All religions lead to God, don’t they?

All religions lead to God, don’t they?

We get this question so often that we’re answering it again here. The short answer is no, they don’t. There is no “path” to God as some of the world’s religions suggest. Self-sacrifice, good works and performing a variety of religious rites or rituals will not ensure connection with God or eternal life free of the evil, pain, suffering of human existence.

Only through Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, can man find peace–in this life and the next. Jesus is also known as Emmanuel, or God with us. He proclaimed:

“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father (God) except by me.”

John 14:6

The only way to a present and eternal relationship with God is to commit one’s life to Jesus as Savior and Lord, follow Him and obey His Commandments. When asked by religious leaders of his day, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Salvation is a gift of God, not something to be earned by human acts. In his letter to the church in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote:

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Romans 10:9-10

This is the only way to God and to eternal life. True followers of Christ are unlike followers of many of the world’s religions do not have to do anything to earn God’s favor. God, through his son, Jesus, has paid the penalty for the sins of everyone, past, present and future. He only asks individuals to accept this gift of sacrifice made by Jesus.

That’s why Christians cannot think themselves better than any others because they too are sinners redeemed by Grace. Their charge from Jesus is not to tell others what to do or think, but rather to invite friends and family into the family of believers by telling them the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection. If you would like to learn more about the only true way to God, read our post, How does one become a Christian? 

What is meant by the Rapture of the Church? When might it happen?

What is meant by the Rapture of the Church? When might it happen?

Since Jesus ascended into heaven, his followers–the Church–believed that he would visibly return as both judge and ruler of all creation. The earliest recorded creeds affirmed that Jesus would “come again to judge the living and the dead.” Additional confessions written since the Reformation continue that understanding.

The physical return of Jesus remains a central tenet of the church, but there has been much debate about when that will take place. In last week’s post we wrote about signs of the end times, but Jesus, himself, told his followers that God alone knows when Jesus will return.

What, then, is the rapture? The English noun/verb “rapture” comes from the Latin noun raptura/verb rapio that appears 14 times in the New Testament. It means “to remove suddenly or snatch away.” That’s the expectation–that all believers will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air just prior to the Great Tribulation.

In the book Daniel 9:24-27, we read about the angel Gabriel explaining the prophecy of the seventy weeks to Daniel. He describes a period of 490 years, the final seven of which will be a Great Tribulation for the nation Israel and the world. Christians won’t be subjected to this great tribulation since they will be snatched away.

Paul affirms this in his letter to the church in the Greek city of Thessalonika:

and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

1 Thess. 1:10

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thess. 5:9

Jesus says the same thing in Rev. 3:10.

Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

Rev. 3:10

Jesus promised to return and remove His people from the earth:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

John 14:1-3

This promise is reaffirmed by the Apostle Paul:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

1 Thess. 4:16, 17

Since Jesus promised he will remove his followers from earth at an unknowable time before the earth plunges into a time of terrible tribulation, it only makes sense that each of us is ready for his return. If you would like to learn more about what it means to become part of the Church that will be raptured, please read our post, How does one become a Christian? 

Are we living in the End Times as referred to by Jesus in Matthew 24&25?

Are we living in the End Times as referred to by Jesus in Matthew 24&25?

For nearly 2000 years, Christians have been asking this question. Each generation has read what Jesus said and wondered if the end was soon. Here’s what Matthew recorded in his account of the life and teaching of Jesus.

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

Matthew 24:3-8

The sinful nature of man assures us that there will be wars. Famines and earthquakes are common occurrences on this planet, so while modern communications makes us more aware of them, one cannot use them to define End Times. What Jesus next describes have been constants for two millennia.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Matthew 24:9-13

Persecution of Christians has gotten worse in many parts of the world, most notably during the past century in China, Cambodia, Burma, North Korea, Cuba, and the Soviet Union. For generations, Christians have been persecuted in majority Muslim countries as well as in India, a predominantly Hindu nation. What Jesus says next refers to something that is definitely taking place in our time.

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Matthew 24:14

Today, as never before, electronic communications and global travel have made it realistically possible for everyone on earth to learn of Jesus. In the next 28 verses, Jesus describes what the end will look like and issues a warning to be vigilent because no one knows when Jesus will return marking the end of the world as we know it.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

Matthew 24:42

In Chapter 25, Jesus tells three parables to describe the End Times. So, are we living in the End Times? We can’t know for sure, but we are closer both in time and in fulfillment of prophecy with many signs that we must heed. More importantly, we can say with certainty that each of us is in our end times. We will either be alive when Jesus returns or we will be dead. Either way, we will have to answer for the decisions we make today. Will you be saved from eternal separation from God, or will you enjoy infinite peace and contentment beyond anything you can imagine? If you haven’t made a decision to follow Jesus, We encourage you to check out our post, How does one become a Christian? 

Is the Bible really God’s word?

Is the Bible really God’s word?

Christians believe the answer is YES. Why? Because the Bible contains the only rational explanation for creation, sin, and redemption. It also contains hundreds of predictions that have been exactly fulfilled in date and event hundreds of years later. That could only happen if God who knows the entire experience of the human race can see the future as if it has already happened. The apostle Timothy wrote,

“ All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Some additional comments are worthy of note. Translations, and there are many, make the best effort to capture the intent and context of the inspired original. Hermanutics is the study of Scripture. One must go to the original language as far as possible to get the authors’ full intent, meaning, and purpose of that written. Context, that is who is writing it, when was it written, to whom was it written, what were the circumstances surrounding the passage, etc. are all relevant to gain understanding and discover the treasure of truth contained in the Bible.

It is important to remember, early languages, Hebrew in particular, had a limited vocabulary estimated at 4000 words or less compared to English today with 600,000 defined words. Hence most words in the original Hebrew text words had multiple meanings making context of the passage very important. Greek originals of the New Testament were more precise and therefore were more easily translated into modern English.

Finally, the Bible is absolutely the inspired WORD of GOD and God purposely provided it the way He did. This makes one’s study of it so much more exciting and fun. Every time one reads the Bible they discover more truths and the inspiration for living a meaningful and purposeful life. Some say that the word BIBLE is an acronym for the phrase, ‘Best Investigated Before Leaving Earth.’

We urge you and everyone to diligently, take time, and read and study His Word. We encourage you to make it a daily habit. It’s one you will never regret. It will lead you to Jesus who is the only way to Heaven. (John 14:6)

If you’d like to learn more, check out our post, How does one become a Christian?