In a world full of spiritual diversity the general consensus of the way to salvation has always been a subject of conclusive differences. One of the main culprits to this confusion is the many different religions and denominations within those religions that propose their man-made doctrines of how man can earn his way to heaven.
If so many different faiths and religions have their own conclusion as to the way to salvation then how do we know who is right? They can’t all be right? Surely the Lord Himself would not leave us unknowingly stranded with something as important as how we can spend eternal life in His presence. So then how do we know what the Lord has to say about this issue? The answer is simple and the source for that answer is obvious—the Bible!
You say, but the Bible was written by men! That is the classic cop-out for many that breeze through the Bible like it’s a doctor’s office magazine and claim that they have evaluated it to be false or errant. The person that studies the Scriptures humbly seeking God won’t take long to hear God speaking to him through His Words and will soon see that there is no way that men on their own accord could have compiled those 66 books to reveal God in the way that they do.
Even if God Himself wrote the entire Bible in the presence of the whole world it would only take one or two generations later (that didn’t physically see Him write it), to deny that He did. So it is only natural that the Lord would have His children write down His words at His dictation via the Holy Spirit.
With that said, it only seems logical that we turn to God’s Word for the answer to the way to salvation (and all other issues as well). In turning to the Word of God we find that the answer to the way of salvation is a simple one:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
There you have it!
Jesus is the way to heaven. This statement from Jesus is case closed. You say, how so? Because Jesus is Lord (Hebrews 1:8), so what He says is truth and the Lord cannot lie (Titus 1:2 and Hebrews 6:18). More important, Jesus made it simple for us to get to heaven but at a great price. He did the hard part by willingly suffering a cruel Roman crucifixion and then taking on the sins of the entire world. He satisfied God’s wrath toward sin therefore freeing us from condemnation. All we have to do is put our faith in His atonement on the cross for our sins. Faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
The above verse was what the apostle Paul told the jailer when he asked how to be saved. It is such a simple statement and yet so hard for so many to grasp. All of today’s religions and doctrines of self-acclaimed works make it hard for others to see the simple truth. If you are trusting and relying on your good deeds to get you into heaven then you are on the wrong path.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Many will enter through the wide gate that leads to destruction because they follow the “works based” doctrines of their religion or denomination instead of simply relying on Jesus Christ alone, the way that leads to eternal life. The simple message of grace through faith is too difficult for some to accept due to pride and ego. They want to say, “Look what I did” at the end of their lives as their pass into heaven. But if you are saying, “Look what I did” at the end of your life….you won’t be in heaven!
By deciding that you want to earn your salvation by your own merit you are actually cursing yourself because then God would also have to judge all of the bad things you did as well, and if you ever sinned against God so much as once then you can’t dwell with a perfect and holy God. So it isn’t at all about what you did, it is all about what Christ did for you at Calvary.
The biggest misconception of the religions that teach a ‘works based” salvation, (such as Islam, Catholicism, Mormonism, and Judaism), is that they do not fully recognize Christ’s sacrifice as the complete atonement for our sins, if even at all. In fact “religion” in itself is a dangerous thing. Islam is a religion of submission and demands.
You earn your way to heaven with fasting, prayer calls and giving alms. It even teaches that your own martyrdom at the peril of your enemies will grant you an instant high-ranking position into heaven. A deceptive Satanic lie if there ever was one.
In Islam Jesus Christ is only a prophet. Muslims do not acknowledge Him as Lord, Messiah or as the sacrificial substitute for sin. In the case of Mormonism and Catholicism they want to add to the redemptive work of the Cross of Christ. As if Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection were not enough. Catholicism even teaches the doctrine of purgatory where one goes after death to obtain purification to make them worthy to enter into heaven. Again, insinuating that Christ’s sacrifice was insufficient for the atonement of sins.
Furthermore, the Bible teaches nothing of an intermediate state between heaven and hell whatsoever! If the Bible doesn’t mention it then it simply does not exist so don’t put any trust in such a false teaching. Judaism is still living by the Old Testament law disregarding Christ as the Messiah.
We can certainly see that “religion” does not lead us to heaven. If you are counting on the doctrines of these religions for your eternal salvation then you are simply spinning your wheels. No matter how many times you say the rosary, or how much you try to perfect yourself, or how well you try to keep the Old Testament law, at the end of the day you still fall short of God’s standards.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:24).
“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).
James 2:10 tells us that even if we sinned only once in our entire lifetime we cannot go to heaven without Christ’s atonement and forgiveness alone. If you are counting on your deeds to get you into heaven then you would have to live a completely perfect and sinless life that adheres to God’s perfect standards. And that is simply not possible. God’s standards can be found in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17 and again in Deuteronomy 5:6-21).
There is only one person who has ever walked the earth and was able to do that—Jesus Christ. Only a perfect being would be able to qualify to make atonement for sin. That perfect being is God who came down to us in the flesh to do what no man could do: Save us from our sins. Praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ!
The giving of the law was not only God’s way of advising us how we should live but it was also so that we could recognize what sin is. Furthermore it also reflects just how perfect we would have to be to live up to His standards.
“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. There by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:19-20).
Realizing that we cannot keep the law should bring us to repentance. When many people hear that they need to repent they get offended. “What do you mean I need to repent? I’m not a bad person.” We must remember that God does not judge us by human standards but by His divine holy standards and His standards are much higher than ours. God knows our sinful condition and He wants us to come to Him. Repentance is not a reprimand. Repentance is an invitation.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
Our God is reasonable. No matter what you’ve done or what burdens you are lugging around with you, He wants you to come to Him. That is what repentance is about. It is a change of heart. The Lord does not want our good deeds, or our charity, or our alms. He wants our hearts. King David knew this when he wrote:
“For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart – these O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17).
After our hearts have been changed through repentance then it should show in our lives and our deeds. Our good deeds are a reflection of our salvation and our devotion to the One who has saved us. Our newfound salvation should result in our desire to please the Lord. Everyone’s conversion is different. Some may change slowly, others may change immediately. But one way or another there should be some kind of change in us. This change is a result of the grace that we have freely received from God.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
There will be no boasting in heaven. There will only be praise to Jesus Christ who saved us from the depths of sin and death. He did it all. There is nothing that can be added by us to obtain salvation. When Jesus took His last breath on the cross He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). You can rejoice and rest in peace in those three words. Any religion or denomination that adds to the work of the Cross of Christ is on the path to destruction and leading many others down that road.
Deception from religions and denominations can be avoided by knowing your Bible. The Bible contains the Truth. Christ does not want to play religion with you. Christ wants a relationship with you. Jesus Christ is offering forgiveness at no cost to you other than an honest and humble heart. However this forgiveness that He offers came at a high price for Him. That price is evident in the scars on His hands, feet and chest, which are still there (see Zechariah 12:10). They are the only man-made things in heaven!
If you can’t accept Christ’s offer of forgiveness then you can’t be forgiven. He did the hard part all you have to do is accept it. It’s free, it costs you nothing, and you don’t even have to leave your house to get it. You can obtain eternal salvation right where you are sitting. He makes it simple for us. Religious deeds will run you ragged but accepting the Lord into your heart is a simple matter that only requires humbling yourself to the Holy Spirit. Such a simple task but yet with so much at stake!
I would like to illustrate this in an analogy. Suppose you contracted this fatal disease (sin) and your doctor (Jesus) gives you a pre-paid formula (the Cross) that is the only cure for that disease but you decide that you are going to cure yourself with your own remedies (works). Who is to blame when you die (hell) without being cured?
Accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior means that God doesn’t see your sins at Judgment. He sees the pure righteousness of Jesus Christ that you have been clothed with (Romans 13:14). THAT is what qualifies you to enter into heaven, and then you can enter into the presence of the Father. Receive the grace of Jesus Christ and make the Lord your Father, not your Judge!
The gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ is such a simple matter that Jesus says we need to be like little children to accept it (Matthew 18:4). The core of the gospel is this: We are all sinners. We need to recognize that we are sinners. We need to accept that Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins on the cross and then we need to ask Him into our hearts and for His forgiveness. If we do that with a sincere and contrite heart, He will not turn any of us down. No “religion” is able to that for you. That is the simple truth!
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37).