Archives For salvation

Like spokes on a bicycle wheel, roads spread from the capital of the Roman Empire. By the 1100’s, the metaphor was already being used. All roads lead to Rome.Road

All religions lead to the same end is a common belief in today’s social circles. We yearn for the same thing, a place of love and peace. Some call it Heaven, others Utopia, Nirvana, or paradise. And as long as you pursue your path passionately, you will arrive someday.

And if one doesn’t understand the differences of religions, this may seem like a valid argument. For many, they group religions as one, for each have similar traits. But as we look into just one point of doctrine, we will see one that separates itself from the others. I will show how many of the major belief systems show how one can be saved.

Jehovah Witnesses: They will claim it is by faith you obtain righteousness. The Watchtower claims though ‘to receive everlasting life in the earthly Paradise, we must identify that organization and serve God as part of it.’

Mormonism: Salvation involves faith in Christ, baptism by immersion, obedience to the teaching of the church, good works, and ‘keeping the commandments of God which will cleanse away the stain of sin.’ (Journal of Discourses 2:4) The Book of Mormon states in 2 Nephi 25:23, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

Christian Science: Mary Baker Eddy claimed sin and evil are mere illusions thus ‘Man as God’s idea is already saved with an everlasting salvation’ (Miscellaneous Writings, 261).

Scientology: Salvation is to be free from the endless cycle of birth and rebirth. Rebirth had been termed reincarnation in many of their writings. Reincarnation can include life on other planets.

Buddhism: The Eightfold plan must be followed to reach the state of Nirvana; Right belief, right resolve, right word, right act, right life, right effort, right thinking and right meditation. Until then, they are caught in a cycle of reincarnation.

Islam: Any Muslim who hopes to escape the judgment of Allah must fulfill the works of the Five Pillars of the Faith; Recitation of the Shahada, five daily prescribed prayers, almsgiving, fasting, and a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city.

Hinduism: There are several ways of salvation for this Eastern religion. Karma refers to the debt of each person’s bad actions and must be atoned for (through various ways) to escape the pattern of reincarnation.

Christianity: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God. Not a result of works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.

Apart from Scientology and other beliefs such as universalism, all believe that man is depraved and in need of peace. The existence of pain, sorrow, and torment are evidence that something isn’t right. It’s not a figment of our imagination. Something is wrong. We need freedom from this world of sin and shame.

These religions offer a remedy. Do good and you will be freed.

The problem is that we can’t do good. Sure many actions are defined as good to mankind, but in the eyes of God, the one who sees us through and through, they are not. Our false motives and selfishness reek through the apparition of benevolence. Jesus defined himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He stated without hesitation that nobody comes to the Father except through Him. And as his bloody feet crept along the Via Delarosa towards Calvary, his upcoming death and resurrection would be all that mankind needed for their chains to be torn asunder.

Christianity is the only true faith based belief. It’s not a religion, some organization formed by man to appease God. It tells us all clearly that God is near but to restore the broken relationship caused by sin, we must believe in the name of Jesus Christ. Nothing more, nothing less. This sets it apart from all others. Works has nothing to do with gaining salvation and forgiveness. Only faith. Faith in Christ.

Do all roads lead to Rome? Of course not.
Do all roads of religion lead to Heaven? Again, no.

There is one Way. There is one Truth. And they both lead to one Life. A life abundant.

Why would a good and loving God send people to hell?

I think this a great question and worthy to be answered. For many, this is a major hang-up. In fact, many evangelical Christians have turned away from the idea of eternal torment because it doesn’t jive with their idea of who God is.  But the fact is, Jesus spoke on hell much more than he did on Heaven. So somehow there has to be reason.

The apostle John clearly states, “God is love.” The same man penned in the book of Revelation, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

So either the Bible contradicts itself and cannot be considered truth OR there is a reasonable explanation. I vote for the latter. And here are my reasons why:

1) God does not SEND people to hell.

From the very beginning of the Bible in the book of Genesis, God has given mankind the ability to choose. And among those choices, whether to love or reject God. God is a relational being and desires us to love him in return. Not because we have to, but because we choose to.

But also from the beginning, mankind has chosen to follow its own wisdom and reasoning instead of the Lord’s directions. This created sin which always results in death. Death is separation from God. It’s our fault. Eternal death is hell. Sin has stained every life born into existence. Death has cast its ugly shadow over every soul.

BUT

“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

God wishes for none to die. (2 Peter 3:9) He desires a relationship with us. But that is impossible in our sinful condition. His absolute holiness and purity can’t dwell among sinners. (Psalm 5:4) So God became a man to die the death that we deserved. Jesus took upon himself our punishment so that we may gain his life. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”

Jesus created a way back to Heaven. To continue to reject that means we remain in the death that we earned. So when one passes away and goes to eternal punishment, it’s not because God sent him, it’s because that person chose it. God is merely giving him what he wanted.

2) God is love AND just

Justice is as much of his character as love is. Unlike human judges who are swayed in numerous ways, God always judges fairly and accurately. “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—Since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” (2 Thessalonians 1:5-9 ESV)

If God simply overlooked sin and allowed all to enter his kingdom, he would no longer be holy. His perfection rests upon his justice. He is loving enough to create an avenue for us to again have a relationship with him and spend eternity in his wondrous presence, but if that option is rejected, he is just and must see our punishment through.

3) Eternal hell is a result from God’s mercy

Yeah, you read that right. A person who has continually rejected God’s salvation would not want to be in Heaven forever. Exodus 33:20 reads, “But he (God) said, ‘You cannot see my face; for no man shall see me, and live.'” As a sinful human being, the most miserable place imaginable would be in the presence of the most holy and glorious God. His glory and utmost perfection would cause unimaginable anguish and suffering to one who was still dead in their sins. So much anguish that the torment he would face in hell apart from God would be a relief.

Even to those who have continually ignored the message preached from the heavens, the Word of God, the mouths of preachers, and actions of saints, God still shows mercy. Don’t be confused. Hell is a place of torment forever and ever, but the alternative would be far worse.

For the person who believes in Christ, he is made a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come. God’s perfection placed upon him. Now he can stand face to face with Jesus Christ because he is now a righteous being. True Christians are sinless in God’s eyes and will “become like him because we will see him as he is.”

So believe in Jesus Christ, friend. You will be granted life, peace, joy, and love. Hell is real and is your choice if you don’t heed the message. Don’t wait. Tomorrow may be too late.