Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Only Way



In a recent post, a reader expressed her belief that God hears and answers everyone’s prayers regardless of their language, beliefs, or religions. She raised so many thought-provoking and important points that I thought I should discuss them in this separate post.

God will always hear and answer “Yes!” to the prayer of anyone who realizes they are a sinner in need of Jesus as their Savior and asks Him into their heart (Romans 10:9-10). Thereafter, His Holy Spirit within the believer’s heart (Ephesians 1:13; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5) helps us to pray to God the Father (Matthew 6:9), in the name of His Son, even when we don’t know exactly how to pray (Romans 8:26).

God answers other prayers based not on language, but on whether or not the one praying believes the Gospel (1 Peter 3:12; 1 Corinthians 2:14). Thankfully, the Gospel has reached many nations and has been translated into many different tongues, although there are still more places and peoples to be reached.

There are Names for Jesus in Hebrew, Arabic, the Romance languages, and all well-known tongues, but in any language, the Name of Jesus is above all other names (John 20:31) and connotes One Who is quite different from Allah or gods worshipped in other religions. There is no other name by which anyone can be saved (Acts 4:12).

Jesus was not just a good man and good teacher, but the perfect, sinless, all-powerful, all-knowing Son of God (John 11:27; 20:31; Acts 7:56; 2 Peter 1:17) and God Himself (John 1:1; 1 John 5:20), the Fullness of the Trinity (Colossians 2:9), present from the beginning of all time as the Word Who created all (John 1:1-3).

Regardless of whether people accept or deny Who Jesus is in their earthly lifetime, one day all shall bow to Him at the judgment and confess (Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10) that He is God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 17:14; 19:16).

The Gospel is the Good News that Jesus Christ, Son of God and God Himself, took on human flesh without losing His divinity (John 1:14), and came to earth to suffer and die as the perfect, sinless sacrifice for all our sins (Hebrews 4:15; Philippians 2:5-8; Romans 5:8). He was buried and rose again from the dead so that all who trust in His completed work on the cross will have eternal life with Him in Heaven (1 Corinthians 15; Romans 10:13; Acts 16:31 ;John 5:24).

Because we are all sinners (Romans 3:23), a just, Holy God cannot allow us into His presence in Heaven without making us holy through the substitutionary death of His Son. Jesus paid our sin debt in full (Hebrews 9:26-27), so that when God looks at those who have repented and placed their trust in Christ, He no longer sees their sins (Acts 3:19; 1 John 1:9), but instead, He sees the perfect righteousness of His Son (Romans 3:20-26, 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Isaiah 53:4-6).

The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ therefore has reconciled God’s children – those who trust in His only begotten Son – to God Himself (1 Peter 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Hebrews 2:17).

Jesus Himself said, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6). God’s Word clearly states that the only way to God the Father is by faith in His Son. This may be viewed as narrow in the sense that it excludes other beliefs and faiths, but Jesus Himself said that this was the case:

Enter ye in [to Heaven] at the strait [narrow] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Matthew 7:13-15)

Jesus therefore said that there are many false religions, and false teachers, who appear holy but who mislead their followers into death and damnation (Revelation 20:15). He even went further to say that those who claimed to be His followers but did not have a close personal relationship with Him would not enter Heaven:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.(Matthew 7: 21-23)

Jesus illustrated this in the parable commonly referred to as the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), but as John MacArthur has so aptly pointed out, it would be better referred to as the Tale of Two Sons. The Father in the parable represents God the Father. The prodigal son represents the sinner who rebels against the Father, insults Him, runs away from Him, wastes the resources the Father gave Him, and finally stoops so low into degradation, poverty and worthlessness that He comes to the end of himself and realizes that He has sinned against Heaven and the Father (v. 18-19).

At that point He is willing to give up his status as a son and return as a lowly servant, but the Father is eagerly awaiting his return and runs toward him with open arms the moment He sees him approaching. He kisses him and offers him His finest treasures because of His joy that His son has returned and asked for forgiveness (v. 20-22).

This represents the joy of our Father when a lost sinner realizes His need of the Savior, repents of his sins, asks for forgiveness, and places his trust in Christ. That sinner, saved by God’s grace through faith in His Son (Ephesians 2:8-9), is then transformed from an enemy of God (Romans 5:10) to His child, joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:16-17; Galatians 4:7), and even His ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20).

But the outcome is quite different for the other son in the parable, who represents the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. The older son said that he always did what the Father told him, but in fact he harbored resentment against the Father rather than loving Him (Luke 15:v.28-30). Rather than rejoicing at his brother’s return, he was angry that his own good deeds were not rewarded.

Similarly, the high priests or Pharisees were “holier-than-thou” (Luke 15:2), proud of their “goodness,” and placed their faith in their keeping religious practices and customs (Luke 18:11-12; Matthew 15:1-19). But their hearts were far from God, and as a result, they would not enter into fellowship with Him in Heaven. It was the Pharisees who demanded that Jesus undergo the cruel suffering and death of the cross (Mark 15:1-15), as they were blinded to the fact that He was their promised Messiah (Daniel 9:25-26) fulfilling all the Old Testament prophecies.

It is true that God is love (1 John 4:8) and that He loves every one of us enough to give His Son to die for us (John 3:16). Every work of His hands reflects His perfection, creativity, and mastery (Psalm 19:1), but He is not “in” all of His creation any more than we could say that a master watchmaker is “in” an exquisite Swiss timepiece. Rather, God’s Word says that He indwells each of His children with the Holy Spirit at the moment they are saved (Ephesians 1:13; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5).

Because God is love, He blesses His enemies as well as His children. Every good and perfect gift comes from above (James 1:17), and the lost as well as the saved can enjoy the beauty of God’s creation and the benefits of His provision (Matthew 5:44-45). For those who do not pray to the Father in the name of the Son, blessings may follow the prayer, but this does not indicate that the Father hears and specifically answers those requests (1 Peter 3:12; 1 Corinthians 2:14).

Similarly, for God’s children who do pray to the Father in the name of the Son, not receiving the outcome we hope for does not mean that God doesn’t hear us, but means instead that He is giving us what we need (Matthew 7:11) for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28), rather than what we think we want (James 4:3). God grants His children the privilege of boldly approaching His throne with our requests 24/7 (Hebrews 4:16), knowing not only that He will hear us, but that He knows what we need before we even ask Him! (Matthew 6:8,32)

Anyone can become God’s child. God does not want anyone to go to hell (2 Peter 3:9), and He offers the gift of salvation to anyone, regardless of nationality, sex, or social status (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11), who believes in His Son:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Sadly, many refuse this gift of eternal life because they deny the Son’s divinity and completed work of salvation (1 John 5:10-13). And many rely instead on their own good works to get to Heaven, thinking that the good they have done will outweigh the bad, but this is impossble (Ephesians 2:8-9;Titus 3:5). God is perfectly holy and just (1 John 1:5), and He views sin as sin. He doesn’t differentiate “little” from “big” sins.

No one is capable of perfectly keeping the 10 Commandments, because even those rare individuals who think they don’t do any sinful deeds have sinful thoughts. Jesus said that even feeling angry at someone without just cause, or looking at someone with lust, amounted to breaking the 10 Commandments (Matthew 5:22,28). Anyone who has broken even a single commandment in His law has failed His perfect standard and deserves eternal punishment in hell (Revelation 21:8; 1 John 3:4; Romans 6:23).

Whether someone has committed atrocities like those of Hitler or done countless good deeds like Mother Teresa is irrelevant to where they will spend eternity. If a criminal is charged with grand larceny but tells the judge that he has donated much money to charity, built an orphanage, etc., a just and fair judge would not be swayed by these deeds but would still require him to serve his sentence, unless another takes the punishment and pays the price for his liberty.

The sole criterion determining your eternal destiny in heaven or in hell is whether or not you have placed your faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and, as a result of that faith, have a personal relationship with Him. Trust Him today and enjoy abundant, eternal life (John 10:10) beginning here and now as His child, joint-heir with Christ, and His ambassador!

© 2012 Laurie Collett






41 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment, Denise! God bless!
      Laurie

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  2. Amen! If not Jesus - who would save me?... I'm happy, that salvation isn't depended from my works, but from great God's grace! Greetings for You :)

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    1. Amen, Zim! He alone can save, by His amazing grace! Thanks for your comment, & God bless you!
      Laurie

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  3. Thnaks for teaching the true word of God. I share also my thoughts about God's words in m blog: willyouhearfromme.blogspot.com

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  4. Thanks, Joy, for your kind comment, and for all you do to spread His Word!
    Love in Him,
    Laurie

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    1. You're very welcome, my simple reflections, and thanks to you for doing the same! God bless,
      Laurie

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  6. I've come to understand that our prayers are answered only when our will, and the prayers we utter in that will, coincides with God's will. And you are right, the only prayer He always answers is that the one of a sinner for salvation. That is always within His will.

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    1. Amen, Mrs. P! He always answers the prayers of His children, but not always with the "Yes!" we were hoping for. Sometimes His answer is "Not now, but in My perfect timing." Sometimes it is "No, because I have something better for you," as was the case when He did not take away Paul's thorn in the flesh.
      He grants His children the desires of their heart, because gradually our will becomes conformed to His perfect will, and our desires become to be in the center of His will.
      Love in Him,
      Laurie

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  7. Hi Laurie!

    I found your blog through the Weekend Blog Walk and am so pleased to have found another believer! I'm your newest follower and I look forward to connecting with you!

    Christie
    http://satisfactionthroughchrist.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Christie! It's a blessing to "meet" you! Thanks so much for your comment & for following -- I'm following you back!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  8. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of false teaching on this subject, usually, as Paul describes, teaching things they ought not for filthy lucre's sake. After all it sounds very appealing that I can get what ever I want just by saying the words, "In Jesus name" or so by claiming a particular desire, or the many other variations that are being taught.

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    1. You're so right, dfish -- "name it & claim it" or prosperity preaching are not Biblically based. Thanks as always for your thought-provoking question, & God bless!
      Laurie

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  9. Very well said. Too many people today want to believe that one religion is as good as another and deny that belief in Jesus is imperative. It is so sad. Thank you for sharing.
    Blessings,
    Charlotte

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    1. Thanks, Charlotte, for your kind comment. As Christians we need to speak the truth in love, rather than bow to political correctness. If we gloss over the truth, souls may go to hell that could have gone to Heaven had they heard the Gospel.
      Love in Him,
      Laurie

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  10. Another lovely blog post. Thanks for writing and posting. Caught you on the IMM hop
    Diane
    Treasuringgrace.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks, Diane, for your encouragement!
      Blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  11. Very well said, Laurie! I appreciate you supporting your post with Scripture. It's always such a wonder that God would save a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see!! Just stopping by from Ann's blog....we're neighbors this week...

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    1. Thanks so much, all6popes, for your visit and comment. His grace is amazing indeed!
      Blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  12. Well written post with a lot of truth!

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    1. Thanks, Rebecca, I appreciate the encouragement!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  13. I do like your posts! Amen! We are sinners and the good news is Christ has paid our debt! He is the way, really enjoyed your post.

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    1. Thanks, Leslie, I'm glad you enjoyed the post! Christ paid it all, and we are free indeed!
      Love in Him,
      Laurie

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  14. Such good thoughts, Laurie--good Truth. C.S. Lewis said Jesus was. Either Lord, liar or a lunatic but we can't believe he was just a"good man". And if we believe the truth that He is Lord than this means everything. How can we be lukewarm if the Gospel is true? Thanks for this.

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    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Laura! I love that quote! As our pastor says, there are 2 choices on the shelf -- serving Him or serving self. He is our All in All.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  15. Great post, thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Thanks, Jessica! Blessings to you!
      Laurie

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  16. We serve a God who is all God, all Love, all Holy... Amazing!

    http://thejoyfulservant.com

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    1. Amen, Ms. Kathleen! God is Spirit, Love, and Light!
      Blessings,
      Laurie

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  17. Hi Laurie,

    Thank you for your truth filled post.
    I am left with these words - God is love.

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    1. Thank you, Anita, for your sweet comment! May we walk in love, remembering that He is love!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  18. love this picture of the Lord. thanks, Laurie, for sharing.

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    1. Thanks to you, abreflections! Have a blessed weekend!
      Laurie

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  19. I like that all of your writings have the scriptures you've drawn from right next to them as your source so that the points that pique an interest can easily be found for more reading.

    Great post as always.
    Have a happy weekend. :)

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    1. Thanks so much, mail4rosey! It is always my prayer that my writings would encourage readers to study the Scripture.
      Love in Him,
      Laurie

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  20. Hi,

    New follower from the blog hop please come follow me back :)
    http://lifewithtwinsandadramaqueen.com/

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    1. Thanks, Life,Twins,DramaQueen! Your follow is not showing up on GFC, though. :-(
      I just visited your blog & I'm following you on GFC!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  21. Hi Laurie!! Thanks so much for linking up with my NO RULES Weekend Blog Party and leaving a nice comment :))

    Paula
    lifeasweknowitbypaula.blogspot.com

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    1. You're very welcome, Paula! Thanks for hosting, & for your visit & comment!
      May you have a blessed week in Him!
      Laurie

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  22. I featured ya today!

    http://passionateandcreativehomemaking.blogspot.com/2012/10/beautiful-thursdays-linkup_18.html

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