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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Only One Way to Heaven

(Published in original form in the Sonoma Index-Tribune, August 2005)

Many of you will not like what I say here. In fact, the title alone may have caused you to bristle with irritation. But I feel compelled to address this topic precisely because so many will disagree with it.

Martin Luther once said, “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely the point that the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages is where the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”

So I must follow the orders I have been given by my divine Commander in Chief, and tell you that there is only one way to heaven. All roads do not lead to God. All religions are not equally valid. This is an essential part of the message that Jesus Christ proclaimed to the world, which He told all His followers to pass along.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Jesus said. “No one can come to the Father, except through Me” (John 14:6). The apostle Peter added, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). And Paul agrees: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Then the Scriptures go on to say clearly that people from other religions cannot be saved unless someone tells them about Jesus, and they turn to Him (verses 11-16). “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (verse 17).

Not only do these historical, well-attested sources reveal that Jesus and His appointed messengers believed in only one way to heaven, but it is simply the most reasonable and logical conclusion when we consider how the world works.

Imagine if you arrived at a door with a full key chain in your hand, and someone told you, “It doesn’t matter which key you use—any one will work in the door.”

Or you and your friends have 20 minutes to make it from Malvern to a movie in King of Prussia, and the driver of the car decides to go through downtown Philadelphia on the way. “That’s not the best way to get to King of Prussia,” you tell him. “But it’s the best way for me,” he insists. “And who are you to say that I’m wrong?!”

What if they told you at the hospital, “You don’t need the surgeon to do your appendectomy, the receptionist will do just fine?” You ask them what kind of drugs they’ve inhaled, but they insist that the receptionist is equally qualified, “in her own way.”

How would you like it if a family visited your home, and the parents told their children, “It doesn’t matter where you go to the bathroom—it doesn’t have to be in the toilet.” Then they accuse you of being “narrow-minded” and “bigoted” when you object.

A couple insists that feeding their newborn baby ice cream at every meal is just as valid as any other nutritional approach. And I could go on…

But the point is, of course, that in this world there is knowledge and there is ignorance, there is truth and there are lies, there is right and there is wrong. This is the way things are, so the real issue is, What do we need to know, What is the truth, and What is right? So I want to encourage you to learn more about the One who claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life. Open up a Bible and read about Him, or find a church that believes and teaches all of His Word, including His clear word that there is only one way to heaven.

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