The Gated Community
by Hal Lindsey
On Sunday, followers of Jesus commemorated the pivotal moment in history when Christ our Champion defeated death. We also remembered why He died. He received in Himself all of His own wrath against sin and evil, so that we no longer have to fear death, or His wrath.
It’s something of a shock for many Americans of the 21st century to think about God having wrath. But He does. Deuteronomy 29:23 speaks of God’s wrath toward Sodom and Gomorrah. Psalms 78:49 tells us about God’s wrath against Egypt before Pharaoh relented and released the Children of Israel. The Book of Revelation speaks again and again of the wrath of God. In fact, it’s spoken of scores of times throughout scripture.
Colossians 3:6 says, “The wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience.” (NKJV) Psalm 7:11 says, “God is a righteous judge, And a God who has indignation every day.” (NASB)
He is righteous, so of course He has indignation. Sin is repugnant to righteousness. It’s filthy and destructive, and righteousness sees it clearly. We humans fall far short of God’s righteousness, but even we feel a certain level of indignation against sin. When you hear of someone cheating the vulnerable, stealing from the poor, abusing children, or any one of hundreds of other evil and demeaning human activities, don’t you feel indignation? So does God. The difference is, He sees every gruesome detail with perfect and painful clarity.
People claim to reject God because He allows such things to happen. But do they really want Him to put a final stop to sin and evil? In most cases, they want Him to judge some of the world’s evil, but not all. When He finally judges all of it (and He will), that judgment will include every person who stands outside the protection of Christ’s shed blood on the cross.
For many, including many Christians, that is the shadow hanging over Easter. To them, the Christ-centeredness of salvation seems undemocratic, exclusionary, and even un-American. “Why only one way?” they ask. “Why can’t we all just believe what we want to believe?”
They point out what they see as our exclusionist message by asking, “Will Jews go to heaven?” The answer for Jews is the same as for anyone else. Those who accept God’s gift of salvation in Christ will be saved. Heaven will contain millions of Jews, including Peter, John, Paul, and Jesus Himself. But it will not include anyone who rejects salvation in Christ.
Peter stood before the “rulers and elders and scribes” in Jerusalem and spoke to them about Jesus. He concluded by saying, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NASB)
Bible-based Christianity makes clear that Jesus is the exclusive means of salvation. And that really gets under a lot of people’s skin.
Suppose someone of infinite wealth decided to build the perfect subdivision — every house a mansion and every mansion a masterpiece. The infinitely wealthy person puts a high wall around his subdivision and allows only a single door in the wall. He makes it the ultimate “gated community.” That might sound exclusionary, but suppose he then said, “Everyone is welcome to come inside, pick out a mansion and live there forever for free. I only ask that you come in through the door.”
Jesus said, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved.” (John 10:9 NASB)
Anyone! How can it be exclusionary if it’s free and excludes no one? Romans 6:23 tells us that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” It’s a gift, and it’s free to “whosoever will.” (Revelation 22:17)
Some still say it’s not fair, but that will change. They apparently expect to talk their way into heaven by standing before God on Judgment Day, and convincing our all-knowing, all-powerful Creator that their sense of morality trumps His. Instead, when the day comes, they will stand quivering before Him, a pile of fast-melting jell-o, feeling like the biggest fools who ever lived.
In John 14:1-6 (NKJV), Jesus said, “‘Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”
The question isn’t how you feel about God’s way of salvation. The question is, is it true?
In scripture, you can look at the record of Jesus’ life. You can look at the impossibility of any mere human fulfilling the ancient prophecies about Him. And you can look at those prophecies and see that the Messiah must be divine. You can also look at prophecies, including His own, regarding His return, and see that we live in that time.
You believe in God. Inspect the record, and you will believe in Jesus, too. Trust Him. The amazing stories are all true. He really is who He said He is. When you get to know Him, and His character, you will realize the power of His words, “If it were not so, I would have told you.”