Friday, May 10, 2013

Jesus in a World of Religions

Today is the final day of our eighteenth week, reading the Bible through together in a year.  Our scriptures today are:  1 Samuel 25; 1 Chronicles 7; Acts 17.

There is a world of religions out there to pick from.  Each claims to have its own way to God.  Yet Jesus claims iJohn 14:6 (ESV), "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
So what do you think?  Is Jesus the only way to God?  Many don't believe so.  Astonishingly, some who call themselves Christians don't believe so.  Quoting Acts 10:34-35, they say, "So Peter opened his mouth and said: 'Truly I understand that God shows no partiality,  but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.'"  Then they conclude that these two verses mean that it doesn't mater what your beliefs or background are--as long as you fear God and do what's right, you'll be saved.  They neglect to read the rest of the chapter, where Peter explains the necessity of salvation through Jesus to Cornelius.  Click here to read my post, "God Shows No Partiality," which deals with this.

Is Jesus the only way to be saved?  Not only did Peter think so, but Paul agreed.  In Acts 17 (ESV) we read:

Paul in the Areopagus
22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
29 Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

Paul saw that in every way the Athenians were very religious.  Like people today, they sought to understand their world by trying to understand God.  In verse 27, Paul describes human religion as a seeking after God so that people might perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.  This desire for God is engrained in every person, because it is "in him [that] we live and move and have our being."  Yet Paul doesn't simply leave his message as a congratulatory address, praising them for their religiosity.  While he says it's good that they seek God, he also corrects their misunderstandings of who God is.  God is not a statue to be worshiped.  The time has come to leave ignorance behind and repent, because judgment will come from Jesus Christ, who proved his divinity by being raised from the dead.

If Jesus were not the only way to God, then Paul would have left their religions alone.  Instead of inviting them to an awakening, he would have said as many today do, "What's important is that you believe in God, as you understand him."  But an incorrect or incomplete view of God will not save you.  Only a relationship with God through Jesus will rescue you from your ignorance and sin.  Click here to for more scriptures that answer the question: "Is Jesus the Only Way to be Saved?" 

If you're not a Christian, then I hope you'll see that religion isn't want saves you.  Jesus saves you.  Place your trust in Him.  Ask Him to cleanse your sins and give you a new life.  If you are a believer in Jesus, then I hope you'll realize that Jesus is the only door, the only way to salvation.

In John 10:1-10 (ESV), Jesus says:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

I hope that today, in the words of the old hymn, you'll say, "Savior, like a Shepherd, lead us!"


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