2001-06-01 - One-Way Street
Getting Back to Basics, Part 1
Some of us take for granted the knowledge of certain bottom-line beliefs, such as theVirgin Birth of Christ. But judging by letters from devotional readers, as well as some questions from people in my own church, there are some misconceptions out there about the basic beliefs of the Christian faith. I'm not referring to Presbyterian doctrine vs. Baptist but rather simple Christian tenets. Some believers don't really understand what beliefs accompany being a Christian. Over the next several weeks, we will take a look at some of these. We will start by examining the fact that Christ is the only means of salvation provided by God.
This is not a popular belief in America, in 2001. There is a "whatever floats your boat" mentality, that says that whatever you believe is okay, as long as you are sincere and don't force your belief on someone else. There are some very moral people who are Buddhists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims etc. But their beliefs will not get them into Heaven. Sometimes if you assert that Christ is the only way to the Father, you will be misunderstood as someone who is intolerant. But the simple fact is that the Bible is pretty clear that there is only one route to eternal life:
John 14:6 (RSV) Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me."
Peter reiterated this:
Acts 4:10-13 (RSV) "Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
Jesus did not say "Mohammed and I are the way," or "being a good person is the way." He said that He is THE way. Sometimes grammar is very crucial, and this is one of those cases. Jesus did not use an indefinite article; He did not say "I am a way." He used definitive and exclusive language, saying He is the only way to God.
Some people think because they are "good people," e.g. attend church, don't cheat on their taxes or help the poor, that they will be saved. But the Apostle Paul reminds us that we cannot depend on our good deeds to carry us to Heaven:
Ephesians 2:8-9 (RSV) For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God -- not because of works, lest any man should boast.
Jesus said that even some people who are intellectually knowledgeable about the Bible do not possess eternal life. There is a difference between "head knowledge" and "heart knowledge."
John 5:38-40 (RSV) You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
Ironically, they rejected the very Savior about Whom they were voraciously reading. Today many people reject Him, believing they can pick and choose what someone has called "cafeteria Christianity." But the road to Heaven is a One-Way street. As a necklace I had in the 70's correctly pronounced, "Jesus is THE Way."