Who’s Right?

We in church circles have probably heard the following story and self-righteously snickered:  “A man went to heaven and Saint Peter was giving him the initial tour.  ‘Over there we have the Baptists and there the Methodists.  Across the way we have the Lutherans.  But now you must be quiet because coming up on the right are the ______ (you may fill in the blank) because they think they’re the only ones here!’”
This joke is both funny and sad because there are people in various Christian circles who really believe they’re the only ones going to heaven.  Perhaps you know some!
Let me ask you something.  Can you believe something that’s not entirely accurate and still go to heaven?  As a young Christ follower I would have said, “Absolutely not!”  Now, after following Jesus for almost 50 years, I realize that I have spent those years exchanging perceived truth for God’s truth.  I have in fact embraced partial truth for God’s truth.  And that’s what we call “growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.” 
As a hospice chaplain I meet all kinds of people and I encounter all kinds of belief systems.  Some of what I hear greatly repels me and I adamantly try to line up perceived truth to God’s Word.  If the two conflict, I throw the falsehood away!  However, I’ve come to understand that none of us have all the answers and we all “see through a glass darkly”(1 Corinthians 13:12).
Therefore, many (including me) will one day go to heaven perhaps believing some things that aren’t completely true or that do not entirely line up with God’s Word.  For example, many will go to heaven with a statue of Mary in their front yard.  Some will go to heaven with cigarette breath.  Some will go to heaven believing they had to speak in tongues to get there.  Others will arrive having exchanged Trinity teaching for “Oneness Theology.”  Still, others believe you have to be baptized in water to make heaven your eventual home. There remains no shortage of aberrant teaching and/or wrong thinking.
HOWEVER, no one will get there without Jesus Christ!  This understanding is non-negotiable.  I talk with many wonderful people who believe doctrines I disdain, but who underneath it all have fallen in love with Jesus, recognized Him to be the only begotten Son of God, who have placed their faith and trust in Him for the forgiveness of their sin and who trust Him for their salvation.
I know that many will disagree, but I think we all agree that Jesus is God’s spotless Lamb, whose shed blood enables us to experience personal salvation. According to Ephesians 1:7 we have “forgiveness through the blood.”  All of us, I suppose, believe things that probably aren’t “God’s truth,” but if we leave earth with Christ in our heart and His love in our soul, we will make heaven our home.
As a minister of the gospel, I have to leave the “non-essential stuff” up to the Lord.  Dogmatic and harsh approaches toward people who don’t believe like we do only tend to drive wedges and spawn judgmental attitudes. 
So, who’s right?  This remains a loaded question.  But let me tell you one thing:  Christ followers who lack wisdom, who glory in making their position known at the expense of church division and who exhibit little or no love – only mean-spirited approaches – and who become self-righteous in their approach to others ONLY HINDER THE FURTHERANCE OF THE GOSPEL.  Always be part of the solution, and let God handle the many idiosyncrasies we discover in day to day living.



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