Summary: Is the Reformation over?
In Christ Alone
“I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6)
I returned last week from a Keith and Kristyn Getty worship conference in Nashville. Perhaps their best known song is “In Christ Alone.” As we come to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, we are reminded that this is one of the Reformation’s chief tenents along to a confession of “by faith alone,” “by grace alone,” and “by the Scripture alone.” Let us look further into this.
John 14:6 is a very emphatic statement. First of all, it is one of the seven “I AM” statements in the gospel of John. Jesus could have said this less emphatically. Literally it reads “I, I AM.” This certainly gives us the idea of I and no one else. The very statement excludes any other way, truth, or life. Secondly, it reminds us of Exodus 3:14 and Yahweh telling Moses in response to Moses’ inquiry for His name answers, “I AM that I AM.” So making this statement equates Jesus to the Yahweh who spoke to Moses at the burning bush. This makes Jesus no less than God.
Not only is the “I AM” emphatic, so is the predicate. We have three nouns used as adjectives which tell us something about Jesus. Each of them uses the definite article “the.” Jesus is not “a way” for the Father. He is “the way,” the only way. The three nouns are connected by the conjunction “and.” And puts these three nouns on an equal footing, although others have tried to use :life” and “way” as modifiers to “way” and translate is “The true and living way.” But I feel this weakens the statement. Jesus is described in the prologue of John with the words, “in Him was life.” He also states later that the Father granted Jesus to “have life in Himself.” All other life derives from Him. Also, Jesus is exclusively “the truth. Other statements can be true or factual, but only Jesus is “the truth.”
Finally, the proposition concludes with “No one comes to the Father, except through Me.” So this statement is triply strong. It cannot lead to any other interpretation. The truth of this interpretation stands or falls as a whole. Either this statement is absolutely true or absolutely false. There is no middle ground here. John is either apostle or apostate.
This assertion about Jesus is made throughout the Gospel of John, In another I AM statement, Jesus calls Himself the door to the sheepfold. All others who try to come in some other way are thieves and robbers. In John 15, He describes himself as the vine who gives life to the branches and causes them to produce fruit. Jesus is exclusive. There is no room for Mohamed, Buddha, or even Moses. Jesus is the one who gave command to Moses on the Mount.
I do wish to affirm a Trinitarian position here. There is not the Son only, but there is the Father and the Holy Spirit also. In Matthew 28, the name of the “Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” are bound together with the coordinating conjunction “and” in a similar way to what we mentioned in John 14:6. This use of the conjunction makes all three members of the Godhead equal.
The epistle of First John reinforces the idea of the uniqueness of Jesus to the Christian faith. He states that “He who has the Son has the Father also.” In contrast, he says that “He who does not hold to the Son does NOT have the Father.” You simply cannot be a Christian or even a believer in the only true God apart from recognizing who Jesus is.
Jesus in his farewell discourse tells the disciples and us as well of the role of the Holy Spirit. Though equally God with the Father and the Son, His role is subordinate to Jesus in that He reminds us of Jesus’ words and leads us into “all truth.” And since all truth is centered in Jesus, this means that the role of the Holy Spirit is to lead us to Jesus. This is the chosen way. Some may feel that undue emphasis is placed on Jesus to the detriment of the Father. Even in Evangelical circles, there seems to be some embarrassment about the person of Jesus. Jesus has been reduced so that the Father might receive greater glory. Some elevate the Holy Spirit above Jesus as well. But this is rank heresy. If God has so appointed Jesus Christ such exalted privilege, who are we to disobey God by diminishing Jesus? Even if we could make overmuch about Jesus, and we can not, the previous statement about the one having the Son has the Father also serves to say that we are still fully affirming the Father when we glorify the Son. We simply cannot honor the name of Jesus enough. One cannot rightly call someone a “Son” without also affirming the existence of the Father. When you affirm the Son, you affirm the Father also.