Thursday, May 23, 2013

Which Way to Heaven is the Right Way? Is Christianity the Only Way or Is There Another?

For the Christian who has a personal and intimate relationship with God through Jesus, or Yeshua, we cannot understand why people run after all these other Christian cult religions (which teach a path other than strictly through Christ) or non-Christian religions such as Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, New Age, Shamanism, etc. We find it hard to understand what the appeal is in these religions. In most Christians' eyes, these religions represent nothing but lies, so we have trouble understanding why people would find the answers to their problems in them. What people do not realize, for the most part, is that these religions are not just a pack of lies. Satan is very clever. He knows that if he bottled nothing but lies, people would not want any part of his deception. He does not work that way. Far more people are deceived if the lies are couched in very uplifting truths. So that is how he packages them.

When you look at these other belief systems, you find much in them that is good. Many teach a morality that is very Christian in its conception. I ran across a blog by someone who appears (after further investigation) to be into some form of Shamanism or Eastern mysticism. Initially I was impressed by what he was saying. He spoke of unconditional love, turning the other cheek when others hurt you, forgiving, and letting go of hate, bitterness, and anger. Had I not explored further and seen that this person was into a New Age (or Old Age) type of spirituality and not a Christian, I might have thought that he was a Christian, for he was espousing the very things that Christ told us to embrace. He is a perfect example of what I was saying above about lies couched in truth. He has a great deal of truth in what he is saying. We should give unconditional love, we should turn the other cheek, we should forgive those who hurt us, we should let go of bitterness, anger, and hate. The problem lies in that this author expects that a person must dig deep inside themselves to find this ability, rather than realizing that the ability to be able to do these things comes from having Christ's love within us through a personal relationship with Him. He spoke of his struggles in trying to reach this plateau of existentialism. It is truly sad that he does not know the Lord, for it was apparent that he is seeking to attain a spiritual place where he can rise above man's sinful nature and be a man that is totally good in essence. He wants to realize a godhood of sorts. He does not realize that godhood is not something for man to achieve, for there is only one God. He does not realize that within himself he will never achieve his goal of sinless perfection, and that only through Christ's forgiveness of his sins and His love within him through being indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, can he even hope to achieve the spiritual state he so seems to desire.

Unfortunately he is one of many who has bought into the very first lie that Satan told, when he told Eve that she could be like a god, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:4-5 “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Man has always wanted godhood. Even Satan wants godhood. That is why he fell at the start. Isaiah 14:12-14 “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” And mankind continues to want godhood and listens to any and all lies that Satan tells him that he thinks will bring him to that point. It did not work for Adam and Eve, as we can attest to from the sinful state of the world today, and it will not work for anyone else.

What is of interest from our point of view as Christians is, do these people ever question from where this idea of attaining moral perfection or godhood comes? As Christians, we realize that God is perfect and that we were created perfectly and in communion with Him. It was through Adam's sin that our connection was severed, and that nature passed on to us all. Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” Now within each of us is that knowledge of God and our need to meet God's standard of perfection, which we cannot do on our own. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Many people choose to reject the entire idea of God and even morality, blaspheming the Holy Spirit by rejecting the revelation of Jesus Christ when it comes to them. Others, innately realizing that they fall short of what man was originally created to be, even if they do not believe in creation and the fall, decide that they will strive to meet God through their own paths and efforts. Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Yet others think they are gods and can attain their own godhood by their actions. This is the same sin of pride that fell Satan.

So for the non-Christian who reads this, you may wonder why do I think that the Christian path through Jesus is any better than any other path or teachings of any other religious leader? Why is it the only path or way back to communion with God? In other religions, while they may teach that we are not perfect and need to get to that place, they all teach that you can work your way there or earn it somehow, possibly by reincarnation, working out your karma. Even some Christian religious groups and denominations teach that you can work your way to heaven solely by works alone. It is not our works which justify us in God's eyes, for the works of our own effort are as filthy rags to Him when it comes to trying to justify ourselves in His sight. Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Our justification before God come from another source. Galatians 2:16 “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Romans 3:28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” While the Bible teaches that you must maintain your relationship with the Lord through works of love that He gives you to do to create your wedding garment, your justification does not come from anything you do. It comes from the righteousness that Jesus has which is applied to our lives to cover our sins when we accept Him as our Savior. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

And why is Jesus or Yeshua's righteousness sufficient to do that any more than anyone else? Because He is the Son of God, God incarnate, and was Himself perfect in every way. How can we know that? Why can not Buddha or Mohammed or anyone else do that for us? Because they are not God incarnate. They never made any claim to be God incarnate. Jesus or Yeshua did. How can we know that Christ's claims to be the Son of God or God incarnate are true? Because His actions backed up His claims. First there were the miracles, but we know that Satan can perform miracles, so that in and of itself is not sufficient. The proof comes in through something much greater. Has anyone besides Christ ever raised themselves from the dead? Christ proved His claims by doing exactly that. Everything He said was true, because He proved it true by resurrecting Himself. Had He merely died and stayed dead, He would have been no more than any other man, and His sacrifice would not have defeated death or covered our sins. It was because of His resurrection that our sins were covered. He said that He is the resurrection and the life, and that nobody comes to the Father except through Him. He said that He would lie in the grave for three days and that is how long He stayed there. Then He brought Himself back to life. Since He is the only one to resurrect himself from not only death, a gruesome form of death from which nobody could have survived, the other things He said are also true. Nobody can come to the Father, God, unless they come through Jesus Christ, Yeshua haMashiach. He is the one who repaired the breach between God and man by building a bridge to span the gap created by sin. His blood atoned for the sins of the entire world. God shed His own blood, His Son's blood on our behalf, so that we could reconnect with Him. John 3:17 “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” How arrogant and proud to think that we can build our own bridge to the eternal, omnipotent God and to tell Him that He must accept us on our terms. Especially after He incarnated Himself into our form, lived a sinless perfect life, died a horrific, excrutiating death and raised Himself on our behalf. What ingratitude to dismiss that sacrifice. And to come to and through Him, one must confess that one is a sinner, believe that Jesus is the Son of God, or God incarnate who died, shedding His blood, substituting His own death for ours, and rose again, giving us a substitutionary atonement by taking the punishment of our sins upon Himself.

It is really so simple to get on that bridge that God had Christ build for us, yet people would rather work, and often work very hard, to build that bridge themselves. I am not saying that staying on that bridge is easy, for we must work to maintain a good relationship with God, as one must do with any person. We must keep the commandments, John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commandments.” and we must do the works God provides for us to do. James 2:14-26 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” We must keep the faith and endure all things to the end of our life. Matthew 24:13 “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

As Christians we have been given the mandate to take the gospel to the world, but how many of us are doing it? We expect the “church” to do it. In other words, the organization, not the body of Christ. We have abandoned our mandate in favor of either living in cloistered communities, and that does not just mean people like the Amish, it means never going outside your little church group to socialize with people outside of the church, and get to know them so that you can witness to them. Or we turn the church into an entertainment venue, believing that somehow people will come to the truth through all the worldly things that are offered in the name of Christianity. Neither fulfills the mandate we have been given. We need to witness to people one on one. We need to get to know them, especially when they are living in a darkened world of New Age, occult, etc. They need for us to tell them the truth about Christ and salvation, for eternity is a long time, and these people will be spending it in hell. They will have a valid complaint on Judgment Day when they point their fingers at us and say that we never told them. Even in America, the land of the free and home of the brave, where we have all sorts of religious freedom (although we are losing it quickly, so we should act fast before it is gone) there are thousands of people who have never heard the truth of Christ and salvation. They do not understand the consequences of rejecting God. But we do, and it should bother us enormously that people are plummeting headlong into hell every day by the millions. They will be there for all eternity. How can we remain silent considering the cost? Yet we worry that someone will mock us, or possibly worse, hurt us. In many countries people are dying for their belief. Should we not at least endure mocking for taking a stand and witnessing? Yet people are afraid. Christ said that if we draw back and deny Him, He will deny us. Time is very, very short. The Lord is returning soon. We must work quickly while there is still day, for night is nearly upon us.

The day is soon coming when taking a stand for Christ may cost us our lives, even in countries where religious freedom is still tolerated. Are you prepared to take that stand? If we hold back, so may God. Do you want God to hold back on you when you really need Him the most? The time to get serious about our relationship with God and our witnessing to unbelievers is now. God has already begun judgment on His house. How much time do you think is left before He starts punishing the world?

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