The Question "Why is Jesus the Only Way to the Father?"
John 14:6, "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.'"
Why is Jesus the only way to the Father?
Short answer: Because we humans were once spirits in heaven residing in peace under the Rule of Christ as "head" of that heavenly, spiritual domain, Who had been appointed as so by God. It was against Christ's Rule that we rebelled under the leadership of that spirit known today as Lucifer. Once allegiances to Lucifer had been made by 1/3 of the spirits of Heaven, the line had been drawn in the sand: Rebellion against Christ's Rule ejected the spirits from heaven, known as the Fall of the spirits from Heaven. It was against Christ that we rebelled long, long, long ago (see Rev 12:4). Thus, it is by Christ that we are led to the Father. Only by recognizing Christ, once again, as our Lord, do we return to the Father. Residency in Heaven requires allegiance to the One upon whom the Father has bestowed the Regency of Heaven. And that Regent is Christ. Hence, Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father.
Is one eternally damned to Hell for not accepting Jesus as the only way to the Father? John 3:16 says nothing about eternality as a consequence for not accepting Jesus as one's Lord and Savior: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." What does it mean to "believe in Jesus"? Note here that "shall not perish" does not have a qualifier for time, i.e., there is no duration for the perishing expressed here. The phrase "have eternal life" is certainly qualified by an expression of time, "eternal." But what does this mean? Humans are not "eternal" in the way that God is said to be "eternal." God's eternality is interpreted as "without a beginning and without an end." But humans have a beginning and an end, at least, as far as the physical lifecycle goes here on Earth. What kind of life is "eternal life"? Well, it's life in heaven, one might say. So what does it mean to perish? We will all physically perish. So what perishes if one does not "believe in" Jesus? One might say, Well, it means to go to Hell for eternity, that's perishing. But, once again, there is no expression of time or duration for perishing. One extrapolates from "eternal life" that the perishing is "eternal." But whose to say that our fate in Heaven one day might be the fate of the angels that early Judaism said "fell from heaven"? How could one "fall" from Heaven if already a resident there? Does not the status of "angel" guarantee one's permanent residency in Heaven? Was acceptance of Jesus required for residency in heaven by the angels before they fell from heaven? If Christians take seriously the claim made in John 3:16, then it should work backwards as well as forward for later generations of would-be Christians. It should include the angels of heaven. But, according to early Jewish theology, a number of angels fell from heaven and became angels of Satan. Where is the eternality of heaven in this? Are not these angels in Jewish theology meant to be included among those "who believe in Jesus"? Pre-Christian Jews would not have had any concept of the claim made in John 3:16 and 14:6. Nevertheless, early Christians included the story of fallen angels as can be seen in the New Testament at Jude 1:6, "And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day" and 2 Peter 2:4, "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment." Did these angels' residency in heaven, in "eternal life," require their "belief in Jesus" as many Christians believe is required of them if they are to "get into heaven"? Philippians 2:10 seems to suggest such a situation: "so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth." If John 3:16 and 14:6 are to be taken seriously, then seekers should be asking these questions. Just who does John 3:16 include?
Is it possible to come to believe in Jesus after one passes over into an afterlife from a life on Earth spent as a good-hearted, honest Hindu, or Buddhist, or Muslim, or Jew? If not, then why not? If your answer is, "Read John 3:16, it says so!" then you have not thought far enough. If God is Love, then how can there be such a dictum as eternal, without end ever after, damnation? Cannot God's infinite wisdom find a way to win his fallen ones back into the heavenly fold? One common response is if God is infinite in nature, then His judgment is infinite so that those who "perish" do so for an infinite period, i.e. forever. But this logic fails miserably, as it should. Consider the following: The infinite God of the Old Testament often makes conditional statements about how He will treat his subjects. The infinite God's mind can be changed by one of His subjects. The infinite God of the Old Testament "tests" His subjects with the implication that even He does not know their outcome until it happens. The infinite God of the Old Testament inquires of His heavenly spirits for advise and suggestions as to how best to proceed with the problem of King Ahab (1 King 22:20-21). This infinite and mighty God makes plans and reasons out ways that are just. A God of Love and Might and Wisdom does not condemn his erring little ones to an eternal misery: "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!" (Isaiah 49:15). This is expressed even more clearly in Job and the Psalms where God is said to "raise" those who are in "the Pit" or "Sheol" which are Hebrew references to the netherworld that are translated in Greek in English as "Hades" or "Hell." Jonah 2:6 makes a use of the Hebrew word olam which is rendered as "forever," and it does so in the context of being brought down to Sheol "forever." It reads: "To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever (olam). But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit." The cluster "the pit-the roots of the mountains-earth beneath barred" is a reference to the Hebrew underworld, Sheol. Sheol and the Pit sometimes occur in the same verse as synonyms, and so we see here in Jonah 2:6 that despite "sinking down forever" into the Pit, God "brings up from the Pit." The word olam here then does not mean eternal with out end but rather "indefinite futurity;" one's stay in Sheol-Hades-Hell is indefinite, not eternal without end. Does this give us any clue as to how God deals with those in the Pit? If so, then they do not reside there for eternity without end, despite God's infinite nature. If anything, God's infinite nature should suggest that He certainly is able to conceive of a way to aid his fallen ones and help them if they so desire it and cry out for it. Or possibly, God's "fathomless love" (the words of St. Paul) would find a way to aid His fallen ones even if they did not cry out for it.
Jesus' claim that "no one comes to the Father but through me" is elaborated in Colossians 1:15-20, the so-called "Christ Hymn":
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
When Paul writes of "the church" in v. 18, Paul is using a Greek word ekklesia which was used to describe a body of like-minded individuals. The senators who made up the Roman Senate were, as a body, called ekklesia. So when we read "the church" here, it sends a misleading message; one that suggests the church that we all know today. The problem is, however, which church? Catholic? Baptist? Presbyterian? The answer is none of these, for ekklesia in Paul is used in the context of all of those who have come to recognize Christ as their King, much in the way that the Roman senators, who were an ekklesia, looked to the Emperor as their King. The ekklesia that Paul had in mind during his life time could not possibly have been "the church" that would evolve in Rome during the fourth century and later, and the subsequent Protestant churches for the simple reason that they were not in existence at that time. The ekklesia of Paul was a body of those whose allegiance was to Christ, both in heaven and on Earth. Hence, ekklesia was a body of spirits whose allegiance was to Christ, the Regent of Heaven under God; the spirits in Heaven, and the incarnated spirits on Earth who had turned to Christ as their Lord.
Christ is head of the heavenly spiritual world, against whom we rebelled and to whom we will return, all of us, Muslims, atheists, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, the demons in Hell, and Lucifer, the ringleader of the Fall, himself:
EPHESIANS 1:10, "And this is the plan: to bring everything together in Christ; the summing up of all things in Christ, all things in heaven and on earth, together under one head, Christ."
May the Father protect you and lead you by His holy ones, the holy spirits, sent to you out of His grace, and in the name of His Son, Christ.