One of the inescapable facts of the Gospel is that God had no other way to redeem men than to send his Son into the world for that specific task.
From this proceeds the second inescapable fact, that man has no other way of salvation than through faith in the work of God’s Son.
Basic to these two is the fact and nature of sin and its effect on mankind. That sin is an offense against a holy God and that it separates man from his Creator is self-evident. But the magnitude of the offense can be judged only in the light of the magnitude of the cost of redemption, and of God’s love that made it possible.
Many observations can be made about the Cross. Viewed from God’s standpoint, it is the focus of his cleansing love. But man must see it as an instrument of torture and death, and if he is to see himself as he is he must see on that Cross the perfect, pure, and holy Son of God.
There is no meaning in the Gospel until we realize the necessity of judgment. To minimize the enormity and universality of sin is to miss completely the witness of Scripture and the nature of the unredeemed heart. Not for nothing did Paul argue about justice and self-control and future judgment as he witnessed to Felix.
Let us make this plain: We are talking about God’s only way to save the sinner and about the sinner’s need to recognize that he has no alternative but to accept God’s way.
Our Lord categorically said: “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” The Apostle Peter affirmed the same truth—“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Man’s obligation is not to look for another means of salvation but to receive God’s means—his only means.
It seems unfitting to speak of God as facing a dilemma, but it can be reverently assumed that God was confronted with just that—either to let man be irrevocably alienated from him or to offer his Son as the means of cleansing, forgiveness, propitiation, and redemption.
And it is certainly fitting to say that man’s dilemma is his own inability to save himself and the necessity of receiving God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness in the person of his Son.
Damnation is no longer a popular word, except on the lips of the profane. But Scripture is too clear about the ultimate end of the unrepentant to ignore what it has to say. If the wages of sin is death, if the state and end of the sinner is separation from God, if the choice is heaven or hell, then surely we need to find out what God says about these things and what he has done on man’s behalf.
We are confronted with a dual situation. God had no alternative but to send his Son. Man has no alternative but to accept this gift. Much of man’s indifference stems from his failure to realize what God has done and why he did it. Not only so, but man is faced with the necessity of accepting in faith that which he is unable to explain.
The appeal to faith is not a subterfuge; it is the sole means by which God’s dilemma and man’s only hope can be brought into focus. Some deplore any position that leaves no alternatives, but life is full of such situations.
If the Scriptures are to be taken as authoritative in matters of faith and practice, then even a casual search will show that God’s love and redemptive plan are offered to man as his only way out.
If there were an iota of capriciousness in the divine offer of salvation, if there existed even the suggestion that the way is not plain or that it is only partial, either in provision or effect, there might be room for human argument.
But the offer of forgiveness is universal, and its effect is universal to all who will accept. That man should carp about the necessity of accepting God’s gift before it can become his is one of those perversions of human nature that can be resolved only by the Spirit of God.
The finality of Christ as God’s way to redeem man can be denied only by denying the revelation of his love and mercy.
Christ has no legitimate competitors, nor are there other sources for man’s relief. Christ precedes and transcends all others. At no time in human history has he not been “standing in the shadows” as the One who is, who was, and who is to come. He is and always has been the determining factor, and in his own time he will ring down the curtain of human history and merge time with eternity, of which he has always been a part.
On the one hand, had God had some other way whereby to overcome the power of sin, it is reasonable to think he would have exercised it. At the same time, the fact that the Bible reveals no alternative for man but to accept redemption on God’s terms and in his way should put an end to quibbling and lead men to receive joyfully that which is spoken of as “such a great salvation.”
Man’s view is so infinitesimal within the panorama of eternity that he should realize the futility and perverseness of questioning God’s plan. That God has abundantly revealed this to men makes any questioning all the more irreverent and foolish.
The writer once heard a scholar declare: “I refuse to try to ‘get by’ on the basis of what you claim Christ did for me.” That refusal was his privilege, as it is the privilege of men of all times, but this in no way invalidates what Christ did on Calvary or the fact that the salvation effected there is God’s only way for man.
Again we are thrown back on the height and depth and breadth of man’s need and the transcendent fact that Christ meets that need to the fullest.
A correspondent recently questioned our right to speak of God as having “concern” for sinful man, saying that because he is sovereign such a word is out of place. But is “love” out of place in speaking of him? Can we not speak of his mercy? Of course we can, and when we say God was and is “concerned” about man we are reflecting the overwhelming thought that this “concern” went the limit to provide a way out for man.
Confronted, then, with God’s only way, how can we do less than accept that way as our only hope? This is the very antithesis of legalism. It is accepting as fact that for our need there is a solution—one solution—and that God’s “whosoever” includes us and every other sinner.
We readily admit that there are deep mysteries in the sovereign grace of God. It could not be otherwise. Paul caught the temper of the unregenerate in these words: “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Rom. 9:20).
We are confronted with two amazing truths: God provided the only way of redemption, his Son and his Cross; and man too has an only way, God’s Son and his Cross. Thus we find that God’s only way is also man’s—and it leads to an eternity with him.
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