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Jack Graham - Are All Religions the Same?


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    Jack Graham - Are All Religions the Same?
TOPICS: Straight Up, Religion, Christianity, Salvation

Whatever you believe, whatever you think about life, about religion, that's okay. And that's what you hear people say every day in the place where you live. So how do we answer that question: Are all religions the same? How do we respond to something like that? Because what these folks are saying ultimately suggests that because everything is equal, you have no right to impose your beliefs, your religion, whether it be of Jesus Christ or something else on me! The very idea of proselytizing, as it is called, or to evangelize, to witness and to share our faith is anathema because we must not impose or inflict our own beliefs on others.

And we are viewed, if we believe that Jesus is, "the way, the truth and the life", the one way to heaven as He has told us, then we are arrogant and even filled with hate, or maybe intellectually stupid. Ultimately we'd better be prepared to give an answer, and the answer in all the world religions, and there are four major ones: Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam. And these major religions are multiplied by hundreds of other kinds of religions and cults and sects and so on. And it's all very confusing, isn't it? And we wonder: Am I right? Or am I just being exclusive in my attitude? Am I arrogant to suggest that what I believe is the right way, the one way to heaven?

Well, ultimately you need to remember that not all religions are the same. It is not true to say that what someone of another religion believes is the same or like what we believe. Because all the religions are very... There are many sports that you may love. There's football, there's basketball, there's baseball and so on. There are all these various sports and they're all the genre of sports but they all have different rules, they all have different ways that the game is to be played, they have different instruments with which to play the game, and so on, because while they are sports, it would be ignorant to say that all sports are the same. And so it is, not all religions are the same.

Ravi Zacharias, a good friend, has written a powerful book called Jesus Among other gods. And he writes this: "All religions are not the same. All religions do not point to God! All religions do not say that all religions are the same. At the heart of every religion is an uncompromising commitment to a particular way of defining who God is and is not, and accordingly of defining life's purpose. Anyone who claims that all religions are the same betrays not only an ignorance of all religions, but also a caricature view of even then best known ones! Every religion at its core is exclusive. At it's core every religion claims to be the pathway to God. And so when we as Bible-believing Christians declare that Jesus is the Lord of life, the Lord of death, that He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world, and that everyone needs to come to Jesus, when we say that, it's vital to understand that that is an exclusive statement. That Jesus is not the best way to heaven. We're not suggesting that He is 'a' way to heaven, but that He is 'the' way to heaven! And without Jesus Christianity collapses, implodes upon itself! Because Christianity is Christ! It is a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ"!

And so in Philippians chapter 2 here's what the Bible says, and this is a great hymn of faith, and an early Christian confession. Sometimes you may hear the idea that oh, these ideas that Jesus is God came along much later in the second century or the third century with all the creeds and the confessions of men, and so on! Not at all! God laid down the creeds and the confessions initially in the Scripture, and this is one of them!

Beginning at verse 5, Philippians 2: "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father".

The other religions of the world do not claim this, but in fact reject this idea of Jesus, that He is equal with God, that He is the Son of God, and the Savior of the whole world; that He is exalted above all others as God Himself! For example, Buddhism teaches that Jesus was an enlightened teacher. Islam, that He is a prophet of God. But it is impossible according to the Koran itself for Allah to have a son. Impossible for God to bear a son. Thus Jesus is rejected as the Son of God, certainly as the Savior of the world. At many times in fact in these days we are asked: Is the God of the Bible Yahweh God the same as the god of Islam, Allah? And the answer is an unequivocal no way! We worship the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, rejected by the Muslim faith!

I remember the first time I attempted to lead a Muslim person to Christ. He was in fact a Syrian soldier who was over here. I was a seminary student and I had the opportunity to share my faith with him and I went through the Gospel, point by point, and it seemed that he was ready to respond. He was very open and responsive, and I was thrilled with that. And I was getting ready to lead him in a prayer to receive Christ. But it occurred to me I needed to ask him another question. Not only did he want to receive Christ, but I said, "Are you willing to turn from the Muslim faith and what you have believed about God and to receive Jesus and Jesus only as your Savior and Lord"? And when I said that a frown appeared on his face, and he said, "No, I couldn't do that? I couldn't disavow my family's religion. I couldn't say no to my religion or turn my back on my religion".

And many people adopt a religion and adapt a religion, including the Christian religion simply because of family. Our family is Christian or our family is Buddhist or our family is Muslim. You see, he was willing to add Jesus as one of his gods, but like so many today, unwilling to say what Jesus said about Himself and what the Bible claims regarding the person of Jesus Christ! That He is alone God and Savior, that He alone is the pathway into the presence of God, the person who is God.

Now let me give you a few Scriptures on this. We're going to put them on the screen. You may want to jot them down, but, John 14:6, I quoted it earlier: "I am the way, the truth and the life; and no one comes to the Father except through Me". Sign that Jesus. Or the famous words that Jesus gave to the Jewish Rabbi Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night, and verse 16 and following: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. But what did He say after that? For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God"!

Turn in your Bibles to John chapter 17 and verse 3 and underscore this. In John 17:3: "And this is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. Therefore God", Jesus, the One true God! For to worship Him who alone is worthy is essential! Jesus once spoke some hard sayings and many people left Him. And He said, John 6:67-68 "Will you also go away"? to His disciples. And Simon Peter said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and know what you're saying is true". Can you say that? The apostles went on in Acts chapter 4 in verses 10 and 12, 10 through 12, "let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead-by him this man is standing before you is well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved".

This is true truth! Not truth as you like it, truth as you see it, truth as you want it, but true truth given in the authority of the Word of God. And we're going to get to the question later on of is the Bible the Word of God? Can you trust the Bible? It ultimately gets back to that issue of authority, the authority of Christ, the authority of God's Word. John the Apostle, who was so close to Jesus, said in 1 John 5: "And this is the testimony that God gave us eternal life, and this light is in His Son. And whoever has the Son has life! Whoever does not have the son of God does not have life". So do you really believe after hearing all that, that it's possible to say that all religions are the same? Do you really believe that it's credible to say all on the road of any religion are getting to the same God or to the same place?

As opposed to the way of Christ Jesus who was born of a virgin, who lived a perfect and sinless life, who died on the cross, obedient even to the death of the cross, who rose again on the third day, and claimed that He and He only is God and Savior of the world? Do you really believe that all religions are the same? Of course not. They're not; they can't be. They're uniquely different in and of themselves. And as Zacharias, who was formally raised in the Hindu regions of this world, he said it is true that all religions are ultimately at their core-beliefs exclusive in nature. So the issue becomes: who is God? Is Jesus God as He claimed to be? Some people believe that Jesus was a good man. You know, Judaism believes that Jesus was a good man, a good rabbi, a good teacher. But Judaism rejects Jesus as the Messiah. Is it true that Jesus was a good man?

You know C. S. Lewis in his classic book Mere Christianity, which is great reading for any believer in Christ, said this regarding Jesus being Lord, liar or lunatic. In other words, He was either a madman or a bad man or the God-Man. But here's what he said about that: "A man who is merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on the level with a man who says he's a poached egg, or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice! Either this man was and is the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God! But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us; He did not intend to". So Jesus calls us to the question: to make the choice for Him. Because Jesus has done what He has done, "God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God"! Only one name can command that devotion, adoration and celebration and that is Jesus.

Someone wrote, "Every word He spoke has been studied and scrutinized, and though he lived two thousand years ago, rather, in a very small land, His life changed the world. He never wrote a book, a poem, or composed a piece of music, yet he has been the impetus and inspiration of art, music and literature. He never commanded an army and yet millions give their lives to follow Him. He never spoke to more than a few thousand people, yet today the entire world hears His voice. His ministry on earth lasted only three years, and yet His work on earth touches and transforms lives today as millions look to Him for hope, healing, power and grace. Jesus received no formal education, yet innumerable universities, schools and institutions of learning bear His name. Without question Jesus of Nazareth is the most dominating name in history, the most powerful personality of all time and the greatest influence the world has ever known"!

And yet in saying all of that Jesus is the most dominating personality in history, that He is the most powerful personality of all time, that He is the greatest influence the world has ever seen. Even in all of that it doesn't say enough of who He is! That He is King of kings and Lord of lords! That He alone is worthy; that He is altogether worthy, and that He is always worthy of the worship of those who call Him Savior and of the whole world past, present and future! Because the Scripture says "Every knee will bow and confess Jesus Christ as Lord"! Buddha will bow down and confess Jesus as Lord! Mohammed will bow down and confess Jesus as Lord! Every person has a date with Deity!

Every person will stand before God either in salvation and eternal life or to confess Him before... Anybody departs the presence of God into eternity without Him, they will confess Him and glorify Jesus Christ as God! The devil himself will confess Jesus Christ as Lord! Why? Because He is! His name is exalted; His name is exclusive; His name is eternal; His name is endearing! It's the sweetest name in heaven and in earth! At His name we are in the presence of the Lord forever! And the difference in Jesus and all the religions of the world, even the Christian religion. Because you see, there are many people sitting in church and churches today who have the religion of Christianity but don't have Christ in their hearts. Their family is Christian or their friends are Christian or they grew up in a Christian culture, just as someone grew up in another kind of religious culture. You're a cultural Christian but are you a Christian? Are you a Christ follower?

Here's the difference: All the religions of the world ultimately can be summed up in one word: "do". Do this and live, do this and you will go to heaven. Pray or pay your vows and dues and show up at temple or show up at church or keep the law. Do something! Good works! And if you're a good person and you practice your religion, you'll get there somehow. That is a summation of all the religions. But add a couple of letters to Christianity: "D-O-N-E". When Christ died on the cross he cried out "It is finished". The plan of salvation was completed. The work of redemption was transacted and what Christ has done at the cross, Jesus paid it all. He makes it possible for anyone who trusts and receives Him as Lord and Savior to know Him now and forever. It's like a person that's in a pit and can't get out.

And along comes Buddha and Buddha says, "Meditate. Discipline your mind. Purify your mind and your body and you'll get out of the pit". Or Mohammed walks by and says, "Worship Allah and him only. Practice the five pillars and you'll get out of the pit". And so he does all of that and he's still in the pit, But what happened in Christ is that God became a Man and got down in the pit with us. Romans 5:8, "And while we were yet sinners Christ died for us". And therefore, with a nailed-scarred hand He lifts us out of the pit and brings us to solid ground and life in Christ. That is why real Christianity is not the same as all the religions of the world! It's your consideration; it's your choice. Jesus - yes or no.

Now we say this with compassionate hearts because we're not wringing our hands and saying, "Oh, boy, we're the only ones going to heaven". But with broken hearts we realize that because of what we believe we want everyone to know our Jesus, so we send missionaries and we support the work of God's church and of God's mission on earth; that is to reach the world with this message and this wonderful Savior Jesus Christ our Lord. Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus who humbled Himself. So in humility and in brokenness and in compassion we say to the world, "We give you Jesus. We offer you invitation to life in Christ. Come to Him".
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