How Many Roads Truly Lead to Heaven?

If we are driving to a location we have never to been before, we often use a road map to find the way. After opening the map (either paper or digital), we pick the route that best suits the purpose for our trip.

In religion, it seems many people have the same thought process when it comes to choosing a church. We hear them say, “After all, we’re all going to the same place, we’re just taking different roads to get there.” The question that must be answered is, “Does every road really lead to the same place?”

When we look at a road map, if we are honest, we must answer that question with a “No.” Oh, we can adjust our route and eventually arrive at the desired destination. But that means taking a different road from the one we started out on. In other words, “all roads do not lead to the same place.”

Jesus indicated there were only two roads. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus said, “…for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Yes, there are different roads, but according to Jesus only one goes to Heaven, and it is narrow.

The Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well, immediately pointed out that her people worshipped differently from His (John 4:19-20). But notice, Jesus did not reply that both roads led to the same place — He said that one road was right, and the other was wrong (John 4:22), and that if she wished to please God, her worship must be “in truth” (John 4:24).

In Acts 15:1-31, the apostles disputed with some who believed in Jesus but taught error about what was necessary to be saved. Instead of concluding that there were different roads, they gave notice to the churches that one road was right and the other was wrong.

The idea of “different roads” is a “Red Herring” used by many to avoid a discussion about different religious teachings and practices. After all, many say, does it really matter if you are sincere? Indeed, it does. The Bible says that there are doctrines that God hates (Revelation 2:15), and that some doctrines are of demons (1 Timothy 4:1). Taking heed to doctrine is necessary for salvation (1 Timothy 4:16, 2 John 9), because obedience to God’s “form of doctrine” is what makes one free from sin (Romans 6:17-18). Even many who believe in Jesus are on the wrong road because they do not obey (Luke 6:46, Matthew 7:21-23).

Men may choose their own way, but that doesn’t make it right. Only God’s way is right. The “different roads” philosophy has led churches to abandon the question of what is right, and instead accept a wide diversity of belief. But we should not be ashamed to say that some beliefs are right, and others are wrong, because that is what God says (Proverbs 14:12). If people are on different roads, we must conclude they are not all headed for Heaven.

On Traditions

To most people family traditions are important. Afterall, they define who the family is. It is the same in the religious world. Traditions often define what a religious organization teaches and practices. In fact, there are some religious organizations that have no trouble accepting tradition over the scriptures.

Do not misunderstand, traditions are not necessarily good or bad. The Apostle Paul on at least two different occasions deals with tradition in service to God.

“Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you” (1 Corinthians 11:2; see also 2 Thessalonians 2:15).

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8; see also Matthew 15:3,6).

As you can clearly see, one speaks favorably of tradition and the other unfavorably.

To understand this topic better, let’s begin by thinking about the word tradition.  Webster defines it as; “an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (such as a religious practice or a social custom): a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable.” It has a neutral significance, neither good nor bad. The first and most obvious question to consider is the source of the tradition. From whom was it “handed down,” God or man? The New Testament speaks in a pejorative sense of the “tradition of the elders” (Matthew 15:2), the “tradition of men” (Mark 7:8), and the “traditions of my fathers” (Galatians 1:14).

So, we ask the question, “Can we conclude, then, that traditions from God are good, and traditions from men are bad?” It would be nice if things were that simple, but they are not. In fact, in my judgment, it would be impossible to conduct the work of God without some human input. To put that another way, the making of human traditions is necessary.

For example, God has given us very few instructions about conducting church meetings. He has told us what to do: take the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week, give of our means on the first day of the week, pray, sing, and study the Bible.

Yet, there is next to nothing about HOW we do these things together. Must they come in a certain order? If so, what should it be? Granted we must assemble on the first day of the week, but may we assemble at times other than the first day of the week? Is the meeting to take place indoors or outdoors? May we borrow, rent, or buy a meeting place? Is it required that our time together begin and end with a prayer? How many songs may we sing? Can we conclude with a song? Would it be acceptable to put our contributions in a box located at some convenient place in the building, rather than passing a plate or basket? Can a preacher’s sermon be interactive? I.e., could he pause at various points and ask if there are any questions? True, we must pray through Jesus, but must a phrase such as “in the name of Jesus’ be appended to every prayer? Instead of having our pews in a row, could we put them facing each other, with, say, half on one side of the auditorium and half on the other, with the preacher standing in the middle? Can we make announcements during these assemblies? Must they come either before an “opening” prayer or after a “closing” prayer? Could we ever announce anything of a social nature?

We could continue with almost limitless other examples and question. And God didn’t give us the answers to these and countless others. He does require us to meet on the first day of the week. He established the principle of decency and order in our assemblies (1 Corinthians 14:40). He forbids “a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man” (1 Timothy 2:12). But beyond these things, God has specified little else about our assemblies. To make a practical observation, we can change most things about how we conduct our meetings, since we are the ones who arranged them.

The point is this leaves us mainly to our own judgment and makes it impossible to avoid some human traditions. So, getting a handle on tradition is not as simple as determining whether they come from God or man. Is there other Bible teaching that can help us in understanding the place of tradition in our spiritual lives? If the making of human traditions is necessary, can they ever become wrong? If so, when? A look at Matthew 15 and Mark 7 will be particularly helpful in answering this question.

A Human Tradition Becomes Sinful When It Breaks a Command of God

Jesus asked the Pharisees and scribes, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition” (Matthew 15:3)? He had reference to their tradition of corban (given to God). In this practice, the Jews permitted the dishonoring of parents (in violation of Exodus 20:12) by neglecting them in time of need. This was done by telling them, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban (that is, given to God)” (Mark 7:11). But Jesus is pointing out that was no excuse to neglect one’s parents (it still isn’t), and to do so is to disobey God.

A Human Tradition Becomes Sinful When We Make it as Binding as a Precept of God

“The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, ‘Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands’” (Mark 7:1-5)?

I do not know if they were washing their hands as a matter of good hygiene (mothers demand it whether God does or not). But it became sinful when they decided to bind it as a law of God, and then judge others as unfit servants if they did not do it.

One other danger associated with tradition bears mentioning. That is contempt for each other among Christians. I believe this is the sin that Jesus condemns in the Sermon on the Mount.

“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell” (Matthew 5:21-22).

When we speak scornfully of each other as traditionalists or progressives could it be that we are guilty of the above? It is right to study together and to try to correct errors we see in each other. It is not right to be full of contempt for each other. Contempt is only a step away from hatred.

The Beatitudes


In chapters 5-7 of gospel of Matthew we find what we call, “The Sermon on the Mount.” This was perhaps the first such sermon. Jesus had been teaching before this, but this seems to take on a different form from His previous talks. At the very front of the sermon, we find “The Beatitudes” as we often refer to this section. The word “beatitudes” simply means supreme blessedness. As the Sermon on the Mount commenced in Matthew 5:3, Jesus spoke of these great blessings:

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

Jesus did not speak these words for the purpose of making an already religious society feel better about themselves. Rather, He sought to solicit their attention to characteristics that made the Kingdom of Heaven different from their customary lifestyles. His mission, besides redeeming sinful man, was to usher in a new rule. He sought to teach man about the Kingdom of God and how one could enter it. The beatitudes serve as the foundation for a highly focused spiritual life. They are unique in a way that makes them relatively easy to remember yet powerful in its impact.

If one would be a child of God, the beatitudes call on them to mold themselves in an image not recognized by the world (1 John 2:15). That is, they are to be completely different from the norms and societal values taught by men and governments. One does not have to think too hard as to how these values differ from those that would have been around the people of Jesus’ day. Nor or they traits found in most of society today. Forgiving someone a debt is a rarity in our society today. Purity of heart is certainly a far cry from what is on television, cell-phones and computers today. Perhaps all these things are more accessible today than it was 2,000 years ago, but it doesn’t change the fact that men seek to put an emphasis on satisfying the flesh rather than the spirit.

Jesus commended the multitudes to begin by being humble. As such, we must recognize we are sinners, and we must mourn over the sins we so often commit. We are to deal gently with our neighbors all while starving for the food which profits our souls: God’s word! Even when it can be difficult, we are to show mercy to one another just as our Lord has shown us His great mercy. We ought to be pure and holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) and free from blemish. Even when we persecuted and ridiculed, we are to make peace with men (Rom 12:18).

I admit, these are not the easiest things to practice but they are worth it. They may not find favor with men, but they are most favorable with God. If these things are yours then you will indeed be a supremely blessed individual. May these values stand out in our lives as disciples of our Lord.

Something Far Worse than Covid

“Covid is real!” “Covid is deadly!” “People need to take Covid seriously!” Such statements ring resoundingly from both national news and social media outlets alike…And they’re absolutely right! Many Americans who had reportedly tested positive for Covid, had passed away.

Yes, there are more important things…

Now, as an aside, the reason I write it like that is because of the somewhat deceptive way in which such data is chronicled, conveyed to, and consumed by, us. Hopefully we all understand by now that only a portion of the total number of deaths being reported as resulting from Covid actually are. Check it out for yourself. Consider:

1). As a story in the Denver Post confirmed earlier this year, such categorization “has been used by the health department since the start of the pandemic and includes the total number of people who died who have COVID-19, regardless of whether it was the virus that ultimately killed them. (Emph. mine – DED)

2). It is also noteworthy that health care facilities can receive vastly more federal funding for each case of Covid that they list that they had to deal with.

3). When you add to that, the fact that in states like Oklahoma where the less dependable rapid test results that used to be considered as probable are now counted as positive. Well, you can see how that if one doesn’t understand the parameters behind which these numbers are arrived at, that the daily reported Covid “death toll” numbers can, at the very least appear to be quite deceptive, if not outright overly and grossly exaggerated.

However, the point of this article is neither to minimize the impact of the Coronavirus or to downplay the tragic loss of life that it is legitimately causing daily in our society. Any one life lost to this monster is one life too many! But what the point of this article actually is, is to bring to our attention a far, far, infinitely far greater and more deadly and dangerous event, and subsequently, the unbelievable irony that accompanies it. Consider…

Using these overly exaggerated numbers partly because even slightly more accurate ones are nowhere readily available as far as I know, that means that while 8,393,773 Americans have reportedly contracted the Coronavirus as of October 19th, that the other 322.5 or so million, or roughly 97.5% of Americans, have not. And yet, as to the infinitely more far reaching and life-changing event of which I speak, it will be experienced by every single American, as well as every other person on the entire planet to boot – 100% of us, no exceptions!

Also, while the recently-chronicled amount of Covid cases that have had an outcome in America as of the 19th of October numbered 5,688,234, some 5,463,410(or roughly 96%) of those people who once had it, had also recovered from and ultimately survived it. However, as to the far more fatal future event to which I refer, there will be no such overwhelming survival rate. In fact, there will be far more who will perish in it – and for all eternity – than there will be of those who survive it (Matt. 7:13-27).

Obviously by now you’ve figured out that the event to which I refer is the coming Judgment Day (Rev. 20:10-15). And the obvious irony is how so many unsaved folks who so adamantly claim that we must all take the Coronavirus more seriously – a disease that has only infected less than 3% of our population; a disease which, amongst those whom it has infected, have experienced about a 96% recovery rate; and a disease which can, only at its absolute most, take away one’s momentary earthly life–seem to want nothing whatsoever to do with taking far more seriously the eternal death that so many – including all of them if they don’t become Biblical New Testament Christians – will most certainly experience come Judgement Day! Talk about needing to take something far more seriously? Talk about messed up priorities! Talk about straining out a gnat to swallow a camel (Matt. 23:23-24)?!?

But before we get too far down on those who know neither Christ, His word, or about the judgement to come (like Felix in Acts 24:25), what about us? Where do our priorities lie? In discussing and/or seeking to help others avoid and/or survive the Coronavirus? Or, in discussing and seeking to help others avoid the wrath of God on Judgement Day, by teaching them how to better know and to obey Jesus, so they can survive it by virtue of His blood and be guaranteed entrance into His eternal heavenly home?

Yes: Covid is indeed real; and it needs to be taken very seriously. However, the question we as Christians must answer is: “Have we been helping to stem the tide of something far more destructive by sharing the gospel instead?”

Doug Dingley (