How many paths are there to God?
Posted: Monday, May 9, 2011 9:38 am
The Messenger, May 5, 2011
By GLENDA CAUDLE
Special Features Editor
For me, Easter’s empty tomb is the proof that Jesus was exactly Who He said He was (the only begotten Son of God, according to Holy Scripture) and was able to do exactly what He said He, and He alone, could do (purchase my pardon with the payment of His blood and rise to life eternal — a blessing that can now be mine, as well. Again, according to Holy Scripture.)
If I do not both believe this and claim it as the unchanging basis for my faith, why would I choose to call myself a Christian? Indeed, how could I even legitimately claim that title? Would it not be a mockery of the faith I say I follow?
I claim no infalability of my own. I do not profess to be greater, or more righteous or closer to God than anyone else. Only God knows better than I how far short I fall.
I simply proclaim what I believe with my whole heart. That faith has given me such great joy, peace and hope, I want to share it with anyone who wishes to hear about it, in the loving desire that they, too, may experience new life in Jesus.
For me, this is basic:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
But it is not the whole story. The rest of the story is this: “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:17-18
As I interpret that, and as the church established by that same Jesus has interpreted it for hundreds of years since the first Easter, this means there is only one way for inherently sinful man to be reconciled to a Holy God, and that is through Jesus Christ.
There is more — so much more — that gives me confidence that my faith is grounded in unchanging truth. Consider these additional scriptures, if you want to know why I believe what I believe: Romans 3:23; Romans 5:8-21; Romans 8:1-39; Acts 4:5-12; Mark 14:61-62; Mark 16:1-16; Luke 9:20-27; Luke 24:36-49; John 1:1-18; John 5:19-47; John 14:1-6; Matthew 28:1-20; Mark 8:27-38.
Or, for that matter, just read the whole Bible. The proof of Jesus’ redemptive power is all there. What is noticeably missing in scripture is the mention of any other possibility of human access to God since the moment that Jesus overcame death and opened the door to a personal relationship with God for anyone who believes and receives.
It does not alter my faith that some disagree with my most profoundly held belief that salvation is to be found in nothing else but the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. But it does command my attention. Because among those who disagree are not simply people who claim another faith or no faith at all — those for whom the disagreement is certainly understandable. But, tragically, numbered with those who object to Jesus as the sole means of salvation are those who profess to be Christians — those for whom the acceptance of other paths to God would appear to be a repudiation of the very faith whose name they have appropriated.
Indeed, it would seem especially heinous that those who belong to a faith that details in stark terms the agonies Jesus suffered for our salvation — agonies so great spiritually, mentally and physically that He literally sweat drops of blood in preparatory prayer even before the sacrifice itself took place — should treat the pivotal spiritual point on which the whole of that faith rests as being of no more significance than those non-scriptural revelations that claim a spiritual basis.
These who adopt the name “Christian,” but then equate the exclusive redemptive sacrifice of Jesus with any human-conceived religion that others choose to venerate, disturb and grieve me greatly — whether the “tolerant” ones be well-known preachers, acclaimed religious authorities, celebrities, authority figures from a variety of backgrounds or even presidents and other political leaders of our nation.
If they deny the message, which is quite explicit in the Bible, that Jesus is the only way to salvation, why do they accept any other part of scripture? By what authority do they select what they will believe and what they will repudiate? Do they have some word from God that tells them He was not entirely serious about this business on Golgotha’s Hill 2,000 years ago? Was it all a mistake or a waste? What twisted human reasoning makes it possible to venerate Jesus as a “really good man” whose character is worth emulating if there is also the denial of His divinity? Since he clearly claimed that divinity, wouldn’t that automtically make Him a liar, cheat and fraud instead?
I believe with all my heart those who proclaim this “whatever makes you feel all warm and cozy” religion are scripturally wrong to suggest there is any other way to be forgiven of sin by a Holy God, and so to be delivered from eternal death and separation from that just and merciful God, than by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
I recognize that their authoritative voices have the opportunity to influence those who might otherwise weigh the truth of scripture for themselves under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit and come to a decision that is entirely supported by, what is for me, the written revelation of God.
I believe the message of tolerance espoused by the “many paths to God” contingent is a lie spawned in the pit of hell by the father of lies — otherwise known as Satan — and it will cause the destruction of many who might otherwise find salvation.
I further believe that to counter these lies, it is time for those who fully accept God’s plan for the salvation of makind as revealed in Holy Scripture to begin to tell that story of God’s perfect and eternal plan for reconciling mankind with Himself.
It is a story that must be told with Holy Sprit-inspired love, kindness and commitment wherever we have the opportunity. Further, we must deny that there is any sort of Biblical validity for humanism masquerading as tolerant Christianity that is so prevalent in our world today.
I realize the idea that God is some sort of universal being of good will who has provided as many different avenues to Himself as there are people is an appealing one.
It is a comfortable concept because it allows us to ignore the necessity to make an eternal choice that will then call for alteration in our earthly lives. Instead, we can simply do what is convenient at the moment and demand that a loving God accept our earnestness and good will as the most He can reasonably expect from us.
I realize, too, that it is politically incorrect and, therefore a sin of the highest magnitude in the eyes of the world, to suggest someone else’s method of salvation is not as good as mine.
The thing is — the salvation plan isn’t mine.
And the “many roads to God” doctrine isn’t really the intellectual property of those who espouse it, either.
Belief must be based on something.
For me, that basis cannot be man’s “feel good” theology, which alters from person to person and situation to situation, but in the end, always “man-handles” God into being whatever accommodates every individual’s particular belief.
I cannot accept a theology drawn up by men with the same inherent defect I have — a sinful nature — that then relegates that very sin to a minor inconvenience which can be overcome by rewriting the rules.
In effect, what those who espouse this line of “faith” are saying is: God’s way isn’t good enough. Mine is superior. And if you disagree with my comfortable faith, you are beyond redemption because of your intolerance.
By contrast, you can disagree with me as a person all day long every day from now throughout eternity, and it won’t matter one bit to your salvation. You can call me names and berate me and suggest I think I have an exclusive edge with God and try to discredit me in any way you conceive and it won’t have any impact on your eternity or mine.
It is only God you need to be concerned about — the God who loves you enough to send His Son to die for you and asks only that you accept that single death-defying solution to the problem presented by sin.
To be in line with the historic faith of Christianity, my spiritual authority must be something that has stood the test of time, has proven its veracity repeatedly and that, I believe, is inspired by God Himself.
That Holy Spirit-directed scriptural authority not only reveals God as a loving, merciful and forgiving God who yearns for all people to enjoy an eternity of peace and joy with Him — a view that should be palatable for everyone. It also leaves no doubt about the fact that the Creator of the Universe is also a just, righteous and altogether Holy God Who cannot — by His very nature — abide in the presence of sin.
It is the latter truth that is not so palatable and which the “all paths lead to God” adherents prefer to forget or to deny.
Indeed, they must deny that essential aspect of God’s character because their theology makes no provision for reconciling sinful man to a Holy God.
You see, the Bible simply does not allow for any other path to salvation except the one God offers through the blood atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ. Nothing else — no matter how much man desires it, prefers it, or wills it — can make us sin-free enough so that God can welcome us into His Holy and Divine presence. There is no prevarication in scripture on this point. Don’t take my word for it. Search it yourself.
If you accept God’s Word as the ultimate truth, there can be no basis for denying that Jesus is the only answer.
On the other hand, if you prefer man’s version of the truth, there are many answers and anything goes. The only “sin” acknowledged from this perspective comes from suggesting that there might be only one path to salvation.
Granted, the latter may seem a more palatable view right now. Its adherents may seem more tolerant today. I freely admit, theirs is a timlessly appealing doctrine put forth by some very influential people.
The thing is, I’m just not willing to wage eternity on it.
And I pray you won’t be either.
Contact Mrs. Caudle at firstname.lastname@example.org