Tell It Like It Is

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way.’” John 14:6

Muhammad Ali is arguably the most famous boxer ever to be crowned the heavyweight champion of the world. We marveled at his combination of finesse and power. And few of us will forget his antics outside of the ring.

Ali, a deeply religious man, explained in a Reader’s Digest interview what his faith means to him.

“It means a ticket to heaven. One day we’re all going to die, and God’s going to judge us, our good and bad deeds. If the bad outweighs the good, you go to hell. If the good outweighs the bad, you go to heaven.”

While many of Ali’s jabs hit their mark, his explanation of how to get to heaven is way off.

The God of the Bible is going to judge all of us one day, that part is true. But the good that we’ve done will not wipe out our bad thoughts and deeds. We can’t possibly do enough good works to compensate for our sins. The truth is that God would declare every last one of us guilty and worthy of eternal punishment if it weren’t for the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the only ticket to heaven. We can’t do a thing to resolve our sin problem, except put ourselves at the mercy of God and believe that Jesus’ death KO’s the penalty of our sin. It is only because of Jesus’ sacrifice that God can look at those of us who have accepted that sacrifice and see us as redeemed sinners who have the righteousness of Christ (Romans 3:22).

Whether we’re “The Greatest” or just a regular Joe—that’s the way it is.

From the playbook: Read John 14:1–6.