The short answer is no, they don’t. There is no path to God as other religions propose. The world’s religions suggest that through self-sacrifice, good works and performing a variety of religious rites or rituals that a person can gain eternal life and know God. Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, Emmanuel, God with us, said,” I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father (God) except by me.” (John 14:6) Jesus is also the source of all truth, so what He said can be trusted.
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. He said,” The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and your neighbor as yourself.” He also said, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
Salvation is a gift of God, not something to be earned by human acts. The apostle Paul said in Romans 10:9-10,”If you confess with your mouth Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” This is the only way to God and to eternal life.
Finally, keep this in mind regarding all other religions. Religion can make a person think that they are better than others because they are ‘religious’ and self-righteous. Jesus called out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy because they had the outward appearance of being religious but their hearts were far from God. They trusted in the religion of the Law. However it only pointed out their sinfulness and hard-heartedness and was never intended to lead anyone to salvation. Christianity is the only way that leads to God.
Life is about choices. Decisions we make have outcomes that impact our lives, influence our behaviors, our beliefs and our relationships with others. We can choose to continue with business as usual, enjoying success based on the standards defined by our secular culture. Or, we can take an honest look at Jesus of the Bible and dare to ask what the consequences might be if we really believed, trusted and obeyed Him. Would following Jesus really bring life meaning and purpose, joy and peace and eternal life?
The fact is that each and everyday, for over 2000 years, people around the world from every nation choose to follow Jesus who gave His life and was raised from the dead so that all who follow Him can enjoy God’s kingdom, peace with God and everlasting life.
Jesus proved that He was God by signs, miracles, profound wisdom, and overcoming death and the grave. Jesus confirmed (John 14:6) that He is the only way to heaven and eternal life. So the question really is, “Why wouldn’t everyone want to follow Jesus?” Life is a gift from God. It can only be lived to the fullest in a relationship with Jesus. Remember happiness depends on happenings, which are temporary, but real joy and fulfillment, which are eternal, are only found in Jesus. That is why untold millions have chosen to follow Him.
First, it is best to consider the definition of redemption. It is the action of regaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or the clearing of debt. It is also deliverance from sin unto salvation. It means pardoned from the penalty of sin which is death and eternal separation from God and God’s love forever; that’s the ‘what from’ answer. Redemption, you see, must be a gift of Grace by the Creator, God, because sin is the rejection of God and His Authority and only He can provide the remedy.
Grace is the undeserved gift God has provided to overcome mankind’s sin condition. That gift is Jesus Christ who took upon himself on the cross the penalty of sin, death, and paid the debt each person owes but cannot pay himself.
Romans 6:23 reads, “The wages of sin is death (judgment).” That is why Jesus is referred to as Savior as He alone has offered redemption or salvation to all who put their trust in Him. It is Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven that confirms He is the Redeemer of men’s souls.
Sin seeks to keep mankind in bondage to the slavery of sin. Its goal is to deny him the freedom that God wants for every person which is found in a personal life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. Mankind was created to be in relationship with its Creator and to experience a meaningful and purposeful life and enjoy being in God’s presence in the present and in the eternal future. The redeeming work of Jesus Christ brings abundant blessings and spiritual awareness to all who follow Him. Remember, Wise men and women still seek Him, how about you?
The winter celebration of the birth of Christ dates first appears on a Roman calendar in 336 AD, centuries after the event took place. Scholars believe that there may have been an attempt to co-opt an existing pagan festival that marked the coming of the light after the shortest day of the year. Clues in the Bible suggest another time of year, because shepherds would not likely be in the fields with sheep during the cold winter. Some scholars suggest a spring birth when lambs would have been in the fields with their mothers. Others identify fall, perhaps September as the likely month of birth. If the latter, the celebration on December 25th could mark the moment that light entered the world when God entered Mary’s womb.
When we celebrate is not nearly as important as why we celebrate. Since the beginning of time, God created mankind in his image so that he could commune with them, to let them enjoy a perfect world communicating with the creator of everything. When man and woman broke the covenant with God, the perfect world fell apart as evil reared its head and brought death and destruction to all that had been right.
A penalty had to be paid for the violation of God, and He knew that only a perfect sacrifice could atone for the great injustice of all men and women–past, present and future. God knew that the only perfect sacrifice would be himself, in the form of his son, Jesus, who was born to die. We celebrate the coming of God to be our savior and redeemer.
The baby in the manger grew up to be the sacrificial lamb for all of humankind. He died in our place that we may be pardoned and be returned to a right relationship with God. Therefore, while we celebrate the arrival of a baby born of a virgin, the true celebration is that of the birth of a savior who would provide the gateway for us to be restored to a right relationship with the almighty God of the universe.
The popular Christmas carol, “We Three Kings of Orient Are” is most likely inaccurate for two reasons: the visitors probably weren’t rulers of nations, nor are they likely to have come from what we think of as the Orient, western Asia.
The Kings or “Magi” were most probably Zoroastrian astrologers who were advisers to the rulers of the Parthian Empire (Iran and Iraq), Rome’s rival to the east at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ. These highly educated men believed in a cosmic struggle of Good and Evil and that a savior would eventually come to restore the world by getting rid of the evil one. Their founder, Zoroaster, may have been a contemporary of Daniel and the other Jewish scholars who were held in captivity in Babylon, almost 600 years earlier. Zoroaster, and his followers in succeeding centuries, would have known about Judaism and would have studied its sacred texts.
Therefore, when an alignment of stars led them to believe that they were seeing a sign that indicated the birth of a Jewish King, some (we don’t know how many) traveled to Jerusalem to pay tribute to the newborn royalty. Since Herod, the current King didn’t have a baby, and was very worried that a usurper was in his land, he asked his own priests about a future King of the Jews and learned that the scriptures said he would was to be been born in Bethlehem, a town six miles from the palace in Jerusalem.
Rather than stir up trouble with his Iranian guests, Herod sent them to Bethlehem to find the “baby king” and report back to him, ostensibly to go and worship this child. When the Magi didn’t return, Herod, who had nearly lost his life and family to Parthians 30 years earlier, did not pursue the Magi and demand the information he wanted. He didn’t order their capture and punishment for their disobedience despite his proclivity for killing anyone who challenged his authority. He took it upon himself to handle the “problem” of having a new king in his land.
Herod ordered the murder of all the baby boys under two years of age, who lived in and around Bethlehem. Since Jesus and his parents must have still been in Bethlehem when the decree was announced because they were warned by an angel to immediately leave for Egypt. There they remained refugees for months or maybe years before returning to Joseph’s home town of Nazareth, almost 100 miles north of Bethlehem.
We read nothing more of the “kings” from Parthia, but will never forget their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the King of Kings.
If this question stumps you, maybe you haven’t stopped to think about the many blessings you enjoy. You don’t need to have a great job, or perfect family, or new car or a big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving to realize that you probably have many reasons to be thankful. You might start by being thankful for what you have, instead of dwelling on what you don’t have.
Millions of people walk this earth with much less than you have, yet many of them enjoy contentment and are thankful for what they do have. Think about this. If you live in America, you are already among the most blessed people on earth. And those blessings come directly or indirectly from God–the God who created everything, even you. So take stock of your blessings and thank the God who has made them possible. Objects of your desire may fail you. People may let you down. But even if some things are not going your way right now, God still loves you, and He wants you to know contentment even in your suffering.
All that is required for true joy is a relationship with our Creator (Ps. 37:14), who does want for us to be happy and blesses us with everything we need (Phil. 4:19), even though we may not think so. When we have a good relationship with God (Prov. 10:3), like Paul, an apostle of Jesus, we will learn in whatever situation to be content (Phil. 4:11-12). We will find that the most important thing that God can give us is Himself (Eph. 2:8-9). Once we have our eyes set on God, everything else falls into place (Matt. 6:33). Thank God with your whole heart this week!