Q. Why do Christians insist that Jesus Christ is the only way to get to Heaven?

A.The answer to this question is simple and factual, but doesn't explain very much: the Bible says so. In John 14:6 (KJV), Jesus says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes unto the Father but by Me." However, if you understand what the Bible means when it speaks of Heaven, then this answer becomes more undersatandable.

First, Heaven is not to be confused with the Paradise of Islam, the happy hunting grounds of the American Indians, or the Elysian Fields of the Greeks. Nor is Heaven the Nirvana of the Buddhist. Heaven is where God is. Those in Heaven have a relationship with God. Heaven is God's house. If this is true, then God has the right to decide who He will associate with and to set rules for that association.

Secondly, God wants to associate with people. When He created us, He gave us self-determination so that we could chose to associate with Him. Inherent in that is the option to choose otherwise, but, and this is crucial, if we choose to go where God is not, then He is not obligated to make that alternative pleasant. Hence, the alternative to Heaven is Hell.

The explanation works out this way:

Heaven is a place of holiness, where God fellowships with His people and gives them a purpose outside themselves. Those who complain about God's narrow requirements for Heaven are not thinking about the joy of being in His presence. Instead, they are criticizing God because He is denying them their selfish indulgence in the same pleasures they spent their lives on without any regard to His wishes. In reality, they have no real desire to enter God's Heaven. What they really want is some kind of Paradise where they can have and do anything they want to without restriction, forever. And that, my friends, is Hell, not Heaven.

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MaryAlice B. Kelly
E-mail: kelly1@kconline.com