I just had a physical with my doctor. Thankfully, everything is looking good.
After we were done, I asked him a question: “Have you ever had to tell someone that they were going to die soon?” He told me that he had; he said it was the hardest thing he did as a physician. But in most cases, he would detect a problem and give them a course of action that, if followed, would save their life.
As a pastor, I am in a similar situation, but with even more radical implications. Because I believe the Bible is true, I know both the problem and the cure to what happens beyond the grave.
It is said by some, “All roads lead to God.” You may be surprised to know that I happen to agree with that. I did not say all roads lead to heaven, but that all roads lead to God. Regardless of what you may or may not believe, I do think you will stand before God one day. But there is only one way to get to heaven. And that is the one issue that more people choke on than any other.
It is said, “Are you saying Jesus Christ is the only way, and that if someone doesn’t believe in Him they’re actually going to hell? That’s so narrow! So insensitive! So intolerant!” By insisting that Jesus is the only way to approach God, I may sound to certain people like I’m implying I’m somehow better than they are, or that I look down on them in some way. But I want you to know that I have a very good reason for believing that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. I believe it because He said so. It isn’t my theory; it isn’t my idea; it is His! It was Jesus who clearly stated, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6 NKJV). How plain is that?
The bottom line is that we’re either going to believe everything Jesus said or nothing that He said. As for me, I choose to put my faith and trust in Him – for my years here on earth and for my eternity.
In Acts 4:12, the apostle Peter declared, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (NKJV). Paul told Timothy, “For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5 NLT). If I claim to be His follower and believe His words, then I would be less than honest if I said anything but this. As a Christian, I am in no way better or superior to anyone else. I’m just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.
Maybe you’ve had someone say to you, “Well, all religions basically say and teach the same thing. They’re all true. And besides, if a person is really sincere in what they believe, they’ll get to heaven.” This type of fuzzy, illogical, politically correct thinking is typical of so many today – making the most important decisions of life on the basis of feelings and opinions.
Let’s take this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion. If a person truly is sincere in what he believes and tries to live a good life, then he will get to heaven. So Adolf Hitler is in heaven, right? He sincerely believed what he was doing was right. He had a sincere view of racial supremacy and thought it was right to exterminate the Jewish people.
It also appears that Osama bin Laden is sincere in thinking Allah wanted him to kill 3,000 people. He was honest and genuine about his belief that every American man, woman and child are infidels deserving death. So, why wouldn’t he end up in some kind of paradise?
“No!” you protest. “He is not good!” Really? According to whose definition? Yours? Mine? The person next door? Is it determined by consensus? Why is it wrong to lie, steal and murder? As much as we hate to admit it, it’s because God said it is wrong in the Ten Commandments, among other places. This is why sincerity is never enough. We have to have a set of absolutes to live by. We can’t simply make up the rules as we go along. You may want to believe that “all roads lead to God.” You may really and sincerely hope that every religion is basically true and that they somehow all blend beautifully together.
The great world religions do not all teach the same thing. And I say that with respect for all people to believe what they choose to believe. We don’t need to vilify, threaten or attack one another. We need a civil discourse, and we need to agree to disagree. But on the other hand, let’s not foolishly say every religion is teaching the same thing, because they are not. For instance, take these three truths into consideration:
- Concerning the existence of a personal God. Buddhists deny it altogether. Hindus believe that God is formless and abstract, taking the form of a trinity as well as millions of lesser gods. In direct contrast, the Bible teaches that God is a personal deity, who created man in His own image, loves us and wants to have a relationship with us.
- Concerning salvation. Buddhists believe salvation comes by self-effort alone – with no personal God to help or guide you. Hindus believe you achieve salvation by devotion, works and self-control. Muslims insist that man earns his own salvation, pays for his own sins, and that you can never be certain if you have achieved salvation or not. In stark contrast, the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and if we will turn from our own way and follow Him, we can be forgiven and have the hope of heaven.
- Concerning Jesus Christ. Buddhists believe Jesus was a good teacher, but less important than Buddha. Hindus believe Jesus was just one of many incarnations, or sons of God. They teach that Christ was not the one-and-only Son of God. He was no more divine than any other man, and He did not die for man’s sins. Muslims will tell you that Jesus Christ was only a man, a prophet equal to Adam, Noah or Abraham, all of whom are below Muhammad in importance.
Do you see my point? It doesn’t work to believe in all of the above. The tenets of these religions directly contradict one another. They cannot all be true. These belief systems are diverse and contradictory. In reality, they have little to nothing in common.
Jesus claimed to be the only way to the Father. It is not enough to admire Him or think of Him as a “great moral teacher.” We must examine His unique claims and make a decision concerning Him.
C. S. Lewis, the great Christian thinker and author of “The Chronicles of Narnia,” said, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. … You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (“Mere Christianity,” 52).
Make your decision about what you believe, based on the facts, not on your feelings.