In light of the current mood to accept or at least to tolerate almost any expression of religious belief or practice as being “good”, the claim by most Christians that Jesus is the only person who can “save” anyone or bring anyone into God’s loving presence is severely criticized by many non-Christians. They feel that this claim is unreasonable, somewhat arrogant, and shows an attitude of disrespect toward other religions and their devoted followers. This may be your position in regard to Christians and those who claim that Jesus is humanity’s only savior.
The question “why Jesus?” is a fair and important question. Christians who make the claim that Jesus is the only “savior” for humanity should understand the basic reasons for such a claim, and non-Christians should consider the question in respect to their own personal relationship with Jesus as a person who has made a major impact in human life and the practice of religion throughout the world. So this brief statement will seek to answer this question in a logical way.
Our human situation
One’s view of our human situation, a personal understanding of the basic condition of all human beings, is a crucial factor in how anyone, Christian or non-Christian, answers this question of “why Jesus?”, why should Jesus be recognized as humanity’s only savior? It should be obvious to anyone that this world is not heaven, that the situation in which all of us humans find ourselves is not paradise. Individuals who do believe in god must admit that there is something “ungodly” about this world in which we live. There is something wrong with the human situation (see Romans 8:19–22). We humans do not seem to be living in the constant presence of a loving god. Something seems to be separating us from the blessings of this divine being. We seem to be living in the middle of a “battlefield”, which is not a good place to be.
Common human solutions
Many individuals today try to bridge this separation, to gain a sense of being “saved” or accepted into the blessed and loving presence of god even before they die, by persistently trying to follow the rules for the acceptable practice of their religion without any help from Jesus or even the consideration of this question regarding his importance. When they fail in regard to any of these rules, and we all do, they usually try harder the next time, or just conclude that their record of faithful compliance will outweigh the list of their failures. They continue to dismiss the question “why Jesus?” and conclude that there is no need for him to bring them into the personal presence of god or into heaven, because they can make it there on their own. They believe that they can get into the loving presence of god by their own sincere and persistent works of religious devotions, worship, and service.
Such religious individuals may believe that other moral teachers, prophets, and recognized leaders of multitudes of people have discovered the way to enter and to experience god’s blessed presence in our human situation, and all they or other human beings need to do is to live in accord with the teachings of their favorite prophet. These prophets include Buddha, Muhammad, Moses, and more modern teachers and philosophers like Rousseau (Age of Reason), Darwin, Freud, Marx, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Osama bin Laden, Deepak Chopra (New Age movement), Hugh Hefner, and others.
All such beliefs and their associated teachings that deny or reject or ignore the role of Jesus in bridging this gap of blessing between god and humanity are religions of works, systems of beliefs and doctrines and rituals that claim it is possible for human beings to enter into the presence of god and to be blessed by him through their own efforts.
The major problem with these solutions
The problem with these solutions is that they don’t recognize the severity of the cause for the separation between God and humanity that is responsible for the situation in which we humans find ourselves. The cause for this separation is not that we human beings are not religious enough to be accepted into God’s loving presence. The cause for this separation is that we human beings are, and have been from the early days of our existence, generally willful rebels against God. We human beings are individuals and villages and tribes and races and nations of people who have historically sought to claim the glory and the power and the pleasures of the gods by denying the authority of the one true God who is over us and refusing to acknowledge his loving care in the natural processes of this world (see Romans 1:18–23). Our attitude of rebellion against God is a much stronger cause for this separation that exists between us and God than is any inadequate religious efforts that we might make to enter into the presence of any god. For a more complete statement on the doctrine of sin see my statement on “Sin” on this website.
In efforts to appear to be religious and to enter into some god’s presence we have created our own gods, given them names that we have chosen, written down the rules and rituals that we have decided are reasonable for our religious activities, built temples in which to worship these gods, and promoted these religions with enthusiastic zeal and might throughout history.
The problem is that the God who reigns over our human situation, who determines who is going to be accepted into his loving presence, isn’t impressed by any of this religious activity. In fact he is offended by it! He considers it to be idolatry, the worship of false gods. The activities that are done in the name of our religions, and many of those that are done for our own benefit, are viewed by God as SIN, evidence of our continuous rebellion against him and his authority. It is this sin, this idolatry, this rebellious and arrogant claim for power and comfort and pleasure, and our skeptical approach to the question of “why Jesus?” that creates and sustains this separation between God and us humans.
God’s solution to the problem of separation
The God who created us humans for fellowship, to be in a relationship with him throughout eternity, recognized the futility of our religious efforts and our complete enslavement to SIN, and so he sent Jesus, a part of his own divine personhood, into the world to bridge the separation between him and humanity. Jesus was not sent into this world to condemn us humans for our sin, but to free us from the powerful effects of its attitudes of rebellion, pride, lusts for power and pleasure and glory that created and sustains our separation from God (see John 3:17).
In order to do this Jesus had to die. He had to pay the penalty for our sinful rebellion against God. In obedient surrender to God and love for us humans, Jesus willingly paid the penalty for our sin by allowing himself to be crucified on a cross (see Philippians 2:6–8, Ephesians 5:2; John 10:11–15; Colossians 1:19–22). That was really GOOD!
In his love for us this God, this one true God, only requires that we repent of our sin and believe in or trust Jesus, that he is God’s Son who was sent into the world to redeem us sinful rebels and to bring us back into God’s loving presence (see John 3:16 & 18).
The evidence that Jesus was able to do this, that he successfully completed his mission, and that his death on a cross pays the penalty for our sin is present in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. God physically raised Jesus from his tomb to give us proof that our separation from God and enslavement to sin and death has been ended by Jesus’ sacrificial death on the Cross (see Romans 1:4).
Summary answer to the question “Why Jesus?”
So why should anyone recognize that Jesus is humanity’s only savior, the only one who can bridge the separation that exists between God and us human rebels, the only person who can lead anyone into God’s loving presence? It is because Jesus is the only person who died to pay the penalty for our sinful rebellion. He is the only one whose victory over sin and death gives him the authority to usher any of us into God’s presence in this life or in the life to come (see Romans 3:21–26). No other prophet, moral teacher, religious leader, or influential author has done this! No one is religious enough, good enough, smart enough, or generous enough to enter into God’s holy and loving presence without being escorted by Jesus.
Jesus is humanity’s only savior not because of the wisdom of his teachings, or the beauty of his righteous life, or the extent of his influence, or the awesome power of his reported miracles, but only because of what he did for us in his death for our sins and his resurrection for our reunion with God.
Believing Christians who claim Jesus’ saving sacrifice and his personal role in their reunion with God should not boast about the superiority of Jesus as if it were some evidence for the superiority of their faithful belief in Jesus, because that faith is of itself a “gift” of God’s love. Any effort to enter God’s presence after one dies, or to experience his blessings of love and peace and joy and hope and forgiveness in this life is an exercise in futility without Jesus! Salvation and joy and a comfortable existence in God’s presence is only possible through Jesus. He is the only one that can transform sinful rebels into redeemed children of God (see Acts 4:10–12).
If you have any questions about this statement or would like to learn more about Jesus, contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to accept Jesus as your Savior, this statement on “The Plan of Salvation” can guide you through the steps for doing this.