That’s what many religions teach, so you have nothing to lose by ignoring them and concentrating on Jesus, who declared that if you don’t surrender to him, you have everything to lose. (John 14:6; Acts 4:10-12) You and I are not in a position to claim to know more about spiritual reality than the greatest religious teacher earth has seen – Jesus. He upheld the Scriptures which insist that all other religions offend God. (Deuteronomy 32:16-20; Matthew 5:17-19)
To ignore glaring differences between religions might seem broad-minded. In reality it is about as conceited and narrow as a person could get. To assert that all religions are essentially the same would be to claim you are smarter than each of the billions of people who see the distinctive features of their religion as critical. You would be asserting that even though you are not an expert in their religion you know they are wrong – you know their religion is really no different. Jesus made Godlike claims of this magnitude but he backed them up by living a perfect life, walking on water, calming a storm, multiplying bread and fish, healing people born blind or deaf or crippled, rising bodily from the dead, transforming believers for 2,000 years, and so on.
Your decision about religion is as serious as a starving person deciding whether to risk eating something which might be deadly. To the casual observer, wild mushrooms are all much the same and who cares anyhow? But when there is nothing else to eat, it becomes rather important whether the variety you choose is poisonous. And if you eat nothing for weeks, indecision becomes as deadly as the worse decision.
New Agers and others mutilate all the unique features of Jesus’ teaching, distorting Christianity into a form of eastern religion and surprise, surprise, when comparing this grotesque perversion with other religions, it begins to look as if ‘all religions are much the same.’
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What does it matter whether it’s Jesus you worship, or some other religion? It’s all religion. That’s equivalent to asking a wife, deeply in love with her husband, ‘What does it matter if it’s you that your husband has sex with, or a prostitute? It’s all sex.’ That’s the very analogy Scripture employs over and over, using such expressions as ‘playing the harlot’ for mixing true worship with another religion. To make the analogy even closer, involvement with another religion is like prostituting yourself to a carrier of the lethal AIDS virus.
One of the Bible’s most basic teachings is that followers of other religions have been enticed by deceptive spirits who are utterly opposed to the God who created us and loves us. (Romans 1:18-23; 1 Corinthians 10:20; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12; 1 Timothy 4:1) Even the first two of the ten commandments – have no other gods, make no idols – show that God regards it as a grave offense to become involved in other religions. (Exodus 20:3-4) No matter how similar non-Christian religions are, their truths are laced with errors that entice their devout followers away from the true God. We despise this biblical revelation because it forces us to make a decision about religion. And it sounds narrow-minded, but Jesus affirmed that the way to God is narrow, and that few people go that way. (Matthew 7:14) Anyone really sincere, however, will seek truth no matter how unpalatable it seems.
What if you believe . . .
all you need for sky diving is a good umbrella
plumbers have better cures for constipation than doctors
red traffic lights mean ‘go’.
In the physical world, what you believe is critical. And the same God made the spiritual realm.
Try telling a victim of Hinduism that it doesn’t matter what you believe. Especially before Christian influence gained momentum in India, millions of Hindus sincerely believed that:
baby girls should be drowned in the Ganges so they can be reincarnated as boys
surviving widows should be cremated alive with their deceased husbands
the gross discrimination and prejudice of the Hindu caste system should be enforced
it is better not to relieve human suffering because that would be interfering with people’s karma.
‘It doesn’t matter what you believe,’ is the despairing cry of people whose beliefs have never brought them to spiritual reality. They are like people who have never won in their life, consoling themselves with the platitude that it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose. They are like people so out of touch that they answer multiple choice exams by guesswork and assume everyone else must do the same.
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Find people who claim that sincerity is all that matters and try applying that logic to something they are passionate about, such as racism, rape, cruelty to animals, environmental vandalism, nuclear warfare, banning abortion. Suddenly they get hot under the collar. Suddenly it matters very much what you believe.
People apply this lack of logic only to things they could hardly care less about. Those who say all that matters is sincerity would like to include themselves among the sincere. Instead, they prove they have no sincere religious conviction. They are simply mouthing a lazy, potentially fatal excuse for avoiding life’s most important decision.
The genuinely sincere, would make seeking God their top priority. Instead, we bury our head in a thousand other activities and lame excuses for not confronting life’s most critical issue. We are like little children who have run away from home – hungry, tired and in danger, yet still hiding for fear of what mummy might do if she found us. The reality is that God longs to take us up in his arms, forgive us, and give us a life of fulfillment and challenge beyond our wildest hopes.
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Most religions say Jesus was a great teacher or prophet. So focus on that great teacher. Until you do, God will remain a blur.
Suppose I was off-color and two eminent doctors examined me. Dr A’s diagnosis was that I had a life-threatening illness, but treatment X would cure me. Dr B said it was only a cold and treatment Y would cure me. Dr A’s more drastic diagnosis doesn’t in itself mean he is right, but it means I’d be a fool not to give higher priority to checking out his claims.
Consider a worst-case scenario. Suppose another religion were right and instead of following that religion, I became a Christian. Many religions would say the Christian life is reasonably moral. So, according to them, although I would miss top spot, my life after death would be fairly comfortable. A few claim that if I ignored their religion, after death I’ll cease to exist. I can handle that. Some say I’d get another chance through reincarnation. That’s not too bad. But, relative to almost all religions, Jesus increased the stakes enormously. If he is right and I ignore him, the consequences are unthinkable. This man, renowned for his love, humility and honesty, warned that only by committing myself to him can I avoid an eternity of torment in hell. (Matthew 20:28, 25:32-34,41,46; John 3:16; 14:6) In addition, unlike most other religions, Jesus leaves his believers certain that they will enter heaven. Other religions typically place so many requirements on their adherents before they could be considered worthy of heaven that their followers endure a lifetime of uncertainty as to whether they have met those requirements.
You’re gambling with eternity. Jesus alone is the sinless Son of God who suffered an agonizing death so that you and I could escape eternal torment and enjoy heaven. Improve your odds on life’s most serious gamble by giving priority to weighing Jesus’ claims.
To determine if Jesus’ teaching is from God requires divine insight. Whether God grants a person this spiritual understanding hinges on a single factor. That critical factor, said Jesus, is your willingness to obey God. (John 7:17) Why should God bother to open your eyes to spiritual truth if you are unwilling to respond to that truth? Yet few of us are prepared to pay that price. It involves a willingness to relinquish our hopes and dreams for the future, to forego our pet sins and anything else God may ask. Such abandonment seems crazy until we consider who God is. The God who made and sustains the entire universe is the source of all knowledge, moral goodness and love. That means he is good, he is trustworthy, he has our best interest at heart, he is wiser than us and he loves us more than we love ourselves. Obeying God is the smartest thing anyone could ever do. Until we acknowledge this and are willing to obey God, we obviously don’t want God in our lives. (We might want him as our slave, or as a curiosity, but not as God.) If so, why should God waste time giving us the spiritual discernment to know whether Jesus is the only way to God? Until we rectify this we can expect God to let us remain spiritually confused, subject to the deceptive powers of anti-God influences, unable to determine which religion is right.
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Most Christians eat killed animals but, as Hare Krishnas point out, Jesus said ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ More accurately, Jesus said, ‘You have heard that people in the past were told, "Thou shalt not kill ..."’ (Matthew 5:21) Jesus was quoting from the Old Testament (Exodus 20:13) – the book he loved and frequently cited and affirmed to be the unique revelation of God. (Matthew 5:17-19; 22:29-32; 26:31; Luke 4:4-12; 16:31;22:37; 24:44-47; John 6:45) Over and over, that book records God commanding his people to eat the meat of sacrificial animals. (Exodus 12:3-8,24; Deuteronomy 12:20-22,27-28; 27: 7-10) And the more holy people (priests) were required to eat even more meat. (Leviticus 7:14-16,30-34; 8:30-31; 10:16-18; Deuteronomy 18:1-3) In fact, under Old Testament law, no vegetarian could belong to the people of God. (Numbers 9:11-13) (The point of animal sacrifice is that God was instilling the notion that an innocent must die for human sins. Ultimately, the innocent who dies for human sin must be human. That’s where Jesus fits in.) By quoting and exalting the book that emphasizes eating meat, Jesus was clearly speaking against murder – the killing of people, not animals. As would be expected, the rest of his life and teaching proves the same thing.
‘Eat whatever is set before you,’ Jesus ordered his disciples, knowing that their hosts, being Jewish, would be meat eaters. (Luke 10:1,5-7) Jesus spoke approvingly of a man who slaughtered a cow for a feast. In fact, he likened that man to God. (Luke 15:10,22-23) Christ ate meals hosted by all sorts of people. (Mark 14:3; Luke 5:27-30; 7:36; 11:37; 14:1; 15:2) Even in a nation of meat eaters his unrestricted diet caused a stir. (Luke 5:33; 7:33-34) He helped catch fish, (Matthew 17:27; Luke 5:4-9; John 21:5-8) cooked fish, (John 21:9-13) fed it to people, (Mark 6:41-43; 8:7-8) and ate it himself (Luke 24:41-43). He also ate the Passover meal in which the main dish was lamb. (Luke 22:7-8,15)
Followers of Jesus are not offended that their Savior ate meat because they know that, contrary to the claims of many religions, there is no spiritual link between animals and people. There is no such thing as reincarnation.
Yet Hare Krishnas, flying in the face of all the facts, misrepresent Jesus as supporting their views about animal life. This exposes the unfortunate lengths to which such religions will sometimes go to deceive.