A contemporary and often controversial question shot at us regarding Jesus is, “Is He the only way to heaven?” The Bible tells us to always be ready to defend the hope that lies within us (1 Peter 3:15). So I’d like to share 3 approaches we could take when in this situation:

  1. Scriptural Approach – share the relevant verses with gentleness and reverence.
  2. Coy Approach – be intentionally reluctant to reveal the Truth up front. Say, “It depends.” Now you’ve got their ear because many people anticipate the believer to have a straight-forward, quick answer that they plan to reject. Continue, “It depends on if the Bible is God’s Word and if our real enemies are Satan, sin, and death (Jesus was the only one to conquer them).” This can lead to the Truth from the Scriptures. It’s always good to share what Jesus accomplished on the Cross and through His resurrection.
  3. One-to-One Sensitivity Approach (based on Col.4:3-6) – rather than saying “yes” right away, ask relevant questions to the person such as “Do you believe in God? How about Heaven? Do you believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead? Engage the person with more discussion for the purpose of determining where they are at spiritually. End with a penetrating question such as “Since you’ve heard things about what He did, why do you think you’ve ignored finding out what Jesus said all these years?” The claims He made about Himself far outdistance every human that has ever lived. If you seek Truth, it makes sense to start with something that stands out above anything else. You might also ask, “Since all great religious founders are still dead, why wouldn’t you want to believe in Jesus since He is the only one to rise from the dead? If He didn’t, the Bible is a lie and so was Jesus because He said He would rise. If He didn’t rise, someone stole His body because that tomb was empty. If His body was stolen, either His friends or His enemies did it. If His friends did it, why would they be willing to preach something that put their lives in danger since they knew it was a lie? All of them were executed except Judas and John. If His enemies stole it, why didn’t they produce His dead body to prove He did not rise? I’m sure those Pharisees would have loved to be able to do that! By using this approach, you may discover how open they are to God.

“Being ready” for us means we have been praying and reading the Word and trusting the Spirit to do all the work and inspiration. Remember, when people ask this question about “the only way,” it usually means they are closed-minded and are trying to make Christianity look intolerant. Not always, however. In many cases, this conversation will start out with us being on the defensive. It is good strategy to turn that around. Asking them questions about their beliefs can serve to accomplish this and make us more sensitive to where they are coming from. If our answers are “seasoned with salt” and spoken in gentleness and reverence, they can go a long way in that person’s heart over the years, perhaps even for a bystander who also hears our response. God will accomplish much when His Word goes forth from His mouth (Isaiah 55:11). I interpret “from His mouth” as meaning from His Spirit, not ours.


NF – Right on!

GR – Amen without a doubt #1 Grace then Truth…but always Grace first. Thanks for enlightening and brightening my day. I Love you brother Dave

DG – This is great Dave, excellent tactics to turn a skeptic. I would also include the most important method, service in love (agape). If we consider others more important than ourselves and show them love by both helping and meeting legitimate needs, this can open up an amazing door to Life, and soften a person’s heart. Often “Christians” are their own worst enemy by not having the fruit of the spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). Without love we are NOTHING (1 Corinthians 13:1). Are we being these things at work in the public? I know I struggle sometimes. We also remember the fruit of the spirit in Galatians are the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of a disciple in Christ are more disciples! Abide in the vine.

PT: I recently read a theologian who said the Bible does not say all had to believe in Christ to make it to heaven. He then went on to tell of those in the Old Testament who did not know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and still made it to heaven–beginning from Adam and Eve until Jesus birth. So the legalist is wrong if they say Jesus is the only way to heaven according to Scripture. He went on to point out that a good starting point with those who think Christians are closed-minded to other ways to heaven is tell them of all those in the Bible who made it to heaven without Jesus as their personal Savior, then walk them through to the New Testament and the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Dave to PT: Thanks, Pat. I understand this man’s approach to unsaved people of today. However, it is difficult to say for certainty who was saved in the OT times. For example, can we even say that Solomon was saved since he backslid terribly toward the end of his life with no evidence of repentance? I’ve always thought that people in the OT times were saved if they believed in the true God and His Word, and in the promise of a Messiah. I’m not sure though. No one could successfully live by The Law, so salvation must have been by some kind of faith. But what kind of faith was it? Habakkuk proclaimed that the “righteous man shall live by faith.” The OT does not get specific like the NT does. In addition, many people then and now had (have) never heard of His Word to the Israeli nation or by some NT believer. What about them? Rather than speculate, I think the best answer is to say we do not know for sure, but what we do know for sure is that God is just and good. So we leave those judgments to Him. Furthermore, if we emphasize that some OT folks were saved without Jesus, then modern folks may conclude that this is still an option when it is not. The main point to the unsaved today is that they HAVE heard about Jesus and they will make a decision for or against Him and His Word…and a “no decision” is against Him.

PT to Dave: I too struggled with this theologian’s remarks. But I think we can say with certainty that the writers of the OT and many others made it to heaven…like Moses, Noah, Abraham, Elijah, David, all those in Hebrews 11 and many others. What he and you are saying, I think, is that God’s ways are truly not our ways and those who try be judge over others (like the legalist) as to who gets into heaven and who does not is not for us to determine, though we can have a good idea by their fruit (like Abraham’s faith). It’s really a great mystery to me, after all, Jesus was there in the OT in the Triune God, just not yet in the flesh. Plus, I like what Chuck Swindoll always points out–the Old Testament is always pointing toward Christ’s coming, the New Testament letters are pointing back to Christ’s coming, and Revelation is pointing to Christ’s second coming. And Jesus words will always remain true: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:16). As for me, I know I am just a sinner saved by the grace of God in Jesus Christ, and that’s good enough for me.