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The Bible says that Jesus said, "No one gets to the Father except through me", which I have been taught means if you don't believe God is the Father and Jesus is His Son, you don't/won't go to heaven.
My question is: does this mean that three quarters of the world's population (non-christians, Jews, Mormons, the Dalai Lama, etc.) who don't believe that Jesus is the Son of God aren't going to heaven? It doesn't seem to me that the God I believe in would let this happen.
Sympathy For The Masses
Dear Sympathy For The Masses,
The verse you are referring to is Jhn 14:6. Here is a great example of a fork in the road for christians. Will we take the Bible at face value and accept what God says, or will we ignore certain verses in order to mold God into an image that is more suitable for us? You are absolutely right; there is no mistaking the implications of Jhn 14:6. All that do not follow Christ will not be saved. In fact, there are other verses that re-emphasize this message. Jesus said that the way to salvation was narrow, and the way to destruction was wide (Matt 7:13). He also says that many people will erroneously claim to have served God and will be turned away on the Judgment Day (Matt 7:22-23).
These verses do exclude large swaths of mankind from heaven. However, if we believe the Bible to be God’s infallible Word (and we here at AYP do – read “Who Wrote The Bible” to see why we are so convinced), then we must accept that the same loving God who would send His own Son to die for our sins has a very good reason for being so picky about who goes to heaven. Remember, God doesn’t condemn people to hell; it is our sinful choices that does that (Rom 6:23). Jehovah offers us salvation through His Son, even though we deserve death (Jhn 3:16).
I was studying the Bible with my friend (she is a Mormon), and she showed me a verse that talks about baptizing dead people (1 Cor 15:29). What is that all about?
Dear Coffin Dunker,
God does command baptism for the dead… but not how the Mormons teach it. Baptism for the dead is a Mormon practice where they baptize a living family member on behalf of a dead relative. The Mormons then profess that “proxy-baptism” saves the soul of the dead relative, turning them into a Mormon. There is nothing in the Bible that teaches this doctrine, and they misuse 1 Cor 15:29 when they refer to it.
1 Cor 15:29 is in the middle of a discussion Paul is having with the Corinthian church about life after death. Paul just got done explaining that Jesus died and lived again (1 Cor 15:15-18). Paul will then later explain that he is willing to be persecuted even to death in order to preach the gospel (1 Cor 15:30-32). The statement about baptism for the dead is smack-dab right in the middle of that context. Therefore, whatever “baptism for the dead” is referring to must have something to do with life after death and the willingness to die for the gospel because you have such a hope.
Baptism removes our sin (Acts 2:38). Baptism saves us (1 Pet 3:21, Mk 16:16). When we are baptized, we move from a state of spiritual death to spiritual life (Eph 2:1-5). That spiritual death (i.e. eternity in hell) is what Paul is referring to in 1 Cor 15:29. People are baptized for death, to remove spiritual death, and live in the hope of eternal life (Tit 3:7). Jesus came and preached to those living in the “shadow of death” (Lk 1:79). When we obey the gospel, we have passed out of death and into life (Jhn 5:24). Jesus even went so far as to say that we will never see death if we keep His word (Jhn 8:51). In the context of first Corinthians chapter 15, Paul is talking about this eternal death. When people are baptized, they are baptized to avoid the eternal death that awaits all who are outside of Christ.