Religions at best are superficially similar, fundamentally different, which means all religions can’t all be the same and can’t all be true. What is the difference? Are all religions the same? What is truth, can it be known? Isn’t Jesus Christ just another religious leader in a long line of spiritual teachers? Doesn’t Jesus Christ essentially teach the same things about sin and salvation as everyone else? This is what I intend to expound upon today. Before we unpack the difference, we first have to sort out a couple questions before my exposition, Are all religions the same?
I would argue—No. Because most religions are contradictory and contentious not complimentary of one another. Because every worldview isn’t the same every religion won’t make the same truth claims. For either you believe there is a God, there are many Gods, there is something or there is nothing. No one can be neutral in their worldview. Because based on your worldview, it will lead to contradictory and contentious conclusions involving origin, identity, meaning, morality, and our destiny. So, I would argue that all religions are not the same.
If all religions are not the same then all religions can’t be true. Truth is....”telling it like it is” not what you want it to be. Truth according to the BBE, is what corresponds to the way things really are, not just what always makes sense to you. Truth doesn’t need you to agree for it to be true, it’s not relative, it’s not the most comprehensive and truth doesn’t need your feelings to be true for even if truth makes us feel good, in the long run it doesn’t mean that what feels good is true. So, by this definition, falsehood is misrepresenting the way things really are.
The truth is we have allowed strong beliefs to trump facts. Belief is how you feel about the stated truth. Tragically, many are attempting to hijack facts with strong beliefs and agendas. Let me illustrate, if you believe the stop sign doesn’t mean stop but go--that doesn’t change the fact that the sign and the words mean to stop. Or what happens when we say a stop sign is true for you but not for me...Just because
you believe something to be true doesn’t make it true. Truth can be known if we are willing to explore and accept the evidence. Because you can’t convince people who are unwilling to examine and accept the evidence presented. Luke 22:66-68 66 When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, 67 “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, 68 and if I ask you, you will not answer.
If you believe every religion to essentially be the same then they must make the same truth claims, which they don’t.
•If you asked most Muslims-who is Jesus?, they would deny Christ as co- equal with God, and deny his death as a substitute for sin. For the Quran calls Jesus a prophet, a messenger of Allah who never really died on the cross. • If you asked most Mormon-who is Jesus?, they would believe that Jesus Christ was the first born spirit child of the heavenly father and mother. Mormons believe that humans like God the father can go through a process of exaltation to godhood meaning that Jesus progressed to deity in the spirit world and was later physically conceived in Mary’s womb. •If you asked most Jehovah Witnesses-who is Jesus?, They believe that Jesus was created by Jehovah as the arch Angel Michael before the physical world existed and that when Jesus was born on earth he was a mere human and not God in human flesh •If you asked most New agers—who is Jesus? they would say Jesus was a spiritual teacher on the same level as other spiritual leaders who have lived on earth •As Christians, based on the holy scriptures-- Jesus is fully God and fully man born of a virgin and by the power of holy spirit without intercourse according to Luke 1:35. There is no implication of Jesus being half God and half man.
•Some will say Jesus never verbally said, I am God in those very
words, but just because a phrase isn’t used verbatim doesn’t make
it false. The word bible isn’t in the bible but that doesn’t disqualify
the bible from being the bible. Jesus claimed equality with God and
referred to himself as co-equal with God (Read John 10:28-30 & John 14:8-11)
Because Jesus is fully God and fully man, he experienced death
and miraculously, rose again for the sake of sinful man. The
scriptures, the empty tomb, the historical eyewitness accounts,
and the extrabiblical accounts verify that Jesus actually lived on
this earth. (How would you prove that you are you?)
The resurrection of Jesus not the death of Jesus, is the foundation of our faith 1 Cor 15:16-1716 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile(EMPTY) and you are still in your sins. For the fact is and I quote, “No other religious leader in recorded human history has died in full view of trained executioners, had a guarded tomb and then rose 3 days later to appear to many people” Though we can come up with numerous explanations for Christ rising from the dead, we can’t account for the radical change of his followers. Because to abandon him on his way to the cross there would have to be something extraordinary to cause for men and women to come out of hiding, put their lives on the line and boldly proclaim that Christ is Lord.
All religions are not the same and don’t make the same truth claims about Jesus Christ, nor do they make the same truth claims about sin and salvation—the understanding of our true spiritual condition. Every religion besides Christianity is a system of good deeds aimed at winning favor with God or something If you ask most Muslims about sin and salvation, they’ll Allah does not love those who do wrong and each person must earn his or her own salvation If you ask most Jehovah Witness about sin and salvation, they’ll say Christ death provides the opportunity for men and women to work for their salvation
If you ask most Mormons about sin and salvation, belief in Christ is necessary only to obtain passage to the highest celestial Kingdom for which not only faith but participation in Mormon temple rituals and obedience to its “laws of the gospel” are also pre- requisites
If you ask most New Agers about sin and salvation, most will say You are God, you just don’t realize it. If you store up enough good karma, then through reincarnation the human soul can eventually reach a state of perfection and merge back with its source.
If Jesus is who he claims to be then we have to ask not did he die but why?
Christianity teaches that God reaches down to sinful man because we can never be good enough to be in the presence of a holy God, Adam ruined it for everyone, our work is tainted. For the truth is if there is any measure of our work that we will attempt to utilize to seek God’s favor we have to call it what it is...a bribe. We can’t bribe God and claim we deserve to be saved 2 Timothy 1:9 NLT 9 For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time— to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ better be who he is or we are still in our sin and have no hope. For no one less than God can make payment for the sins of everyone. God is the one who sets the holy standard for who could fulfill his righteous, perfect requirements. Jesus is the only person who meets the requirements to appease God Jesus came to restore a broken relationship, not to burden us with demands. Because religion for the Christian is the faithful response to his love not a system of works to earn salvation.
2 Cor 5:14-15 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Being good enough was never the requirement—Jesus was.
You ought to demand truth from Christianity and every other religion as we do-- with everything else. The bible commands us to examine every truth claim within the church and outside of it.
2 Cor 11:12-15 NLT 12 But I will continue doing what I have always done. This will undercut those who are looking for an opportunity to boast that their work is just like ours. 13 These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 But I am not
surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.
This sermon isn’t about judging others, it’s about making the right judgements. Some will probably say I’m not tolerant of the beliefs of others and narrow minded, but I would question how the word tolerance is being used--if tolerance is the willingness to endure with respect to the beliefs of all people—then I am tolerant--as we all should be--but if what you mean by tolerance--is for me to be forced to agree with a truth claim then you have changed the definition of tolerance to dominance which means to control others by force and that isn’t what Jesus did. The evidence demands a verdict, what will it be for you?
Sources: Elwell, Walter A, and Barry J. Beitzel. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Book House, 1988. Internet resource. Esv: Study Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles, 2016. Print. Geisler, Norman L, and Frank Turek. I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2007. Print. Ridenour, Fritz. So What's the Difference?Bloomington, Minnesota: Bethany House, 2014. Print. Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Vol. 2. San Bernardino, California: Here's Life Publishers, Inc, 1990. Print.