"Which Religion Is The True One?" (May 2007)
Recently, someone who was raised a Christian asked me the question, “I was taught from a child about the Christian belief and that it is the only true religion. How do you know if that is true? How do you know if what we were taught is the “real religion” and not false? We believe it because that was what we grew up believing- it was the only thing we were taught. There are many religions around the world and they all believe that they are right- mostly because that’s what they were taught and raised up believing in.” I have heard this question many times from many other people- you probably have also. In most of the different religions, it’s adherents believe that theirs is the true one because that’s what they grew up believing in. So the question is, “Is Christianity the true religion and the others are all false?” This month I will attempt to answer this question.
“The Origin of Religions”
As you look at all the different religions you will see that most all of them started when someone received a “revelation” from “God”, “Jesus” or an “angel”. Mohammed, Sun Myung Moon, Joseph Smith, etc. Even true Christianity was started on a revelation from God. Our roots actually go back to Abraham. When God appeared to him, He told him that He would make him a father of many nations and his children would be like the sands of the sea and the stars of heaven. “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:17,18) When God spoke of the “sand of the sea shore”, He was talking about the physical descendants that would be born to Abraham. When He told him that they would be as the “stars of heaven”, He was referring to “spiritual” descendants- those who put their trust in faith in Christ. “And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:29) You may say that this was the Old Testament and given to the Jews but was not the beginning of Christianity as we know it. Well let’s look in the New Testament- we will see the revelation there also. Remember when Jesus asked His disciples who they said He was? “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.“ (Matthew 16:15-18) Peter said that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus told them that He was going to build His church upon this “rock”. He was telling them that He was going to build the church on the “revelation” that Jesus is the Christ. When it was time to bring the Gentiles in, because God “so loves the ‘world’ and doesn’t want anyone to perish” He gave Peter a revelation. This revelation came in the form of a vision in which the Lord spoke to him and gave him the command to go and preach the gospel to the Gentiles. “And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” (Acts 10:28) Since all the religions began with a revelation, a vision, an appearance, a command from a spiritual being (even Christianity) who’s to say which one heard and received a true revelation?
“Follow the Leader”
Another thing that all religions have in common is a leader- they each have someone they follow. The Unification Church follows Rev. Moon. The Mormons follow the teaching of Joseph Smith. The Buddhist follow the teachings of Buddha. The Muslims follow the teachings of Mohammed. Christians follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Every religious group is following someone by following their teachings. The question is, “Which leader is leading their followers in the right way- the true way?”
Looking closer, you will see so many more similarities in all the religions of the world including Christianity. They all do good works and deeds, they give, have a doctrine they follow, live by certain disciplines and they put their hope and trust in their belief. So what makes Christianity the only true religion if they all do some of the same things? I believe there are three major points that not only separates Christianity from every other religion in the world, but answers the questions, “Which one is right?” It’s not my desire to just point out the differences. I don’t want to just give you knowledge and enlighten your understand about Christianity, I want to prove through these differences below that it’s those differences that prove that Christianity is the only true religion and that Jesus Christ is the One you should give your life to and follow.
“Faith Or Works”
This first point is the major difference and hardest proof that you should be following Jesus Christ. Most religions believe in a God/god. What is a god? The dictionary definition is- A being of supernatural powers or attributes, believed in and worshiped by a people; a deity thought to control some part of nature or reality; supernatural being conceived as the perfect and omnipotent and omniscient originator and ruler of the universe; the object of worship. In all religions except Christianity, everything the adherents do is in an attempt to reach God/god- they desire His approval, His benefits and blessings, and His acceptance. As I have studied the doctrines of many religions around the world I have discovered a common thread--- works! They are all trying to win the approval of their god through their good works. Some of their works included witnessing, prayers at certain times, pilgrimages, giving aims, destroying their enemies, living in solitude, and so on. Their religion and beliefs are based on works. If they work hard enough, long enough and are good enough they believe that there is a chance to obtain acceptance from the one who is the object of their worship. How is it possible that a God/god who is an object of worship that is supernatural, omnipotent, omniscient, the ruler- not a mere mortal- who is to feared, revered, given oblation to can be reached by, much less approved of and accepted, human beings who are inadequate, flawed, and imperfect? For us mere humans it would be impossible. And even if we could, how do we know when good enough is good enough? And what if after we did reach it, we didn’t continue to follow through, would we have to start at the beginning and try all over again?
If you believe in God/god, regardless of who you believe God/god is, then the fact that he is God/god means that you can’t reach him or attain to his acceptance.
We are inadequate, imperfect, flawed and marred by sin. There is nothing that we can do to change that- we can’t do enough good works, give enough aims, pray enough prayers, do enough religious deeds or penitence. There is nothing we can do to reach Him- He is too holy, too high, too lofty. We are so far removed from God because we are sinful. If you don’t think you are, then why are you working so hard to gain approval? Or why do you even need a God/god or follow a religion that teaches there is one?
Christianity is the truth because it’s the only religion that teaches the reality of man’s inability to save himself. It tells us that we are sinful and can never reach God on our own no matter how hard we try or how many good works we do. Jesus taught us that we don’t have to work to be accepted by God. We have obtained salvation through faith- not through works. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9) “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5) “Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.” (Romans 3:27,28- Amplified Bible) “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” (Romans 5:1,2- New Living Translation) “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26) “I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” (Philippians 3:9b- NLT) “Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” (Galatians 2:16- NLT)
A Christian’s works don’t save him or even give him the slightest hope of being saved by them. Our salvation comes through putting our faith in the work that Jesus Christ did for us on the cross when He died and shed His blood for our sins. The sacrifice paid by Jesus on our behalf is the only one that is acceptable by God. Therefore, we become acceptable before Him when we put our faith in Jesus. “For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.” (Colossians 1:19,20- NLT) A Christian’s works don’t save him, they are done to bring glory and honor to God. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Our works follow our faith in God, and are proof of the salvation that we have already received. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26)
The second point is that of peace. When we are right with God, there is a peace that comes into our lives. Any true Christian, not just a professing one, will have peace and joy in their heart. There is a peace that passes understanding that envelopes their life. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) You can’t manufacture peace- you either have it or you don’t. And true peace comes from only one source- the Prince of Peace. “And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6b) There is a change that takes place in their life. They are not the same; they have passed from death into life; the weight of sin has been lifted; they have exchanged a heavy yoke for His light burden; they are a new creation; a good tree that produces good fruit; they walk in love. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35) If you have ever been “brave” enough to read “Foxes’ Book of Martyrs”, it says that as the Christians were tortured the one thing that was commonly said about them was that when the time of their death came- even a torturous death- they faced it with peace and dignity; so much so, that even their executioners would often be convicted and desire the same change in their lives. For the Christian there is an internal change that occurs and it’s reflected externally in the things they do, the lives they live, their relationships, their responses and their personal dealings. The other religions don’t bring a change that takes place in the heart and is reflected in the lives of it’s adherents-- it is strictly external.
The last point is that of relationship. There is no other religion that serves a God/god that invites them to become intimate with them. Most religions only serve their god, they aren’t intimately acquainted with him. They know him only through the teachings of someone else- they don’t have a personal and ongoing experience with him. This is not the case in Christianity. Our God invites us to be personal with Him. He addresses us with such terms of endearment as “Father, child, son, husband, daughters, widows, friends”. “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:14,15) He also invites us a rule and reign with Him, makes us heirs and joint heirs, gives us everything He has. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Revelation 3:21) “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Galatians 4:7) “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:17) Why would a God/god create human beings if he didn’t desire to have a relationship with them? If he wanted to be alone he would have just not created anything. If he was only looking for something to rule over, he could have made sure that would have happened and created “robots”.
The bottom line is-- if you believe there is a God then your goal should be to please him. Can you do that by yourself? Is it possible? Can you please him by doing enough good deeds or paying enough homage? Will you ever be good enough? If you finally got good enough how would you know if you aren't able to have a relationship with him so He could tell you? How would you know that you have been accepted by him? Where’s your hope? In the Christian belief we know we aren’t good enough- we know we never can be- but we know that Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, was good enough and when we put our faith in Jesus this pleases God the Father, therefore, we are accepted by Him. Knowing we are accepted by Him gives us peace because we have the assurance in our hearts that we are right with Him. When we are right with Him, we know we have a relationship with Him. Having a relationship with Him gives us the security that He is with us always. This is why we know that this is the true religion-- because it’s a “know so”, not a “hope so” religion. “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:22,23- NIV)