There has always been only one way to God—even in the Old Testament. That way is by grace through faith in the object of God’s choosing. Bethel gives us a peek at that way.
In his flight to Haran, Jacob spent the night at Bethel, where years earlier his grandfather Abraham had heard God promise that he would receive all the land as far as he could see. There, Jacob dreamed of a stairway to heaven, and the Lord repeated to him the promises that Abraham received.
Shaken, Jacob awoke and cried:
How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. —Gen. 28:17
Jacob named the site Bethel—“house of God.” The dream gave more than a vision of God’s house.
It offered a foreshadowing of how to get there.
If you think about it, King Solomon never started out to build pagan shrines. It was his failure to deal with the tiny spiritual cracks in his heart that produced a life of compromise and dissatisfaction.
(Photo: Design Pics, via Vivozoom)
The backwash from Solomon’s life reminds us how we only kid ourselves when we think we can have a healthy walk with God and still keep our hidden life of compromise on the side.
The good news? We don’t have to.
One morning when I was in Jerusalem, I chose to have my devotions on the Mount of Olives at sunrise. Making my way through the Old City’s dark and narrow streets, I passed beside the Temple Mount and exited the city on its east side.
(Photo: Overlooking Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. Photo: צולם ע, via Wikimedia Commons)
After climbing the steep ascent of the Mount of Olives, I sat near its summit as the sun began to warm my back. Turning to Matthew’s Gospel, I read about Jesus leaving the Temple, predicting its destruction, and sitting on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24:1–5).
Looking across the Kidron Valley at the Temple Mount—now crowned with a Muslim shrine—I thought about how Jesus’ prediction proved true. Because Israel rejected Him, they ultimately lost the very objects they hoped to secure through His death—their Temple and their nation (John 11:48).
Suddenly I heard a sound that jerked my mind in another direction.
Of all the questions leveled against Christianity, few others cause such heated controversy: “Is Jesus the Only Way to God?” For many people, Jesus’ words equate exclusivity with arrogance:
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. —John 14:6
The exclusivity of those words is unmistakable. Millions question: “How can Jesus be the only way to God? That’s not fair. It leaves out too many people.”
But if you think about it, the real question isn’t, “Is Jesus the Only Way to God?” but rather we should ask, “Is God holy”?
Here’s why that’s the real issue.
A recent poll by the Barna Group revealed a startling fact about Christians and the Bible: “Just half of all self-identified Christians firmly believe that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles (not the facts, just the principles) that it teaches.”
The entire basis of Christianity’s faith stems from what the Bible reveals about God, humanity, sin, and salvation. Is the Bible true?
Although any belief is ultimately a matter of faith, it should have a basis of credibility, reliability, and correspondence with reality. In a world where opinions of truth vary wildly, truth has to be based on more than preference.
Is the Bible true? Ultimately, the decision to believe it is up to you.
Here are 8 extraordinary facts that support the Bible as the Word of God.
August in Texas always makes me think of hell. That’s probably because each summer when I was a boy my stepdad would squint at the sky, wipe the sweat from his brow, and offer his summer benediction:
Spring has sprung, fall has fell, summer is here, and it’s hotter than . . . usual.
Funny, but we always try to leave that last part out, don’t we?
Hell brightens a conversation about as much as a root canal. Nobody wants to talk about it. But the dentist does you no favors by keeping the truth from you. You need to know the facts about the malady and the options for dealing with it.
You know who spoke about hell more than anyone else in the Bible?
We can only approach God’s presence God’s way. But are there multiple ways? The New Testament clearly reveals that only through Jesus can anyone come to God the Father (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:23). But what about in the Old Testament?
After King David conquered Jerusalem and secured it as his capital, he desired to bring the Ark of the Covenant up from Kiriath-Jearim into his new City of David. But in his passion to have God’s presence, David neglected to follow God’s principles. That negligence of improperly transporting the Ark cost a man his life (2 Samuel 6).
Three months later, David correctly transported the Ark into Jerusalem and placed it in a tent he pitched for its keeping.
In this experience, David gained a profound respect for God’s holiness.
This principle directly relates to the question: did the Old Testament offer only one way to God?
Her name is as well-known as any apostle.
Yet the truth about her life often lies shrouded behind myths, fiction, and flat-out conjecture.
Modern art and bestselling novels paint her as everything from a prostitute to the infamous woman caught in adultery to the wife of Jesus Himself.
But the Scriptures portray Mary Magdalene as a different person altogether.
Surprisingly, she was more like us than we would expect.
Sometimes good news seems just too good to be true.
The leper Naaman initially felt insulted that all he must do to be healed was dip in the Jordan River. God’s grace often comes off as offensive to unbelievers.
Gehazi, on the other hand, felt shocked that his master Elisha took no money from Naaman for his healing. So Gehazi took some money in secret and thus later suffered discipline.
God’s grace has problems, as it were—offensive to unbelievers and abused by believers.
But it’s our only hope.
2 Kings 5
Podcast: Play in new window
The 2012 cinematic adaptation of the musical based on Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Misérables, was tremendous. But my favorite adaptation of the novel was the 1998 film starring Liam Neeson. There’s a reason.
(Photo: from Columbia Pictures, Inc. 1998)
Even though the acting is superb, and the costumes, music, and scenes look first-rate, there is another element that outshines them all.
The grace of God.
Before I show you the clip of my favorite scene, here’s a brief set-up: Jean Valjean is a ex-convict living in pre-revolutionary France. Just released from prison, he wanders the streets because no one will take him in. Finally, a kindly old bishop feeds him and lets him sleep overnight.
Let’s watch my favorite scene in the movie to see what happens.