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The Radical Exclusivity of Jesus

The notion that Jesus is the only way to God has long been a sticking point for opponents to Christianity. Unfortunately, it hasn't been enough of a sticking point for a lot of Christians. We say that because of how pervasive Jesus plus other things seems to be in how we live sometimes. It's easy to add things to Jesus in our culture, so we have to get radical in our belief in Jesus plus nothing.

Paul put his thoughts on the subject in his letter to the Galatians, whom he called foolish because they had adopted a "Jesus plus" mentality. Paul called down a curse on those who came into the church there teaching a Jesus plus works mentality. But he also pointed out that they and those who followed their teaching were already cursed:

For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, "Everyone who does not do everything written in the book of the law is cursed." - Galatians 3:10

What does it mean to rely on the works of the law? The Greek here is tricky. The word εἰμί in the Greek is the word "rely" in the CSB, but it literally means "to be." Other translations say, "of the works of the law" instead of "rely on the works of the law." Most of the time, this word is translated "is," "are," "being," "was," "be," "were," or "am." As such, it becomes somewhat a matter of identity.

So who are you? Are you the works of the law or the works of Jesus? Or are you trying to be both? Do you require other Christians to be the works of the law or the works of Jesus, or do you try to make them be both? The question could boil down to something even simpler: what is a Christian?

Friends, it isn't Jesus plus a collection of good works.

  • It isn't Jesus plus our theological preferences.

  • It isn't Jesus plus complementarianism or egalitarianism.

  • It isn't Jesus plus Calvinism or Arminianism.

  • It isn't Jesus plus young earth creationism or evolutionary creationism.

  • It isn't Jesus plus ...

It's just Jesus. Anything else is dangerous territory. Jesus even solidified His exclusivity in His statements about judging others:

Do not judge, so that you won't be judged. For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use." Matthew 7:1-2

How inclusive is that statement?!?! If we truly adopt a Jesus only understanding of humanity's relationship with God, what other distinctions can we draw in our relationship with other Christians? You're an egalitarian (meaning women can lead in church) and they're a complementarian (meaning certain roles in the church are reserved solely for men). So what?! Both are Christians following Jesus. One believes in the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture, another struggles with the possibility that parts of Scripture are metaphorical and allegorical. And?!? You vote red and another votes blue. There is still no need for division, anger, hatred, bad thoughts, or anything else. As Paul said in Colossians 3:11, "In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all."

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