There is an old saying that all roads lead to Rome. The way it’s used today is that there are many ways to get to the same place. In ancient history, though, Rome built great roads. These roads allowed its legions to march out to battle. It’s much easier marching on stone than in the muck of a dirt road. As a result, every road the Romans constructed would eventually lead back to Rome. Of course, if you’re a contrarian, like I am sometimes, you could point out that all roads also lead away from Rome. Many people adapt this phrase to make a religious statement that all roads lead to heaven. A quick look at society should be enough to help us realize how false that statement is.
Universalism is not a core belief of Christians, although, some Christians believe it. Orthodox Christian belief is that the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ. His death on the cross, the blood spilled as He died, and His resurrection were all caused by God to lead to the forgiveness of our sins and to allow us to have a relationship with Him. While all roads may not lead to heaven, it may be appropriate to say that all Scriptural truths lead to Jesus. A deacon by the name of Philip showed that truth one day while he was traveling. A eunuch from Ethiopia was trying to read the Scriptures and was confused. The Holy Spirit led Philip to this man who asked about what he was reading. “Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.” (Acts 8:35)
The passage the eunuch was reading from was Isaiah 53 and it dealt with the Messiah as the suffering servant. It was hard for many Jews and followers of Judaism to reconcile the idea that the Messiah might suffer. The Messiah was supposed to be a conquering hero. He was supposed to wipe out the conquering Roman army and lead Israel to greatness again. Yet, here was this passage talking about one who was led like a sheep to be slaughtered. As Philip joined the eunuch, he took this passage and told him the story about Jesus. As terrible as the story in Scripture seems, there is a happy ending. Because Jesus was led as a sheep to slaughter, we can have a relationship with God. We can be forgiven. Somewhere in that story, the issue of baptism must have come up because when they came to some water along the road, the eunuch asked to be baptized. His life was changed through the retelling of the story of good news about Jesus.
I’m sure that some of you were thinking of exceptions to my statement about all Scripture leading to Jesus. Perhaps the genealogies came to mind. In spite of that, the basic truths about Scripture lead to Jesus. One of those truths is that there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. As nice as it would be if heaven had no standards for entrance, that one standard alone is enough. The kingdom of heaven is exclusive in that the only way that leads in is the way of Jesus Christ. There are nice people in other religions, but the kingdom of heaven is exclusively for Christians. On the other hand, the forgiveness God offers through Jesus is not limited to a specific group of people: anyone who believes can receive God’s forgiveness. All you need to do is what the Ethiopian Eunuch did: repent of your sins and ask Jesus to take control of your life. When you do that, you’ll want to follow Jesus in baptism, not that the act of baptism saves anyone. We live in a world that needs to hear this simple message. Most of us won’t be called to join a chariot ride in progress, but we do have neighbors, friends, and co-workers who need to hear this message of forgiveness and grace. We can share the love of Jesus without being obnoxious and let others know about God’s amazing forgiveness.
Oh Lord, so many are looking at life and not understanding. Some read Your Scriptures and have no comprehension of the meaning. Help me to be a messenger who shows Your love and grace clearly.