Most have probably heard the statement, “all roads lead to Rome”. The statement had its origin in the time of the Roman empire, during which time Rome built roads far surpassing any that had been known previously. In addition, they provided soldiers to maintain safety along those roads. This made the conditions favorable for travel in general and especially the spread of Christianity in the first century.
However, the phrase later became known as a proverb in reference to the fact that many routes can lead to a given end result. This proverbial use is the one most often recognized in this age. It is indeed true that in many, many cases, there is more than one route that one can take to reach a desired goal. When considering it as going to some specific destination, one can say that many roads can be taken to reach that same destination.
For instance, there are several interstate highways that one could take to go from the east coast to the west coast, not to mention all the multitude of smaller roads that can be taken. Yet, even with so many routes that will take one to the west coast from the east, not all roads lead to the west coast. It is not possible to get on interstate ninety-five and drive to the west coast. That road does not go there!. Everyone with intelligence enough to be driving a car already knows that not all roads lead to any one place. Yet, in the spiritual realm, many would apply the above mentioned proverb and bind it as a set in stone statement of fact.
It would do us well to first understand the realm we are considering. We are considering Christianity. However, words sometimes change in meaning over time. We are specifically considering true Christianity as found in the pages of the New Testament. Much of what people call Christianity today is nothing more than a watered down version at best.
Just calling oneself a Christian does not a Christian make. Just believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God does not a Christian make. A Christian is a disciple of Christ. “…And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26) and a disciple of Christ is one who learns the doctrine of Christ, embraces that doctrine in life and promotes that doctrine to others. In other words, when we consider true Christianity, we must have book, chapter and verse for all that we say and do in that realm. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…” (Col. 3:17). “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God…” (I Pet. 4:11). If it is not in the pages of the New Testament, it is simply not a road that leads to heaven.
Many of our day are heard to say things like, “We are all going to the same place, we are just taking different roads to get there.” This is generally said in reference to the differing doctrines and practices of the various denominational churches. This is the all roads lead to Rome statement taken literally and set in stone. But, is it true. Do all of these religious roads lead to the same place? Let us do as just stated and look to the gospel of Christ to see what is found there on the subject.
Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). Were there no other verses in the entire Bible that addressed this issue, this one passage would be ample proof that all roads to not lead to heaven. In fact, Jesus clearly expresses that most roads do not lead to heaven.
In that same chapter we find Jesus also saying, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Thus, Jesus not only makes it clear that not all roads lead to heaven, but He reveals just which road it is that does lead to heaven, the same one we just recognized as the guide for true Christianity, the word of God. The gospel of Christ is the word of God for Christianity.
Peter stated, “But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (I Pet. 1:25). The apostle Paul stated that the gospel revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith (Rom. 1:17). No, all doctrinal roads and practices do not lead to heaven. Most lead to eternal damnation. The wise man Solomon said, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16).
Unlike the literal roads upon which we drive our automobiles, there is only one road that will lead to an eternal home in heaven. When one becomes a Christian by obeying the gospel of Christ (II Thess. 1:7-8) and then continues in the faith, grounded and settled and is not moved away from the hope of the gospel (Col. 1:23), then that person is traveling the only road that leads to heaven. You can follow any road you want to get to hell, but you can only get to heaven the Lord’s way!
Robert Oliver is a long time columnist for The Sampson Independent.