Its a start! Faith, religion, salvation, personal relationship with jesus, are all concepts surrounding the idea that we go to Heaven when we die because of Jesus and His sacrifice for us. Well, there's more to it. A person achieves salvation through belief, trust, repentance, confession and submission to the will and authority of Christ. Need more answers ... go to "contact us."
I believe that there are "many" ways to a relationship with God! Jesus in not necessarily the "only" way, right?
Well, if you are right, then Jesus is a liar! If He is a liar, then He cannot be God, or even holy. If He is not holy, then my belief in Him is a waste of time.
However, in regards to this issue, Jesus being the only way to a restored relationship with God, if Jesus is not lying and He is the only way, I had better listen to Him, huh! In regards to His divinity, and resurection, there is plenty of supporting evidence in the world that He actually lived, died and rose again. When I look at the entire account of His life and all of the Bible and supporting evidence, then to me it makes perfect sense.
If you want to know the truth, search for it, with all of your heart! God promises that the heart that truly wants to find Him ... will indeed!
It takes a little more than that! Afterall, even Satan and the demons "believe" in Jesus! We have to also trust Him, trust in His sacrifice alone for our salvation, and be faithful to all that He has taught us throughout Scripture.
Some will see this as unfair, but, that is us judging God's determination of what is and is not fair. Who are we to judge the Creator of all things?
Do I really need to be so serious about faith in Jesus, and really, religion as a whole? Can't this whole thing wait?
In the world that we live in, we mostly have things the way we want them, when we want them, and how we want them. We prioritize what we put our attention to and then when we decide to get serious. After all, there's no urgency right?
I would beg to differ with the above statement. As a pastor, I encounter many people that are totally unprepared for illness as well as death. Usually, it turns out to be a chaotic mess of people reaching for straws as they go through this very difficult time.
Look at it this way: If I told you to prepare for whatever will come into your life for the next 24 hours, or, I told you to prepare for the next 10 years, which would have more depth, personal meaning and importance?
When I look at Christians I see people that are hypocritical and disjointed. Do I really want to be a part of that?
Its true, Christians are not perfect, in fact, they are quite imperfect. As you look at Christians as a whole you must realize that each one of them is in a different place in their walk of faith. People are flawed, imperfect, sinful and just plain ignorant at times. Add to that the individuals who simply want to create confusion, and those that want Christianity to affirm their personal beliefs, and you end up with a melting pot of ideas, ideologies and personal viewpoints. Thats why as a Christian I am to trust in the truth of Scripture. It is God's Word to humankind.
At one point Jesus reminded the crowds that if they remained faithful to the end, they would inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. But those who did not remain faithful to the truth of God would end up outside of the kingdom wondering why they were not invited in. The truth is, we have to accept God as He is, and trust that He would never mislead us, and we need to understand that the culture around us is at odds with God. This is why Jesus told us that as a Christian (or follower) our citizenship is not of this world, but the next. Trust God, not the world we live in.
This is a very difficult question, one that comes up constantly! Let me answer this in stages. First, God does not "send" anyone anywhere, He allows all individuals to chose their eternal destiny. This is one of the hardest concepts for people to understand. Most people expect that at the end of their life, God will appear and automatically take them to Heaven.
Secondly, people think that they are going to Heaven because they have self-evaluated themselves as being worthy. "I'm a good person, I'm not a bank robber or murder, so I deserve to go to Heaven." This is the thought process that most people go through. If we are "good" in our own eyes, where else would we go?
Thirdly, Scripture tells us that God has placed the desire to find and know Him inside of the human heart. Its a natural emptiness that we want to fill, even though sometimes we fill it with many things other than God.
Fourthly, God's righteousness must be satisfied for anyone to be in His presence, especially for an eternity. So God, being perfect, sacrificed Himself through the person of His Son Jesus for the sins of the world. All that is required to be forgiven, and seen as righteous to God, is to believe solely in Jesus and His sacrifice on our behalf. This is not easy to do, as we all want to control our own destiny.
Finally, Jesus has told us over and over again, that to follow Him and be His Disciple, it will cost us everything. This includes our will, as His will must reign supreme in our hearts. Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit MUST be loved, honored and accepted freely by your own "choice." Choose Jesus and submit to Him, and your new life in Christ, destined to be in Heaven, has just begun.
When we look at ourselves and compare ourselves to what "our" definition of "good" is, many times we don't see a lot of difference. We do good things in life, we stay away from those things that we know are wrong, and we judge ourselves based on our understanding. But God has tremendously higher standards. In fact, we are judged directly against Him, that's why we never measure up! Since God is perfectly holy and sinless, we need to be the same in order to be in His presence, especially for an eternity. That's where Jesus comes in. Jesus fills the void by accepting the punishment for our sins, allowing us to have a brand new start, and while God holds us accountable to His standards Jesus says "they're mine, I paid for them, so look at me when you are looking for who they are." This changes the situation dramatically! When God looks at a believer in Jesus like me, He doesn't see my failures, instead He sees His Son Jesus, and His righteousness. Problem solved.
Obedience is a theme that runs all through Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. God requires certain things of people. The Ten Commandments is the beginning of it all. God requires His people to be different than the rest of the world, we are to love others, be just in our actions and put God ahead of everything else in our lives, yes, even our families. While I know that sounds harsh on the outside, putting God first in your life is actually the most good you could ever do for your loved ones. God demands respect, honesty to name a few of the qualities He seeks, but more than all Jesus summed it up, just to make it easy to understand.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
This has been an issue for centuries. Especially in the world today, we see a constant deluge of doubt and human understanding being hurrled at the Bible. Today many people are changing the words of Scripture to support their own understanding of the way things should be, as well as taking it out of context to support their individual ideals. But the real question that no one wants to address is this: Is the Bible God's Holy and perfect Word to humanity?
The way I see it, if God is all-powerful, and omnipotent, and he has done all that I have read about in Scripture, then I really don't have any problem with God writing me a book! In fact, since God demands obedience and faithfulness from His people, how could He demand that if we didn't have it written down?
The answer is found in the gift that God has given us (is in His likeness) ... its called "free will." As people that were created to be in a loving, eternal relationship with God, free will must be part of what we were created to be. In order to "love" God, it has to be freely chosen. If free will did not exist, then we would be like robots, programed to do and feel certain things. Since a relationship with God is the goal of human existence, we must be able to "chose" it, to "chose" to love God.
Suffering comes from a world that is broken because of the poor choices that humanity has made, and continues to make. If God were to intervene and remove suffering, then "free will" would also have to be removed.
But be of good spirit, for Jesus has overcome the world and offers us a way to return to the close, personal and loving relationship humanity had in the beginning.