I have already said quite a lot in this series about how highly Jesus valued the quality and practice of servanthood. I will dedicate the next episode to the hospital staff who served me in amazing and often challenging ways—all with a smile! But does servanthood alone ensure that we will be with God in eternity? In other words, are there other roads to heaven besides the one Jesus established that is called Christianity? Like the last episode, answering such questions tugs at the heart in ways that make even approaching the subject emotionally difficult. But let’s continue to examine all that Jesus meant by the road being a narrow one.
Having covered my somewhat conflicted views regarding seriously committed spiritual people who have a differing view of conversion than I do, I still do not question Matthew 7. Before we read this passage, let me mention my concerns for my relatives, neighbors and friends that led to the writing of “God, Are We Good?” What I have found in the older generations is not only a lack of Bible knowledge, but an amazing trust in human opinions about salvation. Attending funerals, or memorials, or celebrations of life, or any other end-of-life service is often quite alarming to me. If I believed the speakers at those types of services, I would have to conclude that virtually everyone must be going to heaven when they die. But is that what the Bible teaches? Let’s answer that question by taking what I call the “funeral test.” This test is based on Matthew 7:13-14, 21. Let’s read it.
Matthew 7:13-14, 21
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it… 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Now honestly, what do you get from reading those verses? Isn’t it obvious that most people will end up in hell and few in heaven, and further, that claiming to be a Christian doesn’t make you one? In our day of biblical illiteracy, most people are totally unaware of what Jesus clearly said in passages like this one. They just share opinions, and guess what? The one called the great deceiver and the father of lies, Satan himself, has done his job amazingly (and sadly) all too well. The vast majority of people, including many whom I know and love, are among the deceived. They don’t come close to living the life Jesus is calling us to live, and yet they feel spiritually safe in their condition. If they don’t know what the Bible actually says, why would they not?
Memorial services alone would provide them with the feeling of safety. They hear that everyone is safe in the arms of Jesus, in a better place and now at home with God and all of their dearly departed loved ones. It is simply heartbreaking to me. That is why I wrote that little book a couple of years ago. That is why I try to share with everyone I can, urging them to study the Bible, with me or others who know what it teaches about salvation. I urge them to ask the question posed in the book title, “God, are we good?” and then to study and seek biblical answers to the question.
While in the hospital conversing with many, many hospital workers, I realized that many of them didn’t come from a Christian perspective to start with. In their associations with those who claim a Christian perspective, they hear little to nothing about Jesus being the only way to salvation. In our modern Post-Christian setting, the assumption even by those claiming Christianity as their religion, is that every “good” person is going to be just fine after they die. But what does the Bible say? Here are a couple of verses to consider.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Those verses are not hard to understand, are they? All roads don’t lead to heaven; all religions don’t lead to heaven. I appreciate every person who is trying hard to be good, and who are in comparison to many other humans, but from a spiritual perspective, none are good enough to be saved without the blood of Christ. Romans 3:10 says there is no one righteous in and of themselves, and two verses later it says that none are good. We may appear both good and righteous compared to other people, but when compared to Jesus whom we are to imitate, the picture is quite different. No wonder Romans 3:23 sums it up in these words: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Christ must be accepted on his terms as the Lord of our lives. He cannot be our Savior without also being our Lord (Master). Verses could be multiplied to demonstrate this truth. Luke 6:46 puts it this way: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”
Acts 17:22-31 makes the point quite clear that religions outside Christianity are not acceptable to God. Here is Paul’s conclusion as he spoke to the people of Athens who practiced idol religions of many kinds. “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). During the Mosaic period, non-Jews were not judged as strictly as after Christ came and established the New Covenant. But now Christ is the solution to the problem of sin and will be standard by which all will be judged.
In the next segment, I am going to express my profound gratitude for the care I received from medical workers, most of whom are amazing servants. My appreciation for their service knows no bounds, but it doesn’t blind me to the realities of sin and righteousness and the basis of salvation. When Jesus encountered the Rich Young Ruler and called him to a standard he wasn’t willing to accept, it did not negate the love Jesus had for him. Mark 10:21 says that Jesus looked at him and loved him, but then he gave him the Lordship challenge which was rejected. I’m sure this hurt the heart of Jesus, but God’s standards for being saved cannot and will not be compromised by him. Will you compromise them? That’s the question I am asking here. I simply cannot and I pray that you won’t.
Thus, while I can commend a serious commitment to Jesus and the Bible, I cannot commend a watered-down version of Christianity nor an adherence to another religion besides that of Christ. The road is narrow that leads to salvation and I am always going to point people in every feasible way to seek that narrow road. Are you? If we truly believe the Bible, we don’t have any other option. Sharing our faith and pointing people to the Bible is the Christian’s only alternative. I want to have the heart and the life which reflects that truth. I want to imitate Paul’s heart when he spoke to King Agrippa. “Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” 29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains” (Acts 26:28-29). May God give us the convictions and the heart of Paul!