Why Believe

WHY BELIEVE? ENGAGING TOUGH QUESTIONS ABOUT GOD

Part 3 – Aren’t All Religions Valid Expressions of God?
(Various Passages)

January 28, 2018
Dr. Mark S. Hartman, Lead Pastor

1. INTRODUCTION

The Bible calls for Christians to be loving, respectful and kind to all people including those of different religions. We are never honoring God by treating people any other way. (1 Thessalonians 5:13,14; Luke 6:27-36; Colossians 4:5-6; 1 Peter 3:15; 1 Peter 2:17).

2. THE UNDERSTANDING OF GOD IN THE VARIOUS RELIGIONS IS TOTALLY CONTRADICTORY.

A. Hinduism teaches pantheism. Pantheism is the belief that everything in the universe is somehow a god. So there are, in effect, millions of gods. In fact, the ultimate goal of a Hindu is to stop the process of reincarnation and become a god himself.

B. Classical Buddhism teaches there is no god.

C. In Islam there is only one god named Allah.

1. Mohammad’s description of God is not how the Bible describes God. Islam claims the Bible got it wrong but the Koran got it right.

2. Mohammad’s version of Allah is as a distant unknowable god. He loves but his love is totally conditional and seemingly arbitrary. It is conditional because it is dependent totally upon a person’s performance. But, even if a person lives a very good life, Allah could still choose to disregard every good thing that person has done and still not save that person. Allah is not a father and has no son. Jesus is considered to be a prophet by Islam but is NOT AT ALL like the New Testament teaches Him to be. In Islam, Jesus didn’t die for people’s sins and He didn’t rise from the dead.

D. In Christianity and Judaism, there is only one God named Yahweh.

1. God’s love is unconditional. He loves even those who don’t love Him. He expresses grace even toward those who do not believe in Him. At the same time, God is holy and just and requires judgment.

2. In Christianity, God declares that He is a Father and He sent His Son Jesus to the earth. God is a personal God who wants to know us and us to know Him. His Son first took on a body, came to the earth and died in our place so that He could provide an opportunity for our salvation.

E. We can and should be kind, respectful and patient toward each other. But, acting like somehow all these contradictions about God don’t exist between the religions is being dishonest with reality.

3. THE IDEA OF HOW TO BE SAVED IS THE SAME WITH ALL MAJOR RELIGIONS EXCEPT CHRISTIANITY.

  • Pretty much, every religion but Christianity teaches that in order to be saved, you must do good deeds. In other words, your salvation is dependent upon you and your behavior.
  • In every case with other religions, people do good deeds in order to save themselves…in other words, the good deeds have a self-serving motive…to convince God they should go to heaven.
  • The problem is in no religion is the effectual number of good deeds identified.
  • New Testament Christianity says that your salvation is totally dependent upon God, not you.
  • The Bible says that nobody can earn their way into heaven. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).
  • Christianity is actually spelled “DONE” – it’s done! Jesus Christ has done for us what we could never do for ourselves.
  • Christianity also tells us we are to do good deeds but they are only to express love and obedience to God, not to save oneself.
  • What separates Christianity from every other religion is Jesus.
  • John 14:6 I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me. (Jesus)
  • Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Jesus’ disciples)
  • titus 3:5 God saved us. it was not because of any good works that we ourselves had done but because of His own mercy that He saved us.
  • When a Christ follower says: “All religions are valid expressions of God or that we get to heaven by being good” that person is actually saying that Jesus was wrong.

4. WHAT GIVES JESUS THE RIGHT TO SAY HE IS CORRECT AND EVERYONE ELSE IS WRONG?

A. Jesus did what He said He was going to do – He rose from the grave.

B. The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel; The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, Gary Habermas

C. Online resources from Gary Habermas:

1. The Uniqueness of Jesus Among the Other Major World Religions http://www.garyhabermas.com/Evidence2/Habermas-Uniqueness-of-Jesus-Christ-2016.pdf

2. The Resurrection of Jesus: A Rational Inquiry http://www.garyhabermas.com/books/dissertation/habermas_dissertation_1976.pdf

3. The Thomas Factor: Using Your Doubts to Draw You Closer to God http://www.garyhabermas.com/books/thomas_factor/thomas_factor.htm