There are literally hundreds of "religions" all over the world. There are forty plus "major" religions, and three that captivate the news. It is said that it is completely ridiculous to think that God would only have ONE way to get to Heaven.
Fast forward about 2,000 years from now. We hear a conversation in heaven on the "streets of gold". It is an exchange between Bill and Tom.
Bill - "You know, I never asked you Tom, how'd you get in?"
Tom - "Get in?"
Bill - "You know, here; Heaven".
Tom - "Oh, well it's been a while, but as I remember it, I never did any of the bad sins, really, and I remember there was this time where an orphanage was on fire. I ran in and grabbed as many kids as I could and brought them to safety outside".
Bill - "Wow, that made you a hero for sure".
Tom - "Since we are on it, how'd you get in?"
Bill - "Like you, I never really did anything that would be considered, bad. I remember this one time I was on a cruise ship and we were going down. I was scared, but managed to get about 18 people to safety on a life raft before I succumbed to the high waves and drowned".
Tom - "Man, you were the hero for sure. You know, listening to your story, I believe there were about 22 kids I pulled from that building..."
When it becomes about us, rather than the one that created us, we have a problem. So how do we sort through the religions of the world? How can we know? Well, the only way to know is to pick God's brain. At the very least, if it is His Heaven we are trying to enter, what does He have to say?
If you believe that the Bible is God's message to us, then it is easy. If you do not believe the Bible, we have to use our reasoning skills; either way, we can know.
Starting with the Bible, if God expects us to "earn" our way, then why would He state the opposite?
Ephesians 2:8-9 - For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.
The definition of grace is unmerited, unearned favor. By its very definition, we can not EARN it. Remember that mercy is not getting what we deserve and grace is getting what we do not deserve.
To earn your way to heaven, you would need a lifetime of achievement and then some. If that is the case, why does the Bible say we can know right now?
1 John 5:13 - These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
What about weighing our good deeds vs. our bad deeds. If we have to do a balancing act, then why the following?
James 2:10 - For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
It only stands to reason that if you are trying to balance it out, it says that one "bad deed", or one breaking of the law, outweighs all the "good deeds".
So, what did Jesus say about it? Plenty. However, let's just take a couple:
John 14:6 - Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Do you think He was kidding? The whole point of Heaven is to bring the creation (us), back to it's Creator (God). We were separated from Him by sin. That sin was passed down to all generations. Jesus said He was the ONLY way to fix the problem.
Well, are you sure there aren't other ways according to the Bible?
In Matthew 26 and in Luke 22, Jesus begged the Father three different times that if it were possible, read that "any other way", let the cup (wrath), be taken from Him. He went right back to "nevertheless, not my will but yours". Jesus did not want to go through it. However, He knew it was the ONLY way.
What about outside the Bible?
No matter what religious system or faith system that is searched, they all get to "heaven" one way; by doing good works. The only faith system known that has another way to do it is Christianity. Christianity says there is no way we can possibly be that good.
Let's look at an example. If you were asked to pick the worst person to ever live, odds are it would be Adolph Hitler, Charles Manson, or someone similar. If asked of the best person, besides Jesus, it would be Mother Theresa or someone like her. You definitely know they are as far apart on the scale of goodness as can possibly be.
Now put them in a visual perspective. As far apart as they are in goodness, if they were objects on earth, they would be a good distance apart. Perhaps like a house and a barn. They look far apart, but when you get in the car and drive away, they grow closer together because of the visual illusion.
God is so far apart in His Holiness, Mother Theresa and Hitler would have no difference in appearance to Him. It becomes a blurred line because of how far away God is in His Holiness. Since all other faith systems require good works to know they are going to heaven, what is enough? What becomes enough to overcome our sin nature and catapult us into God's Holiness realm? The honest answer is there is not anything WE can do.
Realistically, there are two ways to Heaven. You have to be born into pure blood, not tainted by sin, live a sinless life, and you have to defeat death. The other way is to depend on someone who has already done that and took your place. Your thoughts?