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2CH sermons

Do all religions lead to God?

A sermon by David Kerr

Do all religions lead to God? Some people say, “There’s no one right religion. If you have faith in any religion, it is right for you.” What do you think? Maybe you’ve never seriously thought about the subject. Even if you have, I’d like to invite you to keep an open mind and help you to find clarity regarding one of life’s most important questions.

It is important to believe in truth rather than falsehood. That goes without saying.

Think of the ancient mariners who believed in a flat earth. They became terrified when they came to what they believed was the edge of the earth. It’s important to determine what truth is. It’s important to do your research to ensure your beliefs are built on solid ground. I can look at the surface of the ground in preparation for building my house. However, I need to explore below the surface, to check the quality of the soil, the likelihood of slippage to ensure the foundation is strong, so my house will be secure. Let me help you check the foundation of your beliefs, so you can be sure they’re solid.

***

Today I’m asking the question, “Do all religions lead to God?” “Is there only one right religion?” Some people say, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you’re sincere.” Well, it does matter. You can be sincerely wrong. You can have all the faith you like that a bridge will hold your weight, but if it can’t, it’ll collapse. Let me help you check the foundation of your beliefs.

Ever since the beginning of civilisation, men and women have had an innate desire to connect with someone or something higher than themselves. Gods were imagined, constructed and worshipped. Sacrifices were offered to gain their God’s favour to help them live life.

I stood in the desert heat in Israel and saw the evidence of early Canaanite worship of Baal. He is the bull god and is represented by a bull. He was half man and half bull, the god of fertility – the Sun God. Elijah the prophet won a resounding victory over the prophets of Baal as recorded in the Bible.

We can imagine anything we want to, but if we want truth, there needs to be evidence. This subject is important – it’s a matter of life and death. I want to offer you some reasons why I believe Christianity is the only way to God. That may sound arrogant, but bear with me. I have seven strong pillars that form the foundation of my certainty.

Firstly, the Founder claims that He, Himself, is God. No other religion makes this claim. The Founder, Jesus said, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except by Me.” Either what Jesus said was true or false. If what Jesus said is true, then Jesus is the only way to God. If what Jesus said is false, then the Christian faith is a phoney. Christians are misguided and are wasting their time reading the Bible and worshipping. The claims of Jesus that He is the only Way to God and that He and the Father are One are unique.

This claim is made solid by further exploration, as I move to a second observation.

Christianity, in general, has a universal appeal. Most of the great religions of the world are associated with certain geographical areas. Christianity, whilst it has progressed more noticeably in Western culture, has transformed individuals in all cultures and influenced nations.

A third area to explore is how the religions of the world compare, to man’s great dilemma, the moral problem of sin. Jesus Christ stands out alone as the only One who claims He has the power to forgive sin and to deliver release from its past effects and give power to conquer its influence in the future. No other religion has an answer to this intractable problem for mankind.

***

I’m considering the question, “Do all religions lead to God?

So far I have said, the Founder claims that He, Himself, is God. No other religion makes this claim. Also, Christianity, in general, has a universal appeal. Most of the great religions of the world are associated with certain geographical areas. Christianity, whilst it has progressed more noticeably in Western culture, has transformed individuals in all cultures and influenced nations.

Thirdly, Jesus Christ stands out alone as the only One who claims He has the power to forgive sin and to deliver release from its past effects and give power to conquer its influence in the future.

A fourth area to examine is how the different religions of the world compare with each other in their approach to the problem of pain and suffering. Christianity sees suffering as a consequence of sin. Christians follow the example of Jesus to relieve it whenever it appears. This is different from other religions. Muslims see it as ‘Kismet’, the will of God and not to be interfered with. The Hindu with a fatalistic doctrine of Karma adopts a similar attitude.

Fifthly, Christianity stands alone because a person does not have to go on a spiritual search for God, or discover secret ‘hidden knowledge’. The Bible states God’s works are revealed in nature and His person in the human form of Jesus Christ. Through His words and teaching, He comes to us. He searches for us. We don’t find Jesus. He finds us. We respond to His free offer of love and forgiveness. This offer, received through faith, is unique in the religions of the world.

Sixthly, while most religions have a book that contains the basis of their faith, the Bible is unique. The Bible is a library of sixty-six books. They were not written by one man or a committee sitting around a table comparing notes. At least thirty-five men wrote the sixty-six books of the Bible. They didn’t all live in the same country, or live at the same time. They wrote in different languages – Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. Some were powerful and wealthy, some poor. Some were brilliant, some simple men. It took these thirty-five men, thousands of years for the writing of the Old and New Testaments that form the Bible. Yet the Bible has an amazing harmony and unity which speaks with relevance to people in every age.

One story amongst millions is the events that took place on Pitcairn Island, where the mutineers from Captain Bligh’s ship The Bounty, took refuge. Fletcher Christian with eight mutineers, and twelve women from Tahiti, established themselves in what seemed to be paradise, but soon became a living hell. The men fought amongst themselves, fuelled by the alcohol distilled from the roots of trees. Men and women became incapable. The men acted as animals, some were killed, others poisoned by alcohol, and one committed suicide. Fearing the men’s violence, the women and the children who had been born to them lived separately.

Two men remained, Edward Young and Alexander Smith. One day Young discovered at the bottom of an old trunk, The Bounty’s Bible. He started to read it to Smith who was illiterate. In the months that followed, these two wrecks of men, were changed. The children were the first to notice and returned to the men, and soon the women followed. Young read to the small community. Their lives were transformed.

Eighteen years after the mutiny on the Bounty, an American Captain landed on the island. On his return to Boston he recorded these words, “That in all of my travels I have never seen or met with a people who were so good, so gracious, and so loving.” There is only one Book that can perform that miracle – the Bible.

***

I’m considering the question, “Do all religions lead to God?

So far I have said, the Founder, Jesus claims that He, Himself, is God. No other religion makes this claim. Also, Christianity, in general, has a universal appeal. Most of the great religions of the world are associated with certain geographical areas. Christianity, whilst it has progressed more noticeably in Western culture, has transformed individuals in all cultures and influenced nations.

Thirdly, Jesus Christ stands out alone as the only One who claims He has the power to forgive sin and to deliver release from its past effects and give power to conquer its influence in the future.

Fourthly, Christianity sees suffering as a consequence of sin. Christians follow the example of Jesus to relieve it whenever it appears.

Fifthly, Christianity stands alone in that a person does not have to go on a spiritual search for God. The Bible is all about God’s revelation to man.

Sixthly, whilst most religions have a book that contains the basis of their faith, the Bible is unique.

However, the most compelling evidence lies in the fact that the Founder of the Christian faith conquered man’s greatest enemy – death. I stood in Jerusalem, outside the tomb of a possible burial site of Jesus and a sign read, “He is not here, He is risen.” Jesus claimed he rose from the dead and this claim was validated by eyewitnesses, including His disciples. I believe in the resurrection because of the four Gospels. They are historic documents.

Whilst visiting Israel, I was privileged to see copies of the ancient manuscripts of the New Testament, written in the third century after Christ. Sir Frederick Kenyon, Curator of the British Museum wrote at the beginning of the last Century, “Scholars are satisfied that they possess substantially, the true text of the principal Greek and Roman writers, whose works have come down to us, of Sophocles, of Thucydides, of Cicero, of Virgil, yet our knowledge of their writings depends on a mere handful of manuscripts, whereas the manuscripts of the New Testament are counted by their hundreds and even thousands.”

I believe in the resurrection because of the amazing transformation in the lives of the disciples. Once fearful of being seen as an associate with Jesus, fleeing from the Garden of Gethsemane, they became fearless as they went out after His resurrection to announce the Good News to the world, suffering persecution and death. Would they do this for a lie?

Christianity is more than a religion. It is a personal relationship between a person and God, which transforms the individual from struggling with the guilt and the heaviness of sin, to experiencing the forgiveness, peace and freedom to serve God and bring healing and hope to the world.

 

***

 

It does sound arrogant for Christianity to state that it is the only way to God. However, that claim doesn’t originate from me or any Christian. It comes from the Founder, Jesus Christ. True, His claims sound arrogant. He does sound like a megalomaniac, but His life was humble, filled with healing, teaching, and serving others.

For me, Jesus stands out as a unique figure in the history of our world, the God-Man, a living Presence who continues to heal and empower those who commit themselves to Him in Faith.

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