You can’t earn it

Holiness is not the way to Jesus; Jesus is the way to holiness. That can be an easy thing to forget. I think it’s humans natural tendency to try and earn our way into God’s good graces. Just look at every religion that has ever existed, with the exception of one. The Christian faith is unique in many ways. But most importantly, there is the aspect of grace. At the center of it all is a loving God who desires the redemption of a fallen humanity and goes to the greatest lengths to make that possible. In every other religion exists the constant struggle to be “good enough” or to “earn” our way. The truth is, none of us are good enough and never will be. God is holy, which means set apart. There is no one like Him. The only way any of us can ever hope to be in His presence is if He, not us, make that possible.

The freedom we get in Jesus is astounding. Not only do we get washed clean of our past sins, we also get released from the power of sin. And not just those hideous and dark sins, but also the ugly sin of self righteousness. You can’t earn God’s love. He already loves you. Just look at the cross. If that’s not proof, then nothing is. Amazing grace is a gift, not a loan. Just soak in His love and let that soften your heart and mold you and before you know it, that same love will be pouring out of you.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Tough Questions #3: How can Christians claim that their religion is the only true one when there are so many in the world?

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…but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…

1 Peter 3:15 (NASB)

I have been asked many really challenging questions, that also happen to be very good questions. I think at one time or another, most people have asked themselves, or others, tough questions about faith. We all have to resolve in our own hearts what we believe and why we believe it. Christianity is no different. Throughout my childhood years I was exposed to only the christian faith. That never stopped me from wondering. God made us to wonder, and explore, and to discover. That tendency is meant to draw us closer to Him. As I got older, I learned about other religions and world views. I thought many of them to be fascinating, mythical, but never reality. Many religions are full of really cool traditions and have good teachings, but when it came down to it, they were all missing what was most important.

I am a high school teacher. So I have about 130 inquisitive teens every day pass through my classroom. That means I hear questions similar to the one that this post is based on. I have the honor of sponsoring a Christian club at my High School and at times, I’ve had kids come in to ask us what makes us different. For anyone to cling to a faith or creed, they must believe it with such intensity that everything else in their world becomes subject to it. That draws questions, and sometimes ridicule. Especially in the world we live in today. So many cultures are about ‘open-mindedness’ and being ‘all-inclusive’. For anyone to claim that what they believes is true, makes everything contrary to that belief out to be false. I’ve heard many objectors use this as the foundation of their argument against the Christian faith. What many of them don’t realize is, that all religions are exclusive, and so is truth. In fact, atheists are exclusive too. They believe that no God exists. This means that they believe everyone who believes in God is wrong. Christians get a bad rap, but everyone, besides maybe agnostics (because they don’t know what to believe) are claiming that their reality is the only reality. However, only one can actually be right. People who claim opposing truths cannot simultaneously be correct.

Today, I want to offer a simple response to anyone who wonders how Christians can claim that what they believe is the only truth. Keep in mind, by being a Christian you are denying the reality and truthfulness of any other religion. Just on that basis, you are potentially insulting nearly 5 billion people (69%) around the world. It seems inevitable that you will come across someone wanting to know the answer to this question. If you are one of those 5 billion people, I hope this is helpful for you.

  1. Fulfilled Prophecy: For a claim to be true, it must be supported by evidence that can not be disputed. All religions have their stories and their proverbs, but only one has hundreds of prophetic statements that have come true. Not only have they come true, but they have come true in one person. There are over 350 specific prophecies that Jesus Christ fulfilled. Keep in mind that these prophecies came hundreds of years before His arrival on planet Earth. The odds against one person fulfilling just eight of those prophecies are astronomical. They equate to one in ten to the 21st power (1021). Here is an illustration that reflects that number. Cover the entire Earth’s land mass with silver dollar coins 120 feet high. Then, mark one of those dollars and randomly bury it. After that, ask a person to travel the Earth and find that marked dollar…while blindfolded. If that’s the probability for 8 prophecies, just imagine what it would be for over 350! Someone who did that has to be who they say they are. And Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me.
  2. Confirmation: A lot of religions claim that their main figure was miraculous in some way. Buddhist believe that the words of Buddha were divine. Muslims believe that Muhammad was a messenger of Allah. Mormons believe in the divine nature of Joseph Smith and that he completed the gospel. The hang up for all of these religions is that none of them have any form of confirmation that their central figure was who they said they were. None of them proved, in a sense, that they were divine or following a divine calling. Jesus, on the other hand, confirmed His mission and identity with many miracles. Jesus literally raised people from the dead, gave blind people their sight, cleansed people of the nasty disease of leprosy, and even calmed a storm and sea. That’s just a few of His extensive resume. But not only does Jesus confirm Christianity, so does the authenticity of the Bible itself. The places, the people, the events, and so much more have been supported by archaeology and science. It was written by 40 men over a period of 1500 years and all subjects, prophecies, and evidence agree. It was written in three very different languages by people who lived on three different continents. The authors of the Bible lived in very different time periods, very different places, and had different occupations but all focused on the same story line: God’s redemption of mankind. For a book to be so congruent and so accurate with that background is nothing short of miraculous.
  3. Resurrection: The Bible and history gives us tons of evidence that Jesus was real, that He lived among us, and indeed, lived a miraculous life. Few things set Jesus apart like His resurrection from the dead. No other religion can claim this. And this isn’t some mythical belief among religious zealots. Jesus was seen alive by more than 500 people after He had been crucified and laid in a tomb. With that kind of evidence, it’s an impossible event to disprove. Most cases are resolved on the testimony of two or more witnesses, let alone 500 plus. And these weren’t all His followers either. So the witnesses can’t be designated as biased. Jesus lives, and none of the other religious figures do.

Then he (Jesus) said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.

Luke 24:44 (ESV) [my emphasis]

Of all the religions in the world, only one has been confirmed by prophecy, miracles, and a resurrection from the dead. Only one religion in the world is about God reaching down to His creation out of love. Every other faith centers on humanity’s attempt to reach God, which is impossible. Only one religion defines humanity’s struggle and hurt and brokenness and simultaneously provides the solution. Only one religion in the world is so well documented and factually accurate.  If you’d like a more in depth look at this topic, I would suggest reading The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. He was an atheist who set out to disprove Christianity, and instead, found the overwhelming evidence for faith. I would also suggest Jesus Among Other gods by Ravi Zacharias. This man will blow your mind!

Christianity is not blind faith. It’s real, and it’s powerful. And Jesus has been changing lives for thousands of years. Since the beginning of time actually. Just as He has in mine.

Peace brothers and sisters.