Everybody has an opinion about God:
“It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.”
“All religions worship the same God, just in different ways.”
“There are many different paths that lead to heaven.”
But there is a big problem with this whole “all religions are equally valid” concept – and that is the simple fact that two contradictory ideas cannot both be true at the same time.
It is true that many of the world’s religions share some common elements of morality, but to argue that all religions lead to the same God does not make any sense, since every religion paints such a unique portrait of who God is and how he operates.
I have heard otherwise intelligent people publicly proclaim that Christians and Muslims all worship the same God, just in different ways. Yikes! I suppose that is possible if God is schizophrenic!
The Bible teaches that true born-again believers are guaranteed eternal life as a result of God’s grace. We cannot earn our salvation; we can only receive it as a gift by placing our faith in Jesus.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
(Ephesians 2:8, ESV)
To Muslims, there is no assurance of salvation, only the hope that one has performed enough good works in this lifetime to outweigh the bad. Faith in Jesus has nothing to do with it. Except for martyrdom, Islam teaches of no eternal assurance.
The Bible teaches that the Jews are God’s chosen people, and Jesus is their promised Messiah. The Koran teaches that Jesus was just another prophet of Allah, and that Jews and Christians are infidels who are cursed by Allah and must be subdued or killed.
Do you really expect me to believe that the same God endorses both of these opposing faiths? Give me oxygen! Now you could argue that the Christian God is real; or you could argue that the Muslim God is real; or you could argue that both of these Gods are make-believe.
But the one thing you absolutely cannot do is argue that these Gods are the same person! That defies all the rules of logic.
Let’s take another example. Hindus believe in the sanctity of life. They believe there is one all-pervasive Supreme Being who created everything. Any Christian would agree with those concepts.
The teachings of Hinduism also emphasize peacefulness and tolerance of other faiths. I have been acquainted with a number of Hindus over the years, and I have known them to be kind, courteous, and friendly people.
But Hindus and Christians are serving two very different Gods.
Hindus believe that a person earns his way to salvation by his soul’s progression through many births until all karmas have been resolved, and maksha (liberation from the cycle of rebirth) is attained.
But the Bible says, “… it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27, ESV)
Hinduism teaches that all souls will eventually “graduate” and reach their destiny. In contrast, the Bible quotes Jesus declaring, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again [of the Spirit] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5, ESV)
Obviously, these two conflicting ideas about reaching heaven cannot both be true. Since our eternal destiny is such a critical issue, we had better get our facts straight! We cannot afford to place our trust in anything but the absolute truth. The stakes are too high!
It makes no difference how sincerely I might believe in any particular religion. My preferences are irrelevant – this is not a popularity contest. All that really matters is which one is actually true.
If I want to jump across the Grand Canyon on my motorcycle, I better be sure I have correctly calculated the proper height and angle of my jump ramp, and the horsepower required to reach the perfect launch speed. My life depends on an accurate grasp of the data!
Likewise, if I want to arrive in heaven someday, I better make sure I am serving the one authentic God who can really take me there.
In any life or death situation, the facts are crucial to success!
I used to wonder why, in the Bible, God repeatedly referred to himself as “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” It seemed like such an awkward, long-winded title. But seeing how easily the human race is led astray by false religions, it makes perfect sense to me now.
I think God was establishing his brand. He was differentiating himself from all the false gods of the nations surrounding Israel. He was laying down a marker that he was THE GOD, the one and only true living “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
He was THE GOD who made that eternal covenant with Abraham, and then centuries later rescued Abraham’s descendants, the children of Israel, from slavery in Egypt. Many centuries after that, Jesus – the promised Messiah – would enter the human race as a Jew, a direct descendant of Abraham, just as God had prophesied.
If you study the religions of the world, you will discover a common theme. They all prescribe methods by which believers can somehow earn their way to heaven. But however sincere or well-intentioned those efforts might be, they are in vain.
The teachings of Jesus fly in the face of all these “self-help” religions. Jesus declares to us that we cannot save ourselves!
God is too holy and we are too sinful. Our only hope for salvation is the mercy of God. And that divine mercy is now available, but only because Jesus chose to hang on that cross and take our punishment.
Jesus, the only man to ever live without sin, died as a substitute for all of us who are drowning in sin. God sent his Son to redeem us through this one final perfect sacrifice.
So we now have an eternal hope. God has made a way for us to approach him. But we have to pay attention, or else we can easily wander off into the giggle-weeds looking for a God of our own choosing, instead of accepting the authority of the God who really is.
We all want to be independent, and we don’t really appreciate some nosey God interfering with our lives! So we prefer to pick and choose from the smorgasbord of the world’s religions in hopes of finding a “spiritual path” that suits our tastes.
Some people go so far as to deny that God exists at all, and live accordingly. But no one can simply wish God away. He created us! He was here long before we came … and he will be here long after we’re gone!
He has sent his prophets to warn us. He has sent his Son to save us. He has given his Word to guide us. And since Jesus is the real deal, then every religion on earth, however well-intentioned, is mistaken.
There is only room in this universe for one God … THE GOD who created it to begin with!
He is the eternal. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the only true God.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
The intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
(1 Corinthians 1:18-21, NIV)
(This post is excerpted from the book Jesus Is Trying To Get Your Attention.)