What God does can be mysterious, but it is dramatically clearer than how He does it.
For example: The Gospel of John makes a categorical statement about what Jesus is without offering in the same verse how He is what He is. If you know anything biblical, you know the verse: Jesus states, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father (i.e., God) except through me” (14:6).
Taken by itself, the verse is narrow, prejudicial, and exclusive. This God-inspired passage concerning what Jesus is, i.e. the way to God, leaves exactly NO room for there to be any other way to God.
I say, “God-inspired” verse. There are folks who have concluded the Bible is not inspired principally because they stumble on verses like John 14:6. I understand. One would like the way to be broader. When it comes to eternity and heaven, truth and life, everyone except for true followers of Jesus Christ are out of luck. Really?
If we conclude our consideration of God and all He holds important with this passage, then it requires a certain fatalism, or robust set of religious blinders, to conclude anything other than God is prejudicial, exclusive, intolerant, narrow minded, narcissistic, and a number of other hateful and ugly qualities. At a philosophical level, we can ponder what becomes of Jews or Muslims in eternity. Of course, one can argue that they are familiar with Jesus and His claims, and are therefore culpable per John 14:6. At a simpler, more basic, pragmatic level, we can wonder about the man living in New Guinea, wearing a loin cloth, who thinks airplanes are animistic omens that he shoots at with his bow and arrow? Not only has this person never heard of Jesus, he can’t even read. When his time on earth is completed, does God really send him to hell because he never declared faith in Jesus Christ?
And it is with that last sentence that we start getting into trouble. With that final question the proverbial line in the sand is drawn. Either the guy in the loin cloth is bound for hell or God didn’t really mean Jesus was on the only way—which then means the Bible is metaphorical myth. These are not good options.
Our predicament with the narrow standard of John 14:6 is further complicated by the fact that everyone wants to go to heaven, yet Jesus’ declaration in John appears to arbitrarily limit those who make the trip successfully.
The complexity of Jesus’ claim is significant, not just for mankind, but for Jesus as well. He loves us all and desires for everyone to live with Him throughout eternity (ref. 1Tm 2:3-6). But if He is the only way to this eternal place everyone wants to go, and there are people who have not heard the plan of salvation from Scripture who will be eternally rejected, how does He legitimately maintain a loving and just character?
Next: The how of Jesus' redemption.