John 14:6 – I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
As we approach the end of this school year, I have been taking the 7th and 8th graders through a study of World Religions. We have studied both non-Christian and Christian religions. We have looked at Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Catholicism, and various brands of Lutheranism. There is certainly a lot that can be said about these various religions. I won’t go into great detail in this devotional article. What I will point out is this: there is only one true way to heaven.
Perhaps you have seen bumper stickers with the word “coexist”. The word is written with the symbols of many of the religions in this world. The message of the sticker is that we should stop all of our arguing about what is the truth and we should just get along. Rather than one religion saying they are better than another, we should just work together for world peace and be one big happy family. The problem is that this doesn’t truly work. There is only one path to heaven. We cannot get to heaven by following a false path.
How can we evaluate which path is the right path and which path is the wrong path? Again, there is much that could be said. I will boil it down to this: Is the religion showing us the path to heaven through Jesus or is it trying to show us a path through some other way besides Jesus? God’s religion, the religion of the Bible, points us to Jesus and what he has done for us. Man’s religion, any other path besides God’s, points us ultimately to us and our own good works.
That is the basic test. Is the religion pointing us to the perfect life and innocent death of Jesus or is the religion pointing to my good deeds as the path to heaven? This applies to Christian churches as well. Is this Christian church clearly pointing to the grace and forgiveness of Jesus or is this Christian church telling me I can earn my way to heaven through how well I serve others? Certainly our works of faith are important but they should never take the place of what Christ has done for us. Jesus is the only path to heaven.
As I was talking to the 7th and 8th graders about this, I encouraged them to evaluate what they are hearing. Check what your pastor is telling you against the words of the Bible. We need to continue to study the Word of God so that we know that we are truly receiving the gospel message. That is why it is so important for us to read our Bible. If any pastor points us to our own works rather than to Christ, we need to be able to speak up for the truth.
The kids asked me if I was teaching them the truth. I responded with a question. I said, “Am I teaching you the Word of God?” They didn’t like my answer but I responded that way because I wanted them to think critically about what they have learned. They have been taught from the Word of God. They have the resources they need to evaluate if their pastor is teaching the truth. I am confident that I am teaching them the truth because I am teaching them from the Bible. I am not giving them my own ideas. I am giving them God’s truth. I am pointing them to Jesus as the only way to heaven. We cling to the cross of Christ for our forgiveness.