By Mark Swarbrick
There are five major religions of the world. Following is a brief synopsys of their beliefs and what each religion says about how to be saved.
There is great variance in belief in Islam, both between indidiuals in a sect, and between the five main Islamic sects. Muslims believe that salvation comes through believing in and practicing Islam, which means accepting Mohammed as God’s primary prophet, which includes rejecting that Jesus is the Son of God. Mohammed proclaimed that Allah (God) could not have a son because He didn’t have a wife.
Islam holds to the existence of heaven and hell. The Qur’an teaches that all our deeds, good or evil, will be weighed in a balance, and our eternal destiny is based on whether or not our good deeds outweigh our bad ones. Many former Muslims say that under this system they never felt any assurance of salvation. They could never be sure they were good enough.
Muslim theology claims that one must be saved by their own works, and if saved, will still likely spend an undetermined amount of time burning in the fires of hell before being allowed into heaven. Mohammed, the founder of Islam, lived in the fifth century after Christ. Mohammed never performed any miracles. Mohammed died from a severe illness at the age of 63. He is buried in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.
There is no founder of Hinduism and no date of origin of the religion. Its beliefs evolved over time. There is no heaven or hell, in the Christian sense, within Hinduism. Hindus believe they must be reincarnated innumerable times and suffer, in each life, the fate earned (karma) by past actions in previous lives. Don’t do well and you may come back as an insect or animal. The goal is to eventually get it right and have your soul and individual existence dissolved into the nothingness of “Brahman.”
Similar to Hinduism, Buddhists believes in a constant cycle of reincarnation until “enlightenment” is reached. The idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent creator is rejected by Buddhists, as is the idea of a Christian heaven or hell. The Buddha himself refuted the theistic argument that the universe was created by a self-conscious, personal God.
Buddhism was founded by Prince Siddhartha Gautama who lived around the 6th or 5th century before Christ. After leading a life of begging, asceticism, and meditation he died in Kushalnagara, India. His body was cremated and his ashes distributed among eight groups of his followers. Some of his ashes are buried in his family’s burial plot, in the Sakyan state capital city of Kapilavastu. A couple of centuries after his death, he came to be known by the title Buddha, which means “Enlightened One.” Buddha never performed any miracles.
Secularism has no written creed but can be recognized by a typically accepted set of general atheistic beliefs. While secularists might deny that atheism is a religion, it is. It requires faith to believe there is no God when there is no evidence that there is no God, and a plethora of evidence in creation that there is a creator.
Secularists tend to believe there is no God, nor a heaven or hell. Some secularists may believe in a supreme being, but they prefer not to acknowledge Him or believe He is involved much in the world. They believe science has made such beliefs obsolete. There was no creation. The universe evolved from nothing. Chemicals eroded from rocks, which turned into a primordial goo, from which sprang life, giving rise to animals, which resulted in an ape-like creature turning into man. Materialism is a central belief, thus when man dies, he no longer exists.
Sin, as defined by the Bible, is scoffed at by secularists. They believe in calling good evil and evil good, Under the auspices of what they consider their main virtue – tolerance, diversity, and inclusion – they embrace and celebrate sexual sin (homosexuality, transgenderism, fornication) and tolerate any religion besides Christianity.
Secularists hold to a doomsday scenario that is unsupported by science, believing in the alarmist conspiracy theory that the world will soon be destroyed by global warming. Worldly salvation depends upon increasing government control over the population, redistribution of wealth, and forcing people under the iron fist of socialism. They see big government, along with science, as providing the ultimate answer for everything. Many secularists believe that one-world government with one central leader is the ultimate answer for the world. Secularists don’t believe in miracles.
Freewill in Thought
Christians believe that free will is a gift from God to men. They believe that this freedom to choose good or evil, truth or error, is a sacred gift from God to all people everywhere. Christians believe that everyone has the right to believe whatever they want, even if it is wrong. They also believe that all people should have the right to freely express their belief to anyone without restriction, and to share their ideology with others who wish to listen to them. This freedom of speech and religion should never be infringed.
Freewill in Association
Christians believe that peaceful people of any religion, or no religion, should be allowed to enjoy all the rights of all citizens. God allows people to be wrong in their beliefs and so should we. No one should be forced to accept, affirm, or approve of another person’s creed. People should have the freedom to associate with, vote for, promote, or not associate with, not vote for, or not promote anyone based upon religious creed.
Authority, Creation, and the Fall
Christians believe the Bible infallibly reveals God’s truth to the world. The Bible declares that God created the world perfect and gave man free will to choose good or evil. Man chose evil, resulting in death and suffering and the current sad state of affairs in the world. Man’s depraved state also means he will suffer for eternity in Hell.
Jesus Christ – Life, Death, and Resurrection
But God so loved the world that He came as a man, born of a virgin – the Lord Jesus Christ. He raised the dead, walked on water, and performed numerous miracles. He died to take the punishment for our sins so that we can be saved from Hell.
Jesus Christ rose from the grave in AD 33. His tomb is empty. Christ spent another forty days on earth after his resurrection, teaching, and eating with his disciples. During this time, he was seen by over five hundred people. He then ascended into heaven in full view of his disciples, who were all eventually martyred, having never recanted their testimony of Christ’s resurrection.
According to the Bible, those who put their faith in Jesus are forgiven their sins, born again, and receive the promise that they will go directly to heaven upon death. This salvation does not have to be earned. It is not obtained by works, but is a free gift from God for those who believe in Christ. Romans 10:9 declares: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” The Christian faith maintains that Jesus is the only means of salvation. Acts 4:12 declares: “This Jesus is…the chief cornerstone and there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
The Second Coming
The Bible declares that Jesus is returning one day to take all Christians to heaven. Those who do not believe in Christ will be left behind to suffer through the Great Tribulation, of which Jesus said: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.” (Matthew 24:21)
At the end of the Tribulation, Jesus returns to the earth, destroys those who have refused to believe in Him and casts them into Hell. The Christians who returned with Him inherit the earth. Many Christians believe the return of Christ is imminent.
The Uniqueness of Christ
Jesus Christ is the only founder of a world religion to have His coming foretold by Scripture, and the only one to claim to be God. He is the only one who walked on water, raised the dead, healed the blind, deaf, and crippled, foretold the future, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven in front of witnesses. Jesus is the only religious leader to tell people to love their enemies. Jesus’ golden rule is heralded worldwide: “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”
No religion has ever been persecuted as much as Christianity. The founders of other world religions died normal deaths. Jesus was murdered on a cross. All the apostles were martyred. Today, one hundred thousand Christians are martyred for their faith every year. There are fifty-two countries that ban the Bible. In those lands it is a criminal offense to have the Christian Scriptures.
Around the world, the Bible has been banned more than any other religious text. More Christians have been martyred for their faith than any other religion. Seventy million Christians have been martyred since Jesus walked the earth. Every year, over three hundred and sixty million Christians suffer significant persecution. On average sixteen Christians per day are killed for their faith.
Jesus Christ, is the only name used around the world as a swear word. No one stubs their toe and blurts out, “Oh Buddha!” Only Jesus’ name is used like profanity. Why is this? It is because Satan hates the name of Jesus Christ more than any other, for it is Jesus who will return and cast the devil into the lake of fire. When Jesus returns, we read that:
“From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:15-16)
Salvation is only a Prayer Away
“Today is the day of salvation. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 3:15.) In other words, today is an opportune time to get on God’s good side. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.” (Acts 3:19-20)
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:38)
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