In a recent interview with the New York Times, President Jimmy Carter shared about his Christian faith. The interviewer told Carter that one problem he had with evangelicalism was the belief that faith in Christ alone was the only way to heaven.
The interviewer asked Carter if he believed a moral non-Christian like Mahatma Gandhi would be consigned to Hell. Carter replied, “I do not feel qualified to make a judgment. I am inclined to give him (or others) the benefit of any doubt.”
In fact, neither Jimmy Carter nor anyone else is qualified to make the judgment of who goes to Heaven and Hell except God. But He has already made that judgment, and He has said that the only way to heaven is through faith in His son.
1. Jesus Christ is the only door that leads to salvation.
That Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven is what makes Christianity unique (John 10:9). The founders of other world religions never claimed to be the way to God. They only claimed to point the way to God.
But not Jesus. Jesus did not come to merely point the way to God. He said “I am the way.” Jesus did not merely claim to know the truth. He said, “I am the truth.” Jesus did not merely point to abundant life. He said, “I am the life. No one comes to the Father but by me (John 14:6).”
There is no other way to God. You can’t come to God through nature—that is by playing golf or fishing or going for a drive in the country and having warm thoughts about God. You can’t come to God by the ritual of religion, or by trying to live up to God’s standards (Roman 3:10-12). There is only one way to Heaven – through Jesus Christ. When Jesus died, He paid the penalty for our sin.
2. The door of salvation will not always be open.
Anyone is free to come through the narrow door of salvation. The call of God is not restricted by anything you can imagine: race, education, social position, wealth, good deeds, or lack of. The door is open to whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord to be saved (Romans 10:13).
But it will not always be that way. In the days of Noah, God offered salvation to any who would believe and enter the ark. But Genesis 7:16 says that at an appropriate time, God shut the door and it was too late.
In the same way, God will one day close your opportunity to salvation. It may be through your death. It may be through the Second Coming. You will either meet Him as Savior or Judge (Acts 17:31). Or God may close the door through your own hardness of heart (Romans 9:18). Many would say that’s not fair, but the Bible says that Pharaoh hardened his own heart seven times before God hardened his heart. There is a line you cross in saying NO to God that results in your being unable to believe.
3. Your responsibility is to enter through the door.
Jesus said we should “strive to enter” and that word is agonizomai – agonize (Luke 13:24). Contrary to what some believe, this does not imply that salvation is something you must work for or strive for. There is nothing you can do to make God look favorable on you. To “strive to enter” simply means to lay aside anything that would keep you from trusting in Christ for your salvation.
For some that means laying aside a concern for the things of this world. Others may need to lay aside their pride. Still others need to lay aside their own religious beliefs.
Bottom line: the passage to life is very narrow. There is only one way to enter into eternal life and that is by the door of Jesus Christ.