These days many question Christianity, and creation, especially, has received a lot of doubt. People don’t believe that God could have created everything in six days, instead they believe in life beginning on its own, and Darwin’s theory with its excessive time frames. People still stick to these theories, although, they don’t have evidence to support their assumptions about the origin of life, and even though no one has found transitional forms that would connect all created-kinds. Many distinguished scientists and paleontologists have confirmed this state of the matters.
Another thing people also doubt is Christians’ concept of God. These doubters don’t believe in the God, who announced Himself through Jesus Christ and in the Bible. They don’t believe what the Bible says about Him. Instead, they’ll talk about their own god by saying: “My god is this and that.” Usually, it means the following statements and concepts:
“My god is so open-minded that he works through all religions. All paths are equal and will lead us to him.”
“My god is so accepting that he doesn’t condemn anyone to hell. There is no judgment.”
“My god is so open-minded that he works through all religions. All paths are equal and will lead us to him.”
Logical conflict. When we begin to explore the notion, according to which all paths are equal –as the former example presupposes – and lead to God, we are instantly met with logical conflict. We cannot get past that conflict by any other means than by rejecting some special features of these religions. Problems start to arise from the following:
• The number of gods brings our first issue. For example, Buddhism and Confucianism both have zero gods, whereas, Hinduism has over 300 million gods. In Hinduism people also believe that god is within all. Then there is Islam, Judaism and Christianity, which all teach the existence of one God. That is, if the number of gods varies this much – from no god to one or a million god – then how can all these paths lead to the same God? All these alternatives cannot simultaneously be true.
• The notion of God’s essence is different. For example, Muslims don’t believe in the Bible’s announcement that God announced Himself in Jesus Christ and that God is the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Muslims also don’t understand God’s love. Neither does Hinduism recognize the love of God and forgiveness, in the same way as the Christians.
• Salvation is received either through grace (what Jesus did for us) or through our actions (the most common belief in most religions), but not through both of them.
• Understanding of the afterlife varies: Buddhism and other religions, as well, believe in heaven and hell, whereas Hinduism doesn’t believe in them. These views are the opposites, and it is impossible that something would be real at the same time, when it’s not.
• Rebirth (Hinduism, Buddhism) and no rebirth (Islam, Judaism, Christianity, etc.) cannot simultaneously apply.
Have people reached culmination? As noted, many believe the truth to be relative, or that there are many different paths leading to God. They don’t believe in the existence of one truth, which can only be found in the Bible, instead they consider expressing this kind of view as being close-minded. How they see it, on the other hand, is that everyone can choose a form of Christianity that pleases them or different forms of other religions, seen as all paths are equally as good. Religion is only measured on their moral basis and nothing else matters.
We should ask these people the following: How do you know? Do you have concrete evidence? Have you been to the other side, and know what it’s like there and what makes God accept people? That is if someone has only lived a few decades on earth, they cannot know about the afterlife and how it works. Although, they can feel free to present their views and opinions, there’s still no concrete base to those views and opinions. They are merely based on the person’s imagination and something that they have chosen to believe in, but those are not definitive information. And that kind of information does not hold much value.
The former is simply due to the fact that a person, who has lived only here on earth for a couple of decades, cannot specifically know what lies ahead on the other side. People might have opinions, but not personal experiences in the afterlife, hence it is questionable to trust those kinds of people’s certain claims and views. Considering these claims as reliable is equivalent to asking for directions in New York from a Chinese or African farmer, who has never been there. That kind of a person is not able to provide correct information, as they are not familiar with the area.
Therefore, if we need help in finding our way in New York, we will ask someone, who has been there and knows the area. That is the only person, who can give reliable information. Only they know what it’s like in New York, and where to find certain sights or locations. They can guide us and provide us with correct information.
The same applies to eternity. In that area there’s only one person, who knows the afterlife. That person is Jesus, as He came from eternity and returned to eternity. He knows for certain, what lies on the other side, because He is the Son of God and has been beside the Father before coming to earth. He definitely is the best and most reliable expert we can turn to. Of course, we’re not able to check the accuracy of His words. We can only take them as the truth or as a lie. Many unbelieving priests regard them as lies and claim that Jesus was a liar. He Himself proclaimed to be the truth and speaking the truth. Which alternative is true: What Jesus said about Himself, or some current priests’ opposing views?
The following quotation will reveal something about the former view. The quote proposes that all paths lead to the top, meaning to God, and that it doesn’t really matter what you believe in. It is regarded as a considerate thought, when in reality it is a philosophical outlook that is difficult to prove. If we have not been to the “top” and don’t know what it’s like on the other side, all that we have is our imagination:
Socrates: How can you know that they all go to the top?
Sanna: How can you know that they do not?
Socrates: I do not know. And I do not claim that I do. But you claim that you know that they do end up there. How can you know this if you are not standing at the top?
Sanna: No, I am not at the top. I do not assume that.
Socrates: Obviously, you are assuming something else – you assume that you know that all religions are of human origin, that they are rather our ways to God than God's ways to us. This is what you think of religion, is it not?
Socrates: How can you know that? How can you know that it is not the opposite, as your own religion – the Bible – claims: that God searches for people more than people search for God?
Sanna: I do not know. But does it make any difference?
Socrates: If it is the invention of God and not ours – note that I do not know if it is or not – it would make sense that there would only be one way made by God. If, on the other hand, religion comes from man, it would make sense that there are many ways, because there are many people, nations, and cultures. And if religion comes from man, it would make sense that all religions are equal in principle, because they are human, limited combinations of good and bad. If religion comes from God, it would make sense that other religions, human religions, would be of lower rank than the religion of God, because human things are of lower rank than divine ones. (1)
Are these people Hindus? Some people, who believe all religions to be equal and that there are many equally valid paths to God, might not know that one major religion teaches the same: Hinduism. Are people who think like this Hindus then? At least their views have a striking resemblance to Hinduism. One of Hindus’ holy books (Bhagavadagita, IV:11) brings forth the idea of all paths being equal:
Oh Paartha, no matter how the people approach me, I will receive them; whatever way they use, it is also my way.
Respect. It is common for people who believe in the equality of all paths to think that differences between religions are not real. They try to deny the existence of these differences, although they’re there, as already discussed. They don’t consider the fact that if all truths are equal, then the truth will become indifferent. That’s where logic is thrown away.
Another thing these people do, is regard having the Hindu-view, according to which all religions are essentially the same thing and lead to the same destination, as a sign of having tolerance. They might also think that this kind of view removes conflict from between supporters of different religions. However, they haven’t taken into account that in Hindu countries, where people have the same views as them, this hasn’t happened. Hindus have also attacked against people, who think differently.
Could we approach this matter from a different angle?
We can look at the teachings of Jesus and the disciples. They will lead us to see why we shouldn’t deny the existence of differences in religions – as if they were non-existent. They are still there. Instead, we are urged to respect everyone and to even love our enemies. Basically, that means we admit the existence of distinct religions and their differences, but that we also should respect everyone regardless of that. This does not remove difference in opinions, but it does remove opposition and hostility between different groups of people. This is the kind of tolerance and love Jesus and the disciples taught us:
- (Matt 5:44-48) But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
- (1 Peter 2:17) Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
”my god is so accepting that he doesn’t condemn anyone to hell. there is no judgment.”
Another common perception that some people have is that there is no judgment or hell. They abandon Bible’s teachings, although Jesus and the disciples often referred to these two things. In this view people can decide for themselves what to believe in: they can add or remove things to their liking. They can select the kind of God and faith that pleases them. A God, who condemns unrepentant people to hell, does not fit their perception of God. However, when discussing this matter, you should consider the following aspects:
Other religions. Before beginning to inspect the former view, we should look at other religions. It is rather interesting that while these people appreciate these other religions, the idea of hell and judgment is also present in those religions:
• Buddhists believe in hell. Murderers are condemned to an eternity there.
• Muslims believe in hell.
• Hinduism has the law of Karma, which is a reference to judgment. It doesn’t recognize forgiveness, but instead people get what they “deserve”. Essentially, it is similar to what the New Testament teaches:
- (Gal 6:7) Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.
- (1 Peter 1:17) And if you call on the Father, who without respect of persons judges according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear
Do these people believe in a bad god? Many people with the former views criticize the notion of judgment and hell, the God of the Old Testament, and the sentences in the Old Testament.
We should ask these people, whether they believe in a bad god. That is, a god, who doesn’t react to the bad things that Hitler and other wrongdoers have done to others, cannot be a good god. If he said that it’s okay, and accepted evil, in that case he would be bad. You should not believe in such a god. Yet, many people do so. Aril Edvardsen has commentated on the issue, during a conversation;
I let him speak and I didn’t say a word back. “Well, maybe I believe that there is a Creator”, he continued. “But I cannot believe in a loving and righteous God, when the Bible says that there is hell and judgement day.”
Do you think so? I said. ”I think the complete opposite. I could not believe in a loving and righteous God if that, what you call hell, wouldn’t exist – a final settlement day for people, when everyone must account for what they have done in this life, the good and the bad.
He looked at me in confusion and said: “You cannot be serious!”
“Yes I am!” I replied. ”I mean exactly what I said. If tyrants, dictators, terrorists and bad people, who have tortured and destroyed others in this life, wouldn’t have to pay and settle for their actions sooner or later, then I couldn’t believe that a righteous God exists.” The doctor looked at me in astonishment and I continued: “Think about Adolf Hitler and Adolf Eichmann, who tortured and killed millions of people in concentration camps – all the while living a luxurious life style during the Second World War. Would they get away with it just like that – getting shot in the head and getting hanged? The whole thing would be over in a matter of seconds and then nothing, while many ordinary people in this town die with much worse suffering than those two – like cancer and other diseases.
Would Hitler and Eichmann get off more easily from the world than others – and after death there wouldn’t be anything? Not any kind of reckoning? …No, then I couldn’t believe in a loving and righteous God.”
“Please continue”, he said and I did:
“The Bible says that God is both loving and righteous, and that is why judgement day will come to us all, and then all of us must account for ourselves. Then wrongful people get their doom and those, who unjustly suffered, get their amends.
The whole human life, death and eternity would be completely without a purpose if people wouldn’t believe in judgement day, the day of justice.”
The district doctor sat silent and listened. All of a sudden he looked at me as if he had come up with something entirely new.
“You are absolutely right!” He exclaimed. “I haven’t thought of this before. That is logical. You are totally right, sure enough. Life here on Earth is often tough and unfair for many. People’s lives will get destroyed and the cruelty of other people causes harm as much in marriages, families, work places, refugee camps as in battle fields.
If you wouldn’t have to pay for what you’ve done in this life – for all that humans have done, good and bad – then there really couldn’t be a loving and righteous God. I must think about this!” he mumbled. (2)
Secular judicial system. While many people deny judgment, they don’t take into account that, e.g., the secular judicial system indicates towards the possibility of judgment. Generally, all societies have a judicial system, and its purpose is to hold murderers, criminals and other wrongdoers accountable for their actions. Physical and sexual violence, theft, fraud and embezzlement are common criminal charges, which justify a sentence. This has been the general policy in all societies throughout centuries. If the judicial system functions correctly – that hasn’t always been the case – it will stick to these guidelines.
On one hand, if we have a secular judicial system, whose purpose is to hold murderers, criminals and other wrongdoers accountable for their actions, then why is it so difficult to imagine a judgment after this life? Judgment after death is not at all more peculiar than the secular court sentencing people because of their wrongdoings. Both go by the same principles, and that is one good reason to take judgment after death seriously. God will hold us accountable for our actions, similarly to what is currently happening in the secular judicial system. Everyone must account for how they have lived and treated others. You reap what you have sown.
- (Rom 14:12) So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
- (Hebr 9:27) And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment
- (Gal 6:7) Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.
Imaginary god. As already noted, some deny the existence of judgment and hell. They might also consider themselves as progressive, tolerant and accepting, and they might also tell others how the teachings of New Testament represent an outdated worldview that no longer applies. In regards to this, they often talk about extramarital affairs or homosexuality, which they support in the name of love. They don’t believe that Jesus’ and the disciples’ teachings about these things aren’t true. They’ll abandon, e.g., the following passages, which deal with these issues:
- (1 Cor 6:9,10) Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
- (Rev 22:14,15) Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and fornicators, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoever loves and makes a lie.
We can, however, question the views of these people. How would they know better than Jesus and the disciples? Whenever has their god appeared in this world or even to them personally? Have they met this god? Have they gone to the other side to confirm the non-existence of judgment and hell? Or is everything just based on their imagination and their preferred god (“my god”)? We should consider these questions, because there cannot be two opposing truths. If we represent the opposing view to Jesus and the disciples, we are in the wrong. Then again, if we are, however, correct, then they must have been in the wrong.
David Pawson continues on the topic. He explains – while talking about the Book of Revelation – how it is not always crucial, whether one believes in God, but rather what kind of God they believe in. It is possible that people possess imaginary gods, which means the kind of God that only exists in someone’s mind. Do you have such a God?
I have lived long enough to realize that it isn’t that significant, whether people believe in God or not. The crucial thing is the kind of God they believe or don’t believe in. “I don’t go to church”, is what many say, “but don’t assume I don’t believe in God. I do.” What kind of God do you believe in?” I always ask. And that is the question that matters, not the question, whether they believe or not. These concepts are difficult to process, which is due to our modern perceptions, which are also prevalent inside the congregation. We have heard so much about love that we forget the fact that the same Book, which says “God is love”, also says that “God is light”. We have heard so much about God’s grace that we have forgotten His righteousness. ...Chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke only talks about a merciful God without mentioning his righteousness. Chapter 15 of the Book of Revelation only talks about God’s righteousness, and grace is not mentioned at all. The truth consists of both. We have to keep that in mind, or else our concept of God will become distorted.
... The Book of Revelation doesn’t say anything about God or Jesus that would contradict the Gospels. Besides, this last Book in the Bible comes directly from Jesus – not from anybody else. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ. In other words, you must either accept the God from the Book of Revelation or abandon Him. After that you can create your own god, but I hope you realize it will be a creation of your own imagination. This God is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, and He is the one you have to either accept or abandon. He is the only God; He is what He is, and you cannot change that. (3)
If we keep looking into this topic of some people denying hell and believing in salvation for all, we’ll come to realize that the major cause for that is probably their imaginary god. In their minds they have picked the kind of god, who happens to please them, and then they’ll stick to this mentality. They only accept the things about God that they like, but reject the possibility of judgment, especially. However, they are unable to provide concrete evidence, and are unaware of the sources to their notions.
We are going to look at a quotation that refers to this issue. It shows how people can in their minds choose the kind of god, who happens to be to their liking. They only accept the Bible’s teachings about loving and forgiving God, but not the ones about judgment for unrepentant people. This kind of theology is typical for many unbelieving theologians and people, who have become estranged from God. They only take the nice things from the Bible, but reject the ideas which they don’t like. We should ask them then, why bother reading the Bible or any book at all for that matter if they have already made up their mind beforehand. All reading becomes pointless in such a mindset.
Sanna: So you mean that we should not interpret the Book based on our beliefs?
Socrates: Of course not! Doing so is confusing interpretation with belief.
Socrates: Besides, if you do so, why do you need the Bible at all?
Sanna: What do you mean?
Socrates: If it agrees with you, it is unnecessary and if it doesn’t, it’s wrong. Why read a book that must be unnecessary and wrong? In fact, why read anything or listen to anybody? After all, everything is unnecessary and wrong... Do you have any proof of God's forgiveness?
Sanna: No, I do not.
Socrates: So you only know through Jesus and from the Bible that God is forgiving.
Socrates: Do these two sources say anything about God’s punishment, justice and judgement, or hell?
Sanna: Yes, they do.
Socrates: All of these three things are taught by the Bible?
Sanna: Yes, they are.
Socrates: Does Jesus also teach all of these three things?
Sanna: Well yes, in his parables, but in my interpretation...
Socrates: It is only fable?
Socrates: So, why don’t you think that Jesus’ teachings about the loving and forgiving God are also fables?
Sanna: I simply cannot believe that God is unforgiving...
Socrates: The only reason why you do this is that the literal judgement by God contradicts your belief system. (...) Your believing in God being forgiving but not judgmental is a little like a bar of chocolate, right? It is a wonderful idea, the idea that when we deal with God, we will only be faced with one side of God’s fairness. The fact that God will reward you for being good but will not punish you for being bad – isn’t that a wonderful and attractive idea? Is it not true that it attracts you like a bar of chocolate? (...)
Sanna: Alright, let me teach you one thing. Socrates, there is one thing I know for sure. God is love, not a judge. God is a silent, small voice, not an earthquake.
Socrates: I’m not going to go into how you know that now. However, I will ask you one question: Why could God not be both?
Sanna: How would that be possible?
Socrates: Does love not make it own assessments? Does not love have eyes? Could love not equally well be an earthquake than a silent, small voice? In fact, could love not be the largest earthquake of them all?
Sanna: I don’t know which God you believe in but I prefer the God of peace.
Socrates: That may be the case, but the problem is that it is not about what you prefer but what is the truth.
Sanna: It is a question of which god I choose to believe.
Socrates: Do you select your beliefs like you would select a bar of chocolate?
Sanna (confused): Well, of course not... I don’t know anymore...
Socrates: Hah, those are the magical words! (4)
Conscience and quilt. Above we mentioned how some people might have an imaginary god and how they don’t believe in any judgment. They consider judgment to be a false perception.
But as we already noted, there are things that suggest to the existence of judgment. For example, the secular judicial system can be regarded as such. It shares a lot in common with the coming judgment, which Jesus and the disciples talked about.
Another thing that can be taken as an indirect indication of judgment is our conscience and the feeling of quilt that comes with it. We might feel guilty for the wrong things we’ve done, and that is absolutely how it should be. It shows that we haven’t completely hardened ourselves and that a final judgment awaits us. If we weren’t responsible for anyone, then why are we feeling quilt? The fact that we have a conscience can be taken as proof for the existence of God and judgment.
Conscience also brings up our imperfect nature. Everyone must admit that they have at one point done something that they didn’t feel was right. Everyone is imperfect. David Pawson follows up on this topic:
Everyone has a conscience, according to which they will be judged: it is crucial, whether one’s conscience blames them or not on that day. God will look at your life and see, whether you acted in a way you knew to be right. Nothing else would be fairer than this – and yet there is no one, who would want their book to be opened with such principle.
I have talked with self-righteous people, who have considered themselves as good. Those, who say that “I’m just as good as he or she” or “I’m not any worse than people who go to church”, still cannot answer the question; “have you always done what you knew to be right”. I ask them if they can look me in the eye and say that they have always followed the light for as long as they could see it. I still haven’t found anyone, who would have said yes. Thus, meaning that there is no one, who could based on their life’s book answer anything else than “guilty, your honor”. (5)
ATTITUDES TOWARDS MISSIONARY WORK
- (Luke 11:52) Woe to you, lawyers! for you have taken away the key of knowledge: you entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in you hindered.
- (1 Thess 2:16) Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always: for the wrath is come on them to the uttermost.
As some people believe in the equality of all religions and that there is no such thing as judgment, it is natural that they would also consider missionary work to be insignificant. Denying the significance of missionary work is very common among those, who have the former views. That is, if all people share the same God, all paths are equal and there is no judgment, it will lead to people thinking that missionary work is pointless. Instead, these people might support dialogue between different religious groups. However, they don’t take into consideration the following aspects that are essential for missionary work:
The love of God. The first reason to spread Gospel is people, who don’t know the love of God. It’s not present in Islam and neither do the Hindus know it. These religions don’t talk about, how the almighty God loves, gets closer, and wants people near Him.
That makes for one good reason to do missionary work: to tell others about the love of God and how people can be forgiven for their sins. This is what the love of Christ obligates us to do. Rabi Maharaj, a former Hindu guru, tells us how all this was a new concept for him.
I stood up from my chair to ask her leave. There was no point in continuing this discussion. But she uttered the words, very quietly, that made me sit down again. “The Bible teaches that God is a God of love. I would like to share with you how I came to know Him.”
I was stunned. Never in all my years as a Hindu had I heard of a God of love! I listened to her eagerly.
“Because He loves us, he wants to draw us closer to Him.” This startled me, too. As a Hindu, I wanted to get close to God, but she was telling me that a loving God was trying to draw me nearer!
“The Bible also teaches that sin prevents us from getting close to God,” Molli continued, “and it also prevents us from knowing Him. This is why He sent Christ to die for our sins. And if we receive His forgiveness, we can know Him... ”
“Wait a minute!” I interrupted. Was she trying to convert me? I felt that I had to make some rebuttal. “I believe in karma. Whatever you sow you reap, and no one can change that. I don’t believe in forgiveness at all. It’s impossible! What’s done is done!”
“But God can do anything,” said Molli confidently. “He has a way to forgive us. Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.’ Jesus is the way. Because he died for our sins, God can forgive us!” (6)
Lack of eternal guarantee. These days there is this common way of thinking in Western countries that religion is only measured by moral grounds. The core of Christianity is defined as ethics, and that is when the Christ and His atonement are no longer essential, because those are replaced with correct values and an endeavor to live ethically valuable life. And high moral is exactly the kind of message the church gives out to the world today. That is why it is no longer as important, what people believe, but how they live. People can choose to believe or not to believe in Christ, and it doesn’t hold much significance.
For the same reasons people like this consider differences between religions as insignificant. Thinking that religion is measured only by moral grounds makes Christianity and all other beliefs equal to any other religion. That is why deep down religions teach the same thing, despite looking different on the surface. A person can represent any religion, which is completely fine, because moral seems to be the only thing that matters. All paths are equal, when it comes to leading you to God.
If we think about these people’s idea of moral, they’re absolutely right in the sense that it’s typical in the teachings of many religions. It can be seen in Hinduism in the form of Karma, in Buddhism in the Eightfold Path, in Confucianism, and in other religions. We cannot deny the fact that they all possess some similar features to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and the ethical teachings in the New Testament. When Jesus urged us to treat our neighbors well and to love them in the same way we love ourselves, there’s nothing new about that, per se. It has been known throughout times, although it hasn’t always been followed. Additionally, secular laws contain features that separate things morally.
But what is missing from good actions and moral? Although, they are indeed valuable and good things, they still possess one major weakness: they don’t bring assurance of salvation to anyone. We can never know if we’ve done enough good deeds, whether we have been good enough and whether God will accept our efforts. We don’t find assurance within ourselves or from doing our best. This is a fact in all major religions, including the form of Christianity that doesn’t take seriously the atonement of Jesus Christ. Paul Little shares his observations:
The Muslims do not have an assurance of salvation either. I have often asked the Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists whether they are going to nirvana or heaven after they die. None of them has been able to give me a definitive answer. They have rather referred to the incompleteness of their life, which is an impediment in reaching this goal. (7)
The reason why we can’t to find assurance of salvation from within ourselves is simple: we are sinful and imperfect beings, as the following passages will show us. It is impossible to find assurance, when we are not one hundred percent perfect:
- (Rom 3:23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God
- (1 John 1:8) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
What is the solution if you don’t have assurance of salvation? It is the same old thing that faithless people despise and want to deny: the atonement of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:18: For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but to us which are saved it is the power of God.). That is, when faithless people have denied the atonement and forgiveness, in the process they have replaced those two things with lawcentric religion and ethical ideals – things that don’t guarantee people assurance of salvation, and don’t even give hope. They lead people into a dead end.
This is one of the reasons to take part in missionary work. If people don’t have assurance of salvation and assurance of God’s acceptance, we must tell them, how God has already prepared forgiveness of sins and a chance for us to join His kingdom. We are not talking about man-made ways of getting to God’s kingdom, although many religions support these ways, but instead we are talking about how God got closer to us, because He loves us, atoned us through Christ, and how He will grant us an eternal life. Salvation is not dependent on our own actions, but dependent on what has already been done for us. God made the initiative and we can receive salvation as a gift:
- (John 3:16,17) 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.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
- (Rom 5:6-8) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
- (1 John 4:9,10) In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
- (2 Cor 5:18-20) And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be you reconciled to God.
- (Eph 2:8,9) For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
- (Rev 21:6) And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.
- (Rev 22:17) And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Bound people. Another reason to do missionary work is to help bound people. For example, here in Finland some criticized, when Pirkko Jalovaara spoke about people being freed from demons (exactly as the Bible shows us), but in many countries it is a major problem. In those societies people are bound, because they have practiced idolatry, sorcery, and occultism for many centuries. They need help and answers to how they can get free from the grip of these false powers. The answer is Jesus, because He overcame darkness on the cross. If we don’t tell this to people, they’ll stay in their bound state – even here in the Western countries. Mere social work, as good as it might be, just isn’t enough:
Doctor Charles Kraft, my colleague from Fuller’s theological seminary, tells what happened to him in Nigeria. He tried to teach, what the Letter to the Romans has to say, to a small tribe. After a few months the same people came to him and explained very politely that his teachings are good, but did not cater to their needs at all. They needed wisdom for their nightly battles with bad spirits that were tormenting them. Doctor Kraft had to admit that, unfortunately, he never received training to act against bad spirits. (8)
The uniqueness of Jesus. In the beginning we discussed, how many people think Jesus is nothing special, which also majorly contributes to why they don’t believe in the significance of missionary work. They don’t consider Jesus to be the Son of God, who came from the heavens and atoned our sins, but instead they regard Him as a spiritual teacher or a wise man. Therefore, it is expected of them to not see any need for missionary work.
But to consider Jesus only to be a great teacher or a wise man is logically the worst thing you could do. No good teacher would put forward such claims about themselves (the Son of God, Messiah, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the one, who came from the heavens from the Father’s beside) as Jesus did, that is if they really weren’t true. If His claims are false, then He cannot really be a good teacher. On the other hand, if His claims are true, then He must be godly. Mere wise person or spiritual teacher could not give such promises, but if what Jesus said about Himself and the eternal life were true, then we must take them seriously. This is also a good motive to go out into the world and tell every nation, how important it is to accept Jesus:
- (John 8:23,24) And he said to them, You are from beneath; I am from above: you are of this world; I am not of this world.
24 I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins.
- (John 5:39,40) Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40 And you will not come to me, that you might have life.
- (John 14:1-6) Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.
2 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.
3 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.
4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.
5 Thomas said to him, Lord, we know not where you go; and how can we know the way?
6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
1. Peter Kreeft: Sokrates & Jeesus, p. 62,63
2. Aril Edvardsen: Rakkauden terapia (Kjaerlighetens Terapi), p. 68-70
3. David Pawson: Matka ilmestyskirjan maailmaan (Come With Me Through Revelation), p. 199,200
4. Peter Kreeft: Sokrates & Jeesus, p. 34-36
5. David Pawson: Matka ilmestyskirjan maailmaan (Come With Me Through Revelation), p. 249,250
6. Rabindranath R. Maharaj: Gurun kuolema (Death of a Guru), p. 113,114
7. Paul Little: Tiedä miksi uskot, p. 129
8. John Wimber, Kevin Springer: Ihmeet ja merkit (Power Evangelism), p. 60
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life
Grap to eternal life!