It is amazing to me how I always receive a new message each time I read the Bible, even when I read the same passage repeatedly. My own mother has remarked on this also.
Yesterday, as I read Romans, I thought about all the times that I have encountered people who strongly believe that their denomination is the “right” denomination. I have seen persecution of and by Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, and many others. There are many people out there that think in order to save someone, they must convert others to their own specific denomination. I would like to take time to address this issue today.
I have never believed that a specific denomination will guarantee your entrance into heaven based on the following statement that Jesus says in the gospel of John:
“I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:16
However, I received more clarification on this subject as I read Romans, beginning in chapter 3.
“Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.” Romans 3:29-30
This brings up the issue of following man-made laws in the church. Will God punish those who receive communion in a church when they are not a member of that church? No, I don’t believe so, based on the above statement. The real purpose of receiving communion is to spiritually connect with the Almighty and to remember His death on the cross for the salvation of our souls. This can be done even if you don’t receive communion physically. It is solely dependent on what is in your heart, and if you truly believe and accept Jesus as your Savior, these man-made rules have no power over you. God has the final say.
Continuing on to Romans, Chapter 9, it says “For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.” Romans 9:6
Paul goes on to explain, “In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.” Romans 9:8
I take this to mean that the choice is ours. We have to make a conscious decision to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and truly believe it in our heart. This offer is open to all – Catholics, Jewish, Protestant, etc. It is not limited to one denomination. This is clarified even more in the same chapter in Romans.
“I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one” and “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘you are not my people’, they will be called ‘sons of the living God.'” Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”Romans 9:25-28
Although this can sound a bit scary to some, it is actually great news. Anyone from any area, denomination, class, color, etc. can be saved! It is open to everyone! The door is open – all you have to do is walk through it and allow Jesus into your life. This promise isn’t just for a certain group of people – it is for ALL people, regardless of who you are or where you are. Take His hand and allow Him to enter your heart and lead you on the path of righteousness!
“What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith, but Israel,who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone”. As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” Romans 9:30-33
Do not fool yourself into thinking that other denominations are “wrong”. Each denomination has issues that they deal with – issues that can be improved. To think that only one denomination is “right” is akin to believing that you can only get to heaven through “works”. The only way to heaven is complete faith and trust in God. Always remember, “Do not judge lest ye be judged” and “all things are possible with God”.