Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself." Acts 2:37-39
Not so long ago a man said to me, "Although I am not a follower of any organized religion, I do believe in a supreme being. My faith says that a loving supreme being will take a person to heaven if they lead a moral life and are sincere in their faith."
A Maryland dentist, Edward Gamson, can readily explain to that man just how wrong he is.
Here's Dr. Gamson's story. Recently, he used 375,000 frequent flyer miles to reserve first-class seats for himself and a friend as they traveled to a conference in Portugal. As long as they were that far, they thought they would pay a quick visit to and see the sights in Granada, Spain.
The doctor made it across the Atlantic and switched planes in London. Twenty minutes into his next flight he noticed their British Airways jet was headed west and not south. When Gamson asked the flight attendant, "Why are we headed west to go to Spain?" he was told, "Spain? We're going to the West Indies."
It was true. The British ticket agent had booked him on a trip to Grenada in the Caribbean and not Granada in Spain. Since Dr. Gamson's e-tickets didn't have the airport code or the duration of the flight, he ended up going in the wrong direction and to the wrong destination. The ticket agent's mistake of one letter had made a major difference in the dentist's plans. Not only did he not get his vacation in Spain, he almost missed his conference, and the airline has refused to give him a refund on their mistake.
Now here's the point: when Gamson got on that plane, he sincerely -- but wrongly -- believed he was headed for Spain. Even though the dentist was absolutely certain in his beliefs, his sincerity was not able to take him to where he wanted to go. Even more, Gamson found out it does make a difference what plane you get on. That's because, no matter how you might wish it to be otherwise, not all planes are going to take you to Granada.
Taking that information and applying it to our eternal destiny, we can say this: not all beliefs, even those that are held by a good and sincere person, are going to take that individual to heaven.
Salvation reality says if someone wants to be forgiven of their sins and be adopted into the family of faith, that person has to have a right faith. On Pentecost, Peter accurately described this right faith when he said, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
If we were to boil down that message, we could say this: if you're set on getting to heaven, you had better believe on the crucified and risen Savior who is the only One who can get you there.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks I believe the Scriptures which point to Jesus as the only Way to heaven. Now I pray that those who think there are many paths to paradise be brought to Your truth which says, "Jesus alone is the Way." In the Savior's Name I pray. Amen.
Lutheran Hour Ministries has always stood for bringing Christ to the Nations, but we also want to share the Savior with those who are close by. If you would like to know more about how you can be prepared to bear witness to the Savior, we are having an outreach conference called SENT, in Detroit, from July 24-July 27. You can learn more at www.lhm.org/conference.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries