Of all the religions in the world and all the good that mankind has done in the name of these religions, there is only one person who stands out among the others. There have been more sermons spoken and books written on Jesus of Nazareth than any other individual in history. He alone stands out among any other religious teacher.
Now before I go into proving this, we can honestly say that each religion's founder to the adherents of that religion believe their founder stands out. That is the very reason they follow the religions of their particular founder. It is attractive to them because they see some unique redeeming quality in it, that they do not see somewhere else.
But being different and being a beacon to a certain culture at a certain time does not mean the religion or its teacher possess the truth.
Today there are many “faiths” but the Bible teaches there is only one faith, the one delivered to the saints once and for all. A recent poll taken found that 67% of Americans believe there is no such thing as absolute truth. For many people, choosing which religious system to join does not involve considering whether it is true. They choose what appeals to them, what works for them (pragmatism). In Omni magazine a number of years ago it stated that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as it works for you. This has been embraced as the norm to know what is right and good. Unfortunately what works is no test for truth as something can work and not be based on truth at all. Something is not made true because we believe it. Most people today choose a religious system that appeals to their good nature, what they are comfortable with. If it works for them they are satisfied. If there is some self-improvement they can work into their lives that will make them happy that’s enough to justify it is right and from God.
Different religions may “work” for different people in some ways. When exercising our personal freedom of choice it cannot solve the issues of life, death, or God without considering the real truth! There are major differences to be considered. Our choice will not be satisfied by similar substitutes that change one’s present behavior and not their inner corrupt nature and their destination in the afterlife. God’s truth is from His nature and it is eternal. It will affect us in an eternal way. One can be satisfied with what they have arrived at not knowing that they would have struck gold if they would have kept on digging.
With the option of various faiths one can pick a religion or spirituality that is conducive to the lifestyle they want to live by. They can choose to believe in many Gods and become a Hindu. If monotheism and strict rituals appeal to them they can become Muslim. If they want to have an ethical way to live and do good without having God in their life they can become a Buddhist or another religion that has ethics without God. In this world there are many philosophies and religions all competing for our hearts. When one searches for the truth they need to be aware of many things that we are often not attentive to. There have been TV shows and articles about people of all faiths praying for the sick and all seeing some results. Some did not know that others were praying for them. This seems to imply that spirituality is all multi-faceted and that it does not matter what one believes or what God they pray to. Our culture is very pragmatic in its approach accepting the premise if it has worked for someone it should be accepted as valid and true. One persons ceiling becomes another person’s floor.
This is what I call the leaky
bucket syndrome. As one pours water into a gallon bucket with a hole in it, the water
slowly leaks out. Then they go and find another bucket and pour the water into that bucket which they find has a hole in it and they go find a third bucket to pour the
water into. But no matter how many buckets you use to replace the first one the water
still leaks out. The moral of the story is, if you start with the wrong premise, with
an untruth, it will always lose its attraction later on. It will always make less
sense as one goes under the surface and finds the belief system they have held is
filled with holes. The bible teaches us there is only one foundation we can build on,
that is Jesus Christ.
Mankind has a great imagination and a pursuit of knowing so developments of spiritual beliefs have surfaced. We are essentially spiritual beings because we have a spirit in a body that yearns to contact God our maker. In this world we have a smorgasbord of spirituality where one can eat freely to satisfy there hunger without knowing what they are eating. Before one fills themselves up on this spiritual food they need to see if the food they are ingesting is as healthy as they first thought. Certainly any newcomer to spiritual matters can be overwhelmed with all the claims and choices that are presented.So who is right? Are they all right as some claim, or is there only one that is right? Ask people of ten religions and you will probably get 10 answers. So what makes Jesus and Christianity different? Jesus is unique. He came down from heaven to reach man. “He said to them, You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world” (John 8:23). While all religions are trying to reach up to God by the work of their own hands to please him. Instead God took the initiative and reached down to us. Why? Because we do not have the ability to please Him on our own.
So why is Jesus different? Some say if you ignore the doctrine one can find the same promotion of practices in all religions. Yes there may be a few commonalities. This mostly comes from our living in a day of increased communication, and by these means our world has shrunk. This has led to more familiarity with the religious beliefs of other people and with it has come more tolerance finding what we have in common and ignoring the differences. We can as Christians respect people’s culture and choice but we do not have to agree with their religious system. Instead they need to hear the gospel and we are commanded to give it to them. After all, the gospel is God’s message of love to the people of the earth. If we do not give them the gospel are we really showing them love no matter what kind of good we do toward them?
This is what separates Jesus and His offer of a relationship to God, which we now call Christianity, from all the other teachers of religions. If we take Buddha out of Buddhism it goes on. One can practice Buddhism divorced from its founder. If Krishna is removed from Hinduism the teachings and the techniques continue. One can practice Islam without Mohammed being alive. But if we take Jesus out of Christianity it crumbles. Because this religion (if I may be allowed to use the term), is based upon a person and His work done on the cross, not our work. Salvation rests on the person of Christ who must be alive or it cannot be carried out. He alone has come back to life. There is no other religious teacher who started their religion that has died, and is alive today. None. 2 Tim. 1:9-10 “Calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” It was Jesus who died for everyone’s sins,I find it interesting that no other religious leader claims this.
If we look carefully there has never been another man or woman like Jesus. He never lied. He only told the truth, even when it offended people. He lied to no one even when it meant saving His life. He lived a life completely free from bad influences having total integrity. If he ran for a political office all the regular people who wanted an honest man would have voted for him. There was no one who could accuse him of any wrongdoing so they had to make up lies. They lied about what He said throughout his ministry and they even lied about his being raised from the dead. People continue to lie about him and the Bible's record even to the point of the ridiculous. One of the allegations is that the Bible was written a hundred years later after His death involving no eyewitnesses. The records show that the writers claimed to be eyewitnesses.
He loved people more than anything in the world as He came to die so even his enemies can be forgiven. His life was an open book to all who wanted to know Him. He did nothing in secret. He was approachable by all willing to listen and gave perfect wisdom in every situation. Jesus did not “borrow” His teachings from anyone. His source was God, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it was from God or whether I speak of My own authority” (John 7:16,17).
His compassion was evident to all. He ate with the outcasts and undesirables of society. “And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Then Jesus put out His hand and touched Him saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed” (Matthew 8:2,3). While the Religious leaders of the day scorned certain groups of people especially those who were not Pharisees, He instead sat and talked and ate with them. He let them know they were loved and not rejected by God. He had compassion on those rejected by the religious society and was for the underdog. He lifted up those who were in despair and humbled those who elevated themselves. As Peter His disciple later writes “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6,7).
He gave us the highest standard of human morality and showed power to the helpless beyond any normal human ability. His abilities were supernatural as He was able to see into people’s hearts and know what they were thinking. He was able to heal with a word, not needing to be present. There has never been another like him before or afterwards. He affected our history in such a manner that we count our dating from the time he was born. There is hardly a religion that does not recognize Him today.
In 1970 years He has changed millions of lives for the better and still answers those who call upon him. No one can ever find a bad thing about him. They might find fault with the Church but they couldn’t with Jesus when He was alive, and still can't today. Yet people ignore him and find others to esteem above him or just don’t believe a word He said that is recorded in the New Testament. So why do many people refuse His ability to have compassion and love them? Why do they hate him? Why do they oppose him, when He said He is the only way, truth and life for all people? With people always appealing to tolerance, why are they not tolerant of Jesus? The reason is because His statements of exclusiveness are disturbing.
Because He gives an absolute standard of truth. In a world where people are led by their feelings people become offended. He taught that we are not good in ourselves. So they look at His teachings as negative, as He addresses fallen mankind as sinners. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe in the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But until one can comes to the realization that this is their state without Christ He can’t set them free.
If all the other religions are equally valid ways to God, then the Christian claim of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as the one and only way would be impossible. It would be not just one of the many ways but the only wrong way. If we could work out our own salvation by our good deeds, religious rituals, and practices as each religion requires, God did not have to bring the solution for our sins by crucifixion. It would have been the only absolutely wrong thing to do!
If Jesus did not rise from the dead as He claimed then His claims and His followers are audacious, preposterous and they would be the greatest group of deceivers of all time. He would not be a good teacher to be listened to but should be rejected, despite all the other wonderful things that were said and done to better mankind. It either is truth and should be held onto like our being in a life raft alone in the middle of the sea or not a word should go into our ears. John Warwick Montgomery a respected theologian writes that: Christianity’s truth claim consists merely of a finger pointing back through time to an historical figure who divided world history into two parts—to Jesus of Nazareth—to His statements concerning Himself and true religion, and to the life He led attesting to the statements He made. An honest, historically accurate, scientific investigation of these data (involving chiefly a study of the documents collected in the New Testament) will show that Jesus claimed to be God Incarnate, that He described the only true (but not the only possible) religion consisting of fellowship with Himself, and that He attested His claims by a sinless life which profoundly affected everyone who crossed His path, and by a resurrection which left no doubt in the minds of eyewitnesses that He was in fact the true God (John W. Montgomery, The Shape of The Past: An Introduction to Philosophical Historiography, vol. 1, p. 328 1962).
No other religious teacher laid down their life for their followers like this and they certainly did not for those who opposed them and were enemies. “For when we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).
To disbelieve in the historical recoded documents that we have today one must disregard our entire knowledge of Greco Roman history. Because our knowledge of these cultures and the past depends upon documentation that is far less adequate and evidential than the evidence we have for Jesus and the Bible.
Bible Scholar F. F. Bruce stated, “The historical ‘once-for-all-ness’ of Christianity which distinguishes it from those religious and philosophical systems, which are not specially related to any particular time, makes the reliability of the writings which purport to record this revelation a question of first-rate importance” (The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? p. 8).
Jesus made it clear that we must choose when we hear. We are either for him or against him. There is no neutral ground, for to make no choice is a choice in itself. Christianity is either true reality or a figment of people’s imagination. If not the truth it is then no more or less then the other religions, it is one option to choose among the others.
It is one thing to say God gave me a message. It is a whole other thing to say I am God and here is the message. Those who walked with Jesus were very careful to write down what they heard as eyewitnesses. Why believe and follow something that is not true. Peter writes “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” (2 Pet .1:16-18) Peter is referring to the transfiguration as they were able to see Jesus for who he really is. As He hid himself from the people’s eyes but revealed it to his three closest followers on the mountaintop. Peter later died for believing in Christ.
Another one of the witnesses was John who later wrote in his first epistle, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life--the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us--that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (I Jn.1:1-4). Christianity gives people the truth which in turn gives them an unfading happiness through life. Not a happiness that is dependent on circumstanced but a inner joy that can be constant.
The apostle Paul who was an adamant enemy of Christianity was on his way to his next extermination of Christians when he was convinced by an experience with Jesus. “I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen” (Romans 9:1-5).
People often ask the question “Can you prove Christianity is true?” “Have you seen God? In answering these questions- no I have not seen God physically but I have seen his touch on my life and numerous others to know it is real. After one comes into a relationship with Him they know the difference of before and after. There is a transforming power that is given to the recipient by faith. Christianity can be proven to be true because it rests on the claims of Christ. But the question that needs to be asked back is “will the person accept it if there is sufficient evidence.” Some do and some don’t despite the evidence that is presented.
In Heb.11:3 the word of God states that what we see is made by things we do not see, invisible things. In 1896 Roshen who began atomic physics discovered the X- ray and in 1923 began to discover through the electronic microscope that atoms were made of tiny particles of energy and out of these sub atomic particles are what all things were made of. Now what holds these atoms together? The nucleus of an atom are so changed that they should repel each other. There is some invisible force that holds it together. We cannot see this but reality and our experience tells us this is true. In Heb.1:3 it tells us Christ the architect of the universe holds all things together by the word of His power. Col.1:17 tells us “in Christ” all things consist and are held together. How is this possible that thousands of years before science discovered the laws and the mechanics to prove the things that could not be seen by the eye, the Bible eludes to Science when it is truly scientific verifies the Bible. So we are without excuse and have more knowledge then necessary to believe in our day and age.
It’s not that we don’t know God exists. For the prophet Isaiah writes Isa.64:4 “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, who acts for the one who waits for Him.” Over 700 years later the apostle Paul in the New Testament writes. Rom.1:20 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, (not hidden) being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-- and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” This is where the other religions were birthed from refusing the correct knowledge of God that was once universally known. We now have the God of Eastern thought as impersonal, God is everything and everything is God. This is now the new age concept of God as a life force within all of creation. The Bible presents God as independent from His creation, the God of the Bible is personal and relational. Christianity believes and teaches that the Bible alone is the revealed Word of God. Even though it was written by men, the source of the authorship is God. This claim was not invented by the Church, but is the claim the Bible makes for itself. Men of God’s own choosing recorded the words that were heard from Him.
Christianity claims a moral certainty, to anyone who is willing to take the evidence and evaluate it in light of its historicity, prophecy and manuscripts. Christianity claims an external verification through evidence, as well as an internal witness through God. To those looking in from outside the Christian faith, they can be shown a great amount of evidence for its truth claims. But when a person becomes a Christian, the assurance of truth becomes reality. But this takes a step of faith to reach this point. This is not a blind faith but an evidential faith. We need to understand that there is no 100% evidence provided for the seeker. Despite less than 100% evidence it will not stop someone from coming to an accurate and appropriate conclusion. Faith is necessary to know God because God is invisible and He is infinite. We as creatures have been given a certain amount of proof to know He exists and what we need to know Him. This faith is much like a small child in the home of loving parent’s. When the child is hungry he or she knows (trusts) the parents provision for them, that they will not go hungry. The parents are watching out for the child because of a relationship of love. So although the child does not have the evidence that everyday the parents will feed him or her, the child trusts the parents. So 100% evidence is not necessary for one to come to God. Needless to say we find that people don’t apply the standard of 100% certainty to anything else for if they did, nothing would happen. No one makes decisions on 100% certainties for anything. To do so one would have to wait great lengths of time to make any move. When we buy something we are trusting a manufacturer that it will work like they say. When we drive on the road we are trusting the other drivers to obey the laws. There is no one that possesses 100% certainty for anything because we do not have perfect knowledge. God knows this and this is why He asks for us to exercise faith. Faith is trust and in this we can become certain, and have the assurance that what He said is true. Only a portion of evidence is necessary to believe in the truth. It’s like being in a house with the lights out and the shades closed in the middle of a sunny day. Someone can come over and tell us to go outside to experience a beautiful day. We can stay in the dark and say I don’t believe its light or we can trust that person’s report and just walk outside. Or we can ask for some evidence by looking out the window. Looking out the window we have enough evidence that it is sunny like they say, but we are not experiencing it. If we go outside we can find the report true, it is a beautiful day. We can feel the sun on us and the breeze blowing. Faith without any action is not faith. After faith is exercised the complete evidence of it will be there. We then know what we believe.
Moses 1500 years before Christ came into the world incorporated the first five books of the bible. Then there are the words of the prophets that spoke throughout Israel’s history. Because they turned their back on the Lord He sent them men calling them to repent and believe. They also spoke of a future redeemer through Israel that would bring reconciliation to the whole world. Heb.1 tells us that God does not use prophets any longer to deliver His scripture to his people but it is by the ultimate message bearer, Jesus the Son of God. So the eyewitnesses of Jesus wrote down His words as the final revelation to man. It was climatic and final because it was God who became a man this time. He didn’t send ANOTHER PROPHET BUT CAME HIMSELF. He said He was sent directly from heaven. So when someone refuses the New Testament record they are rejecting God almost face to face. “But Isaiah is very bold and says: “I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me” (Rom. 10:20). No one seeks God on their own but it is He who is seeking us. Have you been sought? Has He come to you in ways only you would personally know?
It’s not often a matter of evidence needed to believe but resistance to the truth of God that keeps us in unbelief. It is something we all have in our own fallen nature, as the Scripture says the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. As Jesus spoke to Nicodemus He said in John 3:16-21: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” It’s about dealing with our sin nature of which no other religious system has an answer for.
The light spoken of here is synonymous with God and His word, as both are called light. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. The gospel is so simple that it disturbs those who consider themselves intelligent and important people of the world.
Are you looking for reasons to believe? Are you an honest seeker of the truth? Are you looking for reasons to disbelieve? Prov.8:17: “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.” You may not have enough information to satisfy you about Jesus, but are you open enough, willing to hear and to gain understanding. Has He drawn you so that you now want to know Him?
The problem is not a matter of “I can’t believe because the facts have not been presented” but it is more like “No matter what proof you present, I won’t accept it.” If anyone is truly interested in evaluating the evidence for proof of Christianity’s truth, understand that God (the true God) has something wonderful for your life. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:11-13) God’s will is for a person to believe and repent. As it is written God is not willing for any to perish but that all will come to repentance. We have the ability to do so but it becomes a matter of choice. God has done all to prove His love for us by sending His Son to earth to be rejected by those He loved and cared for. To die an excruciating death, humiliated before the people He came to forgive yet He did not retaliate. He continues to hold out open arms to anyone who will come to him and will close them around those who come to the cross for forgiveness of their sins.