Go sit under a tree!

Image      I had one of “those” days yesterday, I just wanted everyone to go away . I wanted to go and find a tree and sit and be alone. I think I may have just packed a lot of life in over the Christmas /New Year period and I need to collect my thoughts.

Yesterday was a very busy day, starting with the Women’s Study Group, then a Messy Church Planning Meeting over lunch, and remembering to put the heating on for a choir practice  in the evening at the Church, for the forth coming performance in the Spring. Add to that meals for the family and their friends, getting the Manse tidied for the meeting and a splitting headache and you can see that I had taken on too much.

We have had a thriving Womens’ group for 3 years now and we have wrestled with scripture and many subjects and I have marveled at how these women have matured in their faith and the things that they are able to do. Something wasn’t right from the start of the session yesterday, and I felt disconnected. Then as one member piped up ,”Well all religions lead to God don’t they? ” and others nodded in agreement, I sank into my chair  and sighed. This is where group leaders, Pastors, Ministers and the like ,hit a moment of self-pity and think “Why do I do this?”.

I answered them with patience and went home a bit despondent. The Messy Church got planned and a good friend was there, and although I didn’t have time to share with her what had happened ,just her presence was good. ( Good friends don’t need to talk, just be there!) I then had a “run in” with my 16 year old son, which sent me out to choir in a bad mood.

By 9.30pm I just wanted the tree to sit under. Sitting outside in Scotland in the Winter in the dark is likely to give rise to hypothermia ,so I had to retreat to my inner tree, and who was also sitting there…  my very best friend. Have you ever imagined yourself sitting next to Jesus? Would he have a beard? Long hair? Opened toed sandals and a long dress? What would his voice sound like?

I can only tell you that it’s a good place to be, and it caused me to reflect on that group of disciples he had. Now I am in no way comparing myself to Him, but the 12 men he trained and taught often, misunderstood. He even got a bit exasperated at times.  How many things have I not grasped , how many years has it taken me to get to this point and still have enormous doubts at times that I’ve got this right. That is when you have to go and sit under the tree and have a chat with the one who knows.

By the way, this is what those ladies will get next week :

Thanks to http://www.myfishbites.com

All religions lead to God don’t they?

Easy Answer

No this isn’t true! As we said in another Big Questions answer… Imagine you are going to visit your gran in an old people’s home in a nearby city. You probably have a number of options. You could take the car, the bus, the train, maybe even a flight. If you go in a car there are probably different ways you can get there. If you go by train there are different times of trains. But the destination is the same. Some people say that this kind of example shows there are many ways to God which is only sort of true… Ah! But there’s more to our story… When you arrive at where your gran lives, you have to go in through the door as there’s only one way in for security purposes. They don’t want people breaking in. So to get in you have to call and get them to open the door. The destination is your gran. But there is only one way in, only one access point and that is the door. You need someone to open that door to let you in.

So when people say there are many roads to God, they’re right in a sense. You can ‘reach’ God through many ways but to be made ‘right’ with God is through Jesus alone. There is only one way in to God and that is Jesus. The Bible is really clear on this. Only Jesus can be the way because only Jesus had paid the legal price. You can’t buy something legally unless you pay the right amount. The price for you being made right with God was paid by Jesus alone so he alone is the way to get to God.

Advanced Answer

If we look at different religions, we find that their view of God is completely different. Islam for example denies that Jesus is God, believing instead that he was just a good prophet. But the Bible teaches that Jesus is the Son of God and that faith in him alone is the way to be made right with God.

When we look at other religions, we find vastly different ways of seeing the world, of seeing who ‘god’ may be and different ways to being made right with God. So for example in some religions like Buddhism believe in reincarnation. This means they believe people come back when they die and become a different type of animal depending on how they lived. Their ultimate aim is not to come back at all but to reach nirvana. The Islamic belief is quite an aggressive one and believes the only way to God is by obeying the Koran and obeying rules of other teachings / hadiths (interpretations of the Koran or Mohammed’s teachings made by a cleric). Whereas Christianity alone teaches God’s unconditional grace – the truth (as described in the Bible book of Ephesians) that we cannot get right with God by ‘earning it’. It is a free gift, found only through believing in Jesus, that we don’t deserve. All we have to do is accept this gift through Jesus. Christianity alone teaches that Jesus was fully God and fully man. Islam accepts Jesus as a prophet but not as important as Mohammed. So you can see there are huge differences between religions. When someone believes in Jesus the Bible tells us we are filled with the Holy Spirit (who is God). No other religion would say this.

You have to accept that Jesus is the only way to God and accept this free gift, or you can choose to reject it. But the God of the Bible is not the same as anyone else’s god.

Actually, Jesus said that in the end times (by this he means the time after he went back to heaven) where many people would claim to be Jesus, many people would claim to be God. He also said there would be many false religions and false teachings. So with great respect to other beliefs, if you believe that Jesus is the truth, you have to accept that other ways to God are not the truth. Jesus said if you’re not for him, you’re against him. There is ultimately no middle ground.

So if the Bible is true that Jesus is the only way to God (which it is!) then Islam cannot be a way to God. Only Jesus is the way to God (as the sinless perfect Son of God), so no other road is possible. People of other faiths may well be genuinely looking for God through their faith, but the only way to God is through Jesus. Jesus is like the ‘gate’ to get into the house of God.

There is a false belief system around that says that everyone will be ‘saved’ – everyone will go to heaven basically. But this isn’t found in the Bible and there are many Bible verses and chapters that show this to be untrue.

Galatians 3.22 confirms all this saying, “But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.”

Peter confirmed this truth in the Bible book of Acts (Chapter 4 verse 12), “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

In fact when we look back to the ‘Old Testament’ (first half of the Bible), we find that time and again, God said he was the only way to ‘salvation’ (a posh word for being made right with God). We see this in Isaiah 45 and in other chapters in Isaiah. God said there is no other way, no other God but him.

1 John 5.11-12 says this, ‘And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Further Thinking

There are arguments about that people of other religions (for example) are seeking God. Surely if they are seeking the true God it doesn’t matter how they get there? But does this stand up to what the Word of God says? Often God breaks into people’s lives who aren’t seeking God at all – far from it! So ‘seeking God’ doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I can ‘seek’ to find a museum, but unless I go inside the museum through the door, I can’t ‘enter’ the museum. The same is true with being made right with God. There is only one entry point – Jesus. There is only one destination – the father God.

Christians often say that Romans 1 (which talks about all mankind having a conscience and seeing God revealed in creation) shows that God will judge people fairly. You will find more on this on myfishbites. But whatever happens and however Jesus judges at the end of time (we’re really not sure of everything!!) there is no denying that Jesus himself said that he is the way. He did not say he is a way. When Jesus died on the cross, he alone paid the price to pay for mankind’s sins. Any other way of being right with God is therefore impossible. The ‘legal contract’ (if we look at it that way) can only be ‘signed’ by the blood of Jesus. So while people may look for the true God, ultimately (however it works!) only Jesus can be the way. Otherwise there is no purpose to Jesus having come to earth.

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