Defend Your Faith: Teach the Children Well…
Reprinted from: The Christian Standard Bible e-newsletter
Most religions teach that if you do enough good deeds you can earn salvation. There’s nothing wrong with doing good. In fact, God tells us to forgive others, love our enemies, and serve people. Our motivation for doing good comes from our desire to be more like Christ–not earn our way to heaven . . . because there’s no way that could happen.
The Bible teaches that Jesus is the only way to heaven. He said those words Himself in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “I am one way.” He is “the way.” Nobody can earn salvation. There are no other roads. Only Jesus can save. It’s a narrow path, and few find it (Matthew 7:14).
Doesn’t that make Christians sound elitist?
Some people think that makes Christians hurtful and elitist. But that’s not the message of the gospel. Jesus came to serve, to heal, to teach, and to die. He was the King of kings, but He lived as a humble servant. He hung out with the worst sinners and gave a healing touch to untouchables. He loved people and wanted them to know and love Him. Unlike founders of other religions, Jesus claimed to be God. If we choose to follow Jesus, we must believe in the claims He made about Himself.
Jesus’s claims make some people uncomfortable. They believe God is love, so certainly He’d allow good people into heaven. But what’s the definition of good? We may say a good person loves kittens and does more good things than bad. God has a different definition. He’s perfectly holy. In God’s eyes, to be good means a person could never sin–no lying, cheating, stealing, envy, gossiping, selfishness, or angry outbursts. In other words, it’s impossible to be “good” by God’s standard.
Think of it this way. God’s perfection is Hawaii. I live in California. If we ran down a pier and jumped into the ocean, we may travel about twenty feet before hitting the water. Our goal is to make it to Hawaii, so we start eating organic foods, sleeping nine hours every night, lifting weights, riding our bike, and practicing jumping. After years of discipline and effort, we run down the pier again. This time when we jump, we go forty feet. That’s a big improvement. The problem is Hawaii is still another 13,310,840 feet away! Our efforts don’t cut it. We need Jesus to bridge the gap.
Our culture likes to think of religion as a personal preference. To claim that Jesus is the only way to God seems like claiming Superman is the only real superhero. However, truth doesn’t come down to preference. Jesus said in John 8:24, “If you do not believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.” Jesus offers both a hard truth and perfect solution. He is the ultimate loving God who truly is the only way to heaven.