Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
Acts 4:12; NKJV
|Van Gogh, Weeping Woman
The story is tragic, and one can readily sympathize with Ms. Pagels. Unfortunately we cannot delude ourselves here, as terrible as the truth may seem. It would be nice to imagine that all well-meaning and sincere people go to heaven when they die. But so to imagine is to lose sight of the bigger picture. As we have seen, no human being meets God's standard of righteousness, and the this is because of the dark forces that are at work in every human heart. There are many different religions and philosophies in the world, each with many earnest and sincere followers. But we must face the fact that as human beings we simply do not measure up to God's standards, and this creates a problem – a huge problem.
As we have also seen, the answer involves an atonement of some sort, but then this raises the further question as to who is qualified to provide the atonement. And that, in turn, raises yet another problem: the atonement has to be the substitution of one life for another. But in order for it to be a genuine substitution it has to be of equivalent value to the original. If I smash up your brand new Mercedes and offer you my beat-up old Ford in return, it is hardly a fair exchange. Sacrifices of animals were made in the ancient Jewish temple in Jerusalem, but the blood of a bull or a goat can never really be the substitute for the life of a human being. Something more is needed. It must be a human life for a human life.
|Van Gogh, Man Reading the Bible
This is why there is no salvation apart from Christ. From the very nature of the case He is the only one who is in a position to secure salvation for us. Far from being tyrannical, for God to send His only Son into this sin-cursed world to die for our sins was an extraordinary demonstration of mercy and kindness. The person who throws a life-preserver to a drowning man is not being a tyrant; he is trying to save the man's life.
What makes Christianity unique among the world's religions is that it offers mankind a Savior. If you think that you are a righteous person, if you think that your own good works are sufficient to merit heaven when you die, then there are other religions for you. But if you are honest with yourself, and can see some of the evil that is ingrained within human nature, if you can see that you could never stand before a righteous and holy God on the basis of your own merit, then you need a Savior. Every other religion offers a way to heaven paved with the pretense of human goodness. Christianity offers sinners salvation through a Redeemer. Let every person judge for himself what truly meets the need.