We Christians claim that there is only one way to heaven. Non-Christians see this as prideful and intolerant. Who are we to claim to have the only true religion? Why am I any better than a Hindu, Muslim, or new age philosopher that I should get to heaven but they are headed to hell?
To make matters worse, we Christians are often guilty of acting like we are in an exclusive club. I can say this because I know I am often guilty of it. I hang out with my church friends, look at the world, and say come quickly Lord Jesus, this world is a lost cause.
It's easy, once you believe that you have the ticket to heaven, to look down on those that you believe do not have it. What we forget is that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We are not saved because we are better than a Muslim or a Hindu. In fact, even though we are now saved, we're still sinners while Christ completes what he has started in us.
So does Christianity have exclusive rights into heaven and all the other world religions are wrong?
First, we have to define Christianity.
1 : the religion derived from Jesus Christ, based on the Bible as sacred scripture, and professed by Eastern, Roman Catholic, and Protestant bodies 2 : conformity to the Christian religion 3 : the practice of Christianity
Nothing in this definition assures anyone that they will go to heaven. When you speak of Christianity as a "religion" then it is really no different than any other world religion. As a religion, it becomes just a label that we attach to ourselves based on what we do for "religion".
However, Christianity is really not a religion. The best way I've heard it explained, is that religions are are list of "do's". In Chrisitianity everything that needs to be done has already been done. There is nothing left to "do".
Does that mean that's it? We're all in.
Not quite. Jesus has done everything that is needed for you to have eternal life. The only thing for you to do is receive it.
Romans 10:9 (ESV) 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
There is one more piece that is often forgotten nowadays as the church seeks to be more "inclusive". In order for someone to be "saved" they must have some idea that there is something they need to be saved from.
What is it that Jesus actually saves us from? Death? Hell? These are just consequences. What we need to be saved from is our slavery to sin. Sin being - sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar.
Yes, Jesus has already died for our sins. However, we have to recognize that sin is a bad thing to begin with and something that needs to change while understanding that you can't change on your own (hence, Romans 10:9).
If you can recognize that you have sin in your life, and want to be free from it, then it is as simple as believing that God has already taken care of it through the death and resurrection of His Son, and you'll be free.
So back to our original questsion, is Christianity inclusive or exclusive?
It's both. It's exclusive in that you must acknowledge that you're a sinner and want to be free form those sins. It's inclusive in that your sex, race, political party and nationality do not matter. Most importantly, it is inclusive because it does not matter what sin has you inslaved, you can be saved from it all.
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