Tuesday, October 1, 2019

How Many Ways Are There to Get to Heaven?

Image result for one way sign
Recently a dear friend of mine, active in our church, told me she didn't think God would refuse to let unbelievers into Heaven. Of course I recited the "one way" passage whereupon she said she knew that, but it was her opinion that there was more than one way. Well, her opinion is not Biblical fact.

Jesus says to Thomas, and to all of us, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

And hasn't she read John 3: 16 -18?

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

I'm reminded of the parable of the wedding banquet: Matthew 22: 1 - 14. This parable used to scare me because the ending is so violent and final. Jesus is talking to the Pharisees who haven’t been able to trip him up. He tells them that the kingdom of heaven is like a king (God) who prepared a wedding banquet for his son (Jesus). People (Israel) had already been invited and when the wedding was ready God sent his servants (prophets) to tell them to come, BUT THEY REFUSED.

God sent more prophets, but they paid no attention and either mistreated or killed the prophets. At this point in the parable (verse 7) Jesus inserts a prophecy that from our point of view we can see was fulfilled a few decades later in 70 A.D. at the destruction of Jerusalem. Verse 7 reads: The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

The parable continues. God told his servants (now the Apostles) to go to the street corners (all the earth) and invite anyone they could find (Gentiles). People come, good people and evil people, and the wedding hall is filled.

Now it gets kind of scary. In the story the king comes in to see the guests and notices a man not wearing wedding clothes. Doing a little cross-referencing I found that in Isaiah 61:10 the wedding clothes are the “garments of salvation.” The man without the wedding clothes is someone who is not saved. What happens to him? The king doesn’t just kick him out of the wedding hall. The king tells his attendants to tie him hand and foot and throw him outside into the darkness where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 

This doesn’t scare me personally anymore because I have the wedding clothes – the garments of salvation. The Pharisees that were listening didn’t get it, though. And I think my church friend has hardened her heart to this truth as well and doesn't get it. We want to believe God is nice and won't damn people to hell, but remember: all have sinned and fallen short. Unless we believe on Jesus who paid for our sins, damnation is our justified end.

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