It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.

All roads lead to heaven.

People may call God by different names, but we all still worship the same God.

Nice sentiments, aren’t they? Why trouble yourself too much about religion, after all? What difference does it really make in the end? If we’re all going to heaven, it doesn’t matter what we believe or how we live our lives on earth, right? But is that true? Do we all share a common destiny? Actually, in one sense, yes. But it may not be exactly what you have in mind.

The belief that pretty much everyone will end up in heaven is fairly prevalent in our society. It’s a comforting thought to our finite minds. Even some prominent religious figures seem to push the idea that we’re all going to end up in heaven. The “really” bad people like Hitler won’t make it, of course, but normal people who strive to live good lives will be there. And indeed, most major world religions stress good works as the means to attain salvation. You have to earn your way to paradise by living a good life on earth, giving to the poor, praying faithfully, etc. Make sure the good outweighs the bad and you’ll be okay. But please don’t be fooled. There is only one way to heaven. There is only one true God. And no matter what you happen to believe right now, one day you will acknowledge Jesus as Lord. It’s just a question of how you meet Him–as your Savior, or as your judge.

You see, on the Last Day when Jesus returns, everyone will have no choice but to admit that He alone is God. Let’s look at a few Bible verses to illustrate what I mean. Philippians 2:10-11 says, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”

Similarly, Isaiah 45:22-25 tells us, “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength.’ All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. But in the Lord all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult.”

And yet again, Revelation 1:7 repeats the sentiment: “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.”

Do you realize what that means? It’s horrifying when you consider the implications. If you don’t believe in Jesus in this life, you will meet Him instead as your Judge on the Last Day.  You will recognize Him as Lord alone. But by then it will be too late. The hymn “Lo! He Comes With Clouds Descending” (LSB 336, verse 2) says it like this:

Every eye shall now behold Him robed in glorious majesty

Those who sat at naught and sold Him, pierced and nailed Him to the tree,

Deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,

Shall their true Messiah see.

So where do you stand right now? Will you meet Jesus as your Savior or as your judge? Friends, there is no reason to meet Him as your judge. There’s no need to be included in those who have “raged against him…and be put to shame.” No matter what you have done in your past, Jesus’ forgiveness and mercy are there for you. You don’t have to earn your way to heaven–Jesus has done that already. His perfect life that you could never live, His sinless suffering and death in your place, and His resurrection to defeat death have earned eternal paradise for you. It’s not because of anything you do. It’s all because of Jesus. And one day, I know I will be kneeling before Him in heaven, confessing that He is Lord. I pray that you will be there with me.


Photo is Pearly Gates by Michael Sineni