The world is a confused place. It seems everybody has their own idea of who God really is. Some believe He is nature. Some believe He is in statues. Some believe He is non-existent. Some believe He is universal. Everybody has their belief however, not all beliefs of God are based on God’s own Word. Scripture tells us much of who God is. It also tells us much of how we are reconciled to Him.
Universalism has become very popular in our society. Nobody wants to believe in a God who would send people to Hell simply because they have a different belief from Christians. Wouldn’t that be unfair? Wouldn’t it be wrong for God to send everybody from a secluded tribe to Hell when they never had a chance to hear the Gospel? Isn’t it kind of arrogant to say one belief is superior to another?
Ask congregation if they believe there are multiple ways to God.
I’d like to go back to one of the questions I just asked. While they were rhetorical is my usage of them, they are very real questions that have been posed to me by others. The question is, “Wouldn’t it be wrong for God to send everybody from a secluded tribe to Hell when they never had a chance to hear the Gospel?” As always, I will reply with Scripture.
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.
It doesn’t get any clearer. All men are without excuse. Man is held accountable to God just by the proof of nature. No man is innocent. Ignorance is no excuse.
Universalism claims that everyone will go to Heaven and that all paths lead there so long as one is sincere in their dedication to their god. It teaches that since God is all loving and is fair that He wouldn’t possibly send men to Hell just because they believed something different because of the culture they grew up in. That can’t possibly be their fault. God would never hold them accountable.
Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as all religions do – they all contain truths.
This is dangerous thinking that leads many to Hell.
"Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
If all roads lead to salvation, why is it that Scripture is so adamant that few will find it? Why does it say how difficult it is for one to find it? In fact, Matthew tells us that all paths lead to destruction with only one path leading to life. The Bible is very clear on this matter. With this established, the next step is to identify that path.
God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM";
Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am."
"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."
I Am is the name God gave Himself in Exodus 3:14. While John 8:24 may say “believe that I am He,” the original Greek did not have the word “He.” This was later added in for clarity. The literal translation would be, “unless you believe that I Am, you will die in your sins.” This was Jesus himself claiming his deity. He was claiming to be God Almighty by claiming to be I Am.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;
John makes a perfect case for the deity of Jesus. First, in Revelation 21:6, we see Jesus referring to himself as “the beginning.” In John 1:1, he says the Word was in the beginning. The Word is Jesus. It tells us the Word was with God in the beginning. This aligns perfectly with Genesis 1:26. The “Us” and “Our” is referring to the Father and Son. Even as early as Genesis, we see 2 of the 3 Persons of the Trinity. The Son is God. How do we know this? It’s because John 1:1 tells us so.
While the deity of Christ usually comes into question with Universalists, this is not always the case. Sometimes, they simply believe that Jesus is only one of the many ways to Heaven. They believe that Christians needs Jesus but a Buddhist just needs Buddha. A man recently said to me that he believes God shows Himself to mankind in different ways and that, so long as their heart is fully worshipping their God, they will still go to Heaven. While this sounds like a wonderful idea, it simply is not the truth.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them
Eternal life is not something that can be earned. It is not something that can be gained from some other source. It can only be obtained from Jesus if he gives it to you. But wait, can’t that mean that Jesus is only one of the ways? For the answer to that, we must take Scripture as a whole.
He who is not with Me is against Me
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him;
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
Jesus is the ONLY way to be reconciled to the Father. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but through him. If one rejects Jesus, he will be judged. However, John also says if one believes in Jesus, that person will not be judged. If anybody was innocent, why would God, who knows all, feel the need to judge him as if he were charged with something? If all religions led to salvation, why would God tell us otherwise in His Holy Scripture? The only way is through Christ. Why does the man who places his faith in Christ avoid the judgment? It is because of 1 John 2:1.
1 John 2:1
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Because of this, we all deserve the judgment and wrath of God. However, Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This brings us right back to 1 John 2:1. It is because of the death of Christ that we have an Advocate who stands between us and the judgment. It is only through Christ that one can obtain salvation. There is no other Advocate. No man can come to the Father but through the Son for without the Son, he will perish. Everybody loves John 3:16 so I might as well use it to make a point:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
1 Timothy 2:5
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."
1 John 2:23
Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.
There is only one way to avoid the judgment and that is through Christ Jesus, the Son.
In Japan, there is a saying. They say that the road to enlightenment is like Mt Fuji; there are many ways to the top. My response is that not only are they incorrect in their theology but they aren’t even on the right mountain.