“Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). In saying this I am making two claims (both of which can be supported from John’s gospel):
1) The saving work of Jesus is the only way to be saved.
2) Putting faith in Jesus is the only way to appropriate that saving work.
In saying this, in espousing what is sometimes called “exclusivism,” I should be clear what I am not saying.
I am not saying that unbelievers are punished because they did not put faith in a Jesus they never heard of. This may sound like the opposite of exclusivism, but it’s not. This is actually a crucial point that exclusivists and their opponents often miss. Those who never hear the gospel are not punished for not knowing Jesus. Not knowing Jesus results in punishment, but sin is the grounds for punishment.
Those who do not put faith in Christ are punished for being sinners. They are punished in the next life for turning the truth of general revelation into a lie (Rom. 1:18-25
). They have broken God’s law, and anyone guilty of even one violation is accountable for the whole law (James 2:10
). Those with no knowledge of Christ will be judged less severely because they had less light, though that judgment will still be far from painless (Matt. 11:20-24
). Our only hope in life and in death is that we are not our own but belong body and soul to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” ~Kevin DeYoung