“All roads lead to Rome.” Some take that pithy statement about the Roman Empire and apply it to matters spiritual, but do all roads really lead to God? Look below at what John the Apostle, an author with works in the Bible, says.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1–ESV)
“Do not believe” is how he starts the next section. “Huh?” Usually, we conceive of the scriptures as admonishing us to believe in this or that, but here John turns us about from the typical. “Spirits,” he said, “are present around us which are not from God.” They have infused the world, and from their niches, they dangle attractive, albeit false, beliefs.
“Have some skepticism,” says John. Do not automatically accept each wind-chime of belief, but test them. “See if they are from God,” John says, strongly implying that some spirits are not from God. There are real spirits in the world which are from Satan. Beliefs are no laughing matter imperiling those who buy the dangles.
All roads do not lead to God
Here is a letter from a man who walked with Jesus Christ. He was present from the initiation of Jesus’ ministry along the shores of Galilee through to the cross and resurrection. After the ascension, he found himself present at Pentecost, as the gospel spread throughout the known world and on exile in Patmos. Today he is with the Lord, and his works beckon us to confidence in how believers through the centuries can join him in God’s forever.
When John says that false prophets have gone out, he means that alternate spiritual options are readily available. For these, we need to be on the lookout.
This apostle addressed issues of belief systems which were in play two millennia ago. They were not issues of technology, government structure, dietary constraints, religious ceremony, or stylistic proclamations, at least not at their core. Centrally, they were matters of belief. While civilization has moved to new places belief systems are not notably different. They may have different emphases and cultural inflections, but “me-first” remains the mantra.
All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. The main difference between the people of John’s day and us is the stuff of earth with which we work and play. John said that the way we play is significant. Beliefs matter.