Monday, August 23, 2010

A Comparative Look at Christianity

The difference in Christianity and all other faiths is a simple one.

If Islam lost its central teacher, its principles would not suffer. If the person of the buddha were removed, the life of the Buddhist could still go on. If Moses had not given the law, Judaism might reasonably carry on with no particular entity. Indeed - many modern faiths (New Age, Wicca) do not even have a central figure.

Christianity is different. Remove the central figure - Jesus Christ - and you are left with nothing. The whole of eternity does not hang on adherence to a set of rules, but on the relationship between and individual and their savior.

Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"

A single mistake makes you too filthy to enter into the majesty of heaven. If God allowed lies, arrogance and hate into heaven it would no longer be heaven! If you have ever done any of these things, you have sinned and you have come short of the glory of God. That's a pretty big deal in the world of comparative religion. No big scale of Anubis - nothing. One sin and you aren't good enough for Paradise. It makes sense a lot more sense, too. Paradise isn't mostly good - it is perfection.

Romans 6:23a: "For the wages of sin is death..."

The logical consequence of coming short of God's perfection is that you cannot enter into His presence. In Greek, the word we translate as 'death' means separation. The 'first death' is when the soul leaves the body. The 'second death' is when a person is separated from God forever. So if you have ever sinned (at all, remember) your dirty spirit is separated from a holy God. Again, it makes sense.

Romans 6:23b: "...but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

If death is separation from God, then life is being in his presence. That is the gift of God. It is a gift - a present. You do not earn a present, you just unwrap it. In this case, we could never earn it: any good thing we do is so tainted by the bad in our lives that we are completely helpless to clean ourselves. But, somehow, through Jesus Christ, God has given us a gift we need only to accept.

Romans 5:8: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

God loves you. He always has. He loved you so much that before your great-great-great grandparents were born (before the dawn of the universe, in fact), He had come up with a way for you to be with Him. He loves you so much now that He is waiting anxiously for you to come to Him (if you read the story of the Prodigal Son, the father waiting by the road is God and the son is someone who has left their relationship with God). But for you to be together cost God dearly.

Jesus Christ is all God and Jesus Christ is all man. The God who lived in the perfect peace of Heaven drained Himself of all his glory, peace and comfort. He emptied Himself so that we might be given all of the things He gave up (2 Corinthians 8:9). He was tempted, but did not commit a single sin. The God of the entire universe living as a man, subjected to temptation. He was convicted of crimes he did not commit. He was tortured. He was nailed to a cross to die.

Then something happened which we cannot really understand - as Jesus\' life blood flowed out of Him, He cried out: \"My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?\" In that moment, Jesus was completely separated from God. The just punishment for your sin and mine - separation from God - was experienced completely. But Jesus was God. Somehow, He tore Himself that we might never be torn from Him. The Bible says that He became sin.

God exists outside of time, so perhaps that moment of separation and suffering is something God will experience forever. It is too terrible to think about. But that payment was made. The payment for every sin ever commited! But God will not force Himself on anyone - He is not that kind. He will allow you to accept Him or deny Him.

Romans 10:9-13: "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; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED."

But anyone who asks - anyone who calls on the name of God - can have their sins completely removed - paid for by God Himself. You must simply call out in faith. You cannot call on a God you do not believe in, and you can not sincerely call on a God you do not believe can or will save you. But if you understand who God is, you will know that He has been waiting all eternity for you to trust Him with your soul.

Paul wrote to Timothy that: I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've commited unto Him against that day.

Do you believe what God has told you? Do you believe He can and will keep your soul close to Him forevermore? Understanding these things isn't enough (James 2:19). You have to fall into them, trusting them completely, trusting that Jesus Christ can and will save you. Augustine of Hippo once said of salvation: "Without God, we can't. Without us, God won't."

It should be very clear how Christianity is different from other 'religions.' Christianity, in the whole, is a way of life based on two choices. One, accepting what Jesus did for you as a sinner. Two, not wanting to sin any more. It really is easy.

For more, you can e-mail me at JGatlin -at- SimpleComputerSolutionsInc d0+ com. Just convert that to a regular e-mail.

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