This summer, I have had the opportunity to talk to many people about Jesus, and the hope of eternal life that they can have if they would simply trust their life in His hands and believe that His death on the cross paid for their sin, and His resurrection approved that His sacrifice was sufficient to accomplish it. But, in my discussions with people, many are in what I would call in a state of confusion. I completely understand why.
Laying all the other religious traditions aside for a moment, just in the faiths that have roots in Christianity, it can be easy for someone to get confused. Let me prove my point. Here the differing messages that you here in Christian circles and cults.
1. Eternal life is for those baptized as infants.
2. Eternal life is given to those who believe in Jesus by faith.
3. Confess your sins to God.
4. Confess your sins to a priest.
5. Pray only to God.
6. Pray to Mary, saints, icons, and dead relatives.
7. Jesus is God.
8. Jesus is an angel.
9. Jesus is Satan’s brother.
10. Faith in Jesus is the only way to salvation.
11. Faith in Jesus is one of many ways to heaven.
12. All people go to heaven.
13. Trust in the death of Jesus for forgiveness of sin.
14. Perform penance ordered by a priest for forgiveness of sin.
15. Do good in order to be forgiven of sin.
There are many other differing messages that have confused many people, and I have not even touched on the numerous others messages being proclaimed by other religions, cults, and famous TV personalities. Unfortunately, because of all this, most people end up either not caring, assuming it does not matter, thinking all is “truth” is right, giving up on the pursuit of truth, or simply hoping that God will not hold them accountable to the truth.
So, what do we tell people who see all the differing ideas, thoughts, and beliefs? Well, what I have done is tried to help them see that there is an absolute truth, and that truth can be known. I help them take a step back from the confusion and get a healthier, bigger, and more sound look on reality. I help them see that truth existed before our lifetime, and that if a “truth” has come into existence during our lifetime, then it cannot be true. I point them to the fact that all people are vulnerable to false beliefs, so in order to clear up the confusion, we must go to the one who was there in the beginning. God was there, and He has told us what is true, what to believe, and what not to believe. I urge people to take God at His word, and to let all the other messages that cause all the confusion to fall away. But, this takes someone who wants to know truth, and is willing to honestly look for it. So, it takes someone who’s heart has been prompted by the Holy Spirit to seek the Lord.
But, often people tell me, that we can make the Bible say whatever we want, which takes us back to the original problem stated above. I agree that we can make the Bible say whatever we want. BUT, the fact is, is that the Bible only says one thing. We must read for what it says, not make it say what we want. If we do that, then can begin to understand truth and be less confused by what other religions say, what cults proclaim, what TV personalities say, and what all the Christian traditions state. When you read the Bible for what it is, God’s word to us, then what it says begins to make sense. Just in the 15 examples I gave above, if one gets their clarity from the Bible, they can begin to make sense of the confusion. When God’s truth has its authoritative place in our lives, we see that:
1. Eternal life does not come by being baptized as an infant.It comes by placing the trust of one’s life in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
2. Confession of sin is to be to God, not a human priest.
3. We are to pray to God by Jesus, not to Mary, saints, icons, or dead relatives.
4. Jesus is God, not an angel or Satan’s brother.
5. Faith in Jesus is the only way (John 14:6). Not all people go to heaven, nor do others who claim faith in someone or something other than Jesus.
6. We trust in Jesus alone for forgiveness of sin. Good works cannot do it (Ephesians 2:8-9), nor doing some religious ritual or penance given by a priest. It takes more than being a “good” person, which we all know, none of us are.
All these ideas come from the Bible. It clears up the confusion. It changes lives. It gives hope that is real. It helps us build our lives on a solid foundation (God’s eternal word) rather than shifting sand (human ideas that are always changing). But the question remains, are you really wanting to know truth, and are you willing to pay the price to find it? It requires a person to willingly take an honest look at God’s word, and to accept God as Lord of their life, and to trust in what he has said. We cannot let the state of confusion that exist in our world today to deter us from knowing and experiencing the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (John 17:3)