I chuckle every time I see the road signs as we come into Diagonal from the west. Good thing we don’t live in the city! Why, there’d be a traffic jam at the intersection where the undecided person sat ad infinitum reading signs trying to determine which one points where!
This conglomeration of signs pointing every which way has to be one of the best comparisons of the churches’ description of “how to get to heaven”. Each group of believers seems to have its own road map.
While each gives lip service to simply following Jesus, there always seems to be tags at the end of their Gospel message. You’ll find the way to your heavenly home if you:
Within each denomination, it doesn’t take long to discover that if you are on the “wrong road,” you’re surely following
My daughter-in-law, Jenn asked me one day, “Why are there so many different denominations and how do we know which one has it right?” Jenn’s question made me think of Dorothy on Wizard of Oz asking how to get back home:
Glinda, the good witch of the North advises Dorothy to seek help from the mysterious Wizard of Oz. Following the Yellow Brick Road, as directed, Dorothy comes to a place where she has more than one directional option:
Dorothy: Now which way do we go?
Scarecrow: Pardon me, this way is a very nice way.
Dorothy: Who said that?
[Toto barks at scarecrow]
Dorothy: Don't be silly, Toto. Scarecrows don't talk.
Scarecrow: [points other way] It's pleasant down that way, too.
Dorothy: That's funny. Wasn't he pointing the other way?
Scarecrow: [points both ways] Of course, some people do go both ways.
Dorothy and Jenn have asked a good question. How do we know which way will get us home?
First we must understand that with so many denominations, each claiming that only they have it right, in one way or another, they all have it wrong! Following Jesus has nothing to do with any denomination! In fact, it has nothing to do with observing any laws! Surprised? This was a stumbling block for the people of Israel, as well!
Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him.
While it seems that each denomination genuinely believes that they have it right and are sincere in their confessions of faith, the reality is that, like the devoted Israelites, they are refusing to accept God’s way:
I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God. Salvation Is for Everyone! [Romans 10:1-4].
It is the longing of my heart that each person be set free from the bondage of attempting to follow the laws of God and those of any religious denomination! Our works can not save us! If this were the route, no one would ever find their way home!
For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands. But faith’s way of getting right with God says… “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” [Romans 10:5, 6, 9].
Seeking directions from denominations will leave you feeling confused, as Dorothy must have felt and will only lead to being lost on a winding road of relentless self-effort. The one with the clear directions is not a mysterious wizard, hiding his true self behind a curtain. Instead, He clearly reveals Himself in Christ and explains that He is the only way home. While the road is narrow, it is straight and effortless!
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago [Eph 2:8-10].
P.S. Please feel free to contact me with questions, thoughts, topics you’d like to ponder or to read past articles at: http://whole-heartedlife.blogspot.com/. You may also contact me at:
In Search of the Whole-Hearted Life
505 Jefferson St.
Diagonal, IA 50845