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Grab to eternal life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus is the way,
 the truth, and the life

 

 

ARE there many ways to God?

 

 

 

 

 

If one believes in reincarnation, it is very probable that he also believes that there are many ways to God. This is a typical belief in the New Age movement, seeing God on a high mountain to which many ways lead.

   Many people have thought that various ways and religions can be different, but in the end they all lead to the same God. And when people finally reach the top of the mountain, they will realize that they have arrived in the same place and on the peak even though they used different roads to get there.

   The next example describes this common idea:

 

Socrates, do you not think that religion is like a mountain, and that there are several roads that lead to the top? That is why it is so difficult to define it – who could define a mountain? The inside of it is dark, mysterious, and heavy. The surface you can see, and on it can be seen several roads which all lead to the top from different sides and starting points. How foolish it is to fight about which road is the best, or which side is true! It is the same as arguing whether the mountain is in the sun or the shade, hot or cold. It is both. It is everything. It would be so narrow-minded to say that only our road is the right one! Do you understand what I am trying to prove, Socrates? It is not pride but humility. It would be pride to deny this, and regard your own way as the absolute truth. (1)

 

PROBLEM WITH THE ABOVE-MENTIONED WAY OF THINKING?

 

Even though the thought of there being many ways to God can seem to be a tempting alternative, there are contradictions and impossibilities that we should observe. We can mention at least the next points, which we are going to study separately:

 

- We have to be sure that all ways really lead to God  

- It is in conflict with most religions

- It is Hinduism

- This view is in conflict with words of Jesus

- This view does not give assurance of salvation

 

We have to be sure that all ways really lead to God. Firstly, we should note that if we think that the previous view of all roads leading to God is true, one important thing is required. It is required that we are sure that all roads really lead to God. We have to know that they are all equal and lead to the same destination.

     A good question is how can anyone know that? How can we be sure that all roads finally end in the same place if we have not yet reached the top and do not know what the situation is there. Is this understanding therefore not founded only on a philosophical preconception, which is difficult to prove true because there is no certain information about it?

   The next example refers to this: how impossible it is to be sure if we have not been at the top:

 

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?

Sanna: Yes.

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. (2)

 

It is in conflict with most religions. The second observation about the idea described above is how it agrees with other religions. If we think that all religions are the same and represent the same thing, why do they differ so much from each other? Why do they teach differently about basic issues, such as the number of gods and the way of salvation, if they really come from the same source?

   Opposites or differences can be seen at least in the following points. These also exclude each other, and no way can they all be valid at the same time, even if it is claimed so – or then we could also see round squares and triangles and other peculiarities. Trying to fit all of these together is impossible and illogical:

 

- Salvation comes either through mercy (the work of Jesus for us) or through our actions (the most typical understanding in religions), but not through both at the same time.

 

- Buddhism and Confucianism say that there is no God (later on, Buddhism considered  Buddha to be divine), but for example Islam, Judaism and Christianity teach that there is one God. These views cannot be valid at the same time. On the other hand, if there is no God – as, for example, the Buddhists believe – how can it be taught that all roads lead to the same God?

 

- The understanding of life after death varies. Buddhism and other religions believe in heaven and hell, while the Hindus do not believe in them. These are opposites, and it is impossible that they both exist and do not exist at the same time.

 

- Reincarnation (Hinduism, Buddhism) and non-reincarnation (Islam, Judaism, Christianity, etc.) cannot both be true.

 

It is part of Hinduism. Even though this is clearly in conflict with most of the religions because they teach differently on the basic issues there is, however, one religion suited by this view: Hinduism.

   This really is so, because the Hindus believe that all ways are equal (even though many Hindus actually see their religion as the only right one, and do not accept other ways). Therefore, a person believing this is, in fact, a Hindu, because it is an essential part of this religion. For example, the Bhagavadagita (IV:11) brings this out well in one passage:

 

Oh Paartha, no matter how the people approach me, I will receive them; what ever way they use, it is also my way.

 

The view is in conflict with the words of Jesus. The fourth problem is that this idea is in conflict with what Jesus said about Himself. He said very clearly that He is the only way to God, which excludes all others. He also said several other things about Himself. How do these fit together with the view described above?

   In general, people refuse to think that Jesus would have lied, but if the next words He said are not true, they must be a lie. Then, we also claim that Jesus is a liar if we do not believe the following statements to be true:

 

Jesus said that He is the only way to God:

 

- (John 14:5-6) 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.

 

Jesus said that believing in Him is important:

 

- (John 8:23-25) 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.

25  Then said they to him, Who are you? And Jesus said to them, Even the same that I said to you from the beginning.

 

He said that we will receive life if we turn to Him:

 

- (John 5:40) And you will not come to me, that you might have life.

 

He said that He is the road to salvation and the good shepherd:

 

- (John 10:9-11) I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

10  The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

11  I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.

 

He promised to give rest to burdened souls and said that He is gentle and humble in heart:

 

- (Matt 11:28-30) Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29  Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.

30  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

 

He said that He had spoken the truth:

 

- (John 8:45-46) And because I tell you the truth, you believe me not.

46  Which of you convinces me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do you not believe me?

 

The view does not give an assurance of salvation. If we still study the idea of all roads leading to God and that all of us could achieve His approval by reaching for the top, there is still one problem with it: we do not get an assurance of salvation. When we try to reach the top, we do not experience any assurance of salvation. It cannot be received like that and we will miss it.

  Paul Little refers to this. He describes how the Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims do not have an assurance of salvation, but this also applies to Western people who have grown in a Christian culture:

 

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. (3)

 

But why are people not sure? What is the reason for people still not being sure even though they were trying to reach the top?

   Maybe the reason is very simple. Maybe it is because all of these roads that may be thought to be equally good and lead to the same place are in fact the broad road, about which Jesus warned us and which only leads to destruction. It is good to take this possibility into consideration, because these people do not have assurance and also because Jesus said that He is the only way to God (John 14:6). This is what He said about the broad road:

 

- (Matt 7:13-14) "Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.

 

The second important thing is that if we try to build a way to God but do not experience assurance, so several verses in the New Testament show that salvation is a gift and comes from mercy and has already been given to us through Jesus Christ. These verses indicate that salvation does not require any effort or work; it can be received immediately as a gift from God. It is actually the only way to be saved:

 

- (John 1:17) For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

 

- (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.

 

- (Rom 3:24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

 

- (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.

 

The next conversation also refers to this. The conversation refers to the typical understanding of us having to work hard to receive eternal life. People may think that this requires perhaps working for centuries – through reincarnations – instead of eternal life being received immediately as a gift. Do you think the same as the person in this example, without understanding that you too can receive eternal life immediately as a gift from God?

 

When I had finished, the old monk looked at me, sighed and said, "Yes, that doctrine of yours is great and lovely to hear, but it cannot be true. It is too easy to be true. Receiving an everlasting life is not as simple as only having to believe in Jesus, meaning that eternal life could be obtained over the course of one lifetime. It requires work over centuries. You must be born and die and be born again to do good works and then, after centuries, when you have done enough good deeds, you can have everlasting life. Your doctrine is great and lovely to hear, but it is too easy to be true.”

   If I had told the monk that he has to pray this and this much, fast, and do good deeds, he surely would have said, “Quite so, that is just what I am going to do.” But as the gospel says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved and have eternal life”, so the answer is: it is just that easy. (4)

 

 

 

Chapter 1 - Way to new life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jari Iivanainen

 

 




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