With this year’s Resurrection Sunday celebration approaching, I’ve been reflecting on a really good related discussion I had with a friend, around this time of year, about five years ago. What was then a new relationship seemed to be one where we quickly recognized that we liked each other regardless of our differing views on some pretty important topics. I say “really good discussion” because it was an open exchange with both of us genuinely interested in hearing the other’s points of view and wanting to learn from that. Candidly, I have to give my friend more credit than I can take myself, in that regard. Although this “really good discussion” mostly involved the two forbidden topics typically warned against for peaceful relationships … Politics and Religion … as I strongly suspected, this was just our first “really good discussion” of many to come.
One of the results of that conversation was for me to be reminded that, while I was clear in my understanding of my positions on the issues we discussed, I wanted to be able to clearly express my views to others. The question that was raised that confronted me with this most significantly was the question, “Do you believe there’s only one way to Heaven?” Although I think my response to this was adequate, it seemed to me that I should be prepared to offer more than an answer that’s just OK to such an important question. In fact, in 1 Peter 3:15, the Bible compels Christians to do this, saying, “[be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you”.
Expressing the “reason of the hope that is in (me)” is what I wanted to be better prepared to do but, before I delve into that, I should give you my initial answer to that question. My answer is:
I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. I, also, believe that every person can have salvation through accepting Christ’s sacrifice for their sin. And, I believe that salvation, through accepting Christ’s sacrifice, is the one and only path to Heaven.
Since my friend didn’t state his position on this question, I won’t presume to give you his answer. I will say his question was accompanied with several related questions and comments that I took into account as I considered how to best express the “reason of the hope that is in (me)”. One related question was, “Do you think Mother Teresa went to Heaven?” and one related comment was, “I make it a daily habit, when considering certain choices, to ask myself, ‘What would Jesus do?'” I’m paraphrasing rather than quoting here but, to me, this combination of questions and comments had certain implications. One was that while my friend had some high regard for Jesus, he didn’t necessarily accept Him as being the only way to Heaven. Another was that “good works”/”being a good person” should get you to Heaven.
So, in order to respond to this and more adequately express the “reason of the hope that is in (me)”, the two questions to answer are:
- Who is Jesus
- Can “good works” alone be a path to Heaven?