Article IV, part 3

Truth or Dare (Article 4)

In part one, of article four, we discussed the basic belief systems of the three biggest religious groups in the world today: Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. In part two, we discussed how Christianity, based on Christ’s claim of deity, is the one true way for humanity to connect with God. church front collage In this post, we will explore the issue most people have with accepting Christianity as God’s truth, and that is the Christians, themselves.

Many people have said, in one way or another, “If Jesus is God’s son, and if all His teachings concerning salvation and eternal life are true, then why do so many Christians behave in contrast to His teachings? Why are Christians such hypocrites?” It can be explained in this one statement:

Christians are not perfect, they’re just forgiven.

Being a Christian, as stated earlier, means that you live by the teachings of Christ. What so many outside of the faith don’t understand, and this truth eludes many who claim to be Christians, is that perfection belongs to Christ; perfection does not belong to us. That is the very reason Jesus came to live, die, and return from the grave — we weren’t perfect and never could be, but God’s son is perfect. Christ paid our debt on the cross, because he loved us and could afford to pay it (Romans 3:21-26). Death to Him was physically and emotionally painful, as Jesus experienced separation from God the Father on the cross and as He experienced His Father’s wrath in the grave, but Christ knew He could endure it.

Again, let’s recall the Scripture passage from Romans, chapter three, verses twenty-two through twenty-four: “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” We (mankind) are all not perfect, but because of Christ’s perfection, and His graciousness, we can obtain perfection through Him. We have access to His perfection. That’s not to say that we will be perfect while living under the sun, but if we place our faith and trust in Jesus — if we daily choose Christ’s way over our way (Luke 9:23-24; Romans 6:11; Galatians 2:20) — then we can be transformed into the likeness of Christ and upon entering our heavenly destination we will be able to live perfectly under God’s son (Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:24).

Even though the Bible teaches us that we are a “new creation,” once we give our lives over to following the statutes of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), we must also remember that this new life is not an instant transformation. Our salvation is immediate, but this “new creation” that has entered into our lives is an re-birthing of our old, sinful spirit (John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:23). Just as a baby must be nurtured, taught, and raised to know how to properly act, function, and live, so too do reborn spirits have to be taught in the ways of Christ (1 Peter 2:2). Christians do not become perfect at their salvation, but at their journey’s end.

There is a popular allegory, known as The Pilgrim’s Progress, that aptly depicts the life of a Christian as a journey. This book, written by John Bunyan and published in 1678, is considered one of the most important works of religious English literature. Its importance and popularity has brought about its being translated into more than two-hundred languages.

The Pilgrim’s Progress is the story of a man, named Christian, who is living in a town called “City of Destruction.” Pilgrim's Progress 1 Christian is a man desiring to live in a far off place known as “Celestial City,” but the journey to “Celestial City” is a long and hard one. For example, one of his hardships is a “great burden” that Christian must carry with him along his way. There are also many people along this journey that wish to divert Christian from his goal. At one point, a dragon named Apollyon tries to kill Christian. However, there are also those who help Christian to find comfort and strength too, from time-to-time.

Faithful, who is also a former resident of “City of Destruction,” travels alongside Christian, for a time, helping him until his death. Then Hopeful joins Christian, as does a boy named Ignorance. It’s with good deeds and kindness that Ignorance thinks he can enter into “Celestial City,” but upon reaching the gate he realizes that he cannot because, despite his good works, he has no passport. Ignorance is then quickly banished to Tophet, by the Lord of the city.

Christian, after receiving help from Hopeful, makes it across the “River of Death” and gets to enter into “Celestial City,” upon showing the Lord of the city his passport. Where did Christian receive this passport, and why was Ignorance not able to obtain one? Unlike Ignorance, Christian had earlier taken the “King’s Highway.” This highway was a small path, less traveled, that meandered through many tough obstacles, but ultimately brought Christian to a cross. It is at this cross, that Christian is relieved of his “great burden” and given his passport into “Celestial City.” Had Ignorance left the main road, and followed Hopeful and Christian along the small path to the cross, he too could have obtained his passport to “Celestial City.”

You see, Christianity is not about mystical, magical transformations. It’s not about achieving a perfect life that realizes its connection to a “Universal Spirit” by detaching itself from worldly desires. It’s not a life committed to accomplishing a greater struggle, which ultimately leads us to living a godly life. No. Christianity is the surrendering of our imperfections to Christ. It’s Jesus who willingly takes our flaws upon the cross and covers over them with His perfect blood. By doing so, God no longer sees us as filthy, dirty wretches awaiting damnation, but sees us through Christ’s holy eyes as pure, clean children clothed in His son’s perfect glory, and adopted into His family for all of eternity (Ephesians 1:4-6; 1 Peter 2:4-6).

Yes, for the world to judge Christianity by it’s carnal members is to see all that is ugly in this physical life. Many Christians struggle to totally let go of their sinfulness and allow God to make them into the true worshiper that He intends them to be. This fighting with God only slows the growth of the reborn spirit and allows Satan the opportunity to attack and distract the rebellious Christian from reaching their divine purpose (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Hebrews 5:11-14). So what the world sees from the carnal Christian is not Christ’s reflection, but the agitated filth that is being forced away from the spirit. Much like cleaning dirty laundry. Dirty laundry appears more soiled when water meets the filth and creates mud, so too does sin look worse to other sinners as Christ’s blood begins to remove and clean away our sinfulness (Isaiah 64:6).

There are also charlatans that exist in Christianity who, like Ignorance in The Pilgrim’s Progress, latch onto doing good works in the name of Jesus (Legalists), or they use the Gospel message to gain monetary wealth (Prosperity Evangelists). They don’t see Christianity as anything more than a religious endeavor; a means to an end. They think their legalistic actions, their “acts of kindness” will give them prestige, honor, and physical wealth, but God still sees their imperfections and judges them. Not because He is a mean and hateful God, but because (as explained earlier) He is perfect and cannot abide where imperfection exists. Again, this is the reason for Christ’s sacrifice.

Time-and-again, true worshipers and the world will see many forms of carnality and immaturity from many who claim to be Christian. In American churches we see nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce. We also, see many young people, under the age of thirty, choosing to be sexually active outside of the marriage relationship. On-line pornography is becoming a very common problem for ministers, and destroys seventy-five percent of clerics lives. The Christian churches are becoming more acceptant of homosexuality, bisexuality, and many Christian teachers are incorporating eastern religious philosophies into their teachings. The Christian church, no matter what denomination it may be, will not be affective in transforming lives for Christ if it continues to abandon the truths of Christ (Romans 6:1-3, 12-14; 1 Peter 2:9-12; Revelation 3:14-19). You can remove the many avatars of Brahman and still follow Hinduism. You can remove the prophet Muhammad from the teachings of Allah and still follow Islam, but you cannot remove Christ from His teachings and still follow Christianity. It simply can’t be done; it will no longer be Christianity.

The Apostle Paul saw early on how Christians would be a detraction from the truths of Christ if they didn’t live as the true worshipers they are purposed to be, and he gave this stern admonishment in the second chapter of Romans, verse twenty-four: “As it is written: ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’” Christians, though called by Christ to be salt and light to a world that is deteriorating into darkness (Matthew 5:13-16), can and often do become a large part of the reason people reject the truths of God’s holy Word — Jesus Christ. What needs to happen, to prevent this? Two things.

First real Christians, true worshipers of Jesus Christ, need to stay focused on living out the truths of Scripture (Romans 6:4; Ephesians 4:1, 5:2; Colossians 2:6). Bible 9 They must be the salty preservative that Jesus has called them to be. If Christians don’t remain true to Christ’s statutes, then they run the risk of losing their saltiness and the world will decay at an even faster rate than it already is. Another part of being focused on the truths of Scripture is to reflect the light of truth, like the moon reflects the sun’s light to the earth at night. To obtain the truths of Christ from the Bible and not share them with others, is like hiding a lit candle under a bowl. No one can enjoy its warm glow, and all will remain in the dark. Not to mention that the bowl will eventually extinguish the light, as the flame burns up the oxygen.

Second, the world needs to stop judging Christianity by its members and look to its founder. This is easier said than done, but as Christians live up to their purpose, as they allow themselves to become the true worshipers God intended all people to be, then the world will have no choice but to see Christ in Christianity. They’ll finally begin to sense the preservative teachings of Jesus slowing down the decaying filth of their spirits. The world will finally be able to see the light of God’s truth shining into the darkest corners of their lives (Matthew 5:14).

The grace of Christ’s sacrifice can only be as affective as those who have already received it allow it to be. Hindus will not see the road less traveled unless the Christians light the way. If Christians continue to allow themselves to reject some of the teachings of Christ, and continue to choose to only follow some of the teachings of Christ, then their light will remain hidden and their spiritual growth will be minimal. Again, the grace of Christ’s sacrifice can only be as affective as those who have already received it allow it to be.

Muslims will never get beyond their “no-grace” mentality, and will continue down the destructive path of “jihad,” if Christians don’t shower them with grace. Only Christianity can sprinkle the salty preservative of Christ’s truths into their lives. Christ’s amazing grace can lead a Muslim to see that they can have an actual relationship with God, and they can do so without bringing destruction to their selves and others. God’s grace is sufficient, and we must live that truth.

Remember, if Jesus existed (and history proves He did) and was seen by all to be a good teacher (and all religions acknowledge this), then His truths must be realized and followed as God’s truth. Why? Because, anything less simply makes Jesus a liar, and a lunatic. Jesus has to be seen and heard as He is — the living breathing Word of God, incarnate. If any part of His message is truth, then all of His message is truth.

I’ll close with this last thought. Whether you claim to be a Christian, or not, if your faith is simply something you do. If your faith is nothing more than a religious right, then stop and ponder the cup of Christ. Jesus didn’t create you to be religious. Christ didn’t suffer and die for a pious philosophy. God’s son created you, lived as you, died for you, and conquered death — for you. True Christianity is not about religion; not at all. It’s about knowing and being known by the Creator of heaven and earth, Yahweh — the Lord, and savior, Jesus Christ. Listen to His call:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:20-22)

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

The Pilgrim’s Progress” (Reissue edition) © 2009 by John Bunyan

All rights reserved. Published by Oxford University Press, USA, 2001 Evans Rd., Cary, NC 27513; www.oup.com/us.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

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Article IV, part 2

Truth or Dare (Article 4)

In our last post we began to look at the three largest religions: Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. We quickly looked at the ideals, philosophies, and theologies of these three dominant belief systems. In this article we will examine why no other religion, but Christianity, is one-hundred percent truth. robe & thorns

It’s obvious that this blog, as others on this site, are focused on the truths of Christ. I’ve made no attempts to state otherwise. So, how is it that I am so confident that the teachings of Christ are true? For many reasons, actually, but for the purpose of this article we will focus on the person, character, and deity of Jesus Christ. Why? Because, if Jesus didn’t exist, and wasn’t perfect, and wasn’t God, then Christianity is all a lie. All three have to be true.

History never doubts the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, so I’ll not linger on this point, and as far as His perfection is concerned — well, there is not a single religion that doubts Jesus’ good and perfect nature, and Scripture is full of statements concerning His spotless character (Leviticus 22:19; John 1:19; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Even “non-believers” will tell you Jesus was a good man, but was Jesus of Nazareth deity? Was Jesus Christ, God? Yes, Jesus is God incarnate, and there is plenty of evidence to back this statement up.

Before doing so, though, I must reiterate the fact that humanity is flawed. All religions agree on this very key point. The “non-religious” even know that people are in need of improvement; that mankind lacks perfection. However, it’s only Christianity that proclaims time-and-again that humanity cannot save its self (Romans 5:12). It’s this teaching, found only in Christianity, that people need a savior to help them reconnect to God, that causes all aspects of Jesus to be so vital (Romans 5:15). For if mankind can save its self, as all the other religions teach, then Christ’s existence and death was for nothing, and God wasted His time and effort.

Would an all-knowing, always existing, deity of perfection allow Himself to be caught in an act of waste, and futility? After all, this all-powerful being created all that we can behold, and experience, and more. Right? Would this deity not have the intelligence, and understanding to know that sacrificing a being of perfection is unnecessary, if people can just cycle through the reincarnation process and work their imperfections out on their own, as the Hindus believe? Would this super-being allow His flawed creation to just flounder around pursuing “jihad,” giving them only a fifty percent chance of working their way back to Himself and into His presence, as the Muslims teach?

God is indeed the maker of heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 48:13; Colossians 1:16), and He is truly the only being that is all-knowing (Psalm 147:5b; 1 Samuel 2:3b; Isaiah 55:9), self existing (Exodus 3:14-15; Isaiah 48:12; Revelation 4:8b), perfect (Deuteronomy 32:3-4; Psalms 5:4; 1 John 1:5), and all-powerful (Psalm 62:11b,89:8, 147:5a). Nothing can escape God’s sight — nothing (Psalm 139). It’s because of God’s perfection that He cannot allow within us imperfection. Just as darkness flees from light, so too will our sinfulness keep us from God’s perfection.

You see, laws exist to expose what is wrong with humanity. Anarchy allows all kinds of activity to go unpunished, but laws do not. Religion exposes us to a higher law; a higher morality. God’s law, the Ten Commandments, was given to mankind to expose our unrighteous acts, and guide us to know that we cannot escape our just punishment without divine help (Romans 6:23; Galatians 3:10; James 2:10). God cannot help but demand perfection, as He is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Therefore, all aspirations of perfection that any other religious faith may wish to achieve can never be reached. All that remains for mankind is the hope of Christ, the only perfect person to have ever lived and offer Himself up as a sacrifice for our sins (Romans 8:3-4). So now that we have laid out the reasoning behind why humanity needs Jesus to be its savior, let’s examine the proof of His deity.

First, Jesus Christ knew His purpose and understood His destiny from the beginning. clouds 6 You see, unlike any other religious founder that ever lived, it’s only Jesus of Nazareth who possessed a clear vision of His calling. You can see God’s calling being exhibited in the life of Christ as early as twelve years of age (Luke 2:41-52) in Scripture. All other religious founders painfully sought to know their purpose and calling, in life. This evidence can be found in a book, by Robert E. Hume, entitled: The World’s Living Religions.

Second, Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be the exclusive “door way” to eternal life (John 10:7-9, 14:6). No other religious founder ever made such a bold, and selective, statement. Hindus don’t have any one founder for which to enter into enlightenment. Their teachings refuse to say that any one way is the only way into eternity, but Jesus taught: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” (Matthew 7:13)

Islam doesn’t teach that heaven is obtained through their founder, either. They see the prophet Muhammad as an example for how to live a life that is pleasing to Allah, but the Apostle Paul, after encountering the resurrected Jesus, taught that: “He [Jesus] saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.” (Titus 3:5) If Jesus was not God, then He could not state that: “No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Third, Jesus Christ claimed that He could make right the flaws of humanity, by forgiving the sins of mankind. No Brahman avatar ever made this claim, and the prophet Muhammad refrained from such statements, as well. Jesus, however, never avoided the subject (Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 23:39-43).

Fourth, Jesus of Nazareth over came death. No other religious founder has ever raised the dead (Matthew 27:52; Luke 7: 11-16, 8:41-56; John 11:1-44), and certainly none of the religious founders from history has ever died, been buried, and then three days later returned to life (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-10; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18). Only a deity could accomplish such a task. Skeptics will claim the resurrection story is fictitious and part of Christian folklore, and lacks evidence, but that isn’t so.

The fact that the resurrection story was included in the New Testament writings, and the fact that these writings were taken down within a few years from the actual event (which was widely accepted as fact) is significant evidence for the authenticity of this happening. Why? Because the witnesses in and around Jerusalem, at the time of the resurrection, would still have been alive when these writings began to circulate. Any one of the over 500 witnesses could have began to discredit the accounts, had there been any ounce of falsehood recorded.

And what of these 500 plus witnesses? Could they not have all made this event up or shared in an elaborate mass hallucination? Well, if these 500 plus individuals were to share a hallucination they would have to have experienced it at the same time and in the same way, but that was not the case. There was the woman who saw Jesus at the tomb (Mark 16:9-10; John 20:11-18). Christ’s disciples saw Him in the upper room, where they had been hiding (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19-31). Two men saw Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-35). Several hundred saw Christ resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:3-6). The Apostle Paul saw the resurrected Lord on the road to Damascus, well after Christ’s ascension (Acts 9:1-20). This theory of a shared hallucination is absolutely ludicrous.

Then there’s the devotion of Jesus’ disciples. These timid men went from hiding in the shadows to dying for their Lord. If they had been a party to any type of lie, they would have abandoned it at the first threat made against them. These were not brave warriors out to perpetrate a lie, for a false god. James, the half brother of Jesus, abandoned his belief that his brother was crazy and died preaching Christ’s Gospel message. The Apostle Paul had once been a persecutor of the Christian fanatics, and was considered a Jew-of-Jews. Why would he have abandoned his duties to the Synagogue, and his faith, had he not really experienced an encounter of a divinely kind? None of the apostles abandoned their Lord, when death came knocking — none. And all of them died very painful deaths, according to documented historical accounts.

There’s also the fact that Jesus’ tomb was found empty, Empty Tomb 1 and history records this to be true (Matthew 28:5-6; Mark 16:1-6; Luke 24:1-3; John 20:1-9). The disciples could not have stolen the body from a tomb guarded by Roman soldiers, as the Jews claim happened (Matthew 27:62-66, 28:2-4 & 11-15). Again, these eleven men were timid, scared, and hiding. They were in no frame of mind to understand what had just happened to Jesus, much less take on a dozen or more Roman guards in a fight for Christ’s body. Besides none of these eleven men had military training, and none of them really even paid attention to the fact that Jesus told them He was going to have to die, and return from the grave to accomplish His mission. These were simple, uneducated fishermen, for the most part, and they weren’t clever enough to create a lie of this magnitude in the midst of such grief.

Then there’s the “swoon” theory, that claims Jesus never died but passed out and later awoke from within the grave. This theory states that this nearly dead Jesus, somehow loosed Himself from His death-wrappings and pushed away an extremely heavy rock. There by enabling this horrifically wounded man the chance to walk past the dozen or so Roman guards and into the night air a free religious rabbi. This one is so ridiculous I’m not even going to take the time to explain the medical reasons that prove just how absurd it is, but again — just as with the previous theories — it would have been up to the “witnesses” to maintain the story or abandon it. No one will die for a lie, not knowingly. Jesus of Nazareth’s tomb is empty because Jesus Christ, is the living Creator.

Jesus also promised to one day return to earth and judge its inhabitants (Mark 13:23-26; John 5:20-30, 14:1-3), our fifth proof of His divinity. Only a madman would make such a claim. Only God, Himself, could promise it. No other religious founder has ever attempted to make such a promise. No Hindu Vishnu ever made this claim, the prophet Muhammad didn’t, nor did Buddha, or any other religious leader. Only Christ made such a vow. Which brings us to point number six — Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh.

You see, no religious founder ever had the audacity to claim to be God in the flesh, except for Jesus of Nazareth. Brahman’s many Vishnu’s never claimed to be the actual “Universal Spirit.” The prophet Muhammad never claimed to be Allah, incarnate. It’s only in the person of Jesus Christ that we find the Creator of heaven and earth existing in human form, by His own admission (Matthew 26:63-64; Mark 2:1-12; John 8:56-58, 10:11-18 & 24-30, 18:33-37) — Jesus is God.

If Jesus had simply come to earth as a good man who taught us a better way to enlightenment, or if He had simply modeled a better way to live for God, then Christianity would have never lasted past the first few followers. Again, as the death threats would have increased the followers would have certainly decreased. But Christ’s claim to deity, and His proof by way of His miracles and the resurrection account, gave strength and veracity to His followers, as does His Holy Spirit (John 14:15-20). This is why Christianity grew and why Christianity gives a sure path to restoring mankind to God.

Author, and former atheist turned theologian, C.S. Lewis explains Christ’s account this way:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the real foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say.

A man who was 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 a level with the man who says he is 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 mad man 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.”

What kind of good, moral man would live a life teaching of truth, and yet lead people to put their faith in a lie? What kind of good, moral man teaches about peace and love, and yet allows people to be slaughtered in his name because he lied about being God? No! Jesus had to be the promised Messiah. He had to be the perfect “Son of Man,” come to sacrifice Himself for our sins. Christ had to be Immanuel, God with us — the incarnate Word [Davar] of God — the one, the only begotten Son of God, or else nothing moral and good would have existed in His name. It’s all a devilish lie unless Jesus is Yahweh, and over four-hundred fulfilled prophecies prove that Jesus IS.

I’ll close with this thought from author, teacher, and former agnostic Josh McDowell. Josh McDowell 1 In this post from TRYJESUS.COM Mr. McDowell tells of a group of people hiking into a forest, but after a while they became lost. Fearful for their lives, these people begin to look for a way out. In the distance some of them spot a split in the trail, and at the edge of the split there appears to be two human forms. The group makes a run towards these two people, in hopes of receiving their help. As they draw near they come to realize that one is alive and wearing a park ranger’s uniform, the other man is dead. Josh McDowell writes: “Now which of these two are we going to ask about the way out? Obviously, the one who is living.

When it comes to eternal matters, we are going to ask the one who is alive the way out of the predicament. This is not Muhammad, not Confucius, but Jesus Christ. Jesus is unique. He came back from the dead. This demonstrates He is the one whom He claimed to be (Romans 1:4), the unique Son of God and the only way by which a person can have a personal relationship with the true and living God.”

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

“The World’s Living Religions” © 1997 by Robert E. Hume

All rights reserved. Published by MacMillan Publishers, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010; www.us.macmillan.com.

Josh McDowell‘s study entitled “Why is Jesus the Only Way to Get to God?,” Copyright © 1993 by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, from the book “Answers To Tough Questions,” can be found at: http://www.tryjesus.com/QandA/questionJ3-print.htm

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article IV, part 1

Truth or Dare (Article 4)

We have discussed the dangers of worshiping wealth, power, and pleasure as Satan, and the world, would have us do. We have also looked at how drinking from the cup of Christ gives us access to real wealth, true power, Religion 1 and deeply satisfying pleasure, but we haven’t really discussed why the cup of Christ is the only drink that will satisfy our minds, bodies, and souls. We haven’t really analyzed why Christ’s cup is right and Satan’s, and the world’s, chalices are wrong. So, allow me to restate the premise of this series and to delve deeper into why the cup of Christ is the only choice for consuming and knowing the truth.

In our introductory article, we stated that we would be examining the various chalices that mankind may choose to drink from while searching out eternal life. We noted that each of these chalices would be full of deadly lies, save for one. You see, truth (contrary to popular opinion) is not relative, but very definite. It’s in this one single cup of absolute truth that, if found, will lead humanity to abundant, and eternal, life. Christ’s cup is the vessel we have to drink from for this truth, and in this article we will divulge how you can know this is so.

Mankind, since the fall, has been worshiping various deities in a whole variety of ways. This practice of worshiping an infinite higher power, or even just worshiping another person with a supreme importance, has always been apart of humanity. We call this practice of worship “religion.” Religion is what has developed from our primary reason for existence — worship. The fact that mankind, and all of creation, was made to glorify and worship our Creator (Colossians 1:16) is the reason religion is such a huge part of the human experience. Satan, knows this too.

Lucifer was, himself, made for this same reason. Yes, the Devil was made to worship and glorify God, but he has not only refused to worship his Creator — he has also been an intricate part of seeing mankind embrace atheism or some other religious belief system. But, before we get any further into this truth, let’s take a moment to examine three of the largest religious belief systems in the world, today. Religion 2 These three religions are identified as:

Christianity — which makes up about thirty-three percent of the world’s population.
Islam — which makes up approximately twenty-one percent of the world’s population.
Hinduism — which makes up close to thirteen percent of the world’s population.

Hinduism actually comes in behind a slightly larger group of people identified as “non-religious,” but as we will be dealing with this “non-religious” group in another article (Article Six) I have chosen to exclude them for the time being.

Hinduism, one of the oldest existing religious belief systems, was established in about 1300 B.C. God, or Brahman, to a Hindu is an eternal being; he is the one supreme and universal spirit who created all things. Brahman is infinite, devoid of form, impersonal, and everything is Brahman. For a Hindu to be able to approach the impersonal, divine creator, other forms of Brahman have been created. One such divine form of Brahman is Vishnu.

Brahman’s avatar, Vishnu, comes to earth from time-to-time as a wise teacher. This human form of the divine brings to humanity enlightenment. A Hindu recognizes Buddha, Rama, Krishna, and even Jesus Christ as avatars of Brahman. You see, Hinduism accepts a broad belief system for reaching out to, and becoming one with, the divine. The holy writings of Hinduism teach of this broad road which can lead to humanity’s enlightenment and salvation. These holy writings are partly known as the <em>Vedas, and the Upanishads.

The Vedas, and the Upanishads, are vast and consist of several documents that teach the Hindu about their rituals, mantras, history, philosophies, and spiritual disciplines. The Hindu’s religious teachings tell them that humanity’s goal in life is to realize its own connection to Brahman. This divine connection will allow mankind to detach from worldly desires and allow them to gain freedom from reincarnation. Reincarnation occurs when enlightenment and salvation are missed and the soul must remain on earth in other forms until enlightenment and salvation are achieved.

With Hinduism you have no one founder, no one theological structure, and no central religious organization. Most Hindus are polytheists, worshiping many gods, but they are pantheists according to their doctrines. In other words Brahman, the “universal spirit,” manifests himself as many gods and in all things.

Islam, is one of the newer religious belief systems. It has only been in existence since about 622 A.D., and the name “Islam” means “submission to Allah’s will.” Allah, is Islam’s supreme and eternal spirit. Allah is unimaginable and unapproachable; he is distinctively individual and cannot be revealed to humanity. Thus, Allah cannot be known personally by mankind.

Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim, also known as the prophet Muhammad, is credited as the founder of Islam. The prophet Muhammed, was a pious, political, and military leader who unified Arabia into a single religious belief system when he claimed to have received revelations from Allah. The prophet Muhammed recorded these revelations into a book, known as the Qur’an.

The Qur’an, is the very words of Allah given to mankind through the prophet Muhammed. In these writings Muslims are commanded to spend their entire lives in “jihad.” Jihad is the struggle all Muslims are commanded to actively pursue, as they strive to live in the ways of Allah. This “faith by human deeds” is the only hope of salvation for Muslims, and consequently is also the reason they have no assurance of their salvation.

There are two primary sects that comprise Islam, the Sunnis and the Shiites. The Sunnis live under a more liberal interpretation of the Qur’an, and believe that a “greater jihad” should be pursued by Muslims. They seek the greater struggles of life from within the human soul, and choose to eradicate evil from within themselves. The Shiites, however, are traditionally the more militant. These Muslims have interpreted jihad as being a literal “holy war.” A war in which every Muslim is called to destroy all of Allah’s enemies. Their goal is to establish Islamic theocracies throughout the world.

Christianity, is the largest religious belief system in the world, today. It is also the oldest, and yet relatively one of the newer, religious belief systems in existence, too. How is that? I’ll explain. Christianity, which simply means “one who follows the teachings of Christ,” was recognized by the world as a religion in approximately the year 33 A.D., but these teachings of Christ, for which the Christian adheres to, are based upon the teachings of the Creator of heaven and earth, Yahweh, and are found in the writings of the Holy Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments.

In Article One, of the series His Name Is . . . , we learned that Yahweh’s name means “I AM,” or the “Self-Existing One.” By declaring this name to Moses, in Exodus chapter three, verses thirteen and fourteen, God was establishing the fact that He was, and is, the always existent deity that created the heaven’s and the earth. Then in Article Seven, of the same series, we learned that Yahweh made all things by His Word — Davar — and that holy Word became a man, and lived, and died for man’s evil deeds (John 1:1-14). That man is Jesus Christ, and by this teaching Jesus, and Yahweh, are established to be the same God. Therefore, the teachings of Christ are not a newer religious belief system, but rather the original religious belief system. One that the Hebrews lost sight of, and moved away from (theologically) in about the year 200 B. C.

Christianity teaches that because mankind sinned against Yahweh, in the beginning (Genesis 3:1-19), they could no longer hope to approach the presence of their Creator for all of eternity (Romans 6:23a). Yahweh, out of the loving kindness of His divine character, shows grace to all of humanity by sending His incarnate Word, in human form, to be the sacrifice that would restore mankind to Himself (John 3:16-17). It’s this unique message of redemptive hope, through Christ’s sacrifice, that makes Christianity unlike any other religion. All other faiths teach that mankind can become righteous by his own efforts, but not Christianity (Romans 3:10). All a person must do to become a Christian (a true worshiper of Christ) is to simply confess Christ, and believe (Romans 10:9-10).

We have examined the basic religious belief systems connected to the three largest religious groups. In part two of our study, we will reveal the truths of Christ’s teachings and expose the false doctrines connected to the other religious belief systems.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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