JOHN PEARRELL: The only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ

There is a growing myth that needs to be exposed.

Recently, an influential evangelical pastor reportedly has declared that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. This misunderstanding is found in the broader misunderstanding that all the monotheistic religions worship the same God.

According to William B. Eerdmans' handbook of religion "Judaism is the oldest of the three great monotheistic religions and is the parent of both Christianity and Islam."

The assumption then is since we have a common ancestry, we must then have a common God.

If one is to read the Koran, he or she will discover that the Allah of the Koran is quite different in nature than the God of the Bible, but let's not argue that particular point.

For those of us who are Christians, the authority of Scripture must be the foundation upon which we build our world view on this important question.

I believe that there are two key passages which help us answer the question as to whether or not we who name the name of Christ and those who follow the prophet Mohammad are in fact trying to approach the same God.

Our first passage is found in Acts 17:22-31. In this passage Paul makes a number of key points, the first one being that it is possible to be religious yet deceived.

He says, "You worship this God, but you don't really know Him. The Bible claims, 'Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone'" (Acts 4:12, CEV).

If that claim is true, then one of satan's most diabolical devices is any belief system that points people anywhere else but to Christ.

Indeed, Paul makes this point in the text above. (2)"In the past, God forgave all this because people did not know what they were doing. But now he says that everyone everywhere must turn to Him. He has set a day when he will judge the world's people with fairness."

People who try to get to God any other way besides Christ are worshipping in vain; they are spinning their wheels so to speak.

The third key point Paul makes is that the resurrection of Christ has sealed the deal and, in judgment, Allah will not save you, Mohammad will not save you, Moses will not save you, Abraham will not save you, Buddha will not save you, nor will any of the 300 million gods of Hinduism.

Only Christ can save you.

In our second passage, John 8:19, Jesus makes a startling claim here; "You do not know me or my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also."

What did Jesus just say? Very simply He says clearly and firmly that the only way to know the true God is by knowing Him. If I understand this correctly, Jesus has just claimed that unless we recognize Him, we cannot recognize God.

Therefore, any religion that worships any God apart from Christ is not worshipping the One True God of Heaven.

Before you start crying "bigot," "elitist," and start telling me to read the rest of the Bible, let me remind you of two other very important passages of Scripture -- John 14:6 and Matthew 26:39.

In John 14:6, Jesus himself makes the startling claim to be the only way to God. So if you are going to call anyone a bigot, and an elitist, and arrogant, you need to start those accusations with Jesus, since he is the one who made the claim.

Matthew 26:39 is Jesus' prayer in the Garden. "Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, 'My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'" (Matthew 26:39, NIV84).

What is Jesus asking for here? He is telling the Father that if there is any other way of salvation, any other way men might be able to get into real fellowship with God, any other way men might be able to enter the Kingdom of God, then, please, don't let Him go to the cross.

Does He go to the cross? If the answer is yes, then the corollary to that is there is no other way to heaven except through Jesus the Christ.

Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information, visit the Gateway Web site at www.gatewaycommunity.org.