(This article has been put together from different portions of “The Second Greatest Lie Ever Told” By Mark Cahill)
Many people have said that there are many ways to get to heaven. Don’t all roads lead to the same place for eternity? Does it matter what religion we follow? Don’t we just need to be sincere, devoted, and passionate about whatever we believe and won’t it all work out in the end?
Many people are asking these questions today. How could a loving God hold a difference in religion against anyone? After all, aren’t we all worshiping the same God? In fact, a survey of 35,000 American adults shows that 70 percent believe there are many paths to God-all equally valid.
An important point to remember is that it doesn’t matter how sincere one is in there devotion. Here are some examples:
- Does is matter if a sincere pharmacist puts the wrong pills in a bottle?
- Does it matter if a surgeon sincerely believed he removed a kidney when in fact he removed the liver?
- Does it matter if a woman eats a poisonous mushroom, even though she thought it would be quite nourishing?
So it is possible to be very sincere, but be sincerely wrong. The critical question here is: What is the truth?
I began to wonder if it is true that there are many ways to get to God, or is that really a lie. So there was only one way to find out. All I had to do was look at different religions and see what they taught about the afterlife and how to get there. Since learning is one of the most exciting things we can do in life, I was intrigued to find out what these religions actually teach. And, since I didn’t want to be lied to about God or eternity, this was a very important search. So let’s take a look at some of the simple, yet powerful, things that I learned during my search.
One of the fascinating aspects about what you hear from Muslims is that they never know if they will go to Paradise or Hellfire when they die. They say they can’t know until Judgment Day arrives, and their works are weighed out in front of Allah.
“Muhammad taught that by our own efforts we can earn Allah’s mercy, earn salvation, and eventually earn paradise.”
Surah 23:102: Then those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy-they will attain salvation.
Surah 23:103: But those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls, in Hell will they abide.
So salvation in Islam is based upon beliefs and works
The goal of Buddhism is to reach the state of Nirvana, which is basically a state of nothingness. In order to get there, you must follow the Eightfold Path:
1) Right Understanding: Accepting the Four Noble Truths (The existence of suffering; the cause of suffering; the end of suffering; and the end of pain.).
2) Right Resolve: Renounce the pleasures of the body. Change your lifestyle so that you harm no living creatures and have kind thoughts for everyone.
3) Right Speech: Do not gossip, lie or slander anyone.
4) Right Action: Do not kill, steal or engage in an unlawful sexual act.
5) Right Occupation: Avoid working at any job that could harm someone.
6) Right Effort: Heroically work to eliminate evil from your life. Through your own effort, develop good conduct and a clean mind.
7) Right Contemplation: Make yourself aware of your deeds, words and thoughts, so that you can be free of desire and sorrow.
8) Right Meditation: Train your mind to focus on a single object without wavering, so as to develop a calm mind capable of concentration.
Is is said that Gautama’s (the founder of Buddhism) last words before his death were: “Buddhas do but point the way, work out your salvation with diligence.”
As you can see, even to enter a state of nothingness, this religion is still based upon works.
The teachings of the Catholic Church come from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This document spells out the official position of the Roman Catholic Church. The catechism is broken up into paragraphs.
In paragraph 97 it says, “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God.” So, Catholics use both the Bible and traditions of the Catholic Church to determine what they believe.
Catholicism teaches that you must belong to the Catholic Church.
Paragraph 868 agrees that there is no other way to heaven but through the Catholic Church by saying, “The Church is catholic: She proclaims the fullness of faith. She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation.”
So belonging to the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation, but the Catechism doesn’t stop there. Paragraph 1129 says, “The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.” The Catechism actually puts those words into italics. The sacraments for the Catholic Church are baptism, confirmation, marriage, confession, holy orders, holy communion, and last rites.
Paragraphs 1030 and 1031 state:
1030: All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death, they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.
1031: The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.
At the Catholic Council of Trent, session 6, Canon 9 said, “If anyone says that by faith alone the sinner is justified, so as to mean that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification…let him be anathema (curse).”
Catholicism is a religious faith that is based upon belief and good works to be right with God.
One of the concepts most of us have heard about in Hinduism is “karma”.
“The word karma literally means, “action” and refers to a person’s actions and the consequences thereof. In Hinduism, one’s present state of existence is determined by his performance in previous lifetimes. The law of karma is the law of moral consequence, or the effect of any action upon the performer in a past, a present or even a future existence. As one performs righteous acts, he moves towards liberation from the cycle of successive births and deaths. Contrariwise, if one’s deeds are evil, he will move further from liberation.
As I was talking with a Hindu gentleman on the train going to the airport one day, I asked him what happened when he died. He told me that on his final cycle of life, if his good actions were better than his bad ones, he would release from the cycle of birth and death and go to Nirvana. He described it as a sea of nothingness where your soul is like a drop of water in the ocean. So you are no longer “you” but just blend back into the universe/god.
As you can see, this religious faith is based upon works.
It teaches that their god was once a mortal man with parents, who lived on another planet. Mormons teach and believe that there are gods above gods, and Mormon men, who are married and sealed in their temples to their wives, can become gods just as their god and his many wives have done. They teach that all people who live or have ever lived on this earth are spirit children born to this god and his many wives in preexistence.
They teach that all faithful Mormons, after they have progressed into gods and goddesses, will give birth to their own spirit children and send them to another earth (that they have created somewhere in the universe), to be born to mortality, so that they too can progress into godhood.
Mormonism teaches that there are three heavenly kingdoms, and that hell is not eternal, but will have an end. (Mormon Doctrine p.351.) They teach that during the time between death and the last judgment (through the missionary work done in the spirit world by “faithful dead Mormons”), non-Mormons can have a second chance to become Mormons there. And after their temple work is done by proxy on earth, they too can, after the final judgment, advance to the Celestial Kingdom, and even to godhood.
All mankind, after the resurrection and the judgment (even murderers and the worst of the worst), will inherit “some salvation” in one of the lower “heavens”. Only the devil and his angels (and apostates from Mormonism), are sent to the “outer darkness”-to be tormented forever and ever.
Only the temple endowed Mormons will go to the Celestial kingdom (highest heaven), and become gods. They teach, that “Salvation in its true and full meaning is synonymous with exaltation or eternal life… If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (Mormon Doctrine, p.670.)
Three elements are necessary for salvation: faith, baptism into Mormonism, and works.
Mormonism is also based on works to be right with God when one dies.
Sin is a major concept in Judaism. This is where the Ten commandments originated, and the Jews had 613 total commandments in their law. Of course, one would need forgiveness if these laws were broken.
Forgiveness is obtained through repentance, prayer and tzedakah (charity or other good deeds).
Jewish history teaches the belief in the atoning sacrifice of blood on the altar of the Temple for the forgiveness of sins. But, since the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD and has not currently been rebuilt in Jerusalem, then the Jews chose other ways to be forgiven.
So as most Jewish people will tell you, their belief system is based upon works, or keeping the commandments, so Yahweh will accept them when they die.
Jehovah’s Witnesses disagree with the mainstream Christian belief that Jesus was “fully God, fully man.” Witnesses teach that Jesus was not God, but rather God’s first creation. For them, the purpose of life is to earn the right to participate in God’s future Kingdom on earth, and to help others to do so. Witnesses therefore focus on living a moral, acceptable life before God and witnessing about their faith to others.Witnesses believe that salvation was made possible through Christ’s death, who made up for the sin of Adam. But eternal life comes not simply from faith in Jesus but from “learning about Jehovah and obeying his requirements,” proving oneself to be God’s loyal subject, and listening to the Kingdom message and acting on it.So as you can see, obeying Jehovah’s requirements makes works necessary for salvation.
Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on a cross for the sins of the whole world. It is a belief that faith alone in Jesus Christ is what is necessary to be right with God.
The most distinctive belief of mainstream Christianity is the doctrine of the Trinity, which views the one God as consisting of three Persons: the Father, the Son (Christ) and the Holy Spirit.
The Bible is the sacred text of Christianity. it consists of both the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament is sometimes referred to as the Jewish Scriptures, and the New Testament covers the life of Jesus and the beginning of the first church.
Now one of the interesting facts in Christianity is that there is only one Savior.
Isaiah 43:11 “I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.”
John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Acts 4:12 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is non other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Titus 3:5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us…”
In Christianity, works won’t be good enough when you stand in front of God.
Taking a look at these different religious systems is fascinating. And as you can tell, we have run into a big problem. Each of the religions teaches you must do good works in order to be right with God except for one-the Christian faith.It stands out very distinctly from the others because of this difference. In other religions, man has to reach up to God by their good works to be right with Him, but in Christianity, God has reached down with the sacrificial death of His Son being crucified for our sins of the whole world.