by Joy Martin, Set Me Free Ministries Co-founder
I write today’s blog with a heavy heart and great hope—a heavy heart because I know there are countless people who don’t already know the truth of what you are about to read and great hope because of the promise that accompanies this truth.
I have been doing a lot of thinking lately—no comments from the peanut gallery, please. I’ve been thinking a lot about religion, faith, salvation, and eternal life. I’d like to take a moment to note that I really wish all that thinking had been much, much more lighthearted. But, alas, it was not, which is why I find myself with a heavy heart. I find myself with such a burden to share a few things with you. Call it straightforward, call it bold, call it whatever you want. I simply call it Truth.
Before you read the following sentence, let me assure you this isn’t a political blog. However, it was a very brief discussion about politics that started my week of deep thinking. During this conversation, someone very close to me said something that broke my heart and made my stomach sink. After noting that there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” choice for president, this person made a comparison to religion. The comment went something like this: “It’s just like people who think their religion is the only one and that others are wrong. There’s not one religion that’s right.” And that’s when my heart broke.
I realize that this may sound smug or conceited to some. I realize that this may read as if I believe I know all the answers. Let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that I am very aware of just how little I actually know. But you see, if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that there is One True God—and only one.
A few years before I was born, a dear friend of my mom invited her out to lunch because he had something to share with her. As they sat and ate, the man said to my mom, “All of the world’s religions fit into two categories: those that teach you are saved by being a good person and those that teach that you can’t do one thing to earn it—it’s just a gift. Do you know which category Christianity fits into?"
My mom, having been raised in a “religious” home, confidently answered that Christianity taught that you had to be a good person to get into heaven. Imagine her surprise when her Jewish friend, who had recently come to know Christ, told her she was wrong. The truth, he explained, is that salvation is a gift, and there’s nothing we can do to earn it. He asked my mom to imagine that he’d brought her a beautifully wrapped present, complete with a big bow on top. He had already paid for the present and given it to her, but unless she accepted it—unless she took at as her own—it would never truly be hers. The same is true of salvation. God has given each of us the gift of eternal life through the death and resurrection of His son, Jesus; all we have to do is accept it. My mom’s friend had just received that very gift and wanted my mom to do the same—praise God, she did.
I’m always fascinated by people who say that Christianity is one way that some people choose to find God, but others find God down different paths. In the end, they believe, all paths lead to the same place—heaven. The Bible, however, is very clear that this is not the case at all. In fact, Jesus Himself explicitly tells us otherwise.
In John 14:1-6, Jesus has the following exchange: “‘Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And 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 where I go you know, and the way you know.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” That’s a pretty bold, clear statement.
The verse John 3:16 is often quoted, but have you ever read what follows? These are, once again, the words of Jesus: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. ‘He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.’” (John 3:16-18)
Once again, Jesus is clear on this point. There is but one way to the Father, and that is through Him. I find it comforting, however, that Jesus is sure to point out that He was sent not to condemn us but to provide a way for us to be saved. In His great wisdom, God sent His son to live life on this earth as God in flesh. While on earth, He lived a sinless life. Yet, He died a horrific death on a cross, was willing to be beaten beyond recognition, humiliated, shamed, and then took on every sin you committed, every sin I committed, every vile disgusting thing that you can think of and took it upon His shoulders. Why? Because He loves you.
We are told in the Bible that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. And that's why Jesus shed His blood and died for you—because He loves you. Because Jesus shed His blood, when you say yes to Him and believe in Him and make Him the Lord of your life, you are guaranteed eternal life with God.
Ephesians 2:1-9 reiterates this point: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world … But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
You see, although it may sound like bad news that there are not many paths leading to some mysterious place called heaven where everyone receives angel wings and plays the harp, the good news is that the one true path is open to everyone and anyone willing to take it. And that mysterious place people talk about as if it’s a dream is, indeed, real, and it is more magnificent than the human mind can comprehend.
But the very best news of all, as my mom’s friend noted all those years ago, is that there’s a gift waiting for you. It’s been paid for with the blood of Jesus, and it’s got your name on it.
If this is a gift you have questions about or have never received, we would love to talk to you and answer any questions you may have. If this is a gift you have just received or desire to receive, we would love to pray with you and walk with you on this new and exciting journey. Don't hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 402-660-8280.
God has already given this gift to you; all you have to do is accept it. It’s the best decision you’ll ever make.