Season: 4 Episode: 056
Jesus is the most offensive historical figure on earth. Is Christianity a religion and if not, why do we believe it is the only way that leads to eternal life? Shanda answers these questions on today’s episode.
“We don’t necessarily deny Jesus, we just reject Him for who He is and make Him who we want Him to be.”
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Hey guys! Merry Christmas!
This is Christmas week and I am so excited about today’s episode.
If you wouldn’t mind doing me a huge favor and leaving me a 5 star rating on iTunes, that would be so helpful and appreciated.
I am going to get right into it today because you probably have wrapping or holiday shopping to get to and I really want you to enjoy this lesson and let it sink in before we get into celebrating Christmas.
Today, we are going to talk about why Christianity is unique to all other religions.
I hope this encourages you, increases your faith in the God we serve, and cements your hope that God is in control and that He paid the highest price to have a relationship with you when He sent His son born of a virgin birth into the world so He could die.
There’s only one point I want to make today: Christianity is the only religion where God came to man. Now remember, when someone makes a proof claim, he/she has the burden of proof. That means you stand back and wait for them to back up their claim with the evidence.
Being that I just made a proof claim, I have the burden of proof. And that’s what I’m going to do today.
Many people will tell you that Jesus isn’t the only way to the Father.
That means that Christianity isn’t the only religion to follow. Do you believe that? Because only 4% of evangelical christians have a biblical worldview, and that means that 96% of them struggle with the fact that Jesus is the only way.
Many today think it’s narrow minded to say that Christianity is the only way to heaven. They will call you intolerant. Because of post-modernism and the preaching of tolerance, pluralism is the belief of many. And I would also say that due to the ignorance of our own beliefs and religion, we don’t spot pluralism when we see it.
So today, we are going to talk about why Jesus is the most controversial historical figure and why Christianity itself is offensive to the world.
Many will tell you you are closed minded and intolerant when you say that Jesus is the only way to heaven.
Are we intolerant? Should we compromise this truth to make others feel good about their own beliefs?
That’s what we’re going to get into today, this Christmas week.
Jesus is the most controversial historical figure.
Most acknowledge His existence. What they refute is His resurrection. They refute that He was God. I won’t get into the evidence for the resurrection right now. I’ll probably do that around Easter and that is a topic for apologetics because there is lots of evidence for it that will help you form a solid argument.
Today, in our current culture, Christianity is the most offensive religion on earth. Currently, Christians in Columbia are being killed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces just because they believe in Jesus.
Christianity is offensive in the middle east and China. There are repercussions for proclaiming the name of Jesus in many other countries today, yet in America, it’s offensive for different reasons.
When we proclaim the name of Jesus in America, it’s to back up whatever claims we want to make, whether it be racism, homosexuality, love, abortion, and many other cultural hot topics.
People don’t necessarily try and deny the existence of Jesus. Not in America because remember … we are a predominantly religious nation. Have you heard the politicians that have quoted scripture in the last couple of months but support heinous acts? They doh’t deny Jesus, but they will tell you what they think Jesus really meant when He addressed these topics in His word.
You don’t know how many times I saw people share what they think Jesus meant when He flipped over the tables of the money changers in the temple and how people used that example to defend the riots over the summer.
I recently read posts by pastors that said Jesus loved women and fought for them, so abortion is necessary in some situations and that’s why they’re pro-choice.
I find it odd how many of these American Christians use the name of Jesus to try and prove their point when following their own sinful desires.
That’s what I find funny about Americans and Jesus. We don’t necessarily deny Jesus, we just reject Him for who He is and make Him who we want Him to be.
Americans have no idea what it means to suffer for the name of Christ. I pray to God we will never experience what that means in the same way our brothers and sisters from other countries do, but I do not think we will escape it.
So understand that the name of Jesus is the most controversial name under heaven.
It always has been. That, I believe, is why the Bible mentions on several occasions the following about Jesus’ name:
In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to that Father but by me.”
In Acts 4:12, Peter said, “Salvation exists in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven in which men must be saved.”
In Acts 9:16, Jesus told Ananias to go to Paul and tell him how much he would “suffer for My names sake.”
The muslim religion does not deny that Jesus existed, only that He was a prophet, but not divine.
Buddha never claimed to be God. In fact, Buddhism is a religion that leads others away from God.
One of the more popular beliefs in America is that as long as I’m “good” I will go to heaven.
When someone says this, I would ask, What do you mean by “good”? What is your standard of “good”? Who set the standard of “goodness”? Who gets to determine the acts of goodness?
We wouldn’t know good apart from God because He is good and we are not.
To say that Jesus is the only way to heaven seems controversial and narrow, but is it?
There’s something called the law of non-contradiction.
That means something cannot be both true and not true and the same time.
For example, you can’t be both pregnant and not pregnant.
You can’t be both dead and alive. You can only be one or the other.
In the same way, Christianity is either true or it’s not. Jesus is either God or He isn’t. He either rose from the grave or He did not. He is either the only way to the Father or He’s not the way at all.
What we must remember is this:
If we celebrate Christ’s birth this Christmas, we acknowledge that He is the only way. We acknowledge that He did rise from the grave or guess what? Christianity is a lie and we have believed in vain, like Paul said.
What man can split the calendar in two? From BC to AD? Jesus has changed history and paved the way for us to enter into heaven. There is no other religion that compares to the God of the Bible.
What have other gods done?
In all other religions, man has to search for God. Not only does man have to find his way to god, but he also has to earn his way to heaven, paradise or whatever each religion calls the afterlife.
I’ve mentioned this verse in Ecclesiastes before, but Solomon said that God put eternity in man’s heart. Most people are religious or spiritual regardless of the religion they practice. And all men are seekers. When I say men, I mean mankind or humanity. This is the motivation in every human being … to search for something greater than ourselves.
But that means we run the risk of being religious, and sometimes religion tricks us into feeling as though we’re on the right track.
According to the Christian definition of religion: it is people attempting to climb their own ladder to salvation.
This is the main reason why the term “religion” does not define Christianity. One, because we cannot earn our salvation, and two, because it is a relationship with Christ.
We will get to more on why Christianity does not qualify as a religion according to this definition in a bit.
In fact, many religions are based solely on experience more than they are truth. Truth can be tested. Experience cannot. Religious experience alone is not sufficient to demonstrate the truth of any religion … including Christianity.
One of my pet peeves for the question to, “How do you know God exists or why is Christ the only way to salvation” is: “I know that I know!” Or “I’ve experienced God and I know He exists.”
It’s not that these things aren’t true.
You can know that you know or be convinced that God exists. But your experience alone will not convert anyone to Christianity. They need the evidence and the truth of why Christianity leads them to eternal life.
For example, Buddhism is primarily atheistic but there are ritualistic practices. It is works-oriented in terms of enlightenment. It’s a prime example of religion.
Again, Buddha is the founder of Buddhism but never claimed to be God. It is very rigorous and burdensome. There is an eightfold path to enlightenment. Eightfold path. Say no more! I’m out!! It tires me out just thinking about it.
In fact, hinduism, buddhism, and mormonism cannot be tested as objectively true.
Even mormonism relies on experience, which makes it subjective. Anything that is subjective truth cannot be tested because people will then say, “What’s true for you may not be true for me.”
This, again, is where Christianity can be tested to see if it is true or not because it provides explanations and evidence for: evil in the world, the existence of God, the evidence for Christ’s resurrection and the NT validity. (which I am going to teach in apologetics online in 2021, so sign up online ASAP).
The muslims will claim to worship the same God as the Christians, but they do not worship Jesus. Muhammed never claimed to be God, but he did claim to be a prophet of God. Muslims do not believe in or worship Jesus. They have their own Bible … the Quran … and the Muslim religion believes in earning their way to heaven where what they’ve done on earth depends on the level they earn. Again … man fighting his way to God.
The Orthodox Jews are still awaiting a Messiah. They hold to the OT teachings and strict beliefs and practices.
So, why is Christianity not a religion in accordance with the definition of the word?
Again, religion is people desperately striving after God, as they do not understand their own condition very well. If they did, they would recognize the simplicity of the gospel which is foolishness to the world: that we are sinners in need of a savior.
But specifically, Christianity does the following:
First, it emphasizes the fact that God has an intimate and personal relationship with His creation. That’s you and me.
The hope of the world is not in religion but in the son of God. Matthew 1:23 says, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).
It’s become sort of cliche that we say Christianity is not a religion but a relationship, but that is the exact outcome of what Jesus accomplished on the cross.
Read the NT and you’ll see that the religious leaders in the first century were just that … religious. Jesus said, “Do as they say but not as they do” in Matt 23:3.
Why? Because they kept all of the religious observances of keeping the Sabbath and going to the temple, but they missed the very thing they said they knew … OT prophecy fulfilled when the Word was made flesh right before their eyes.
Jesus said, “I and the Father are one. If you knew the Father, you would recognize Me.” What does it mean to know? It mans to have a personal relationship and fellowship with God the Father. But they were only religious.
Secondly, Christianity worships the only God who can relate to His people.
Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus was tempted like us and in every way we were tempted. He empathizes with our weaknesses because He understands what it is like to live life in a fallen world. He knows what temptations are since He was both God and man.
Again, there is no other religion where the god of that religion empathizes with humanity. What does it mean to empathize? It means you can relate because you’ve been through it.
Jesus laid aside His glory as the only begotten son of God and clothed Himself with flesh.
He felt pain, rejection, ridicule, poverty. Jesus had dirty feet, got tired, his stomach growled. He wanted the same things you and I want … and He felt the same things we felt … He can relate to us. And so much so, that He has become our high priest making intercession to the Father on our behalf.
And finally, Christianity is the only one that says you cannot do anything to earn your salvation because Jesus did it for you. Grace. That’s what it’s called. No other religion extends grace.
And don’t forget, we all need grace. Man proved he couldn’t follow one command back in the garden and that was not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Remember though, Adam and Eve had the very presence of God. They didn’t have to earn their way to His presence. He walked in the garden with them. He spoke face to face with them.
The serpent came in and deceived Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil by telling her she could be like God. She ate. Adam ate.
And that was the end of God with man in perfect fellowship.
Man would fill the void somehow; the hole, if you will, that the absence of a perfect relationship with His creator would make. Mankind would do what mankind did in the days of the tower of Babel and try and make a name for themselves for significance.
He would do what Pharoah did and become his own god to try and fill the void.
Mankind would do what the Hebrews did in Exodus and create golden images with their own hands so they could worship the gods of their own desires.
Mankind would do what the people of Athens did in Acts and set up altars to unknown gods in the hopes that they didn’t miss worshipping any god that could be out there they happened to be ignorant of.
And Paul said to them in the first century what we need to remember in the 21st: that Jesus is the man God appointed to take away the sins of the world.
And Luke recounts the event and says, “
22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
Paul made several points about religion in this passage:
- The people of Athens were like all of us: religious.
2) The gods they worshipped were all created.
3) God created each of us with a need to seek and worship and hopefully find Him.
4) We are the offspring of God, created in His image.
5) He proved He is the God of all men by sending His son and raising Him from the dead.
As a result: The God of the Bible is the only God who came to man. Every other religion creates rules that makes man strive for god.
The final point I want to make today is why? Why did He do it?
As I mentioned, He did it because we couldn’t. There was no way. Man couldn’t keep the standard and the standard was the law. So, Jesus came.
And now, we live in the age of grace. Grace is free. It’s unmerited favor. Grace means we didn’t deserve it but we He saved us anyway. To me, that takes the pressure off of trying to be perfect. The Bible tells us we don’t have to be perfect because there’s nothing we can do to earn His love or salvation anyway.
Romans 3:23-24 says, “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.”
Tell me a religion where the god of that religion died for humanity?
Tell me a religion where nothing is required of those who believe? I’ve heard people say Christianity is a list of do’s and don’ts but I disagree with that. They don’t understand the difference between the OT and NT.
Again, the OT and NT are interpreted and applied differently. During the OT times, the law was upheld and it was the standard in which all men lived by. But they missed the mark. And God didn’t get rid of His standard, He just came to fulfill it Himself because man couldn’t do it. Jesus fulfilled the law and took the place of each and every one of us when He died on the cross for our sins.
And now, what do we have to do? Not much.
The Bible says in Romans 10:9 “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Wait .. no meditation to 8 levels of enlightenment?
No fulfilling rituals and repeating chants and such?
No doing acts of kindness and good deeds to earn my way to heaven?
Just believe in Jesus and I’m saved?
Yes. And not only that but once you accept God, the Holy Spirit abides in you. You become the temple of the Holy Spirit. Not only did the God of the Bible create us, He came to us, and He abides in us. He literally saved us and did what no man could do to redeem us. There is none like Him.
I want to leave you with this today: there is no God like our God. He is the rock of ages. He is unchanging and there is nothing you can do to separate from His love.
If you don’t believe me, study up on all of the religions out there. You won’t find one like Christianity. You won’t find a God of any other religion like the God of the Bible.
This Christmas celebrate the fact that you are a Christian. You are a woman or man of God, created in His image. That is how much God loved you.
He was born to die … the only God in all the earth who was willing to do that for those He created.
So, Merry Christmas, my friend. And next week I will have a wonderful episode for you on going into the new year. So, I’ll catch you on that one!