By Tim Frank
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Carthage
A common expression says, “All rivers flow into the sea.” The meaning is clear. There are many streams, but, ultimately, they all end the same place. This thinking has been applied in the world to all religions being roads to the same destination — heaven. In fact, it is popular in today’s tolerant, all-inclusive culture to affirm coexistence and the belief that all religions are basically the same.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Logically, all religions could be false, but not all can be true. Judaism, Islam and Christianity claim there is only one God. Believers in Hinduism worship millions of gods. Buddhism is basically agnostic and does not acknowledge any god. Many other core distinctions exist between the world religions.
All religions are not the same, and they do not ultimately end in the same place. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says there is a wide gate and a broad road that leads to destruction, and many are on that road. There is only one way through the narrow gate, onto the difficult way that leads to life. This lesson proclaims that Jesus is the narrow gate and belief in Him alone is the way to life.
Three truths jump out of this week’s lesson. First, there is only one true God. Isaiah 44:6 is a direct word from God as He proclaims Himself as the one and only God. He alone is the LORD, Yahweh, the name by which He is known (Exodus 3:13-15). He alone is the King of Israel, His chosen people. He alone is the Redeemer of mankind who pays the price for sin. He alone is the Lord of the armies of angels. He alone is eternal, the first and the last. He alone is God. There is none like Him.
Second, Isaiah 44:7-8 proclaims that God alone declares what will take place in the future. In the Old Testament, the sign of a prophet was that his word came to be. A false prophet would speak lies which never came to pass. The Lord applies the same litmus test to Himself. What He proclaims will happen.
The Scriptures are filled with prophecies from God that have been fulfilled. In the Christmas season alone, we have been reminded of several prophecies which were fulfilled in Jesus: the virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14), born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), flight to Egypt (Hosea 11:1) and the death of the young male children in Bethlehem (Jeremiah 31:15).
God’s Word is truth and will be fulfilled while idols and false religions are useless and have no truth (Isaiah 44:9-20).
Third, there is only one way to come into a relationship with God and that way is through faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:5-7). All other religions, cults and false ideologies are based on what a person does to appease God.
It may be adhering to sacred tenants, offering sacrifices or doing good deeds. It all comes down to the person’s effort and work. Only in Christianity is salvation and a restored relationship with God made possible by God Himself. As believers in Jesus Christ, our hope is not in our religious activity. Our hope is in Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. Jesus is the only way, He has the only truth and He gives the only life that is eternal.
All religions are not the same. They do not all lead to God or to heaven. There is only one God, only one truth and only one way to come to Him — through personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.