Why is Jesus the only way to heaven, and if God is so loving then why is there a hell?

Ladies Fellowship Group Study: December 10

Why Jesus and not Buddha or Mohammad?

There is a widely held belief in western culture today, growing in popularity, that there are many paths to God, and Jesus is just one of them, essentially saying that you can find God in all religions.  Is this true?  Are there many ways to Heaven?  Isn’t following Jesus only a little narrow minded and unenlightened these days? 

To be blunt, people want a religion that allows them to either be comfortable in their sin or to feel like they are themselves responsible for atoning for it. What they cannot atone for, they seek justify.  What most never realize is that this makes them either willingly or unwillingly ignorant that their sin is keeping them from everything their heart truly desires, and the restored relationship to the only One who is able to fulfill those desires. 

The fact remains that there is only ONE God, our creator and maker of this universe and everything in it, and what HE has defined as SIN separates us from Him.  The good news is that it is this same loving, Holy God who has provided us with a way – HIS way – to restored relationship with Him, and it is the only way, for apart from it we can never be good enough of and in ourselves to satisfy the price He has required. Recognizing that He alone is God and that He alone sets the price for reconciliation that leads to eternal life rather than eternal death is the first and foremost step we must take if we want to accept His free gift of salvation.

This restored relationship is the difference between Christianity and other religions – a restored relationship with a Holy God who so loved us first that He provided a way for us to be cleansed of the one thing that stood between us and Him: our sin.  No other religion offers this.  Jesus, through His blood and sacrifice, is the only One who can make us pure and holy, and enable us with the ability to stand before God without being crushed by the weight of our sin. 

Recognizing that God is God and we are not is the first step in realizing that we are imperfect and greatly in need of salvation.  In any other religion, faith, or belief, you will find man reaching up to God through a futile attempt to attain perfection on his own, apart from God.  Christianity is the only religion where God reaches down to man instead.

*WATCH* – The Bible Project video: Holiness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9vn5UvsHvM

It is the basis of this question (why is Jesus the only way) that helps us to understand the foundational differences between Christianity and every other religion, faith, or belief.  At the same time, it becomes clear why the blood of Jesus becomes so very critical, as it is only the blood of Christ that cleanses our sin.

Where does this belief come from (that any or all religions leads to God)?

The bible warns us of this, stating in 1 Timothy 4:1 “But the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons”. 

As I began to do my research on this topic, I came across a printout “100 Most Frequently Asked Questions about the End Times” from research on a different subject I had worked on over the summer.

I had for years been asking myself the question “Why in THE WORLD would Jesus bound Satan for 1,000 years only to just let him out again?”  I mean, come on God, this is the DEVIL we’re talking about!  The funny thing is, I never got too serious about finding the answer – I would just say to myself “one of these days I’m going to puzzle that out”.

Guess what question I came across when I thumbed through the FAQ document?  THAT’S RIGHT! Why is God going to release Satan after the 1,000 years?  What I read was not only a satisfying answer, I was amazed to find out that it actually ties into our topic!  Sometimes I find the way God works is not just timely, but also humorous and loving! 

Here’s what I learned:  Jesus allows the “snake” back in the garden to reveal man’s heart and God’s justice in judgement. God demonstrates the justice of His eternal judgments by showing that rehabilitation will not occur and that men rebel even in an ideal environment because they love sin.  Men will not be able to blame their sin on their difficult circumstances.  God will openly manifest the truth about the depth of human sin and about Satan as being incurably evil.  Satan deceives the nations, revealing that he was not rehabilitated or changed. 

Keep these thoughts in mind as we move forward.

“I’m OK, You’re OK” was the title of a popular book published in the late 1960’s.  Even though the book’s subject has nothing to do with our question today, the title of the book reminds me of a similar philosophy held by the Universal Church, which is where most of this concept comes from. 

What is the Universal Church (or what is universalism), and what does that have to do with our question? (See Revelation 17 and 18)

Here are highlights from what Theopedia.com had to say on the subject (see https://www.theopedia.com/universalism):

Universalism is the theological view arguing that all people will ultimately be saved (otherwise known as “final salvation” or “Universal Reconciliation”). Some also teach that there is no such thing as a literal hell or eternal punishment.

Belief in universal salvation is at least as old as Christianity itself and may be associated with early Gnostic teachers. The first clearly universalist writings, however, date from the Greek church fathers, most notably Clement of Alexandria, his student Origen. Of these, the teachings of Origen, who believed that even the devil might eventually be saved, were the most influential.

Taking it a step even further, the article goes on to say that “Universal reconciliation” is the position that all of mankind will ultimately be saved through Christ whether or not faith is professed in him in this life (NOTE: we know based on scriptures like Hebrews 9:27 that this is not true, because judgement follows death).  This is also based on the belief that a loving God would not submit any person, regardless of their sins, to everlasting torment, but would instead reform them. This is a belief held by some protestant denominations. An extension of this, called “strong universalism”, holds that no person, even the greatest sinner, is sent to Hell, and therefore Hell does not need to exist.

Some proponents do believe that there is a physical, literal Hell in existence, but that Hell is only for the reformation of the sinners. Hell, though real, “will be remedial and corrective rather than just punishment for punishment’s sake.”

Now that we understand the basics for the universal church, we can at the same time better understand why Satan is held in prison for 1000 years and then released, as this quells any thought at all that Satan could ever be reformed, and at the same time fully demonstrates God’s justice in His judgements.

Is there a literal hell, and how can God be loving and send people there?

There are two definitions of hell I want to bring out.  The first is my own, as I define anything that separates me from God for all eternity as HELL.  God is LOVE.  God is LIGHT.  God is LIFE. God is everything that is good, creative, just, and holy.  God is the one who heals us. God is the one who cleanses us from stain and sin.  Hell is a literal place without any of those things.

A second definition would have to include the literal place of eternal fire that God prepared for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41).  Did God predestine Satan to go there?  No, but because He is omniscient, He knew at the end of time that Satan nor any of his followers would not be reformed.  Does God purposefully send man, any man, to hell?  No, it is man’s individual choice (we choose ourselves to be separated from God)

What about people who have never heard the gospel?

Romans 1:18-20 gives us part of the answer. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for god made it evident to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

I also believe that we can find a second part of this answer in Acts chapter 17, in Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill in Athens.  In particular verses 24-28a which says “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’”

Combine this with what we know from Psalms 139 that tells us that all our days are ordained by God, when you stop to think about how those three portions of scripture compliment one another and what exactly they mean, you begin to understand first of all that not only does nature itself witness of God, but also because God IS omniscient and He DOES foreknow our hearts and choices, He Himself has appointed our times, placing us in the utmost environment where we can thrive according to our choices, and in accordance with His purpose.  Think about that.

I honestly believe as well that even in the midst of the darkest place where salvation’s light is not known to shine, God can be found by anyone willing to seek Him (Proverbs 8:17), and to those in darkness who seek the light, He will give them more light.  So once again, it all boils down to the choice we make as individuals to follow the light that we are given or not.

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