Must I go through Jesus to get to God?

Someone recently asked me this very important question, and the short answer to the question is yes, we must go through Jesus to get to God.

Why? Because Jesus, who is the eternal divine Son of God, was sent into the world to die on the cross for sins and rise from the dead to save all those who by God’s grace alone trust in Him alone for their right standing before a holy God. (John 3:16; Eph 2:1-10; Gal 2:16-21)  Thus, Jesus Christ alone is the Savior, and salvation is found only in Him (John 14:6; Acts 4:12-13). Or, to put it another way, the only way we can get to God is if we go through Jesus, because only Jesus was God in the flesh who lived the perfect life of righteousness that we never could, and died the death we deserved to die so that we could have a relationship with God.

Now, to understand this, there are 2 other questions that we must answer:

1) Who is Jesus?

2) What did Jesus come to earth to do?

So, let’s answer those questions here:

Question 1: Who is Jesus?

In Matthew 16:13-16 we read of an exchange between Jesus and His disciples. Jesus had gone throughout the countryside teaching and doing many amazing things, and there was a lot of excitement and talk about who Jesus could possibly be. So, Jesus took His disciples aside and asked them who the people say that He is. The disciples reported what they had heard: many wondered if Jesus was one of the great prophets that had come back from the dead.

Clearly the people had very wrong ideas about the true identity of Jesus. So, Jesus puts His disciples on the spot and asked them, “Who do you say that I am?”

I imagine that the disciples were shocked by the question and they themselves didn’t know what to say. Peter though boldly declares, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Now, to get the full meaning of what Peter confessed there, we need to understand the words “Christ,” and what is meant by saying that Jesus is the “Son of the living God.”

First, the word Christ, or “Messiah” means “anointed”. The Messiah was to be God’s anointed (divinely chosen and empowered) King who would come to set His people free and rule and reign in righteousness as He ushered in an age of peace and prosperity. The people of Israel thought that this meant being set free from the oppression of foreign rulers. However, the true oppression that the Messiah would come to set us free from was that of our own sin, for which we stood condemned before a holy God.

Thus, the Messiah’s mission was to establish God’s kingdom by bringing salvation to people from every nation, tribe and tongue (Rev 5:9)—to deliver them from the oppression of sin and spiritual death, and rule and reign in the hearts of His people until He would consummate His kingdom on earth by creating a new heavens and a new earth (Isa 53:4-6, Isa 66:22-24; Rev 21:1). We will examine that more a bit later.

For now, it is also important to know that there were other titles that the Messiah would be known by, such as the title the Son of Man. This was the most common title that Jesus used for Himself, and it had different shades of meaning. Putting all those shades together, it conveyed that the Messiah would be fully God and fully man. This link gives a great overview of that: https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/why-is-jesus-called-son-of-man.

So, Peter says that Jesus is the Christ: He is the long-promised Messiah, God’s anointed King that God would send into the world to bring salvation to people, and whose spiritual kingdom would advance throughout the earth as He saved people from all over the world.

As we discover later, Peter did not understand the full import of this; he believed as the Jewish people at that time that the Messiah would come to get rid of the Romans and set up an age of peace and prosperity. And, while all expected the Messiah to be supernaturally empowered (anointed) and sent by God, many likely did not understand that He would also be divine.

What Peter says next settles that question definitively: he says that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. By saying this, he is saying that Jesus has a divine nature—that He is fully God. And referring to Him as the Son calls attention to the Triune nature of God. This means that the one God eternally exists as a unity of three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is what we call the Trinity.

Just a brief sidebar here, the Trinity is impossible for us to fully understand: how can one God exist as three distinct persons? The short answer is that while we have enough information in Scripture to have an understanding of it, we can’t fully explain it.

That should not surprise us since we’re talking about the eternal and infinite God. We can’t even fully understand things within the creation itself. For example, how can light exist as wave and particle at the same time? Or, something as “basic” as gravity: we can’t explain why it is there at all. As my son who teaches physics says, gravity is the “I am” of physics: it just is, and it’s a mystery as to why it is (apart from belief in the Triune God).

To sum it up, the Scriptures teach that there is only one God. That one being of God exists as three distinct, co-equal, co-eternal persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While we humans can only be one being who exist as one person, God is one being who exists as 3 persons.

One way people try to get at this is through a math equation: 1 x 1 x 1 = 1. But, I think it’s helpful to remember that there are no analogies that perfectly capture the Trinity for us. What we can say is that there is the what of God: His one eternal essence; and there is the who of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These brief video clips are helpful explanations of the Trinity:

 

Back to the main point: what Peter said, if false, is utter blasphemy. So, does Jesus correct him? No. He acknowledges that what Peter said is true, and points out that it was revealed to him (Peter) by God. And Jesus would continue to demonstrate that He was exactly who He claimed to be through His miracles, and ultimately by His bodily resurrection from the dead.

So, who is Jesus? He is much more than a mere prophet or good moral teacher (and, as C.S. Lewis and others rightly pointed out, Jesus didn’t really leave us with that option). He is the Messiah, the eternal divine Son of God. He is God the Son, who existed from all eternity and through whom all things were created, and has now become fully human while remaining fully God: He is God in the flesh. For other important passages that speak to this truth, see John 1:1-18, Philippians 2:5-8, and Hebrews 1:1-4.

Question 2: What did Jesus come to earth to do?

This takes us back to the very beginning of time, and the first book of the Bible, Genesis. In chapters 1 – 3 we read of how God created all things, and He created human beings in His image to glorify and enjoy him forever in a personal relationship of love.

But, we rejected God because we wanted to think and live the way we wanted to apart from God. As a result of our sin, God owed us nothing except divine justice, and we all stood rightfully condemned before God.

Thus, because of our sin, death came into the world. Physically we will all die one day, and spiritually we are cut off from relationship with God, with no way of ever establishing that relationship on our own. We have no way of saving ourselves.

There are at least two reasons for that: 1) God requires perfect righteousness in order to get heaven, which none of us is able to attain. No matter how good we are or how many good things we do, we could never be perfect, and none of those good things could ever earn or merit heaven for us. 2) We are unable to pay the penalty of the infinite debt that we owe because of our sin.

So, in and of ourselves, the Scriptures teach that we are in darkness, lost, and unable and even unwilling to come to God (John 3:19; Rom 8:7; Ephesians 2:1-3). We are truly hopeless in our and of ourselves. We need a Savior.

But who could possibly qualify to be our Savior before a holy God? For one to qualify for that, He would have to be two things:

1. He would have to be fully God. Why? Because only one who is fully God could satisfy God’s justice and pay the infinite debt that we owe, and could represent God to us. A mere creature could never do that.

2. He would have to fully human. Why? Because only one who is fully human could take our place, and be our representative before God. And as our representative, this one would have to be sinless, live a life of perfect righteousness, and he would have to pay the debt that we owe.

The only one who qualifies then to be our Savior is the eternal Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ—God’s Messiah; His anointed King.

Thus, Jesus, who is God the Son and is one in essence with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, and through whom everything was created, humbled Himself and took to Himself a human nature, and became fully human as we are, yet without sin (Phil 2:5-8; Heb 4:15). Jesus then lived the perfect life of righteousness that we never could (2 Cor 5:21), and then out of His great love for us willingly laid down His life on the cross to pay the penalty that our sins deserved (Isa 53:3-6; Rom 5:8-9). Three days later He rose bodily from dead so that everyone who repents and trusts in Him alone can be forever forgiven of all of theirs sins, and have eternal life (1 Cor 15:3-4; Eph 1:7; John 6:47) .

The bible sums that all up in maybe it’s most well known passage, John 3:16, which says that “God (the Father) so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

So, must I go through Jesus to get to God? Yes. Since Jesus is God in the flesh, He represents God to us, and since He is fully man, he represents us to God. Thus, Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). The apostle Paul says that there is only one mediator (go-between) between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5). Acts 4:12 says that there is only one name given among people by which we must be saved, namely, Jesus Christ.

So, since Jesus is the only way to God, how do we take hold of Him? By acknowledging that He is indeed the second person of the Trinity, God in the flesh who died for sins and rose bodily from the dead. We confess our sins to the Lord and acknowledge that we are lost and have no way of getting to God except through Jesus, and we turn away from our sins and anything else we were trusting in to get to heaven, and trust in Jesus Christ alone to save us.

Those who by God’s Spirit and amazing grace do this are forgiven of all of theirs sins, and are declared righteous in His sight because the righteousness of Jesus is now credited to their account. They have (aren’t trying to get) eternal life right now and a loving relationship with the Lord, and we go forth in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to endeavor to live in a way that pleases Him. We do this not to get eternal life, but because we have eternal life in Christ.

To sum all of that up, the Scriptures teach that we are saved (and live the Christian life) by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in and by Christ alone, all to God’s glory alone.

I hope you find this helpful. For an abbreviated presentation of this, you can visit this link here: https://www.newlifevicenza.org/heaven/