John Piper, the well known pastor, thinker and theologian has provided evangelicalism a systematic and wholly Scriptural unveiling of why one “must hear the Gospel to be saved.” This 2010 manuscript by Piper could not have been published at a better time, for it antedated rather than reacted to the heretical Rob Bell fiasco of Love Wins in which Bell implies that all humanity (as well as all spiritual beings, including Satan himself) will ultimately find redemption and saving forgiveness in Christ, because in the end, according to Bell, love must win. Piper argues against such Universalism in Jesus The Only Way, but he also argues against annihilationism and argues wholeheartedly for the Scriptural truth that Jesus is the only Way, Truth and Life; that no one goes to the Father but by Him; that there is no other name besides “Jesus Christ” by which man can be saved; etc. Piper’s title is not deceiving: what you read is what you get. Ultimately, after developing from Scripture how all this could be, Piper finally challenges all believers to submit fully to the mysteries of Scripture and to stop considering ourselves wiser than God.
Piper’s angle in discussing this great truth of Christ being the only way to God touches a great deal on the importance of missions. In fact, many of his illustrations deal with the theoretical pagan native of some distant land, describing whether or not he would go to heaven after simply fearing some unknown creator god. Piper stresses the importance of reaching to all peoples of all lands, specifically those who have never heard the Gospel. And to back up this truth, it get no clearer than in Paul’s directive from Romans 10:13-15a—
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?”
If I were to select any negative aspects of this book, I would have to argue for a chapter on the destiny of babies and the mentally handicapped who die before the so-called (though non-biblical) “age of accountability.” If Jesus us the only way, why do so many evangelicals maintain their belief that God will accept these children into His glory without faith in Christ? that God will show mercy to these and not to those pagan natives? It seems that in such a book on Jesus’ being the only way to God, Piper would want to address this seeming double-standard that we have all grown to accept.
I highly recommend this book, specifically for those enthralled by or unsure about today’s debates over universalism, annihilationism, and Gospel Truth.