35.CHRISTIANITY VS OTHER RELIGIONS
Christianity vs Other religions
I have a friend who believes all religions lead to God
We live in a world in which it is cool to be broadminded and politically correct to be broad-minded and tolerant. The implication behind such an assertion “all religions lead to God” is that either God must be rather arbitrary if He insists on only one way to Himself, or second, that you are being dogmatic and bigoted to believe it. Today's thinking emphasizes that uncertainty and agnosticism are more valuable than conviction and commitment. People can make their own way to God if they are sincere and determined. And that everyone should find their own way to God. So my way is just as good as yours.
Lets begin with a little consumer research. Facts and figures tell their own story. Here are the main religions in the world:
Christianity 2 billion
Islam 1.2 billion
Hindus 786 million
Buddhist 362 million
Tribal religions 225 million
Sikhism 23 million
Judaism 14 million
Christianity is the largest and fastest growing faith in the world.
33% of the world claim to follow Jesus.
In the UK 80% of people identify with the Christian faith.
Only 2.5% of people in the UK belong to one of the other faiths. It is therefore hardly true to describe Britain as multi-faith.
Sincere but Wrong
Many people think all religions lead to God because they assume that all religions are essentially the same when you reduce them to their core beliefs. But this just isn't true and only shows they have not looked deeply enough.
You only have to scratch the surface of what other religions teach to see this. If you let each religion speak for itself, you find they differ greatly on the basic concepts-God, truth, reality, the basic human dilemma and the solution to that dilemma. They differ so much that many of their statements contradict one another.
For example, God cannot be both personal, as Christians, Jews and Muslims believe, and impersonal, as Buddhists and Hindus believe. Jesus cannot be a false Messiah as Judaism teaches, a prophets as Islam teaches and the Son of God as Christians believe. Those are contradictory statements. According to the rules of logic, contradictory statements cannot all be true. Therefore, all religions cannot possibly be true. It is a logical impossibility. And if they are not all true, and if they lead us in different directions, then not all of them can lead to God.
Assertive yet Tolerant
Some people make this assertion for another reason. They think wrongly that it is intolerant to believe only one religion has things right. But this response shows a misunderstanding of what intolerance really is. Intolerance comes from the word "tolerate." To tolerate means to allow something, such as a belief, to exist even though we don't like it or agree with it. Tolerance does not mean never disagreeing with anybody. The word implies disagreement. True tolerance means allowing differing views to coexist without necessarily agreeing with them or claiming that all views are true. Therefore, we can hold that one view is true or better than other views without being intolerant. If we were truly intolerant, we would silence other points of view. But merely engaging in persuasive conversation with someone you disagree with is not intolerance. We show more respect for each other when we take our religious claims seriously than when we clothe them in a patronizing cloak of relativism.
What does the Bible say about other Religions?
Lets have a brief look at Isaiah 44. The Bible is emphatic:
"This is what the Lord says… the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6)
The Bible insists there is only one God. All other gods are substitutes - indeed they are:
Self worship (44:13)
Other religions are therefore worthless, man-made, lead people to self worship and are detestable because they delude, they lead people away from the one true God. The one true God who has revealed himself in Scripture, through history, through the prophets and supremely in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.
How Should we Respond?
How should we respond to people when they say, “surely all religions lead to God”? How did Paul respond in Athens when he saw the city swamped by idols and false gods? “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.” (Acts 17:16).
Paul wasn’t into winning arguments. He was passionate about saving people who had gone astray and were confused and lost in their fears and delusions. How should we respond?
1. We need to be humble
We were in just as much need of a saviour as they are so there is no room for arrogance. We are like beggars who have found food, sharing it with those who have none.
2. We need to be positive
Peter and Paul took the opportunities God gave them to share about Jesus and not tear down what other people believed.
3. We need to be respectful
The people we are speaking with were created in the image of God. God loved them also so much that he sent his son to die for them.
4. We need to be courageous
The first Christians were not ashamed to talk about Jesus. Their message was unpopular and it got them into trouble on many occasions. But they wouldn’t keep quiet.
One way to take the conversation further is to ask questions because it helps you find out where people are at: “In what way would you say they all religions lead to God?" Wait for their answer which will probably point to the common emphasis on sincerity and moral conduct. You might respond "I myself would like to think that there are many ways to God. But the facts of the matter compel me to believe that the Christian way is different from all the rest."
Michael Green put it this way “Far from closing our options, pluralism allows us to proclaim an undiluted gospel in the public square and in the supermarket of faiths, allowing others the same right. Let the truth prevail and let craven silence be banished.” Get to know more about Jesus and your courage and confidence will grow.
The Uniqueness of Christianity
All religions agree that mankind is in a mess. The Bible puts it this way: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6). Each religion sets out its own way of rescuing us from this desperate situation. Let us think of the problem as that of a man who has fallen down a deep well. The question is how to get him out.
First comes Mohammed who looks over the top of the well and says; "if you will only keep the five rules of Islam then you will be able to escape from the well. You must pray five times a day, eat no pork, drink no alcohol, keep the feast of Ramadan and make the pilgrimage to Mecca".
Then comes Buddha who looks over the top of the well and says: "I can see You are in a mess; the problem is due to pain and desire. If you follow the noble eightfold path you will escape from these ultimately into Nirvana." The man may find inner peace but he is still down the well.
Jesus comes to the top of the well and looks down and says: "I can see that you are in a mess; you will never get out by means of your own resources. As I said through one of my prophets: "Can the leopard change his spots or the Ethiopian his skin? No more can do good who are accustomed to do evil." Jeremiah 13: 23.
"I will have to let down a rope and come down into the well myself in order to rescue you. I will hold you firmly because you do not even have the strength to hold on to me yourself."
Only Christianity speaks about God becoming a human being to rescue us. In John 10 Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd (10:11, 14), the Good shepherd who lay down his life for the sheep (10:15), who draws all true worshippers together into one fold (10:16).
On what evidence do Christians base this claim that Jesus is the only way? Mainly on Jesus' own words. Jesus claimed to be the only Saviour "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). From His own words, both Jesus' followers and his opponents recognized that He claimed to be God, the only one able to save us from sin and death (see also John 20:24-29; John 10:31-33).
What Makes Jesus Unique?
1. Uniquely in Qualification
Peter proclaimed him as the “Holy and Righteous one” (Acts 3:14) and the “author of life” (3:15), the one “the prophets foretold.” (3:18). The first Christians worshipped Jesus as God.
Predicted 300 x before he came.
Sinless Holy Life.
Taught with great wisdom.
Miracles of great power over creation, disease and death.
This sets Jesus apart from the other leaders of the worlds religious.
2. Unique in Achievement
As Peter asserts “salvation s found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given by men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). Other religions say that we must work hard to deliver ourselves. They are all effort; Christianity is all grace.
Only Christianity says that the King of the Universe came into this world, became Jesus died horribly to atone for the guilt of his rebel subjects. Such a thought is not even found in the area of fiction and romance. Other religions are about people’s best efforts to reach God, Christianity is God's supreme effort to reach us. The difference between Christianity and other religions can be summed up in one world. It’s the difference between “do” and “done”. Religion - from the Latin word ‘religio’ is all about works - what I must do - present tense. Christianity is all about Grace - what Jesus has done - past tense. The Choice - Do or Done?
3. Unique in his Resurrection
Paul asserts “who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God, by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1:4). The resurrection of Jesusis a unique event in the history of the world. The resurrection of Jesus lies at the heart of the Christian faith. Jesus is alive today. You can know him. We cannot know Buddah or Muhammed. Jesus is the unique Son of God, validated by predictions made hundreds of years before he came, vindicated by a life of profound teaching and incredible miracles, who uniquely died for the sins of the world and in our place and uniquely rose again. Beat that.
This is how C.S. Lewis summarised the case for Christianity:
“What are we to make of Jesus Christ? This is a question which has, in a sense, a frantically comic side. For the real question is not what are we to make of Christ, but what is He to make of us? The picture of a fly sitting deciding what it is going to make of an elephant has comic elements about it. But perhaps the questioner meant what are we to make of Him in the sense of 'How are we to solve the historical problem set us by the recorded sayings and acts of this Man?' This problem is to reconcile two things.
On the one hand you have got the almost generally admitted depth and sanity of His moral teaching, which is not very seriously questioned, even by those who are opposed to Christianity. In fact, I find when I am arguing with very anti-God people that they rather make a point of saying, 'I am entirely in favour of the moral teaching of Christianity'—and there seems to be a general agreement that in the teaching of this Man and of his immediate followers, moral truth is exhibited at its purest and best. It is not sloppy idealism, it is full of wisdom and shrewdness. The whole thing is realistic, fresh to the highest degree, the product of a sane mind. That is one phenomenon.
The other phenomenon is quite the appalling nature of this Man's theological remarks. You all know what I mean, and I want rather to stress the point that the appalling claim which this Man seems to be making is not merely made at one moment of His career. There is, of course, the one moment which led to His execution. The moment at which the High Priest said to Him, 'Who are you?' 'I am the Anointed, the Son of the uncreated God, and you shall see Me appearing at the end of all history as the judge of the Universe.' Well, that is the other side.
On the one side clear, definite moral teaching. On the other, claims which, if not true, are those of a megalomaniac, compared with whom Hitler was the most sane and humble of men. There is no half-way house and there is no parallel in other religions. If you had gone to Buddha and asked him 'Are you the son of Bramah?' he would have said, 'My son you are still in the vale of illusion.' If you had gone to Socrates and asked, 'Are you Zeus?' he would have laughed at you. If you would have gone to Mohammed and asked, 'Are you Allah?' he would first have rent his clothes and then cut your head off. If you had asked Confucius, 'Are you Heaven?', I think he would have probably replied, 'Remarks which are not in accordance with nature are in bad taste.' The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question.
In my opinion, the only person who can say that sort of thing is either God or a complete lunatic suffering from that form of delusion which undermines the whole mind of man. If you think you are a poached egg, when you are looking for a piece of toast to suit you, you may be sane, but if you think you are God, there is no chance for you. We may note in passing that He was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any of the people who actually met Him. He produced mainly three effects—Hatred—Terror—Adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval. 'What are we to make of Christ?' There is no question of what we can make of Him, it is entirely a question of what He intends to make of us.” C.S. Lewis.
- Krishna - Mix of polytheism (many god's) and impersonal pantheism (all is God). The universe is eternal.
- Zoroaster - One good god and one evil god (religious dualism).
- Buddha - God is not relevant; essentially agnostic. Some would even say atheistic.
- Confucius - Polytheistic.
- Muhammad - One personal God who cannot have a Son.
- Jesus Christ - One personal God who does have a Son (Mark 12:29; John 4:24; 5:18-19; etc.). Taught that God is Spirit (John 4:24).
- Joseph Smith (founder of Mormonism) - Essentially polytheistic. Taught that there are many gods and that the Father of Christ has a human body.
- Baha'u'llah (of the Bahai faith) - God and the universe, which is an emanation of God, are co-eternal.
Similarly, regarding the Person of Jesus Christ, there are significant differences between today's religions:
- Islam - View Christ as a prophet only, one of a line of prophets, but not the Son of God. Did not die on the cross.
- Judaism - Jesus is not the Messiah, the Son of God.
- Christianity - Jesus is the Messiah, the unique eternal Son of God, a term understood to mean "of the same nature as God". Died on the cross, and was literally raised in a resurrected body.
- Mormonism - Understand Christ as one of three god's, sexually begotten by God the Father, and was a polygamist.
- Jehovah's Witnesses - Christ is a created being also called the archangel Michael in His pre-existence. Did not become the Christ until baptism. After His death, He was raised a spirit creature.
- Christadelphianism - Did not pre-exist before His birth as a man. Was the manifestation of God, but not God Himself.
- New Age Religious groups - Generally see the terms "Jesus" and "Christ" as two distinct entities or persons. Not unique, but merely an enlightened "way shower", one of many.
- Bahai Faith - Believe that it is impossible for God to be incarnated in Christ. His resurrection was not literal, but symbolic.
- Spiritualism (Spiritists) - Christ is not unique, but simply one of many prophets.
- Christian Science - Deny the virgin birth as a mere "thought" in the mind of Mary. Christ was not God and did not die on the cross.
- Rosicrucianism - Jesus was simply a man. "The Christ" is a principle that He taught. Did not die, but rather fainted and was revived.
Who is Jesus? Why It’s Important to Know!
Who is Jesus, and why is it important for us to know? We live in an age of religious pluralism and moral relativism. The popular spiritual philosophy, especially after the events of September 11th, is that all religious belief systems, as long as heart-felt, are equal. Pick one and follow it sincerely, and you’ll get to Heaven. That’s what the world believes, but Jesus teaches otherwise. Therefore, we need to examine whoJesus is by looking at some of the questions people frequently ask about Him. The answers are found in the , the historical evidence people have trusted for over 2000 years.
Who is Jesus? He Was 100% Man
According to John 1:14, Jesus became flesh and made His dwelling among us. Why is His humanity so important? In Hebrews 4:15, Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are. As such, Jesus can sympathize with our weakness as humans. What can we learn from the way Jesus handled temptation? According to 1 John 3:5, Jesus came to earth in human form so that He could die a physical death and take away our sins. How would we all be affected, if we had no potential for escape from our sins?
Jesus is the key to membership in God’s family. When He stooped to our level by becoming a man, He made it possible for us to relate to Him and for God to relate to us through Him.
Who is Jesus? He Was 100% God
Who is Jesus, and how was it possible that Christ’s human body held the whole deity and glory of God?
According to John 1:1-3, Jesus existed from the beginning. From the beginning, Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God. Here, the Bible establishes the inseparable nature of Jesus and the God of the Universe. The following verses provide further evidence that Jesus is 100% God:
Highlights of Christ's Time on Earth & the verses:
· : Luke 7:22
· Eyewitnesses to His perfect life: Matthew 16:13-17
· : Matthew 13:14, Luke 24:44
· Jesus' own identification/claim: John 10:30-38, Matthew 16:13-
17, Mark 14:61-64
· Claims of Christ's followers: Hebrews 1:8, Colossians 1:16, John
12:40 (quoting Isaiah 6:1-10)
· : Luke 24:39, Mark 8:31, Acts 17:32
Jesus is the key to membership in God’s family. When He established His deity by rising from the grave, He made it possible for us to have forgiveness from sin and a renewed relationship with God.
Who is Jesus? He is the Way to Heaven
Who is Jesus, and why is He the only path to salvation?
In John 14:6, Jesus declares: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Why is it important to know that NO other religious leaders throughout history have ever made these claims? According to Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.” How does this contrast with other world religions which are based on “works” versus faith in Jesus and the resurrection? If we can’t build a relationship with God by doing good deeds or repeating rituals, what must we do? Acts 4:12 is clear,“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
May God Bless your path
"No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me," declares the LORD.
|God’s Word Also Says That Sin Must Be Paid For
“For the wages of sin is death....” Romans 6:23
|The Good News Is That Christ Paid For Our Sins
All of our sins were laid on Christ on the cross. He paid our sin debt for us. The Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross, and He arose from the dead. He is alive forevermore.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
|We Must Personally Pray And Receive Christ By Faith
The Bible says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13
Pray And Receive Christ As Your Savior
I believe in you. I entrust myself completely to Jesus and what He has done for me. I know now that I am forgiven, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I'm determined now to spend my life growing in relationship with you. Amen.
The Bible says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13
The Difference Between
There is a great difference between CHURCHIANITY and CHRISTIANITY. Many are GOING TO CHURCH but few are GOING DOWN THE ROAD WHICH LEADS TO LIFE (Matthew 7:13-14). Many name the Name of Christ (2 Tim. 2:19) and claim to be Christians but few understand what a Christian really is. Many are RELIGIOUS but few areRIGHT WITH GOD. May God help us to understand the difference between RELIGION and true CHRISTIANITY as set forth in the Word of God, the Holy Bible.
The following chart may be helpful:
|"Salvation is something I must do. I must somehow earn or gain salvation by the way I live."||"Salvation is something only God can do. Salvation is of the LORD!" (Eph. 2:8-9; Jonah 2:9).|
|Religion is summed up in one word: DO--man trying to DO different things to please God and earn His favor.||Christianity is summed up in one word:DONE--Christ dying on the cross to save sinful man (John 19:30).|
|The religious man is busy "working" (doing good works) in order to be saved.||The saved person is "not working" (Rom. 4:5) but is RESTING upon the finished work of Another.|
|TRYING||TRUSTING (Acts 16:31)|
|A Work to Do which is never done (How can anyone work well enough and hard enough to earn salvation?)||A Word to Believe (1 Pet. 1:25) about a Work that is Done (1 Pet. 1:18-19).|
|Man hoping to save himself||God saving hopeless man (1 Tim. 1:15)|
|RELIGION is man trying to BRING HIMSELF TO GOD (by human effort, good works, ritualism, traditionalism, sacraments, etc.).||CHRISTIANITY is Christ BRINGING US TO GOD on the basis of what He did for us on the cross (1 Peter 3:18).|
|Religion is man trusting his own good works (Titus 3:5).||Salvation is man trusting the good work which the Lord Jesus did on the cross (Rom. 3:22-26).|
|A religious ritual||A real relationship (John 17:3)|
|Following rules||Enjoying life (John 6:47; 10:10).|
|"I must reform my life and turn over a new leaf"||"I must be born again" (John 3:7).|
|Doing Something||Knowing Someone (John 17:3)|
|Man trying to please God in the wrong way (Rom. 8:8--"So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God").||Man truly pleasing God in the only way (Hebrews 11:6--"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him").|
|Seeking to earn God's favor by works||Receiving God's favor by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8 and see Eph. 1:6).|
|"I can work my way to heaven and earn my salvation" (Romans 6:23 teaches that we have earned our way to hell: "the wages of sin is death")||"I could never live well enough to earn my way to heaven. Christ had to pay the price for my salvation (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).|
|"Salvation is something that a person must earn."||"Salvation is a free gift" (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 4:10).|
|The sinner sees himself as good (Luke 18:11-12).||The sinner sees himself as sinful (Luke 18:13).|
|The religious man compares himself with others (Luke 18:11).||The saved man sees himself as God sees him (1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 53:1-3; Rom. 3:10-12).|
|TRUSTING SELF (Luke 18:9)||TRUSTING CHRIST (Eph. 1:12-13)|
|BOASTING IN SELF (Luke 18:11-12)||BOASTING IN THE LORD (1 Cor. 1:29-31; Eph. 2:9)|
|"I have kept the law! I have done that which God has required" (Matthew 19:16-20).||"I have broken the law but I am trusting the One who came into this world to save guilty lawbreakers" (1 Tim. 1:15).|
|A religious man trying to earn his way to heaven by works may be likened to a man trying to swim from New York to London by his own efforts and energy and strength. He will never make it!||The person who is saved by faith is likened to a man getting on a ship in New York and trusting that ship to bring him safely to London. This man simply rests upon the ship and lets the ship do all the work.|
|The religious man is seeking to establish his own righteousness (Rom. 10:3).||The saved man is satisfied with the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).|
|Religion is pictured in Genesis 3 by the fig leaves that Adam and Eve made for themselves--a terrible covering (Gen. 3:7 and see Isaiah 64:6).||Salvation is pictured in Genesis 3 by thecoats of skin which God provided by way of the shedding of blood--a perfect covering (Gen. 3:21; Rev. 19:8).|
|CAIN'S RELIGION--"I bring to God the labour of my own hands" (Gen. 4:3).||ABEL'S FAITH--"I bring to God a blood sacrifice. An innocent substitute must die to save me" (Gen. 4:4).|
|Hoping to be saved by good works (a false hope)||Saved unto good works by God's grace (Eph. 2:10).|
|Religion teaches that good works are thecause of salvation.||The Bible teaches that good works are the result of salvation.|
|Religion says, "Good works are those things that a person does to be saved."||The Bible says, "Good works are those things that a saved person does" (James 2:14-26).|
|"Christ is my Example and Teacher. I try to follow Him and live as He lived."||Christ is my Saviour and Substitute. I am trusting Him and only Him to save me" (Luke 23:40-43).|
|"I hope I will be saved."
"I think I will be saved."
"I feel that I will be saved, maybe."
|"I KNOW I am saved right now" (1 John 5:13-"These things have I written unto you that believe on to name of the Son of God; that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life").|