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More Than One Way to Jesus?

Jesus insists and Christians believe that he is the only way to God (John 14:6), but is it possible that there are many ways to Jesus? Theologian Peter Kreeft asks the question this way: “What subjective relationship must one have with Jesus in order to be on the right way?”

Some insist you merely need to say a prayer inviting Jesus into your heart. Others suggest it isn’t enough to reduce your salvation to a “magic formula,” that there needs to be true repentance, or a desire to turn away from sin. But was the thief on the cross next to Jesus sorry for his sins? All we know from the text is that he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” to which Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43).

What about the Old Testament saints? How were they saved? James the apostle, writing about the kind of faith it takes to please God, said that “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (James 2:23). Abraham didn’t know Jesus, but he experienced the righteousness of God extended to sinful people through Jesus.

John the apostle opens his gospel with a grand description of Jesus as the pre-incarnate Word, “the true light that gives light to everyone,” who “became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” According to John, how do you “receive” the true light and become a child of God? By believing in his name (John 1:12).

And don’t get us started on the miraculous ways people are being saved in different parts of the world today. There are many well-documented examples of Muslim people encountering the living Christ through dreams. In his bestselling book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi tells his amazing story of having all the knowledge about God he could possibly want. But it wasn’t until he had a series of three dreams that he was convinced to put his faith in Jesus as his Savior and Lord.

So how do non-Christians come to know Christ unto salvation? Do they “receive” Jesus into their hearts? Do they believe in his name? Does it happen when there’s enough knowledge to understand that it is the resurrection of Christ that ensures our salvation? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding “yes.” Salvation by faith in Jesus is not as straightforward or formulaic as we think.

Maybe you did nothing more than pray a simple prayer that asked Jesus into your heart. Or perhaps you wrestled for years, not sure of what it takes to surrender your life to Christ. Or maybe you grew into your faith and can’t pinpoint a moment when accepted Jesus as you Lord and Savior.

The bottom line is that you know because your life has changed. You aren’t the same person you were before. Something supernatural has happened to you that can only be explained by the presence of Jesus in your life.

Excerpt from Answering the Toughest Questions About Heaven and Hell by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz (Bethany House, 2017).

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Christianity 101 is a collection of books and digital resources by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz that talk about God in a way that encourages people to grow in their faith.