All roads do not lead to heaven…
Not long ago, I was told by a friend (?) that I now disgusted him, that I was now a “closed minded religious zealot” (his words) because I believed that Christianity was the only true religion. This from a man who professed he himself was a christian!
My first question is, if I didn’t believe that Christianity was the only true religion, why would I become a Christian minister? If I thought that there were other ways to heaven, there are other “ministry” options available.
Second, yes, I do point out errors with other religions. Mormonism is wrong. It denies that Jesus is God. Jehovah Witnesses is wrong. They too deny Christ as God. Christian Science is neither Christian or science (a true oxymoron). Catholicism is baffling as there are so many things they have right, yet there are areas where they are either wrong, or “cloudy”. I know some Catholics who I have no doubt are saved, while others… I pray for. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t claim that I can tell who is saved and who is not, but scripture tells us we will know them by their fruits. When I see “fruits” in a person, I have some idea that they are saved.
Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and such are wrong. All roads do not lead to heaven.
All religions outside of Christianity tell me I can “be a good person” and I can “pay off my debts” and so forth. Christianity tells me the reverse, that I am unable to pay off my sin debt and that I need a perfect substitute to take my place. Now either the other religions are right, or Christianity. Things that are different are not the same. Both can not be right.
The substitutionary atonement refers to Jesus Christ dying as a substitute for sinners. The Scriptures teach that all men are sinners (Romans 3:9-18, 23). The penalty for our sinfulness is death. Romans 6:23 reads, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
That verse teaches us several things. Without Christ, we are going to die and spend an eternity in hell as payment for our sins. Death in the Scriptures refers to a “separation.” Everyone will die, but some will live in heaven with the Lord for eternity, while others will live a life in hell for eternity. The death spoken of here refers to the life in hell. However, the second thing this verse teaches us is that eternal life is available through Jesus Christ. This is His substitutionary atonement.
Jesus Christ died in our place when He was crucified on the cross. We deserved to be the ones placed on that cross to die because we are the ones who live sinful lives. But Christ took the punishment on Himself in our place. He substituted Himself for us and took what we rightly deserved. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). Here again we see that Christ took the sins we committed onto Himself to pay the price for us. A few verses later we read, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). Not only do these verses teach us about the substitute that Christ was for us, but they also teach that He was the atonement, meaning He satisfied the payment due for the sinfulness of man.
One more passage that talks about the substitutionary atonement is Isaiah 53:5. This verse talks about the coming Christ who was to die on the cross for our sins. The prophecy is very detailed, and the crucifixion happened just as it was foretold. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Notice the substitution. Here again we see that Christ paid the price for us!
We can only pay the price of sin on our own by being punished and placed in hell for all eternity. But God’s Son, Jesus Christ, came to earth to pay for the price of our sins. Because He did this for us, we now have the opportunity to not only have our sins forgiven, but to spend eternity with Him. In order to do this we must place our faith in what Christ did on the cross. We cannot save ourselves; we need a substitute to take our place. The death of Jesus Christ is the substitutionary atonement.
Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” No other religion has a prophet who makes such a claim. Now either Jesus is a lier, crazy, or or telling the truth (that he is the only way). I accept that Jesus Christ is God, that he died so that I might live. If that makes me a disgusting religious Zealot, then so be it. I will profess this truth with my words, not with a sword. I will tell others. Then it is their decision to make as to what they will do with this information.
(Note: thanks to http://gotquestions.org for some of this info. My way of writing would have taken much longer to write and probably been confusing to others and myself… I get long winded)