Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO on Sept. 20, 2009.
"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
The title for this essay originated in an on-line discussion, in which one of the participants said to me, "All roads do not lead to God." I didn't comment on it at the time, but the thought was like a burr under my saddle. The more I tried to ignore it, the more it dug into and disturbed my soul. When that happens, I know God has something for me in it and maybe something for you as well.
The man who made the comment does believe that God will eventually save everyone, but he was at the moment expressing his concern about Eastern Mysticism, on which most New Age religion is based. I had shared with him an observation made to a dear friend years ago, who at the time was caught up in Eastern Mysticism. She and her husband had taken Lenny and me with them to a service, which horrified me and caused me to fume at God, "Why don't You reveal Yourself to these people? Look at them! They are worshipping idols! Please! Show Your power to them!" Though I did not say anything to our friends, she intuited my revulsion and asked me about it. I remember saying to her that she might get to God eventually by this path, but to me, it was like trying to drive an oxcart over Mount Everest....an exercise in futility. I remember saying, "I prefer Jesus, who is a 747 soaring above the mountain." She got what I was saying, didn't take offense, and that ended it.
The man I was dialoguing with, however, seemed to need to either amend my theology and/or stand up for Christ as the only way. He is right! There IS only ONE WAY to God and that WAY IS CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD!
Those of us who have seen God's plan of the ages, realize that for Him to have mercy upon all (Rom. 11:32), means that the blood of the Lamb really is sufficient for "the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2). Thus, when a Buddhist or a Hindu crosses Jordan and enters the presence of God, he or she will see Him as He is and be like Him (I John 3:2).
Though this person may never have had the opportunity to encounter Christ in this life, nevertheless, the blood of the Lamb is his ticket to glory, so to speak, and when he meets Jesus, his knee shall bow and his tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:11; Php. 2:10). There are so many, many scriptures throughout the Bible which indicate the inclusiveness of God toward all men, that He Himself has to be putting a veil over the eyes of those who cannot yet see it.
This blindness, of course, is partially a function of trying to live by Law, which so many Christians are still trying to do. Paul explains this very well in II Cor. 3, where he describes Jews whose hearts were hardened by God: "But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed" (II Cor. 3:14-16). Only God by the Spirit can deliver us from our bondage to Law: "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (Vs. 17). God puts on the veil and He removes it in His time. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!
Someone may say, "I don't live by Law, I'm a Christian," all the while trying to get closer to God by keeping the covenant, and following the commandments. I am NOT saying we should break the covenant and ignore the commandments, but the thrust of my writing for years has been the futility of man's self effort in trying to please God. And by the way, the Law was a bilateral (two party) agreement between God and Israel. The New Covenant, which Christ's blood ratified, is a unilateral (one party) agreement based on God's promise to Abraham that in his seed, would all nations be blessed. As I was pondering this the other morning, I asked the Lord why He bothered to give the Jews 613 Laws to keep under the Mosaic Covenant, when Adam and Eve couldn't keep even one! He answered, "The law was not for me, but for them." What I got out of that is that man needs to know the futility of self effort and the impossibility of getting to God on our own strength. There are 613 reasons then, why Christ had to come. He was the only human being who ever fulfilled the Law and the Commandments. No one else ever could or ever will.
This brings me to boundaries, which are a type of road. In one of his poems, Robert Frost declared "Good fences make good neighbors." When I first read that in a high school English class, I wondered what it might mean really. Many decades later, the meaning is perfectly clear. We all need boundaries, on property, in human relationships, and with God. Roads are a type of boundary, leading from one place to another. Jesus said of Himself, "I am the WAY, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). That is not a declaration of what WE have to do (follow Jesus), but an unveiling of WHO Christ is and WHAT He has already done for us, which we appropriate by His GRACE!
Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, for the most part, look at this verse and conclude that only Christians, only those who have "made a decision for Christ," will end up in heaven. Some denominations declare that you won't get there unless you belong to their church and espouse their belief system.
Such restrictive boundaries are unscriptural, and very divisive, pitting brother against brother, parents against children. Bitter resentments are fueled by demanding that everyone adhere to your beliefs. This country is split politically between liberals and conservatives, each damning the other's ideology, and split religiously between liberals and conservatives, each denigrating the other's theology and declaring that their side is the most correct. Nothing is ever gained by such uproar and debate, other than anger and hurt feelings.
IF as Paul declared, EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, the Father, and IF God will have mercy upon all, and IF in Christ, shall ALL be made alive, there has to be a lot of repentance (mind changing) among Christians. When I hear dogmatic statements about behavioral boundaries and exclusive declarations on doctrine, indicating who will make it to heaven and who won't, I thank God inwardly that this person does NOT sit upon the Throne, nor upon the Judgment Seat either.
When I recently asked a Catholic Priest about the idea that only those buried in a Catholic Cemetery would get into heaven, he chuckled, saying, "I tend to think it's God's job to decide who gets there." That surprised and pleased me, because it wasn't what I expected from a representative of a religious organization which certainly has postulated over the centuries, that they are the only "one true church." It also reminded me not to judge others based on what I presumed they believe. God works individually to remove the veil of Law over our eyes, which is why Jesus said, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get" (Matt. 7:1-2).
Jesus depicted the road home in the beautiful story of the Prodigal Son. The older brother was the righteous one, in his own eyes, at least, and the younger son, the rascal. When the prodigal "came to himself" in the pigpen where his folly landed him, he made the decision to return to his father's house and humbly ask for a job as a servant there. The father was waiting to greet him, and instead of lecturing him for a week about his sins, as would probably happen to us, this father told the servants, "'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry" (Lk. 15: 22-24).
A friend shared a lovely meaning to this story. She said the Lord asked her if she knew why the father didn't go looking for the son. (Many of us would be out there searching the brothels and drug dens trying to get the wayward child in line; we would lose sleep over it, wringing our hands in despair.) God's answer to her was this: "The father KNEW the son would come home." He expected it.
That thrills my soul and is confirmed by Paul's statements, and Karl Barth's as well. Paul wrote "For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam ALL die, so also in Christ shall ALL be made alive" (I Cor. 15:21-22). Karl Barth declared, "All men are standing on the same step before the righteousness of God."
The prophet Amos spoke of the restoration and restitution by God of all things: "In that day I will restore David's fallen tent" (Amos 9:11). While Amos saw this promise as pertaining to Israel, the Apostles understood that it includes the Gentiles as well. When Paul and Barnabas returned to Jerusalem at the end of their first journey, they were beset by the Judiazers, who said the Gentiles must be circumcised in order to be saved (Acts 15:1). After heated debate about this, James quoted Amos, "After this I will return and rebuild David's fallen tent. It's ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things that have been known for ages" (Acts 15:16-18). "David's fallen tent" refers to the unilateral promise God made to David: "Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever" (II Sam. 7:11-16). In Christ, "David's fallen tent" is totally restored, for Christ is David's heir, both physically and spiritually! By the Spirit, the Apostles understood that the prophecy made by Amos included the Gentiles, to whom Paul was sent.
After declaring that God will have mercy upon all, Paul was lifted heavenward in praise to God: "Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For FROM him and THROUGH him and TO him are ALL things. To him be the glory forever! Amen" (Rom. 11:33-36). In Christ then, we conclude that all roads are FROM him and THROUGH him and TO him. Where else could they lead? To whom shall we go but to the Lord?
Father, your ways are beyond us; your promises too glorious for our physical minds to grasp. By your Spirit, show us Your way, Your will, and Your promise to all men in Christ. We love you because You first loved us; we fall on our faces in worship and adoration, now and forever. We thank You that all roads truly do lead to you, for our path is FROM You and THROUGH You and TO You. Amen. Jan Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail Address)
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This site was created on 08/05/09
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister