|Photo of Needle's Eye by Lyn Mcleod|
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Are Christians Narrow-Minded?
In today’s climate of wishing to be “politically correct,” many promote tolerance of all opinions so as not to offend anyone. Although well-intentioned, such “open-mindedness” can be disastrous for Christians and for those they encounter. As the saying goes, let’s not be so open-minded that our brains fall out.
As Christians, our mandate is to speak the truth in love, motivated by genuine concern that no one would go to hell (Luke 16:22-26; Psalm 9:17; Matthew 5:29-30; 10:28;18:9;23:33, etc.), but instead would come to a saving knowledge of that truth (John 8:32,36; 2 Timothy 1:7-13). Many followers of other religions ask if God is unfair, or why a loving God would send people to hell. God does not send anyone to hell, as His desire is that none would suffer eternal damnation, but that all would come to repentance and salvation (2 Peter 3:9). He offers salvation to all as a free gift, but He created us with free will, so it is up to each of us to accept or reject it.
God is a Righteous Judge, and His holiness demands that sin be punished (Psalm 7:11; Revelation 19:11). If a criminal is found guilty in our courts, it is the duty of the judge to determine a fitting punishment, not to let the criminal go free because of some good work he had also done. What is amazing is not that God’s holiness requires punishment for sin, but rather that His grace and mercy allow those who trust in His Son to have abundant, eternal life (John 10:10).
If we believe in the Triune God – Father, Son and Spirit – described in the Bible, then God’s divinely inspired, infallible Word must be the sole basis for our doctrine and beliefs (2 Timothy 3:16). Jesus Christ, Who is Son of God and God Himself (2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 John 4:15; 5:5; 2 John 1:9), said “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life, and no one cometh unto the Father BUT BY ME” (John 14:6; emphasis mine).
Yes, Christianity is narrow-minded, excluding other faiths as paths to salvation, for as Jesus said, many paths lead to destruction, and many follow those paths. Yet there is only one, narrow, straight gate leading to eternal life, and few find it (Matthew 7:13-14). For those who have achieved riches or worldly success that may create a false sense of pride, being saved may be more difficult than it is for a camel to go through a needle’s eye (Matthew 19:21-26).
Sadly, the world is full of people with sincere, yet misplaced, faith in their own path. Some of these people may appear to be kinder, more loving, more moral, and certainly more tolerant than many professing Christians, so who are we to question their beliefs? Yet if we don’t, we will have to answer for our silence, which may have contributed to their destruction.
Many of the false religions offer some semblance of hope, satisfaction, and moral structure. Their adherents follow the traditions of these religions to justify themselves in their own eyes, and to work their way to divine acceptance and eternal happiness. Even those brought up as Christians may fall into the trap of thinking they are worthy of God’s acceptance because they were baptized, attend church, tithe, pray, study the Bible, visit the sick, or do other good works.
But all have sinned and cone short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), and any attempts at our own righteousness are as filthy in God’s eyes as putrid bandages falling off a leper’s sores (Isaiah 64:6). We are not saved by our own works, but by His grace through our faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, sinless Son of God, as the only Way to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) Through a mystery we can’t begin to understand until we reach glory, when God looks at believers, He sees not our sins, but only the perfect righteousness of His Son (Romans 4:6-8).
God created Adam and Eve in perfection and innocence but with free will. When they chose to disobey, sin and death entered the world (Genesis 3). God, being perfectly pure, holy and just, had to cleanse us from that sin if we are to enter into fellowship with Him and have eternal life. His perfect plan of salvation was to offer His only Son, Who had no sin, as the sacrifice to pay for all our sin (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Salvation through Jesus (Yeshua), Whose very Name means salvation, includes propitiation, or appeasing the wrath of God (1 John 2:2); redemption, or paying the purchase price to buy us out of slavery to sin (1 Peter 1:18-19); remission, or removal of sin (Acts 10:43); and justification, or making us “just as if” we had never sinned. Once we trust Christ as our Lord and Savior, we receive immediate, priceless blessings and eternal rewards.
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
As sin entered the world through Satan’s deception and man’s disobedience, so did false religions. Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44) and continues to deceive many by adding to God’s Word, taking away from it, or changing it (Genesis 3:1-5). False prophets abound, more so as we reach the end times, appearing to be godly, yet deceiving many and leading to their destruction (Matthew 7:15; 2 Timothy 3:5-7).
Misleading anyone, whether a child or adult, into believing that there is more than one path to eternal life could result in that person’s damnation. As Jesus said, judgment will be particularly harsh for anyone who offends (misleads) a child who believes in Him (Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42; Luke 17:2).
Born-again Christians who have placed their faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only way to Heaven have a responsibility to know what they believe, and to teach others the truth about salvation, no matter how exclusive it may seem.
If there is only one cure for a fatal disease, what good is it to tell others about false “cures” to avoid offending anyone? If they trust the false “cure,” they may not be offended, but they will surely die. Born-again believers know the cure for sin and death, and the way to eternal life! (Proverbs 8:35). It comes only through faith in Jesus Christ and His completed work of salvation on the cross as the perfect Sacrifice to pay for the sins of the whole world.
It is not up to us to Christians to judge who is saved, for only God knows the hearts (Psalm 44:21; Luke 16:15; Acts 15:8). Nor is it our job to “save” anyone, for only the Holy Spirit can do that. Our job is to witness to others of what God has done in our life and to teach them Bible truth – the Good News of the Gospel – so that they will know it and can believe it, and have eternal, abundant life with Him in Heaven (Romans 10:14).
May we not be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which alone has the power to save everyone! (Romans 1:16) May we be bold and faithful to proclaim Jesus Christ, no matter how “narrow-minded” it may seem!
© 2013 Laurie Collett