That is what many religions teach, so you have nothing to lose by ignoring them and concentrating on Jesus, who declared that if you do not surrender to him, you have everything to lose. (John 14:6; Acts 4:10-12) You and I are simply 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 overlook obvious differences between religions might seem broad-minded. In reality it is about as proud and narrow as a person could get. To say all religions are basically the same is to claim to be smarter than each of the billions of people who believe the unique aspects of their religion are of supreme importance to God. It is to claim 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 scale 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, dramatically changing the lives of 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 most people, 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 type you choose is poisonous. And if you eat nothing for weeks, not making a decision becomes as deadly as the worse decision.
New Agers and others change or cut out all the unique parts of Jesus’ teaching, forcing Christianity into the shape of eastern religion and surprise, surprise, when comparing this twisted, cut down version 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 like 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 with woman who sells herself to him? It’s all sex. That’s the word picture that the Bible uses over and over to describe mixing true worship with another religion. To make the similarity even closer, getting involved with a non-Christian religion is like selling yourself to someone who will kill you because he has AIDS.
One of the Bible’s most basic teachings is that followers of other religions have been tricked by lying spirits who are utterly opposed to the God who made 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 serious offense to get involved in other religions. (Exodus 20:3-4) No matter how similar non-Christian religions are, their truths are sprinkled with errors that draw their sincere followers away from the true God. We dislike this biblical revelation because it forces us to make a decision about religion. And it sounds narrow-minded, but Jesus insisted 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 much it clashes with wishful thinking. Though we seem to get away with it for a while, wishful thinking always ends up crashing on the rocks of reality.
To sit on the fence is a marvelous position. From the top on the fence you can look in any direction and watch life pass you by.
all you need for sky diving is a good umbrella
plumbers have better cures for stomach problems than doctors
red traffic lights mean ‘go’.
In the physical world, what you believe is of extreme importance. And the same God made the spiritual world.
Try telling a victim of the Indian religion of Hinduism that it does not matter what you believe. Especially before Christian influence grew in India, millions of Hindus sincerely believed that:
the gross discrimination and prejudice of the Hindu caste system is right
baby girls should be drowned in the Ganges River in the hope that they would be reincarnated as boys
women should be burnt alive when their husbands died
it is better not to ease human suffering because that would be interfering with what they call karma.
‘It does not 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, trying to feel better by telling themselves that it does not matter whether you win or lose. They are like people so out of touch with reality 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 using that thinking on something they feel strongly about, such as racism, rape, destroying nature, nuclear weapons. 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 deadly excuse for avoiding life’s most important decision.
For anyone genuinely sincere, seeking God would be of first importance. Instead, we bury our head in a thousand other activities and weak excuses for not facing the most important thing in life. 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 sick and two doctors looked at me. Dr A said I had a life-threatening disease and medicine X would cure me. Dr B said it was only a cold and medicine Y would cure me. Dr A’s more serious claim does not in itself mean he is right, but it means I would be a fool not to give more attention to checking out his claims.
If another religion were right and instead of following that religion, I became a Christian, what is the worst that could happen? Many religions would say that Christians are fairly good people. So, according to them, although I would miss top spot, my life after death would be fairly comfortable. A few claim that if I did not follow their religion, after death I will cease to exist. I can handle that. Some say I would get another chance through coming back to earth as a different person or animal. That’s not too bad. But if Jesus is right and I take no notice of him, the results are unthinkable. This man, famous for being loving, humble and honest, warned that unless I give him my life I will suffer endless pain in hell. (Matthew 20:28, 25:32-34,41,46; John 3:16; 14:6) Also, unlike most other religions, Jesus makes his believers certain that they will go to heaven. Other religions usually tell their followers that they must do so many things before they could be good enough to go to heaven that their followers spend their whole lives worrying about whether they have done enough good things to be able go to heaven.
You are gambling with eternity. Improve your chances on life’s most serious gamble by giving first importance to checking Jesus’ claims.
To know if Jesus’ teaching is from God requires God-given understanding. Whether God gives a person this spiritual understanding depends on one key thing. The key, 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 follow that truth? Yet few of us are prepared to pay that price. It involves a willingness to let go our hopes and dreams for the future, to give up our favorite types of selfishness and anything else God may ask. Such a loss seems crazy until we consider who God is. The God who made and keeps the entire universe running is the source of all knowledge, 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 admit 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 toy, but not as God.) If so, why should God waste time giving us the spiritual understanding to know whether Jesus is the only way to God? Until we change our attitude we can expect God to let us remain spiritually confused, blinded by anti-God powers, unable to determine which religion is right.
Most Christians eat killed animals but, as Hare Krishnas point out, Jesus said ‘You shall not kill.’ More accurately, Jesus said, ‘You have heard that people in the past were told, "You shall not kill ..."’ (Matthew 5:21) Jesus was quoting from the Old Testament (Exodus 20:13) – the book he loved and quoted often, declaring it 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 ordering his people to eat the meat of sacrificed 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, only meat eaters could belong to the people of God. (Numbers 9:11-13) (The point of animal sacrifice is that God was teaching his people that an innocent must die for human wrongdoing. Ultimately, the innocent who dies for human sin must be human. That’s where Jesus fits in.) By supporting the book that emphasizes meat eating, Jesus was clearly speaking against murder – the killing of people, not animals. As would be expected, the rest of Jesus’ life and teaching proves the same thing.
‘Eat whatever is set before you,’ Jesus ordered his disciples, knowing that the people offering them food, being Jewish, would be meat eaters. (Luke 10:1,5-7) Jesus spoke favorably of a man who killed a cow for food at a feast. In fact, he told the story to show what God is like. (Luke 15:10,22-23) Christ ate meals offered 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 eating 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 upset that their Savior ate meat because they know that, despite the claims of many religions, there is no spiritual link between animals and people. There is no such thing as reincarnation.
Yet Hare Krishnas, ignoring 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.