I recently had a conversation with a friend who believed there are many ways to reach God, but nearly all of them are unnecessary. In fact, he believed that all religions simply get in the way of basic communication with God; all a person needs to do is pray to him when he wishes. After asking him a few basic questions, it became apparent that he’d never heard the essential truths of what the Bible teaches about God and what He says is required of man to receive salvation; let alone the fact that man needs even to be saved. Therefore, I proceeded to challenge him to consider the truth claims of the Bible. While he found many of them interesting, there were some that were downright repulsive to him. That being said, we ended our conversation well and agreed that we’d both like to follow up sometime soon to continue the discussion.
Following this, I decided that it would be helpful if I laid out a rudimentary theology of the Biblical God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, specifically focussing on the path to God. I’ve since shared it with him, but after doing so I thought it might be helpful to share with you all with the hope that it might aid you in your evangelical efforts.
I structured what I wrote in a logical progression from who God is, to what Jesus said about himself, to what his death on the cross means for us. For every proposition, I included scripture references to ensure that what I wrote is truly biblical. It’s certainly not exhaustive, but I hope it’s conclusive proof that the Bible teaches that there’s only one way to God; through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The following passages detail what the Bible (English Standard Version) records as God’s word about the necessary path to living with him eternally past this temporal life on earth.
1. God exists in and of himself. He is the uncaused cause. He is the creator of all things.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
2. There is only one God. All other gods are not the one true God.
“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the LORD your God commanded me (Moses) to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
"Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure';
3. God is one in substance and three in person. This is referred to as the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Each of them are equal in attributes, but distinct in role. In the Bible, when the writers refer to God as one, they are speaking of the Trinity. Other times they refer to one or more of the distinct persons in the Godhead (another way to refer to the triune God).
“Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
“yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”
1 Corinthians 8:6
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”
4. What God says is absolutely true. This is predicated on the fact that he is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), and omnipresent (present everywhere). He knows all and can do all anywhere and everywhere he choses. He is truly autonomous (a law unto himself).
For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. Psalm 33:9 (Omnipotence)
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired His understanding is inscrutable. Isaiah 40:28 (Omniscience)
The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good. Proverbs 15:3 (Omnipresence)
5. God is good. God is love. God is just. Among all of the characteristics of God, of which there are many more, it is essential to note that He is perfect in all of them.
1 Chronicles 16:34, 1 John 4:16, Isaiah 30:18
6. What God commands must be obeyed or the disobedient will suffer the penalty for their disobedience, namely death and eternal punishment.
"As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.
1 Chronicles 28:9
7. God created man (Adam) and woman (Eve) good; without sin. This is due to the fact that they are created in the image of God, which among other things means that God gave them the ability to be righteous.
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
8. In his love, God gave Adam and Eve dominion over everything he created except one thing and he expected them to obey this one restriction. In giving this restriction, God demonstrated his sovereignty over all of creation.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
9. Adam and Eve chose to disobey God’s command, to do evil, which brought sin into the world.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself." He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" The man said, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
10. God justly punished Adam and Eve for their disobedience.
To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you." And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return."
11. Adam’s (and Eve’s) sin corrupted the entire human race as they were the representatives of all who would come after them. Therefore, all of their descendants are sinful by nature, i.e., a person does not need to sin in order to be sinful; they sin because they are sinful. And sinners must be punished for their sin.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…
12. God’s character (namely his holiness) requires him to punish sin in order to be good. (God is both just and righteous (good). He would not be that if he left evil unpunished.) Likewise, no human judge would be said to be just if he pronounced a person not-guilty if he was truly guilty.
“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice;...”
“What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, "That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged." But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world?”
13. But because God loves his creation, he promised that he would provide a way for man and woman to be reconciled to him. However, it would come at a great cost to him; the purity (sinlessness) and life of his son Jesus.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."
This is called the Proto Evangelion (the first gospel, i.e., the first time God told us that he would destroy evil from a child of the woman. This is ultimately fulfilled in the man Jesus Christ.)
14. Man cannot undo his evil deeds on his own. His sin equates to a non-repayable debt to God. This is because only a perfectly righteous person (a person without any sin), who obeys literally everything God commands, can earn their salvation. And since man is sinful from conception (a.k.a. morally bankrupt), he cannot fix his situation on his own. This is why an intermediary who makes atonement on our behalf, is critical to our salvation and not an ‘unnecessary’ path to God.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”
“the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”
15. Jesus is the Son of God and claimed to be. (In saying this, and acknowledging that he was born of a women, does not mean his divine nature was created. Scripture says that he was both human and divine at the same time. It is a paradox, not a contradiction.)
The Jews answered him, "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." The Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, 'If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.' Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?" Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.' But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad." So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."
At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one."
16. Jesus’s friends (the apostles and those who followed them) also claimed that he was the Son of God and the only way to God.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
17. God (the Father) claimed Jesus as his son.
'Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." '
'And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah." He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise, and have no fear." '
18. Jesus claimed that he is the only way to God (the Father).
"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
19. Those who put their faith and trust in him (Jesus) will be forgiven of their sins and receive eternal life.
“"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God."”
20. Jesus said that those who do not repent from their sins, obey what he commands, and put their faith in him as their savior, will not escape the eternal punishment they are already destined to.
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
21. If you place your faith in Jesus, which means to believe that he is who he said he was, and to acknowledge your sin and repent of it, then you will receive forgiveness from God.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame."”