As Evangelical Christians, we hold as one of our greatest mandates sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We recall His words to us before He ascended into Heaven:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight (Acts 1:8-9).
This mandate that we know as “The Great Commission” is becoming an increasing concern of religious communities and the governments of the world. There is a movement toward “religious tolerance,” the acceptance of everyone’s faith, no matter which one, as valid before God. The conviction is gaining ground that we do not respect people when we call their religious beliefs into question. A Christian can unwittingly do this by simply sharing with someone that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation and eternal life! It is considered an assault on one’s religious freedom to cast doubt on the validity of their faith. An increasing number of religious leaders, including Christians, desiring to be more culturally sensitive, are finding their perspectives undergoing change: that any religious faith is just as acceptable to God as any other. This is becoming the “politically correct” religious doctrine of our globally informed times.
There is a warning here for Christians who give testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ to others. The belief that there is only one way to forgiveness and eternal salvation–only one way to God–is becoming more and more divisive. Accusations are growing louder that the “intolerant and exclusionary” Christian religion can “incite hatred” toward anyone who does not believe the same way. The consequences of “one way” thinking are seen as dire: hatred leads to discrimination, unrest, and even war! Given the urgency of this mindset, would it be surprising if it becomes a criminal act to share one’s faith “with intent to change” another’s religious affiliation?
Watch, listen, pray! Jesus warns us: “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4). He also said: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). The pressures to dilute the Gospel of Christ are intensifying! Christians must hold firmly to the distinction that it is not faith that saves us, but the Object of our faith! The difference between the two is an eternity!
Here is a parting encouragement from the apostle Peter:
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:15-18).
For more on Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation, please see the article, “Our Hope for Eternity,” especially the section, “Jesus Christ, Our Only Hope.” Also see the “Two Kingdoms Chart” for more Scriptures on the Gospel and uniqueness of Jesus Christ.
May God richly bless you as you seek to glorify Christ,
C. A. Harris
~ * ~ * ~
© 2004, 2012 by C. A. Harris, MA Theological Studies