Do all religions lead to God?
Roger Carswell became a Christian as a teenager on holiday in the Lebanon. An uncle played tennis with him and then explained the good news about Jesus to him. Roger worked as a school teacher in West Yorkshire for over ten years. He now travels widely, explaining the gospel, and has written several books including ‘Where is God in a messed-up world?’
Human beings are incurably religious. Perverse and perverted though religious practices may be, in every part of the globe people ‘worship’.
The recent growth in the West of cults and eastern religions has been phenomenal. There is a revival of spirituality, and a longing for an experience that is beyond the natural sphere of life and events. This is nothing new. Ever since Cain killed Abel there has been a basic divide between those who hope that their works and behaviour will please and placate their god, and those who have relied on the work of a substitute to cleanse them from sin and bring them to God.
Sincerity may be the hallmark of many religious people, but sincerity alone is not enough to bring a person to know God. A sincere person taking poison instead of medicine, genuinely believing that the dose will cure him, is not thereby immune from that chemical’s fatal effect.
The Apostle Paul said the same thing when he wrote to the group of Christians in Rome. The words are in the Bible: ‘I know what enthusiasm they [the religious people of his day] have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law.’
It is often argued that religion has had its own evolution, starting with a fear of nature, and spirits, then progressing to polytheism, then monotheism until the present stage of familiarity with God. The Bible, which Christians argue is God’s revelation to humanity, teaches that God has actually stepped into His creation and revealed Himself to the world He has made. So from the beginning, God the Maker proved a way for human beings to have an intimate relationship with their Creator.
Humanity’s many ways of grasping after and grovelling to find a way to God is not only unnecessary but useless and needless.
Most religions believe in the existence of a Supreme Being, with whom they hope by various means to make contact, if not in this world, then in a world or existence to come. For the devout, their life’s endeavours may be all about that very purpose.
There will be elements of truth in religions that survive. Devotees to particular religious systems will speak of the help they feel they have received from their religion or their god. Some of this may be humanly inexplicable and appear to be supernatural.
Whatever the differences in belief, the real Christian will want to show love and compassion to people whatever their religious affiliation. Jesus explicitly said to those who wanted to follow Him,
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy’. But I say, love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.”
Jesus taught the duty of His followers to give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, loving care to the ‘stranger’, clothing to the naked, attention to the sick and timely visits to the prisoners.
When I am asked, “Haven’t more wars been fought over religion than anything else?” my mind goes back to such passages in the Bible. How can a real Christian fight with someone simply because there are religious differences? Sadly, just as the cloak of Jesus was gambled for at the cross where He was crucified, then presumably worn by somebody to whom it did not belong, so too the name of Christ has often been taken by those to whom it does not belong, who have ‘worn it’ and abused it. If, going directly against your instructions, I was to murder someone, are you to blame? Surely not! A Christian believes that everyone should come to Jesus with a sense of repentance and real faith, but we are not going to fight someone who doesn’t! Rather, they will be the objects of genuine love and care.
The Bible makes it clear that the notion of god at the top of a hill, with various routes to Him, is wrong. The idea is commonly taught in schools, the media and even some pulpits. Rather, the Bible’s theme is of God lovingly taking the initiative to come down to rebellious humanity, reaching out to us in love, and providing a way of reconciliation so that we can be brought into a relationship with God. All that cuts us off from God can be forgiven so that we can come to know Him eternally. God’s desire is that everyone might turn to Him and enjoy all that He offers to us.
When one carefully considers the Bible message and the beliefs of Christianity it becomes clear as to why there is only one way to God. Here are five reasons that demonstrate this:
1. God’s character
There is always a tendency for human beings to make God in our own image. The greatest compliment that God paid us is that, according to the Bible, He made us in His image. The greatest insult we can pay to God is for us to make Him in our image. We are small, and sinful, compared with God whom the Bible reveals to be great and infinitely spotless, pure, clean, and sinless: holy.
So many religions set rules, which they feel must be obeyed if human beings are to ever reach God. But is God as petty as many of the rules suggest? If God is really God, then He is infinitely greater than anything human beings can fully comprehend. The only hope is that God will stoop down to reach and rescue us. If we could fully understand God, then God would not be God, and we would not be mere mortals.
There is only one God, and not a multiplicity of different gods. The Bible teaches that the one true and living God has multiple personality, not in a schizophrenic way, but rather in that He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One God in three Persons, illustrated by the very human beings that He created, who are spirit, soul and body. God is a Trinity.
God is infinitely superior to anything about us. It is evident in His power, His creativity, His wisdom, His eternal existence, and in His holiness. God has never grown accustomed to sin, nor trifled with it. The Ten Commandments are not only His commandments for people, but also an expression of His character. God not only has never lied, stolen, been impure, coveted or spoken falsely but, by character, He cannot do these.
That is why no sin will ever be allowed into His heaven. On virtually the last page of the Bible we read, ‘Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.’ The home of God is a quantum leap above anything on earth, which has been characterised by murder, theft, hatred and vice.
When Jesus’ youngest disciple, John, in his older years had a glimpse of Jesus in heaven, we read that he said he ‘fell at his feet as if I were dead’.’ Those who feel they can attain god by their own efforts have a god who is too small.
2. The human condition
Spend too much time looking in a mirror and you may begin to wish you could not see yourself too clearly! Spend some time looking at God’s unflattering portrayal of men and women as seen in the Bible, and you will see how clearly God demonstrates that we are all rebels against Him. In fact, the Bible likens itself to a mirror on more than one occasion.
How honestly even the Bible’s greatest characters are portrayed, ‘warts and all’. Noah got himself drunk, Abraham and Sarah disbelieved God’s promise to them, Jacob deceived his own father and brother, Moses murdered, Samson squandered his strength on pagan women, David committed adultery, Solomon turned to folly, many of the kings of Israel and Judah were idolatrous, Peter denied knowing Jesus, the other disciples of Christ fled from Him and Thomas doubted Him. It would be easy to scorn them, but we are all rather like them. Who isn’t guilty of sin in one form or another?
Good intentions, New Year resolutions or turning over new leaves all fail to improve our basic condition. We are plagued and parodied by sin. God’s verdict on us all is identical: ‘The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.’
Human beings are too small and sinful to reach up to an eternal, holy God. It is impossible for us to lift up ourselves to Him or bring God down to us. God in His holiness can have dealings with us in the state in which we are. Neither is God sitting around a negotiating table waiting for us to raise our offer or promise obedience.
The commonly held view of Christianity that it simply teaches us to improve ourselves, or that the ‘good go up, and the bad go down’, is far from the truth. The Bible says:
‘God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.’
‘But—“When God our Saviour revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”’.
Jesus Himself said “I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners [who know they are lost]”.
This is hardly flattering to our human ego, but it is like sweetness and honey to the persons who realistically see themselves not as others see them, but as God sees them.
The advert showed a boy in what looked like a fine white shirt, until compared with a Persil-washed shirt. I may not be too bad compared with my neighbours, but, contrasted to the purity of Jesus, I am grubby and guilty. Actually, Jesus came for people such as me.
Thomas Bilney was a young student of Canon Law at Oxford University in 1516. Deeply religious, he was nevertheless conscious that there was so much that was sinful about his life. He went to his priest who gave the advice that he should pray and fast, but it all seemed to no avail for the sensitive Bilney. Erasmus’s Greek New Testament had been declared illegal by the Roman Catholic Church, to which Bilney belonged. Despite this, he eventually purchased a copy of this new book and secretly read it. He avidly devoured the four Gospels, Acts and then the Letters of the New Testament. Eventually he came to the Apostle Paul’s letter to his young friend Timothy in 1 Timothy chapter 1 verse 15, ‘This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief’.
Bilney reasoned, “How can Paul be the chief of sinners? I am!” Then he realised that Paul had so described himself and yet Jesus had died for him, so Jesus must also have died for Thomas Bilney. Confessing nothing but his sin, Bilney prayed to God and claimed the forgiveness that Jesus had died to procure. In an instant his guilty conscience was eased and he felt inexpressible joy.
“We contribute nothing to our salvation except our sin”, said Archbishop William Temple. But that is what we have most of, and Christ willingly takes it from those who give it to Him.
3. Jesus’ claims
Tolerance is not necessarily a virtue. It depends upon what one is tolerant towards. Intolerance is not necessarily a vice. I am intolerant towards terrorists, murderers, rapists and the like. Jesus, too, was deeply intolerant towards people who deliberately rejected the truth. His harshest words were reserved not for the drunkards or immoral (though of course, He deplored such wrongs), but for the religious hypocrites of the day. There is a sense in which the Christian message is very broad: the offer of eternal life is open to all humankind, no matter what age, sex, state of health, colour, class, creed, upbringing or lifestyle.
All that Jesus taught as the standard of what is morally right, He had already lived out. So that when Jesus said we should love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, turn the other cheek, or go the extra mile, this was exactly how Jesus had lived. His words and His works were perfectly consistent. No one could ever feel clean enough to stand before God, yet Jesus said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Jesus came to earth that He might purchase forgiveness for those who will turn from their sinful ways to trust Him as their Lord and Saviour.
If nobody is good enough for God, or able to work their way to Him, then our only hope is that He would come down to us, to forgive the sin and remove the barrier that separates us from Him. That is exactly what Jesus has done for us by His death and resurrection from the dead.
Born in Bethlehem, brought up in Nazareth, and ministering around the Sea of Galilee, Jesus set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem where He would be crucified, and there bear in His own body the sin of us all. The Bible expresses this truth over and over again:
‘All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.’
‘Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit’.
‘He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.’
‘But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.’
Imagine a person drowning at sea. Standing on the seashore are people like Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, the gurus, popes and a host of other religious leaders. All are shouting instructions to the desperate drowning man. Each one is telling him how to swim. Each piece of advice is contradicting the others. In contrast, Jesus dives in to rescue the man. In so doing, Christ gives His own life.
In reality, this is the difference between Christianity and other religions. Far from human beings striving to reach God, Jesus came to rescue us. We need to trust, not try. Instead of ‘being’ and ‘doing’, God tells us to rely on who Jesus really is and on what He has done by His death and resurrection.
That is why Jesus could say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”, and, “I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.” These are not merely the words of a prophet, or we could accuse Jesus of megalomania or delusion. There is exclusiveness about Jesus, or as one wag put it, “If all religions are right, then Jesus is right; and if Jesus is right, then all other religions are wrong. Right?” Jesus is the only way to God because He came from God to remove all that cuts us off and keeps us from God.
Peter, the disciple of Jesus and early Christian preacher, claimed, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
The great exponent of the Christian message, Paul, wrote, ‘For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.’
In Athens, at the famous centre of debate and dispute called the Areopagus, Paul said, “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead,”
So Jesus is not an option to be selected or rejected, but the only way to God, the one who should be received as Lord and Saviour. If there were any other way whereby the seriousness of sin could be eradicated, forgiven, then surely God would not have allowed Jesus to die so brutally under its crushing load.
The central theme of Christianity is all about Christ and Him crucified. When Jesus died, He died as our representative. When He rose from the dead, He arose as our representative. When He ascended to heaven, He did so as our representative. When in our minds’ eye we look at the cross of Christ, we know He was dying so that we might be reconciled to God. When we consider the tomb where Jesus was lain, and see that the stone has rolled away and the risen Jesus, we are assured that all that Jesus died for has been accepted by God Himself. The sin of which we are guilty has been paid for, and now no sin remains on me.
The Bible says, Jesus ‘was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.’
For three days as Jesus’ body lay in the tomb, a watching and waiting world could have wondered if His death was sufficient to pay the penalty for the wrong of all the world. When Jesus rose and the stone rolled away from the tomb, no one needed to doubt. Christ was risen; God could now reign in the hearts of those who would believe in Him.
It is possible to visit the tombs of many influential world leaders, both political and religious. All die. Only Jesus’ tomb is empty because He conquered death by rising again. This is the great sign that He is reliable. In fact the Jews of that day asked Him what sign did He give since He claimed God was His Father: ‘Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” … but He was speaking of the temple of His body.”’
On another occasion Jesus said:
“Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give [to this generation] is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.”
God is willing to reckon and declare men and women righteous on the basis of Jesus’ death and resurrection for them. No other way has ever been provided. Heaven is not a reward, but a gift.
4. The gospel call
The cross of Jesus as the means for human beings to be brought back into a relationship with God was not an afterthought of God. It is, in fact, the theme of the Old and New Testament parts of the Bible.
Jesus’ death was anticipated
At the very beginning of the Bible we read of Adam and Eve, and how they rebelled against God who had made them. That sin was serious and devastating to all of creation, but God immediately came with a response saying to the serpent in the Garden of Eden who had tempted Eve. God said, “And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” It is interesting to note that only the seed of the woman is mentioned. So early in the Scriptures there is a prophecy of the virgin birth of the coming Saviour. Indeed, centuries later, Jesus bruised the head of the serpent Satan, as He conquered him and his great weapons of sin and death by dying and rising again.
Seven hundred years before Jesus’ birth, Isaiah the Old Testament prophet wrote of the coming Messiah:
‘He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave’.
Earlier, David the King of Israel, and writer of so many of the Psalms which are in the Bible, had written prophetically the words and works of Jesus as He suffered as a servant atoning for sin:
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
“Everyone who sees me mocks me. They sneer and shake their heads, saying, “Is this the one who relies on the Lord? Then let the Lord save him! If the Lord loves him so much, let the Lord rescue him!”
“My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me.”
Not only through prophecy, but also picture, every devout Israelite who lived before the Messiah (or Christ) eagerly anticipated His coming. Conscious of their personal guilt, a Jew would take a spotless sacrificial animal to the Jewish priest, who would lay his hand, along with the sinner’s hand, on the head of the sacrifice. Then the animal would die as its blood was shed as a sacrifice and substitute for the sinner. Every time this ritual was performed it was a shadowy prefiguring of Jesus dying as ‘The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ Jesus was to die as the sacrifice and substitute for our sin.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, an angel said to Joseph, “you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” In fact, the very name ‘Jesus’ means ‘Saviour’.
Then, Jesus Himself anticipated His own death. He said repeatedly, “My time has not yet come.” Until the time of His crucifixion when He said, ‘The hour has come’. Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” and, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”
Even in the most glorious of moments in the life of Jesus on earth, when He was transfigured, we read that He spoke about the death that He was about to bring to fulfilment in Jerusalem.
Jesus asked His disciples: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Apparently, there were various rumours, some thinking that He was John the Baptist, the prophet Elijah or Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets. When asked, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered resoundingly, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” As the disciples clearly understood who the Son of Man was, Jesus immediately began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priest and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day’.
Later Jesus warned again of all that would happen: ‘he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.’
Jesus was not caught unawares or taken by surprise when He was betrayed, arrested, manhandled and crucified. As soon as sin had entered the world, God had revealed His plan and given His promise. Thousands of years later as humans did their worst, God gave His best and fulfilled the anticipation of the ages.
Jesus did not just become a great religious leader. Before the beginning of time, it was the purpose of the all-knowing God that in the fullness of time Jesus would come to earth to be Saviour of the world.
Jesus’ death was accomplished
When Jesus cried out on the cross the words, “It is finished” this was not the defeated moan of a dying man, but the victorious cry of Jesus’ completed work. The word that Jesus originally used means ‘completely complete’ or ‘perfectly perfect’.
Many things in this world are not finished. We have an ‘unfinished symphony’, plans, books, architecture and dreams. Jesus at the age of thirty-three finished the work He was born to do.
F.W. Farrar, in his book ‘The Life of Christ’ describes the awful physical trauma of execution by crucifixion:
‘For indeed a death by crucifixion seems to include all that pain and death can have of horrible and ghastly – dizziness, cramp, thirst, starvation, sleeplessness, traumatic fever, tetanus, shame, publicity of shame, long continuance of torment, horror of anticipation, mortification of untended wounds – all intensified just up to the point at which they can be endured at all, but all stopping just short of the point which would give to the sufferer the relief of unconsciousness.
‘The unnatural position made every movement painful; the lacerated veins and crushed tendons throbbed with incessant anguish; the wounds, inflamed by exposure, gradually gangrened; the arteries – especially at the head and the stomach – became swollen and oppressed with surcharged blood; and while each variety of misery went on gradually, there was added to them the intolerable pang of a burning and raging thirst; and all these physical complications caused an internal excitement and anxiety, which made the prospect of death itself – of death, the unknown enemy, at whose approach man usually shudders most – bear the aspect of a delicious and exquisite release.’
Human beings did their worst against Jesus. In a significant way, so did God the Father. He laid on Jesus the weight of the sin of the world. As we read in the Bible: ‘But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief.… his life is made an offering for sin.’
All the wrong deeds that hit the headlines, or simply harden hearts, the everyday sins of us all were compacted on to the pure, holy, undefiled Jesus. Like a railway guard’s van with its brakes applied, standing still as the weight of all the goods wagons are shunted on to it, so Jesus stood under the crushing load of the sin of the world. He paid the price of every last wrong thought, word and deed, past, present and future. Sins of wrong attitudes and actions, of omission and commission, of things remembered by us or forgotten, were all on Jesus. He was actually ‘smitten by God, and afflicted’. At this point came the coup de grâce. Even worse than the bearing of all that sin was the inevitable consequence of it – for the first time in His life, Jesus was cut off from His Father because of our sin, which He was carrying in our place. Our sin separated Him from His Father and caused God to turn away from His own Son. The grief this caused Jesus was expressed in His agonising cry from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” He was forsaken by God that we might be forgiven and so never abandoned by God.
All this was in fulfilment of the plan of the loving triune God: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus’ death must be accepted
God’s greatest offer to each individual is that He will forgive any who come to Him. God is not in a hurry to judge, though judge He must. There are examples of this throughout the Bible: the door of Noah’s ark remained open seven days after all the animals and all Noah’s family had entered. It was a final invitation to all who were still outside, to enter the ark. Then God Himself closed the door. The Israelite nation marched for seven days around the walls of Jericho, and on the last day for seven times, before the walls eventually fell. In contrast, in Jesus’ parable about the prodigal (wasting) son, He has the father running to meet and greet his returning child. It is a picture of God who is slow to become angry and judge but is in a hurry to save those who will turn in repentance and faith to Him. God is patient. ‘He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.’
Martin Luther, the great German reformer, received a letter from a distressed monk. In his reply Luther wrote:
‘Learn to know Christ and Him crucified. Learn to sing to Him and say, “Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin; you took on you what was mine, yet set on me what was yours. You became what you were not, that I might become what I was not’.
That is it. Christ’s work can be accepted and appropriated by an act of faith, a decision to believe. When a couple stands at the front of a church and make vows committing themselves to each other in marriage, their words change their whole status before God, each other and society. So, if we will receive Christ, words that confess our sin, and express our trust in His finished work on the cross need to be framed in the mind or spoken audibly as the expression of an enduring commitment.
Even now, you could ask Jesus to be your personal Lord, Saviour and Friend.
5. The Christian’s certainty
I have asked many a person if they are sure of going to heaven when they die. Usually their hope is based on the false view that their deeds are good enough to grant them a place there, forgetting that God sees into the secret recesses of all our minds and lives. Jesus warned all such people, when in His unforgettable Sermon on the Mount, He said:
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’”
In contrast, Christians know for sure that instead of the hell they deserve, they are guaranteed heaven as a free gift from our all-loving God.
Look at some of these promises in the Bible, which assure those trusting in Jesus, and give Christians certainty:
Jesus said, “Anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”
Jesus said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in Him who sent me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life’.
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life.”
John, the disciple of Jesus wrote, “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.”
The apostle Paul taught the same truth when he wrote, “So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.”
And again he wrote, “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Saviour.”
Writing to Christians in the capital city of Rome, Paul penned these famous words: ‘If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Christian experience is not just ‘pie in the sky why when you die!’ but rather ‘steak on the plate while you wait!’
A Christian actually knows God as a personal friend here and now. God is real to every true believer. Jesus has become a friend and a very present help to the Christian. ‘Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?’
It is a wonderful experience to know that there ‘is now no condemnation’ because we ‘belong to Christ Jesus’. Jesus has dealt with the Christian’s past; He is dealing with his present, and guarantees his future. Only Jesus can do this, because of who He is, and what He has done.