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The Only Way

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." " Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." John 14:6; Acts 4:12

You see them everywhere you go these days. They live in your neighborhood. They actively support your school's PTA. You see them at children's sports leagues, piano recitals, the workplace, market and parks. They are often very friendly folk-morally upright, hard working and community-minded. Their children often excel academically and are among the most respectful and successful students in our schools. As professionals-doctors, researchers, educators and merchants-they do much to elevate our standard of living. We enjoy their company and their contributions to the society we live in. Yet behind our smiles, friendly conversations and extended hands our consciences may be twinging, even convulsing! There is something about them that tugs deeply at our hearts. These people are of non-Christian faiths. They have not accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior. We, as Christians, must ask ourselves, "What is their eternal destiny? Are they, and the vast non-Christian majority of earth's people, in jeopardy of being eternally lost?" Changing Demographics Emigration from non-Christian countries has dramatically changed American demographics. Decades ago the vast majority of Americans were of one or another branch of Christianity. It was easier to ignore the destiny of peoples living in distant lands. The stereotypically comfortable view of America as a Christian society has been challenged by the flood of Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists and others of various faiths into our society. Close association with people of other faiths is causing many Christian people to have a crisis of conscience-as it should. Some, unfortunately, may begin to doubt that Christ is the only way to eternal salvation. We need not doubt the Bible's sure statements that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation! We can dispel any doubts about the validity of our Christian faith by coming to the Word of God for answers. The problem is not with The Faith presented in the Scriptures. It is with Dark Age dogmas which have been accepted as "God's truth."

Salvation by Geography? Overwhelmingly, a person's faith is the result of where and to whom they were born. Can it be that eternal salvation comes down to something so capricious as where we were born? Many Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Muslims, Hindus, Shintoists, Buddhists, etc., are of that faith because they were born into it. It is mind staggering to think that our eternal salvation might come to us chiefly because we were fortunate enough to be born to Christian parents in America and not to Hindu parents in the land of India. This begs the question of God's justice. In reality, only about 30% of the world is Christian. Even that is a grossly liberal estimate. Nevertheless, accepting that percentage leaves us with at least a 70% non-Christian majority of earth's masses. Take the logical step of thought and realize that now, two thousand years after Christ's great commission to make disciples of all nations, the vast majority of humanity have not known the Savior-Jesus Christ. Are We Being Narrow Minded? Tolerance and "political correctness" are the prevailing attitudes in our time. The trend is to say, "My religion is OK and yours is OK too." However, one of our delights in the Christian faith is our trust that it contains absolutes of truth. Is it arrogant to hold fast to the doctrine of Christ's atonement as the only way to salvation? Are we closing our eyes to the possible validity of other faiths as a way to eternal salvation? CHRISTIANITY TODAY (January 12, 1998) dealt with this vital question in a rather probing article. It is good to see that the popular mouthpiece of "Evangelical Conviction" recognizes many faithful Christians are struggling with this issue. We sympathize greatly with all Christians who possess enough conscience to search open mindedly for a legitimate, Biblical answer to this crucial question. The CHRISTIANITY TODAY article calls upon one scripture as a possible solution to this dilemma, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9. The thought developed from this scripture is that, hopefully, God will eternally save the non-Christian masses through Christ without their ever previously acknowledging him. We disagree, eternal salvation is through Christ and Christ alone. Their proposal is earnest but falls far short of God's plan as the clear word of Scripture presents it. The real solution to the question is to apply scripture statements to their proper time periods. In Due Time(s) The Apostle Paul gives us great insight, observing that God "will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time[s]." 1 Timothy 2:4-6 The word "time" at the end of this verse is plural-"times"-in the original Greek language. What "times" are meant, when God will make His Ransom For All manifest? We turn to the Book of Acts for clarification.

"Simeon has related how God first looked favorably on the Gentiles, to take from among them a people for his name. This agrees with the words of the prophets, as it is written, 'After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; from its ruins I will rebuild it, and I will set it up, so that all other peoples may seek the Lord-even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called. Thus says the Lord, who has been making these things." Acts 15:14-17 (NRSV) In other words, God first calls out His Church (a people for His name) during our Christian era. After that, during Christ's reign over earth at the Second Coming, "all other peoples" the masses of the human family who have not yet accepted Christ, will seek the Lord-even those "over whom my name has [previously] been called." This is the marvelous "times of restitution" Peter spoke of in Acts 3:19-21. Not Universalism Notice the sequence of events in 1 Timothy 2:4. God "will [1] have all men to be saved, and [2] to come unto the knowledge of the truth." What are all saved from, before they come to a knowledge of the truth? They are saved from that which "the ransom for all" in 1 Timothy 2:6 will be the cure. They are saved from the sin-and-death curse all people have inherited from father Adam. "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." 1 Corinthians 15:21-22; Hebrews 2:9 "For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. " For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." Romans 5:17-19 Jesus Christ has tasted death for every man and the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. Please note that this is not "Universal Salvation." It is universal atonement-which will bring the opportunity for eternal salvation to each member of the human race. What's the Difference? Generally speaking, Universalism proposes that all mankind will be eternally saved. The Scriptures speak contrary to this concept. Universal atonement recognizes the Biblical fact that Jesus died for all at Calvary and that, therefore, ALL will receive the blessings of His atoning sacrifice. What if Adam's sin was atoned for? What if his punishment (the death sentence) placed upon him was removed? The result would be the deliverance of Adam, and those that inherited his sin, out from the death sentence. Having suffered the effects of sin and dying for centuries, our race would need much rehabilitation, re-education in righteousness-restoration.

"In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. [Father Adam sinned and therefore humanity suffers under the curse of sin.] But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge." Jeremiah 31:29-30 Yes, all peoples of the earth will be released from the penalty imposed on Adam and his descendants. Being saved, therefore, out of Adamic death they will be given a full knowledge of the things of God. They will come to know Jesus as their King who will reign over the earth and establish the Golden Age of God's kingdom on earth. "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Matthew 6:10 "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." Isaiah 11:9 "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Jeremiah 31:34 The fallen race will be tutored under the loving, sympathetic care of Jesus and His Church, composed of faithful believers from the Christian age of faith. In their due (proper) time all mankind, regardless of their present faith, will be brought to a knowledge of the glorious gospel of Christ. "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Revelation 22:17 What a glorious vision this is. We look forward to that time when, "in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords." That "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." 1 Timothy 6:15; Philippians 2:10-11

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