Bishop Eric Menees
We continue our exploration of the "Jerusalem Declaration" (the full text of which can be found here: https://www.gafcon.org/resources/the-complete-jerusalem-statement). This week we look at point five: the Uniqueness of Christ.
We gladly proclaim and submit to the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humanity’s only Saviour from sin, judgement and hell, who lived the life we could n ot live and died the death that we deserve. By his atoning death and glorious resurrection, he secured the redemption of all who come to him in repentance and faith.
Point five of the “Jerusalem Declaration” is what everything hangs upon within Christianity: that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Bluntly, it states that there is no other way to heaven.
In my inaugural Convention address to the Diocese, I told you all how proud I was of you for making the courageous stand that you did to pick up and leave the Episcopal Church. I stated how important your actions were, because TEC was “actively leading people to hell.” This statement drew a good deal of attention from people outside of Convention, and was even quoted accurately - if out of context - in a book written by one TEC bishop’s wife. Why did I make such a bold statement? Because it is true.
Over the last 100 years or so, this foundational doctrine of the church has become the most controversial and the most blurred by well intentioned people. People who tell themselves, “Well, God is good and gracious and merciful, and he wouldn’t let nice people - good people - go to hell.” Hell is reserved for the Hitlers and the Stalins of this world, they would say. While it is true that God, and God alone, is Judge, His Word is clear that it is only through belief in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that Salvation is found. This is what Jesus told Thomas in the Upper Room: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14)
When we fail to share that message; when we say, “Well, it’s not my place to tell people about Jesus Christ,” we are - in effect - saying: “Go to hell.” Of course, TEC is not alone in this; all mainline denominations are falling prey to “we are all children of God” syndrome.
You’ve all heard it, and perhaps stated it: “We are all children of God.” But we have no basis for believing that. It is not stated in the Bible. In fact, the whole of scripture is clear: we are all sinners in need of a savior. The idea that we are “all children” of God is, I believe, a lie of the devil who is the “father of all lies.” (John 8:44)
Scripture is clear in Genesis: we are all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and, therefore, deserving of all dignity and respect; from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. However, it is through belief in Jesus Christ that we are adopted as the Father’s sons and daughters. John 1:12 states clearly: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God….” Belief in Jesus is the prerequisite to adoption as children of God.
If we accept the lie that we are all children of God, then we have no obligation to invite people to believe in Jesus because - as children of God - all are going to heaven. This is the “all paths lead to God” thinking. “All religions are alike - they all teach the same basic thing, don’t they?” The answer is an unequivocal: “No, they don’t!” I agree with C.S. Lewis, who stated that all religions contain an element of truth, but only Christianity contains the fullness of truth.
I am proud of the fact that we, in the Anglican Church in North America and the Diocese of San Joaquin, have rejected the lie of the devil and accepted the truth of Jesus Christ; that Jesus truly is the way, the truth, and the life; that no one comes to the Father except through him.
I pray you all a blessed week and encourage you to share your faith with a friend!