Can religion get me to heaven?

The final part of a five-part series by Hicham*

The short answer is absolutely not!

The gospel of grace especially confronts people who believe they can somehow earn a place in heaven or paradise. I have found sharing this example a useful way to illustrate why religion can never save a person’s soul.

Out of your depth

Imagine that one day you go swimming and jump into deep water. You find yourself in trouble. Drowning! You are dying, but you cannot save yourself because you do not know how to swim. You are hopeless and helpless. You need help. Someone approaches and yells, ‘Pull yourself together and save yourself! Come on, do it yourself!’ What a terrible thing to say to a drowning man.

A second person arrives on the scene and actually jumps into the water. He starts swimming. He says, ‘Look at me. Learn how to swim and do the same. Then you will save yourself’. How ridiculous! There is no time for you to learn. In fact, a drowning man is absolutely incapable of learning anything.

Now a third person approaches. He dives into the pool, grabs you and drags you out of the water. You might resist Him, but out of compassion he saves you from death. Now, which one of these three people would you thank the most? Surely the third one.

‘Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God’

1 Peter 3:18

Jesus is our lifeguard

Religion is like the first two people. By nature we are drowning in our sin. We are in a mess because of our separation from God. Religion tells us, ‘Save yourself. Do this and that. Don’t do this or that and you will be saved.’ Some religious leaders are seen as examples. Their followers are told that if they imitate their lifestyle, they will be saved. It is like the second person who jumps into the water.

But religion cannot save us. We are hopeless. The Bible says that we are incapable of saving ourselves. That is why we need someone to jump into the water of our life and get hold of us and save us from our sin. This is exactly what God has done. He has provided a way for sinners to be brought back to Him.

God came into this world in the Person of Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the cross, He died as our perfect human substitute. He took the punishment that we deserve for our sin. He bridged the insurmountable chasm that separates us from God.

There is no alternative

Left to ourselves we are lost. Only Jesus, the infinite Son of God, was able to take that infinite punishment in our place.

It is unwise to reject God’s saving plan. What would you make of a drowning man who refuses the help of a lifeguard? When someone accepts Jesus’ offer to save (by trusting in His death and resurrection), Jesus forgives their sin and grants them a place in Paradise.

* Hicham is a believer from a Muslim background, has studied Theology and Islamics and pastors a church in Europe. He’s the author of Your Questions Answered and provides online resources to help Muslims better understand Christ on his WEBSITE. His ministry also has a FACEBOOK page.

NB. This revised article was originally published in awmlink magazine and may be reproduced subject to EDITOR‘s approval and credit line. AWM is not responsible for the content of external sites linked to this article.

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