There are fundamentally only two religions in the world. The one manifests itself in many forms and under numerous names, some even purporting to be Christian. It is the religion of self-effort, and by far the one to which most people subscribe. It teaches that man may win the approval of God by assorted 'good works,' be they ceremonies, sacrifices or good deeds. Usually the adherent never knows when he or she has performed sufficient works to merit God's eternal favor. It is an endless effort without knowledge or assurance, let alone peace or fulfillment.
The other religion is true, Biblical Christianity. Unlike any other religion of the world, its basic tenet is a resurrected, living Saviour who has already paid the penalty for the sins of mankind and satisfied the justice of God. True Biblical Christianity provides the knowledge and peace of present salvation. It provides proofs for the assurance of eternal life. True Christians also find fulfillment and meaning in this present life!
The true Christ of the Bible lived the God pleasing life we do not and cannot live because of our sinful natures. He then satisfied the death penalty for sin (Romans 6:23) by offering His perfect life on the cross in our place. The one verse summation of this is:
II Corinthians 5:21
For he (God the Father) hath made him (Jesus Christ, God the Son) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
This may also be found in the oft quoted but much ignored verse:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Since Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for the sins of all mankind, the next logical question would be, "Then is all mankind saved?" Turning to the Bible for the answer we find:
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Only "few" find this road and gate, not because it is obscure or hidden, but because only a few really care to seek it.
To identify the narrow way, we must seek the answer in the word of God.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood (as by human descent in a certain blood line), nor of the will of the flesh (as by human effort), nor of the will of man (as by the decree of a priest), but of God.
We are dependent upon the word of God to enlighten us as to how a person may partake of the benefit of Christ's redemptive work.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation...Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Unfortunately we live in an age of advertising hype. We have become skeptical toward anything we see, hear or read. Our immediate tendency is to not take things at face value. However, we must take God "who cannot lie" (Titus 1:2) at His word! only by believing on the finished work of Jesus Christ in our place may we become a child of God and a possessor of eternal life! Obviously this belief is not a mere head knowledge. It is a sincere heart felt surrender and trust in Christ as we recognize our lost condition.
Again, the philosophies of our present society have spoiled us. We think we are just as good or better than the next guy, and that may be so. However, when it comes to the things of God, the comparison is not with other mortals, but with God.
II Corinthians 10:12
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
You may not appreciate these next verses. They are, however, the estimation of the hearts of men as given by the only One able to read the thoughts and intents of every human being, including you and me!
What then? Are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
For those who may still think their 'good works' have some part in their redemption (as though they could add to the life, death, burial and resurrection of the Son of God in their place), the word of God is plain and clear:
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
II Timothy 1:9
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Often the logical question is asked, "But what about the person who has never heard about Jesus Christ and the Bible? Is he just condemned without a chance? I couldn't believe in a God like that." Not surprising, the Bible answers this question also.
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
Nevertheless I (the Lord Jesus Christ) tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me;
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world...
The true God of the Bible has made it His responsibility to see that every person, whether in the jungles of Africa or in downtown New York City, is enlightened with the fact that he/she is a sinner (John 1:9). They are convicted by this guilt and drawn to the Christ of the Bible (John 12:32), although they may not know His name, Who has paid the penalty for their sins. Unfortunately most men and women reject God's call to their inner soul, but He does call!
Man's religious nature is evidence of God's calling. Wherever man is found he is religious. To his hurt he has, for the most part, rejected God and invented his own religion, but the presence of his religious nature is evidence of the calling of God.
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
While it is true that men in "uncivilized" places might not know the literal name "Jesus Christ," it is still true that He paid the penalty for their sins. Just as it is true men may enjoy the benefits of fire, food, etc., without the technical knowledge as to why a thing is so, they may "call upon the name of the Lord" (Romans 10:13) seeking mercy from the Creator of the creation they observe and relief from the Holy Spirit's conviction of their sins and be saved! The Old Testament saints like Abraham and David did not know the name Jesus Christ, yet they were children of God by faith in Him. See Romans 4.
It is a marvelous witness to the love, mercy and grace of God that He does not require a specific prayer or ritual to become a child of God. Simple child like faith in a heart that desires to be right with God is the key that opens the door to His forgiveness.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Have you ever thought how strange it is that we hide behind plastic faces and mask our real lives? You've seen others do this, but let's be honest, we've all been guilty of this effort to hide our problems. Not only do we attempt to hide them from others, but even from ourselves . . . . husband and wife problems, children and parent problems, problems with ourselves that we are unable to conquer.
Stranger still are the places we look for solutions. Sometimes we seek professional help from those with impressive titles who often have similar problems they are hiding. Sometimes we try to "buy" a solution with gifts or promises without getting to the heart or the cause of the problem. Some even turn to religion. They apparently think penance, good works or attendance in "church" will atone for the problem. With varying degrees, a sort of truce or a different type of mask may be effected, but no real solution. Isn't it strange that Jesus Christ, the Son of God by Whom all things (including you and me) were created, made this offer: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28)...but most have refused to go to Him for the solution to their problems. Notice, He said, "Come to Me" - not to religion.
Isn't it strange that the root cause of our problems, sin, was paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ when He died on the cross in our place and that God, the Father, is satisfied (Isaiah 53:11) with this payment, but most people are not? Think about it, are you satisfied with God's gracious offer of forgiveness? If you claim you are, have you consciously called upon Him as your Saviour, asking forgiveness for your sins? You've probably tried many other things without success, but have you called upon the Lord with a broken, repentant heart in shame, seeking forgiveness and surrendering your pride? "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Isn't it strange that people will go on in their sin (for that's the real problem, sin of pride and self, in all its forms) rather than come to the One (and there is only One) who can give real rest?
Isn't it time to drop the pretense and forget what others with the same plastic lives and problems would say? Listen instead to the Creator who said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy house" (Acts 16:31).
Consider these promises of God, then take Him at His word . . .
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
...him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
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