Saturday, October 21, 2006

Are There Many Ways To Heaven?

by Mark Larson
www.cvillechurch.com

“We’re All Trying to Get to Heaven, Just Taking Different Paths to Get There.” How often have you heard that statement? Too often, it has been said by people who want to legitimize most any religious belief or practice. Rather than examine the different religious beliefs that people have by the Scriptures, most people prefer to show “tolerance” and not interfere with what others believe the religion of God or the truth in religion to be. In American society where freedom is trumpeted, the philosophy is: “Everyone is free to worship the God of their choice and the religion they like best.” Unfortunately, respect for freedom has been taken to the extreme by most people. Rather than question the existence of the many different religious groups and denominations that we have, people accept religious divisions as a way of life in America.

If Many Paths to Heaven Are Possible, Then Jesus Died on the Cross in Vain!

Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). If any path to Heaven will do, then Jesus needlessly died on the cross for our sins. The Bible clearly teaches that only through Christ can one have access to God in Heaven (Acts 4:12; Eph. 2:18; 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 7:25). Even though there are many different religions in the world, only the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ will lead a person to Heaven.

Not All “Christian” Beliefs and Practices Will Lead to Heaven

Many people in America agree that only through Christ a person may go to Heaven. Yet, at the same time, these same people believe there are many different beliefs and practices that people may have to express their “Christianity” that will all lead to Heaven! For them the motto is: “Preach the man, not the plan.” What they mean by this expression is that the only important issue is that people believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. What people happen to believe about other matters and practices in religion is of no real consequence to them, so we need not be concerned. The belief that all so called “Christian” paths lead to Heaven usually comes from the “Can’t we all just get along” philosophy in the desire for unity.

Belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is at the core of the gospel (1 Cor. 15:3-4). However, the Lord made it clear that no one can go to Heaven by following beliefs and practices that are contrary to the Father’s will (Mat. 7:21-23). Some paths that people choose in religion definitely do not lead to Heaven (2 Pet. 2:1-3). Just because a religious group or teaching makes the claim to be of Christ, does not make it so. All religious teachings, including those associated with the name of Christ must be tested by the word of God (1 John 4:1; Acts 17:11). Contrary to popular belief, what a person believes and teaches does matter! (Gal. 1:6-9).

Would You Take Any Road to Travel to Your Destination?

In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus does not speak of many ways that lead to life, but only one “narrow” way of truth. It is amazing that people do not understand this principle in religion, yet in travel most everyone does. Imagine being on a road trip and you stopped to ask a man for directions to Nashville and he told you “Take any way you want to. It doesn’t matter which way you go. Any road you choose will lead you to it.” You would wonder if the man was mentally unstable, dishonest, or just “pulling your leg!” Not all roads will lead to Nashville or to our final destination in travel. Neither do all roads in religion lead to Heaven.

Religious Paths Invented by Men Do not Lead to Heaven

When a person comes up with their own way to get to Heaven and does not take the one “narrow” way that God has given, the place he or she will end up is not Heaven, but Hell. The Bible warns against coming up with our own way to Heaven: “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Prov 14:12). People will take many different paths invented by men (e.g., religious creeds, traditions, popular opinion or philosophy, worldly wisdom, family customs, etc.), yet not one of these will lead to Heaven. It does not matter how sincere people are in their moral and religious convictions. If the path they have chosen to take to Heaven is the wrong path, it will still lead to “the pit of destruction” (Mat. 15:12-14).

Only the Path of Truth Will Lead to Heaven

When we listen to the truth, believe in its message, and obey it, we then know that we are on the right path that leads to Heaven (Eph. 1:13; 1 Pet. 1:22). By continuing in God’s word, which is truth (John 17:17), we can be set free from our sins (John 8:32) and have the hope of eternal life. Only through faithful obedience to the words of Jesus (law of Christ as revealed in N.T. - 1 Cor. 9:21) may a person have confidence in going to Heaven after this life is over (John 12:48).

The Path to Heaven Must Be Chosen

Most people believe, that in “the end,” they will somehow be received up into Heaven by virtue of “the fact” that they are “good” people who want to be saved. Rather than choose a particular path to get to Heaven, they just assume that Heaven is their home and hope for the best.
The Scriptures teach that no one can enter into Heaven by good morality alone, no matter what the standard of good a person may have. Everyone needs to obey the gospel to have their sins forgiven and be saved: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Even a devout and generous man like Cornelius still needed to obey the gospel to be saved (Acts 10:1-2, 48; cf. Acts 2:38). Everyone needs to obey the truth to go to Heaven, no matter how “good” a person may be.

Furthermore, no one stumbles into Heaven by chance or accidentally! Instead, the path that leads to Heaven must be chosen on purpose and traveled upon deliberately throughout life: “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things (i.e., vs. 4-9), you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” (2 Pet. 1:10-11). After obeying the gospel (i.e., Acts 16:31ff; Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 2:38), every Christian must stay the course, remain faithful, and continue on the path of truth to the end in order to go to Heaven (Heb. 3:12-14; Rev. 2:10).

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