Thursday, May 13, 2010

Are There Many Roads to God? Part 1

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

"What will happen to those who have never heard the Gospel?"

This is one of the most frequent questions I receive. People believe that God is just, and they cannot reconcile that belief with the idea that He might consign a person to Hell who never was given an opportunity to hear the Gospel.

Therefore, increasingly, many Christians are concluding that there must be many roads to God and that sincere Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and others will make it to Heaven.


Crucial Questions

What does the Bible have to say about this important issue? Are those who live and die without hearing the Gospel condemned to an eternity in Hell? And what about those who have put their faith in the god of some religion other than Christianity and who strive to live righteous lives? Are they also condemned to Hell? Is it possible that God has revealed Himself in different ways to different peoples, and therefore there are many different roads to God? Could the sign be true that I saw in a Sunday School class at a church that read: "Our God is too big to be confined to one religion"?


What Jesus Had to Say

Let's begin our search for an answer to these questions by taking a look at what Jesus had to say —

Speaking to the Apostle Thomas, Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." — John 14:6

After appointing His twelve Apostles, Jesus said to them: "Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven." — Matthew 10:32-33

Speaking to 70 disciples being sent forth to proclaim the kingdom of God, Jesus said: "The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me." — Luke 10:16

Early in His ministry, while in Jerusalem, Jesus delivered a sermon on His relationship with God the Father, and in it He said: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." — John 5:24

At His last supper with the Apostles, Jesus prayed: "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." — John 17:3

And then, of course, there is Jesus' most famous statement about the issue of salvation — the words He spoke to Nicodemus, a Jewish spiritual leader who was a member of the Sanhedrin Council: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." — John 3:16

What conclusion can we draw from these statements? I would propose the following:

  1. Jesus is the one and only way to God.
  2. Those who put their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior will be saved.
  3. Those who reject Jesus will be condemned, for those who reject Jesus are guilty of rejecting God.
  4. The essence of salvation is a personal relationship with Jesus.


In Part 2 of this series answering the question, "Are there many roads to God?", we'll look at how the Apostles answered the question.

19 comments:

Greg Sarwinski said...

Some people say that all paths lead to God, but the truth is that the only time that they will see God is at the Great White Throne Judgement. At that moment they will look upon Jesus Christ whom they have rejected in this life and realize their HUGE mistake by not accepting His sacrifice on the cross while they were still alive in the flesh. God is a merciful God, but He is just, too. As the creator of the universe, He makes the rules. His Word states exactly what Dr. Reagan says, and that is that the only way to God, to eternal life and to heaven is through Jesus Christ. His blood on our sins is the only ticket allowed to give us passage through the "pearly gates" into the presence of God.

Laura said...

You know, this whole argument about many roads leading to heaven so misses the mark! After all, we make "heaven" the prize, the goal, the end result, but it's not.

What these people are missing is a relationship with the God of the universe. And although they don't know it, it's what they're seeking in all other religions.

I wonder, are we as Christians partly to blame for this? Have me made heaven THE goal of salvation?

Because the prize is Jesus--right here, right now. That prize includes justification (being made right with God) right here, right now. It includes becoming a new creation in Christ right here, right now. And it also means being made holy and righteous with a new heart right here, right now.

Heaven is a just a fringe benefit to the earthly package (Jesus) we've already RECEIVED!

hartdawg said...

laura, with all due respect i agree in part, but not in full. the resurrection is our hope. we only experience a fraction of a fraction of our hope and til "heaven" we cannot experience true unbroken fellowship so you are only partially correct. (tho it is all about jesus)

hartdawg said...

by the way, about the article, just cuz someome hasnt been somewhere to share about jesus doesnt mean jesus hasnt been there. in a single word the answer is NO!

Laura said...

Hartdawg,

I have to lovingly disagree with you, and heartily at that. We are so guilty of making Christianity a post-heaven thing, but God says over and over again that we "have [right now] everything we need for LIFE and GODLINESS," that we "HAVE BEEN [past tense] blessed with every spiritual blessing," and that we "are [currently] complete."

Answer me this: Does it seem loving to you for God to wait until heaven to give us what we need right now?

Absolutely NOT! We got everything we needed when we got Jesus! We have it NOW!

Nathan Jones said...

I agree with Hartdawg, what we have now in our Christianity is a very poor reflection of what is to come. It's like having an orange seed instead of having the whole orange tree.

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." - 1 Corinthians 13:12

Billy said...

Son of Thunder - hold the Apocalypse! I'm back in disagreement with Laura!

Laura said "Answer me this: Does it seem loving to you for God to wait until heaven to give us what we need right now?"

The Bible says the human mind can not imagine what God has in store for believers after the Lord returns and begins His reign on Earth. So, Laura, I think you are wrong.

If I believed this is as good as it gets then I'd be in a mental institution with debilitating depression for the rest of my life.

The best is YET TO COME!

hartdawg said...

laura still has a very good point tho, we have the promised holy spirit, a relationship with christ...so while in one sense i disagree but in another sense i totally agree.

Katie Hesselton said...

Yes, the bible does say that all men must earn salvation through Christ, but the bible does not specifically say it must be before death- at least for those that died before Christ was born. Further, the old testament believers first heard the gospel after they had already died. Also, what about infants. Though they died before they sinned they still inherited a sin nature, but many would argue that they would still go to heaven as they had not reached the age of accountability. Yes, as Dr. Reagan wrote, everyone who has rejected Christ will be lost and salvation only comes through Christ. However, for those that have not heard, they have also not rejected Christ and since God can save babies through Christ (who have not heard), why is it not possible that God could save an adult who has not heard also through Christ?
Anyway, I think 1 Peter 4:6 is a good verse to ponder: “For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” There are strong arguments about this verse among Christians- some thinking dead is referring to spiritually dead and some thinking it is referring to those who are actually dead in Hades.
Blessings,
Katie

hartdawg said...

the passage in 1 peter is referencing unbelievers and jesus is basically proclaiming victory and pronouncing judgement, but in a parrelal passage in ehesians 4:6-8 jesus is leading old testement captives into the presence of God.

hartdawg said...

those who never heard out in bamba bangol land, but recognize God thru creation and place their faith in something and live according to conscience(Gods law on their hearts) i think will be saved

Laura said...

Certainly the best is yet to come--no doubt about that. However, I think we often believe the lie that we have to wait for heaven to get most of the good stuff: WRONG! God has given us the good stuff now. So let's go find out what we've got and enjoy it. Otherwise, we're just hanging around waiting to "fall asleep" (not victorious living at all).

I do agree with you, Hartdawg, about our hope being in the resurrection! But the truth is we've already been resurrected. Paul clearly teaches in Romans 6, Galatians 2:20, and Colossians that we have been crucified with Christ, we died with Him, were buried with Him, and raised (resurrected) with Him. In fact, Paul goes on to say that we are now seated in heavenly places at the right hand of God. So the questions are: 1) what died? 2) what was resurrected? 3) for what purpose did WE experience the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ?

And there's definitely A LOT of hope in the answers to those questions, but the answers predominantly have to do with life here on earth--not heavenly goodies.

hartdawg said...

just to be clear, i`m not disagreeing here, not in the least, i`m
simply saying in our fallen state (by the way, us being resurrected is our POSITION not our CONDITION least not yet)it is very difficult to have full fellowship and nearly impssible to find joy&contentment. tho we should strive and look for it.

hartdawg said...

to sum it up, laura, i look for the day when our position becomes our condition. meanwhile, we are to rejoice over our positon. make sense?

Laura said...

Yes, I understand what you're saying, Hartdawg, but I disagree. When we start throwing around words like "position" and "condition," words that are not in the Bible, BTW, we muddy the waters to the point of incomprehension! Either we ARE holy and righteous and completely forgiven and complete and accepted and acceptable just as God says we are NOW, or we're not. And if we're not, then at the very least, God sees a lie--something that's not really true.

You can't say out of one corner of your mouth that all of God's Word is accurate and truthful, and then out of the other, say, "Oh, well, when the Bible says we're holy and righteous now, it doesn't really mean what it says."

Too often, we (self included) discount God's Word because we don't see evidence of it in our lives! That's completely backwards, though. Our first anchor should always be that God's Word is right--no matter what we see with our own eyes.

Because we've got it backwards, though, we say absolutely incomprehensible things like, "Well, God just SEES me as righteous right now, but I'm not really righteous." So, God sees a lie? And God IS a liar (because He definitely calls us righteous and holy right now)?

How much better to say, "I am righteous and holy now, but my actions don't always match up with who I am." And the Bible backs this up; it teaches that identity is based on spiritual BIRTH, not on BEHAVIOR (just consider those Corinthians whom Paul calls "Saints" and "holy").

That's why I stand by what I say: We have the good stuff NOW, TODAY, when we need it most.

hartdawg said...

well... i`ll have to think about it. but consider this, then i`m done, ephesians 2:6 says we`re seated in the heavenlies with jesus, we see the fulfillment in rev4:4 when the 24 elders(representative of the whole church)is LITERALLY seated on thrones. christ sees us as seated now(our position)and one day it will come to fruition(our condition)no double-talk or contradiction. BOTH are true. but i TOTALLY agree we have full access of heavens power now and "everything for life and Godliness" so when all`s said and done we`re only disagreeing on semantics.

Laura said...

Actually, I believe we're seated in heaven NOW. Consider that we are "in Christ." And where is Christ these days? Seated at the right hand of the Father, yes? So we are already there--in the spiritual realm.

Now, I don't pretend to understand this anymore than I understand how I was crucified, buried, and raised with Christ, but God's Word says all of it is true NOW. Therefore, I believe it.

And, yes, our heavenly seating arrangement becomes PHYSICALLY true after the rapture.

Thanks for dialoguing with me!

Billy said...

How can we be "in heaven NOW" when the devil has rule over this world?

Expected Imminently said...

Our redeemed spirits (the new man)are 'seated in heavenly places'.

Our fallen flesh, the last to be redeemed in which dwells the 'old man', is earth bound and still subject to the fall. After the resurrection/rapture, this body of corruption puts on in-corruption and we are bodily united with our redeemed spirits and are 'as Christ'.

Today we walk by faith in what Christ HAS done for us while we continue to battle, with God's help, against the world. the flesh and the devil.