Forrest Darrell Moyer
Jesus Christ came into the world to seek and to save those who were lost in sin (Luke 19:10). To accomplish this noble mission, it was necessary that He be the Way from earth to Heaven, and such He is. “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh to the father but by me” (John 14:6). This way to Heaven—Jesus—is referred to by such expressions that show the exclusiveness of the way. “Enter ye in at the strait gate … because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life …” (Matt. 7:13-14). Isaiah in the long ago, foretold of this way by saying: “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness …” (Isa. 35:8). The exclusive nature of this way can be seen in each of the foregoing expressions: “the way,” “the strait and narrow way,” and “the highway of holiness.”
This way is exclusive because there is only one way of salvation—only one way to go to Heaven. That way is by Jesus Christ, the only Savior! It is one thing to preach the Gospel as a way or a very good way or even the best way, and another thing entirely to preach the Gospel as the only way. Yet, preaching Jesus as the only way was always a fundamental principle in the apostles’ preaching. “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).
In A. J. Cronin’s book, The Keys of the Kingdom, an interesting illustration is found. “Father” (?) Chisholm states very well the extreme creed of those who have abandoned the exclusiveness of the way of Jesus. Maria Vronica, the Nun, is troubled that the good Dr. Tulloch, who ministered to the Chinese in the plague, was an Atheist, and died one. But “Father” (?) Chisholm tells her:
There is one thing we most of us forget. Christ taught it. The Church teaches it—though you wouldn’t think so to hear a great many of us today. No one in good faith can ever be lost. No one. Buddhists, Mohammedans, Taoists—the blackest cannibals who ever devoured a missionary—if they are sincere according to their own lights, they will be saved. This is the splendid mercy of God. So why shouldn’t He enjoy confronting a decent agnostic at the Judgment Seat with a twinkle in His eye: I’m here, you see. in spite of all they brought you up to believe. Enter the Kingdom which you honestly denied.
But this is wholly contrary to the gospel. The gospel is exclusive. Jesus Christ is exclusive; and the church He built is exclusive. All other ways are wrong and will lead to eternal destruction. “Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there be that go in thereat.” This is why Jesus prayed for the unity of His disciples in the world: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17;20-21). Let us discuss the singularity and simplicity of God’s way — the only way of salvation.
Jesus Built But One Church
In order to accomplish His mission of saving the lost, Jesus built the church. The church is the abode of the saved, for God adds every saved person to the church (Acts 2:47). The church is the temple of God (Eph. 2:20-22) wherein man must give acceptable worship. Now when Jesus was to establish the church, He never promised to build but one church. Hear Him: “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). There is no stretch of imagination possible that will allow any kind of interpretation that Jesus promised more than one church. When Jesus died, He purchased the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28). How many churches did Jesus purchase? He purchased only one. But we look about us today and see a plurality of churches, and these are different. Do we conclude that these different churches and denominations came from the one God and were built by the one Lord? We cannot so conclude. There was only one church in existence in the New Testament days. So far as I know, no scholar would even attempt to argue that point. Mr. Hiscox, author of The Standard Manual for Baptist Churches, says: “It is most likely that in the Apostolic Age where there was but one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, and no differing denominations existed…” (p. 22).
We sometimes hear the statement made to the effect that all the denominations form the one true church. But even if that were true, such would still constitute sin in God’s sight for He has spoken in this manner: “I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). Now, I know that this was written to the church and does not apply to denominations except from this standpoint: if all denominations formed the one church, then they would be in violation of this passage which was written to the church. Jesus built but one church, and will not sanction division within it.
The Vine and the Branches (John 15:1-6)
This passage illustrates vividly the exclusiveness of the Lord’s way. In their derision some have gone to this passage to try to uphold a plurality of churches saying, “Christ is the vine and denominations or churches are the branches. We are all just different branches in the true vine.” But we can eliminate such an interpretation without even examining the passage. It is axiomatic that a vine produces but one fruit. We cannot imagine a vine producing many branches each bearing a different kind of fruit. Such is contrary to reason because it is contrary to God’s law of reproduction.
We do not see Jesus as a plurality of vines with many branches in each vine, and each growing in such a way as to conflict with the other. The passage teaches that Jesus Christ is the vine and that disciples (individuals) are the branches. That this is true is evident:
1) Jesus was speaking to His disciples when He said, “Ye are the branches.”
2) Jesus teaches: “Abide in me.” We are not to abide in some branch, but in Jesus, the true vine. If you are abiding in some branch, you are wrong because your abode is net in the One Who said: “Without me ye can do nothing.”
3) Verse 6 states plainly that a branch is a man—an individual—not a church or denomination. “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch.”
4) Can you imagine a vine producing a number of different fruits—watermelon, cucumber, pumpkin, cantaloupe, etc.—all at the same time? Yet some think that the vine has produced Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Adventists, Holiness, etc. Such, indeed, cannot be!
This parable, rather, teaches the exclusiveness of the Lord’s way.
God is the Father of One Family—The Church
“…In the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). The church, therefore, is God’s family. We cannot see several families here, each having its own name, government, doctrine, and laws, and yet each claiming God as its father. To accuse God of having more than one family is a reflection upon Him that I dare not make. The family is the church; therefore, there is one church. And again we see the exclusiveness of God’s way. We cannot preach that salvation comes in any way that man chooses; we must preach an exclusive gospel—that there is only one way into heaven. That is by being in God’s family.
Jesus is the One Shepherd of the One Flock—The Church
In John 10:16 Jesus said: “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” He was speaking to the Jews. The “other sheep” are the Gentiles. Paul informs us of this in Eph. 2:11-16. In verse 11 he was speaking concerning the Gentiles in the flesh. He said further,
Having abolished in the flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.
Thus, the both refers to Jew and Gentile. The one new man is the body which is the church. In Acts 20:28 the church is referred to as the flock. The one fold is the church with Jesus as the one Shepherd. Does this look like a number of different and conflicting churches? No, it is the one fold in which both Jews and Gentiles—all nations alike—have salvation granted them on equal terms.
Jesus is the Head of One Body—The Church
To prove this proposition I need only to turn to Eph. 1:22-23 which says, “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” There can be no doubt in the mind of any person who believes the Bible. Jesus is the head of the church, and the church is the body (Col. 1:18). What is the body? It is the church! How many bodies are there? “There is one body” (Eph. 4:4). There again we see the exclusiveness of the Gospel! It is emphasized still further in 1 Cor. 12:20: “But now are they many members, yet but one body.” The figure is easily understood. Jesus is the head; the church is the body; Christians are the members; and there is one body. We cannot sincerely believe the Bible and believe that there are many churches and that man has a right to the church of his own choice. The choice is God’s to build and to give His law. He chose to build one church and to govern that church by His law. It is ours to follow and accept His will.
For me to be saved by the gospel, certain things are essential.
1) I must be in God’s family, be a child of God, to be saved. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27). Thus, I become a child of God by faith when I am baptized into Jesus.
2) To be saved, I must be a sheep in the one fold. To be one of Jesus’ sheep, I must “Hear his voice and follow him” (John 10:27). I must be in the flock of God which is the church that Jesus purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28).
3) To be saved, I must be in the one body. “That he might reconcile both unto God in one body” (Eph. 2:16). Since Jesus is the “savior of the body” (Eph. 5;23), I must be part of that body if I expect Him to save me. I enter that body by being baptized into it. (1 Cor. 12:13).
4) If I expect eternal life, I must abide faithfully in the true vine. “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6).
All these figures point out the exclusiveness of the gospel plan of salvation. Believing in the Lord, I must be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). This act places me within Christ, who is the true vine. It puts me into the body which is the church. It gives me reconciliation within that body. It unites me with Christ, the vine, and as a faithful branch, I must bear much fruit. Friend, are you in this exclusive way that will take you home to Heaven?