But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly wrong. – Galatians 2:11
I sometimes wonder if I didn’t know a thing about religion right now and I spent a few months just studying them, which one I would choose? All seem to offer some sort of promising afterlife for obedience and some sort of diminished existence for disobedience. Most people believe that our lives go on past this existence in some form or fashion. The most convenient thing to believe is that I will simply cease to exist once I draw my last breath, for then it doesn’t really matter how I live my life . . . I can do what I want without any eternal accountability. I don’t really have enough faith to believe that. So which god, gods, or philosophy is right?
There is this scene in Steve Groll’s book, “Beyond the Dead Forest,” where a witch forces two children to pick from a thousand different gods. The “gods” are really scarecrows with different names. All the kids have to do is take a knife, cut themselves, and offer a few drops of blood on the ground of the one they choose. Had they chosen, it was really a trick so the witch’s wolves could easily track down the children later on. Fortunately, they didn’t choose any of the gods and ended up setting them on fire and destroying them all. They knew that those scarecrows weren’t real gods. They weren’t even good scarecrows because thousands of crows rested upon them. All of them were false gods.
For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. – John 3:16
When Jesus came on the scene, there were plenty of religions. Scarecrows abounded, if you will. The Romans considered Caesar God. Even the Jewish people had begun to worship a set of manmade rules in place of the true God that they claimed to know. Everyone on the planet, just like today, had a belief in either something or nothing.
Yet, here comes Jesus on the scene giving His life as a ransom for many. Here’s the thing: If every religion is right and everyone is going to be okay in the end, why in the world would He do this? Is He basically saying, “There were a thousand ways to a better afterlife, now I have made it one thousand and one”? In John 14:6, Jesus doesn’t claim to be a way, but claims to be the way. He is either right or wrong. He is either lying to us, or He is telling us the truth. I don’t think there is any middle ground, and there certainly isn’t room to believe that salvation can come through any other means. At least, not if you believe His words.
Paul and Peter were possibly the two greatest preachers at the same time in the early church. They both spread the gospel that salvation came to all people only through Jesus. Yet, Peter got sidetracked a little bit when a group of people who followed Jesus also wanted to add some of the old rules back into the mix. Peter didn’t confront or condemn these additions; therefore Paul confronted Peter “to his face. Because clearly he was wrong.”
Now, if Peter was wrong . . . he was wrong. If Peter can be wrong in his beliefs, then we certainly can, too. I believe there is nothing more important on this planet than what we believe. It is appointed unto man once to die, and afterwards to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Are you ready? How confident are you in what you believe?
Praise God my salvation is not based on my performance. My performance absolutely stinks sometimes. In fact, I would hardly give myself a passing grade as I type this. I don’t even live up to my own standards, much less God’s. Therefore, I will place my trust in Christ alone. Salvation is free and cannot be earned. The only rule with God is don’t make it about rules. Make it about knowing Jesus. If you know Him, you will fall in love with Him. If you fall in love with Him, you will want to keep His commands.
Do not be wrong about this! Salvation comes by putting your faith in Christ alone. Nobody will talk his or her way into heaven. Salvation will never be earned through good deeds. It can only be received by faith.
Don’t waste another moment. This life is a vapor that appears for a moment and then vanishes away. Pray! Make sure your life is in His hands. There is nothing on earth more important. He doesn’t say at the end of our lives, “Depart from me, you didn’t behave!” He says, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” Please, please, please get to know Him. Introduce yourself today.