God’s Claim of Exclusivity

One of the most offensive things about biblical faith to those who do not agree is the claim of exclusivity. People are often put off strongly by the claim of a Christian that Jesus is the only way that anyone can be right with God. The world in general is not offended if we say that Jesus is our way to find peace or a way to be right with God, but they are deeply offended when we suggest that those who try another way are under the judgment of God.

But the Lord has always been clear that he is the only God. He is clear that there is no other way to be forgiven and to have a future of joy after this life. There is one God and one way to life.

Psalm 96:4-5

4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.

Look at the simple words recorded above in Psalm 96. God is pulling no punches. God is to be praised. Why? Because he is the only true God. There is one and only one God, the Lord, the God of the Bible.

What does God say about those who would follow other religions, other deities? What does God make of other faiths? It is not inclusive. In verse 5, we see this, “For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols.” God calls false gods worthless idols. They cannot save.

But what claim does God make about himself? Why does he have the right to claim that following him is the only way? Verse 5 also says to us, “but the Lord made the heavens.” That is a simple factual claim. If it is true, the psalm suggests, it proves that God has the right to declare himself utterly different than the gods of all other religions. God claims to be the Creator.

The funny thing is, for many, the claim of fact here is something they often ignore. This is assumed to be a relative claim. Relative claims are claims of value, of preference: Chocolate is better than vanilla; football is better than basketball; red is better than blue. But God is making no such claim. God is declaring ownership of the universe because he made it. Either he did or he did not. Either this is truth or a lie. There is no middle ground, none at all.

If the words of the Bible are true, God is the only God. He created the universe. And the only way for us to escape eternal judgment is to enter into his grace by being made right with the Creator. The only way to be made right with the Creator, according to John 14:6, is through Jesus Christ.

It seems to me that people are offended by the exclusivity of the faith because they assume that the simple claim of fact is read as a relative claim. God is creator. That is a yes or no. There is no other option. But many see that as a preference, “I like this deity over that one. I like this system of morality over that one. I think I am better than you because I like my system of morality over yours.” But that is not at all what the Bible is saying. It is not at all what the Christian is saying. We are simply saying that we believe the Bible. Believing the Bible requires that we believe that there is one God over the universe, the one who created it, and we owe him everything. We believe that there is one way to be right with that God, by grace and through faith in Jesus Christ alone. We are not claiming to be better or worse than any religion. We are claiming to be factually correct. The alternative is that we are completely wrong. But we are not claiming personal superiority. We are simply believing that Jesus is the only way to salvation. This ought to be no more offensive than a claim that 2 + 2 = 4 or that the moon orbits the earth. If we are wrong, we are completely wrong. If we are correct, we are completely correct.