One Way or Many? What Jesus Said About the Way to Heaven
Today’s culture often suggests there are many ways to heaven. Is this true? What did Jesus teach about the way a person can reach heaven?
Perhaps the clearest teaching Jesus provided on this topic is found in John 14:6. Jesus declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The use of the Greek definitive article (translated “the”) before way, truth, and life, clearly indicate Jesus referring to himself as the only way to God.
If Jesus teaches he is the only way, how can a person reach heaven through Jesus? In a 2015 Barna survey, the research revealed:
Many adults believe, however, that they will go to heaven as a result of their good works. Broadly speaking, this is the most common perception among Americans who have never made a commitment to Jesus—and it is also quite common among self-identified Christians. In this category, people believe they will go to heaven because they have tried to obey the Ten Commandments (5%), as a result of being basically a good person (8%), or on the grounds that God loves all people and will not let them perish (7%).
Unfortunately, many Americans believe they will go to heaven through obeying the Ten Commandments, being a good person, or believing God will simply not let them die without going to heaven.
Which Way Is the Right Way?
However, the Bible offers a clear path to heaven through Jesus. The Protestant Reformers used the phrase that salvation is “by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.” Ephesians 2:8-9 supports this perspective:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
Salvation, or being saved from our sins, is a result of God’s grace: “by grace.” We do not earn it or work for it. Instead, God offers salvation as a gift (Romans 6:23).
Second, salvation takes place “through faith.” Faith is believing in Jesus as God’s Son who rose from the dead.
Romans 10:9 states, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Faith involves believing in Jesus as Lord and in his resurrection.
Jesus Christ Alone
Jesus is the object of our faith. We don’t believe in a general sense, but instead believe in Jesus as Lord, as the leader of our lives and as God of the universe.
Isn’t This Cruel?
Some have suggested it is cruel to provide only one way to heaven. Why would God make only one way instead of letting people choose from among many ways or even creating their own path to God?
However, a clear path of salvation is actually an act of love. Imagine flying to another city to visit a friend. After landing, you call your friend and ask for her address. What if she said, “Just take any path. It doesn’t matter. They all lead to me eventually”? You would likely be frustrated.
Instead, you would ask your friend for the exact address and specific directions on how to arrive at the correct destination. You would not want to drive around for hours hoping to find the location on your own.
The same is true with God. Instead of telling you to take whichever way you prefer, he has clearly marked the path to our eternal destination with him. The apostles explained it this way: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
To be in heaven with God for eternity, there is a clear path. Even better, reaching God does not require our good deeds, but can be received as a free gift.
If you have been trusting in your efforts or are unsure if you have believed in Jesus by faith, don’t let another moment pass without making this important decision. You can believe in Jesus by faith right now and know you will have eternal life (1 John 5:13).
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