffrey Dahmer and his surprising conversion to Christianity, or others like him.  Instead, I'd like to introduce you to the worst of sinners.

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor.  Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.  It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.  Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.  Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.  Amen.”  1 Timothy 1:12-17

I love this passage so much.  Every time I read this, I wonder at how the man who said, "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1) would also call himself the foremost of sinners.  Paul is saying that if Jesus could save him, Jesus can save anybody!  “Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” 

The gospel is inclusive.  It’s like a party.  Everyone gets an invitation, and there’s no bouncer at the door to keep people from entering.  But you have to decide to show up.  The gospel can only be effective in your life if you choose to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and King.

Because of this, heaven is exclusive.  I won’t go so far as to say that Saint Peter is hanging out near the gate telling you if you made the cut or not, but not everyone is going to be allowed in. 

All of this is to introduce us to the next I Am statement from the gospel of John. 

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.”  John 14:6

Even John 3:16, the most wonderful explanation of grace, reminds us that believing in Jesus is the way we receive salvation.  He’s not one option of many.  There is one road.  Salvation is offered to everyone, but only those who choose to accept that salvation find entrance to heaven, to be in the presence of the Father for all eternity.

It confuses me when people say that all roads go to heaven, that all options are equally valid.  If Christianity says that there is only one way, and if Muslims call Christians heretics, they both cannot be right.  If 2+2=4, it cannot also equal 7. 

I pray that you realize that we really only have two options:  the Way that leads to heaven and the way that does not.  Along with that, I pray that you choose to accept the gospel that leads to eternal life.

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37 Responses to The Inclusive and Exclusive Gospel (I Am the Way, the Truth and theLife)

  1. Great post and hard hitting. I think the church has gone too soft in a lot of areas, salvation being one of them. Christ called us to be imitators of Him. Not to do whatever WE want but to do HIS will.

    1. Yes, too often the church just says what sounds nice rather than the truth if the gospel.

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