"But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from.'" Luke 13:25
A few months ago at our St. Louis airport, I had a religious discussion with a man about heaven. Most sincere in his beliefs, he tried to summarize his position by pointing to the ever-changing board of plane arrivals and departures he said, "If I want to get to Dallas from here, I can take Northwest Airlines, or American, or … well, I can go any number of ways. If I want to get to heaven, I think I can believe in any number of deities. I could believe in Jesus or maybe Buddha or possibly Allah. They're all gonna get me where I want to go."
That man’s feelings are shared by many. If he, and others like him, were to edit the Bible, they would change Jesus' words to read, "I am one of the ways, part of the truth, and one kind of life. No one can get into heaven unless they have some kind of religion, are good and gentle and generous, and sincere in what they believe." My friends, lest you never read it anywhere else, I want you to know that Jesus didn't say He was one of the ways to heaven or even the best way to heaven. Jesus said He was the only way to forgiveness, salvation, and heaven.
It is a most dangerous thing to ignore the call of the Christ. It is a perilous action to slam the door on the salvation Jesus won at the cost of His death upon the cross. It is a damning thing to try and recreate God in a way that is palatable to our tastes. I know those are strong words, but they aren’t mine. The spirit and intent of them come from Jesus. He warned that on the day He returns to the world in judgment, humanity will be divided. Some—believers—will be received into everlasting bliss and those who ignored Him will be told, "I don't know you."
What frightening words. Jesus is saying that on that day, it won’t make any difference how sincere you were in your beliefs if those beliefs were misdirected. He’s saying, it won’t make any difference how good you lived your life. As a sinner, you could never meet God’s standard of perfection. Only Jesus could do that for you—a fact that makes Christianity different than any other religion. God came down to save you—you don’t have to try to work your way up to God. That is why Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are absolutely essential to salvation. With the Christ there is hope, heaven, and life eternal; without Him, there is only damnation and destruction.
Excerpt from The Lutheran Hour sermon preached on September 5, 2004
THE PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for coming down to save me. Because of You, I don't have to try to work my way up to God. Please help me share Your truth and hope with those around me. Amen.