As the world continues to shrink through the internet, media and travel, we are being regularly exposed to a variety of belief systems. Not many years ago, it was all but unheard of to meet a person who had a religious belief system that was not found under the umbrella of Christianity. Today’s society has embraced the complete rejection of a Spiritual world, glorifies individualism such that people seek out obscure and unique religious systems, and gives us all room to “seek” whatever worldview or religion meets our needs. Instead of assuming that Christianity is the basic framework of our society and Jesus and understood savior, we are consistently asking ourselves and others, “How do you know what you believe is right?” We even have a category for people who choose to play the neutral card believing that it is arrogant for one belief to make an authoritative claim against another without proof, while another worldview says that all paths are leading to Heaven or enlightenment.
Some say that this has hurt our Christian nation, that there are fewer believers among us, and that our witness is being lost. I would argue, however, that while the majority might have considered themselves Christians, there were probably comparable numbers of genuine Christians, and those who were nominal are now simply choosing to nominally align with another worldview, the most “culturally relevant” one, perhaps: inclusivism.
But with so many competing voices out there, how can we know which path leads to Heaven? It has been argued apologetically that all major world religions focus on the effort of man trying to reach God or enlightenment. Christianity is the only religion that recognizes the fact that we are all wicked and incapable of appeasing the wrath of a sovereign, perfect God and therefore God Himself had to make a way for us to be forgiven. If our goal is to earn God’s favor or work our way into Heaven, we can never do it.
Jesus taught interestingly on the subject:
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
– John 14.1-7
Notice here, that Jesus does not promise to show us the way. Jesus declares that He is the way. We can only get to Heaven and to God through Jesus. He does give us commands, and He does expect us to follow those commands, but our obedience to Him is not our entrance fee. It is our response of gratitude for being in Him. This is why Jesus says that the gate is narrow, not the path, which leads to eternal life. Jesus is the gate. The road to destruction, however, is a path that is wide (Matt 7.13-14).
The reality is simple. Either we are in Jesus or we are not. We are not walking down a path from which we can veer, we are remaining and abiding in Him or we are not. When we are in Him, we are in the Truth and we have life.
How then can we know we are right? How then can we know we are headed to Heaven? Consider firstly: would you rather rely on your own strength and ability, or on God’s? Every world religion will teach you to strive by service, by asceticism, by holiness, by doing, by confession, or any litany of actions. Do you trust yourself to keep those expectations well enough? To such a degree that you would rest your eternity on it? Or would you rather trust God, the judge who determines eternity? Would you like to receive the free gift of salvation through faith by grace?
When we receive salvation, Jesus’ blood covers our sins. He paid the penalty that we deserve, and when God looks at our sins and wickedness, He sees the stamp, “Paid in full”, “Time served”. We therefore can rest in Him, and be being in Him, covered by His blood, we are in the way, not on the way. Jesus will take us wherever we need to be while on the Earth and ultimately in eternity.