Saturday, March 14, 2009

Is Jesus the Only Way?

One day the Lifestyle/religion editor asked whether I'd be interested in doing a "New Age," story then asked, "Don't you believe we all will end up in the same place no matter what religion we follow?"

He went on to name the world's major religions.

I silently asked God for wisdom, then answered, "If we do, God certainly did a number on His Son when He sent Him to die on the cross for our sins!"

A growing number of professing Christians today no longer believe Jesus is the only way to heaven. What does the Bible say about this?

John 3:16 tells us "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life."

Jesus shed His blood on the cross, then came out of the tomb alive and conquered death. All we have to do is accept Jesus as our Savior, believe God raised Him from the dead, confess it with our mouths, and we'll live eternally (Romans 10:9). That's the Gospel.

The Apostle Paul showed what a religion believes about Jesus is the ultimate test of whether or not the teachings are false. For instance, the Corinthian Christians were being deceived by false prophets corrupting their minds. Paul compared them to Eve when the devil came to tempt her: "For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough" (2 Corinthians 11:3-5 NIV).

If we want to make it to Heaven, we shouldn't put up with false prophets as some of them did.

What did Paul and the other apostles preach? The gospel given to them by Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus told His disciples He is God and that He was there at creation and He lived before Abraham. The exact quotes: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:57-59; "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," and Jesus answered and said unto him, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 16:15-17).

Jesus also said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father but by me" (John:14:6).

False religions sometimes deny Jesus even lived, but all propaganda contains some truth. Otherwise, no one would believe their teachings. So, the major false prophets say Jesus was a prophet and a good man. They deny His divinity and often the Resurrection. After all, their long dead false prophets are still in their graves or heading there.

Paul gave this warning to the Galatian church: "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" (Galatians 1:7-9 NIV).

False prophets and antichrists are signs that Christ's return is near. In Matthew 24 where Jesus teaches about His Second Coming, He said, "Then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of time..., no, nor ever shall be. Unless those days be shortened, no flesh would be saved....Then if anyone says to you, "Look, here is the Christ!" or "There!" do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive even the elect.... Then will they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory...And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds....

Jesus says when all the prophecies are fulfilled (many of them are in this chapter of Matthew), He will come. He admonished us to be ready, for we don't know when He is coming. We stay ready by living by God's Word, the Bible, and trusting in Jesus' blood.

Some false religions try to force people to follow their teachings. In many countries when people turn away from the prevailing religion, they are killed. Even in Christianity, false prophets tried to force people to embrace it, such as during the Catholic Inquisition when "heretics" were tortured for their faith

Aa person becomes a Christian, however, when he DECIDES to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior. That's why thousands who attended Billy Graham's crusades "made a decision to follow Jesus."

The writer to the Romans asked, "Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living" Romans 6:15-17).

The truth is, God never forces anyone to serve Him, although not serving God puts us in danger of the Judgment (Matthew 5:21-23.) Freedom to choose is why the Bible is filled with stories of sinners and people who rebelled.

You can choose anything you want to believe. Anything about who we are, how we got here, where we're going takes faith. We DECIDE whether to obey God, accept the sacrifice for sin by His son, and obey the commandments to love God and others. No one can force you to be Christian.

However, I have decided to follow Jesus. I am staying on my knees, keeping in the Word, and believing in the Creator of the Universe, the One who knew me and loved me before I was born, and the One who forgave my sins and that I might inherit eternal life.