“There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”- 1 Timothy 2:5
The Heidelberg Catechism explores what we must know to live and die in the comfort of belonging to Christ under three main points. Thus far, we have focused mostly on the first point — the depth of our sin and misery. We have also begun to examine the second point — how we are set free from our sin and misery. The answer to question 18 of the catechism emphasizes this second point clearly. To understand how we are freed from sin and misery, we must know the identity of the Mediator who releases us — “our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Today’s passage is but one of many in Scripture that reveal Jesus as the only One in whom we can be reconciled to God the Father. This teaching that people can be saved only through Christ is sometimes called “the scandal of particularity” because fallen men and women hate the idea that there is but one way of salvation. It is scandalous to the relativism of our era that our Creator would provide only one path to eternal life. In most free societies, people happily let us worship Jesus as long as we do not make a fuss. But if we say Jesus is the only Savior, intolerance rears its head, often and ironically in the guise of “tolerance.”
Lest we think that our experience is altogether new, let us recall that the world has always rejected the Lord’s freedom to provide but one way of salvation. The kings of ancient Israel rejected the one true God, building altars to foreign gods and persecuting the prophets who condemned syncretism (1 Kings 16:29–34; 18:3–4). In itself, worshiping Jesus did not prompt the caesars to persecute the early church; rather, the emperors killed our forefathers in the faith because they affirmed only the lordship of Christ and would not worship others alongside Him.
Few of us will be called to die a martyr’s death for the sake of Christ. We will, however, be tempted to remain silent when others want to broaden the narrow road to God. Some of us will lose our jobs or promotions at work because we refuse to preach anything but Christ crucified. Perhaps our relationships with family and friends will suffer because we affirm the scandal of particularity. Nevertheless, we must maintain the exclusivity of Christ, for if we deny it, we are not loving people but cutting them off from the only way to eternal life (John 14:6).
“One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5) — this indeed is a scandalous confession in our day. We should not expect otherwise, however, for apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, no one can receive Jesus as the only way to the Father. Instead of being surprised or staying silent when the exclusivity of Christ is rejected, we should instead hold fast to our confession and pray that others would see the truth of it.
Passages for Further Study