Saturday, 17 March 2012

All religions are the same: or are they?

Perhaps you have heard statements like …
“All religions are the same.”
“He is the same God, just called different names by different religions.”
But are they?

Nearly all of the world’s religions believe in some sort of a life after death.  The details and nature of that life varies, but just about all faiths believe that life continues in some form after the grave. 

Does that mean they all teach the same thing and lead to the same God?

Although they all may believe in life after death, they are all very different. 
1.      Everyone goes to heaven. 
A loving God lets everyone in.  Entrance is automatic for all after death.  This is a teaching of the Baha’i faith and many of the new age religions.  The problem is sin is not accounted for:  Saddam Hussein and Adolf Hitler both get to spend eternity with people like St. Teresa and you and I.  God’s justice and holiness are totally ignored. 
So then the second possibility …
2.     We have earn our way to heaven. 
Either by being perfect, (this is the teaching of Islam) or being very good, as if our lives or weighed in a balance; so if we are more good than bad we are admitted into heaven.  A variation on this theme is reincarnation; we keep on living our lives over and over again till we get it right, until we are good enough.  Until we reach a state of enlightenment and Nirvana, this is the teaching of most middle eastern religions. 
This view also has problems:
a.     It does not account for our fallen human nature and our capacity to sin.  Put simply, we all sin, all the time so no one is ever going to be good enough and so as a consequence we all miss out on going to heaven.  It ignores the mercy of God.
b.     The second major problem for me is it does not align with what God himself has told us about life and death or heaven in the Bible.  There we are told we live just once, no second, third or fourth attempt to get it right.
The last view:
3.     There has to be another way and there is, God provided it.  By God entering the world and taking our penalty, with Jesus dying the death we all deserve, by Jesus taking our punishment upon himself.  Justice is satisfied and we can be forgiven. 

For me this view has three things going for it.  
·        It is just.  Sin is punished in full.  No exceptions. No pardons.
·        It is consistent with what I see of the world.  The world is in a sorry state because we as a people are not perfect and none of us, except Jesus ever has been.
·        It takes into account God’s nature.  God is a God who loves and longs for us to return that love.  God is a God who acts with grace and mercy. 

God’s grace does three things.
1.     Gives us forgiveness and makes us right with God.  We experience God’s complete justice.
2.     It gives us the gift of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  God with us where ever we go what ever we are doing.  We enjoy the mercy and love of God.
3.     It gives us the sure and certain hope of life eternal. 

So how do we receive it?
·        By doing nothing because Jesus has already done it all. 
·        We only have to believe.

All the religions are not the same.  There is only one that fully accounts for the justice and mercy of God.  There is only one way to God’s blessings and that is the way of grace through faith in what was achieved by Jesus on the cross. 

There is no other true religion except Christianity.

There is no other Saviour only Jesus.

There is no other way to heaven but through the cross of Jesus.

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