In this month's Real Meat For Real Men, we will see what John has to say about the belief that all roads lead to Heaven, as long as we have "faith". Join us as we read John's thoughts on all roads leading to Heaven.
Recently I was watching a celebrity being interviewed on TV. Over and over, this person used the phrase “My Faith”. They would never say God. They didn’t say they were a Christian. They just said Faith.
Faith is a word we hear a lot in our culture. It’s become the politically correct way of saying that a person believes in God. In order to avoid a firestorm of controversy or be branded as intolerant, people avoid mentioning God, Jesus, the Bible, or Christianity. They are replaced with “faith”.
It’s become a generic term for religion---any religion. However, just because the culture uses the term “faith” this way, doesn’t mean the Bible defines faith in the same manner. I know John sure didn’t! He had a clear, distinct message for those who believe all roads lead to Heaven. Let’s Look at 1 John 2:18
18 My dear children, the end is near! You have heard that the enemy of Christ is coming. And now many enemies of Christ are already here. So we know that the end is near. 19 These enemies were in our group, but they left us. They did not really belong with us. If they were really part of our group, they would have stayed with us. But they left. This shows that none of them really belonged with us.
20 You have the gift that the Holy One gave you. So you all know the truth. 21 Do you think I am writing this letter because you don’t know the truth? No, I am writing because you do know the truth. And you know that no lie comes from the truth.
22 So who is the liar? It is the one who says Jesus is not the Messiah. Whoever says that is the enemy of Christ—the one who does not believe in the Father or in His Son. 23 Whoever does not believe in the Son does not have the Father, but whoever accepts the Son has the Father too.
John, in his normal straight-shooting, direct manner, point blank says that if a person or a religion doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God sent to earth to save man from their sins is not a true believer. He goes so far as to call them a liar! Can you imagine the reaction of CNN if John was alive today and made that statement?!
John doesn’t say all roads to lead to Heaven. He says one road does, and that road is the straight and narrow road that Jesus taught about, you know, the one Jesus said few will find. Few, not many, certainly not all-inclusive.
I am not saying Jesus didn’t want people to find the road. I am saying Jesus taught few will find it because they will refuse to bend to the requirements travelling on this road requires. John understood what Jesus had taught Him, that the narrow road had standards and requirements, and that is why He continued with the next verse.
24 Be sure that you continue to follow the teaching you heard from the beginning. If you do that, you will always be in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what the Son promised us—eternal life.
John reminded his fellow believers to make sure they continue to follow the teaching they had received from great men of God like Peter, James, Paul, and himself. The Bible has standards, and in order to be a Christian and inherit eternal life, you have to live by those standards. One cannot read the writings of these men in the Bible without noticing the many things they taught that a true believer needs to change in their lives to truly be right with God. For example, just this one passage by Paul in Ephesians 4 says
25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
That verse lists at least a dozen adjustments a believer needs to make to their lives in order to truly be working toward becoming like Christ, which is the destination of all who travel the narrow road. John reminded his readers to remember the things in the Bible and to apply them to their daily lives. He realized that the church in his day faced the same things we face in our world today.
-Cry’s of “You can’t say that”
-Accusations of “You’re racist or intolerant if you say homosexuality or abortion, or really anything, are sin”
-Bemoaning of “You can’t judge other people”
-Statements like “I believe in God” or “I live a good life”
-Misinformation that “Grace allows me to live however I want,” and “any religion is okay as long as I believe in something”.
John heard it in his day and age, and we hear it all around us today as well. You can’t turn on the tv these days without hearing someone call a Christian a bigot or a radical when they stand for what they believe. Just look at the reaction Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson got when he made his statements about homosexuality being a sin. Granted, I disagreed with the very crude way he said it, but his attackers didn’t pick on his crudeness, they attacked him for saying anything against homosexuality. People are constantly redefining what it means to be a Christian. That is why John’s words are as important today as they ever were. Let’s look further at what John teaches.
26 I am writing this letter about those who are trying to lead you into the wrong way. 27 Christ gave you a special gift. You still have this gift in you. So you don’t need anyone to teach you. The gift He gave you teaches you about everything. It is a true gift, not a false one. So continue to live in Christ, as His gift taught you.
28 Yes, my dear children, live in Him. If we do this, we can be without fear on the day when Christ comes again. We will not need to hide and be ashamed when He comes. 29 You know that Christ always did what was right. So you know that all those who do what is right are God’s children.
John concludes his message by encouraging the followers to not allow the constant barrage of false teaching and redefining of Christianity to discourage them. He reminds them to continue on their journey, ignore those who are trying to redefine what they believe, and focus on Jesus. He ends by teaching them a lesson we all need to learn. The lesson is basically this: “You need to be aware of the agenda of those trying to redefine your faith. However, stay focused on obeying what you learn from the Bible, and let God handle the rest. At the end, He will sort who is really serving Him and who isn’t…just make sure you find yourself on the right side of things at the end.”
Straight-talk from one of God’s greatest men to the rest of us men. We know the truth. We know the only way to Heaven is through accepting Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died for our sins, and that salvation only comes through repentance and making Him the Lord of our lives. We know we need to dive into the Word and do what it teaches. Only then can we have assurance of an eternity in Heaven. Faith doesn’t save you, Jesus saves you. John understood this, we need to understand it as well.