By Ronald Bartanen
“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
An increasingly popular view is that different cultures have different religions available to bring people to God. While in America we are predominantly a somewhat Christian culture (at least for the present), in Muslim nations God is available through Islam, in Israel God is found through Old Testament law, in India access to God is through Hinduism, etc. Tolerance of other faith-systems has been seen in the past as the allowing of liberty to differ, but it has evolved into the shaming of those who would seek to actually convert someone of another religious persuasion to one’s own view. Some would even refer to preaching against the teachings of other religions as “hate speech.” Such a concept would make the Great Commission of our Lord—the preaching of the gospel of Christ to all nations, as Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47)—no longer acceptable.
The gospel of Christ alone is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). It is one gospel for all. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). This may seem narrow-minded in our ears today, but it is either true, or Jesus is not to be believed.
There is one gospel for all because all are alienated from God by sin. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23); and “The wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23). In such a state, man is alienated from god and from eternal life. Dependence for acceptance with God on the basis of avoiding gross sins and being a good neighbor will not suffice.
There is one gospel for all because Jesus, God’s Son, died for all. “God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
There is one gospel for all because salvation is found only in Jesus: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
There being but one gospel for all, those who sincerely would follow Christ should look beyond popular opinion, men and denominations to the Biblical standard for the means of coming to God. Believing Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God who died for us, was buried, and rose again (1 Cor. 15:1-4), let all accept Him as Savior and Lord in accord with God’s word—in repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38; 22:16), thus being assured by Christ, that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). Continuing in faith and faithful living, we are assured, “Be thou faithful unto death (even to the point of dying for that faith) and I will give the a crown of life “ ( Revelation 2:10).
- Ronald Bartanen is a retired minister who for many years served the Lord's church in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org