September 27, 2014

Only One Way

There are many ways to write a poem, paint a mountain, make a quilt, but there is only one way to God. Every religious system will deny this, as will people who claim no allegiance to any particular religion. The only people that claim this outrageous exclusivism are Christians.

We do this because our Savior claimed it. He said that no one could come to God except through Him. We claim it because our Bible says, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (John 14:6 & Acts 4:12)

We also claim it because His way of salvation is totally different from the way described by all others. Jesus justifies sinners, but all other religions say that we must justify ourselves and do good to be approved by God. But Jesus says, while we are still sinners, we are accepted, therefore go and do good.

The Gospel is just as outrageous today as it was when Jesus was crucified for His claims, and the disciples were persecuted for backing Him up. Yet it was God’s will that He be slain, for in His death the plan of God was completed. Unlike the priests (and unlike most religious people) Jesus made one sacrifice for all sin for all time.

“For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:24–28)

An earlier verse says, “Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:15)

Christianity is the only ‘religion’ with a slain substitute for sin who died and rose from the dead. It is the only one whose followers are promised eternal life for what He did, not anything we do. It is the only one whose focus is on relationship with Jesus rather than a list of do’s and don’ts.

Christians are also the only people who have a direct line from our sinful selves to the throne room of Almighty God: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1–2)

We are also the only ones that are encouraged to pray for the salvation of others because God desires everyone else to know His Son just as we do . . .

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” (1 Timothy 2:1–6)

Christians are not perfect people. Some of us are downright foolish at times. We get caught up by sin, deceived by lies and stumble over our selfishness, but perfection isn’t the criteria for belonging to Jesus Christ. We are saved by grace through faith. And this is not our own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9)

If there are any passwords at all, anything we can do or say, it is, “I confess . . . I repent . . . I believe.”

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