Islam believes in “Allah,” the sovereign God. But he has no Son, and “salvation” comes through obedience to the Koran, their Scriptures.
Judaism worships our Jehovah God, but refuses to believe that he has a Son or that he is the Messiah, crucified for us. Of course they would not accept John 14:6, or any other claim that Jesus is God.
To say that all religions are the same would be like saying that all keys are the same—it doesn’t matter which one you use, so long as you’re sincere. The religions are each different, and mutually exclusive. If one is right, none of the rest can be.
The uniqueness of Christianity lies in the idea of grace. The world’s religions center in our works, by which we strive to earn acceptance from God, the gods, or experience enlightenment and Nirvana. We climb up to “heaven,” whatever it is. But only in Christianity does God climb down to us, to be one of us. Only in Christianity does God take us to be with him, by grace through faith.
In India during World War I, people of different faiths decided to meet together in an act of mutual worship and encouragement. However, the idea had to be abandoned because they couldn’t determine how to begin the service. They had no common ground whatsoever. The Christians suggested that at least they could all repeat the Lord’s Prayer. But it begins, “Our Father, which art in heaven,” and none of the other religions agreed.
The different religions teach very different ideas. They hold very different keys. You must decide which one works.
What about the “ignorant”?
What of those who have never heard of Jesus? Who don’t know what we’ve said this morning? Those who, like Thomas, don’t know or understand? What of them?
The fact is, our Lord never intended there to be any “ignorant.” He didn’t tell us what to do about them, except to tell them. If we know someone who doesn’t know about Jesus, tell them.
Note that this is a speculative, rational problem, not a practical issue for us. If you can ask the question, it doesn’t apply to you. And no theory exempts us from telling the “ignorant” about Jesus.
The most popular answer is, “God judges people according to the light they have.” Then why give them more light? Why do missions? Yet we are commanded to “make disciples of all nations.”
Others say, “God knows what they would do, given the chance.” Then why give them the chance? Others say, “All are saved through Christ, whether they believe or not.” Then why do missions? And what of John 3:16: “whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Still others say, “They cannot be lost if they’ve never heard.” Then we shouldn’t tell them, for they might reject Jesus. But Jesus told us to tell them. And still others say, “God knows if they’re sincere.” But we can be sincerely wrong.
Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”; Romans 6:23 adds, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” What will God do with those who haven’t heard? The only answer the Bible gives us is: tell them. Trust the Lord, and tell them.
And we can. If we tell people, who tell people, who tell people, the world can know. By multiplication, one a day, the world’s population can know of Jesus in 31 days.
What about the ignorant,those who don’t know about the key to heaven? Tell them.
Why is there only one way?
One last question: why would God insist on only one way to himself? Many people say, “A loving God would never be that narrow.” But here are the facts.
One: God gave his best for our salvation. He gave his only Son to pay the debt for our sin. No other religious leader died for his people, but Jesus died for us.
Two: through Christ, salvation is free and open to all people. You don’t have to go through years of ascetic discipline, or obedience to holy writings, to hopefully come up to God. God has come down to us. Every person on earth is free to come to God through Christ, today.
Three: this way works for everyone. The key works, no matter who uses it. I don’t need another key if this one starts the car. I don’t need another chemotherapy if this one kills my cancer. Jesus is sufficient for us all.
What does all this mean to you this morning? First, make certain Jesus is your Savior, this morning. He is the only way to God you need, but he is also the only way to God you have. All gifts must be received. Receive the gift of his grace and love. Take the key and use it.
Second, give it to those who don’t have it. Pray for those you know; talk with them; invite them to Jesus. This is your responsibility, and mine.
Last week I spoke of William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. A scene on a calendar depicts Colonel Booth, out on a rough sea at night in a small lifeboat. As the waves rage, Booth is reaching out his hand to pull in a survivor who is lost at sea. A small vignette in the corner shows Booth’s granddaughter asking her grandmother, “Grandma, is granddaddy trying to save that man or only shaking hands with him?”
What would your friends say you’re doing for them?