“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
While still unrepentant – a clear thinking seeker once observed, “there are actually only two world religions, God’s and man’s!” Consider this, in humanity’s religion, man normally attempts to be his own savior. He therefore chooses to live in direct competition with Jesus Christ!
In God’s religion, He alone provides the sacrifice for our sins. The Bible explains, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God…” (1 Peter 3:18) God alone protects those who love Him and He alone takes them to heaven. In vivid contrast, in mankind’s religion, each person dies completely alone without a Savior! Each sinner is the sole keeper of his or her own soul (see Mark 8:36).
In mankind’s works-based religion, it is keeping a set of religious rules that earns and maintains one’s salvation. He must first become perfect enough to deserve heaven and then remain perfect enough to eventually go there. This is sadly man-made religion’s only hope!
The wise seeker’s description of humanity’s own universal religion is exceptionally accurate. He tells the basic story of all self-reliant forms of man-made worship. This works-centered, humanistic approach to faith wears many faces, but ultimately its core belief system remains the same. As mentioned in part one, it proudly asserts, “I am my own savior, and my efforts must sustain my salvation.”
You may be thinking, how does Christianity fundamentally differ from this? What makes God’s solitary path so uniquely different in a global culture with so many cults and world religions? The answer is simple, so it may seem elementary. However, multitudes have sadly stumbled over this theological reality. In God’s religion, He alone can do the forgiving, redeeming, and keeping. A person’s sole responsibility is therefore to turn away from sin by sincerely receiving Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Savior.
The Bible explains, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…” (Titus 3:5)
The amazing transaction which took place on the cross is the only means by which God has said that He would impart His saving grace! The Christian life begins and is uniquely defined by the experience of our own personal spiritual re-birth. Jesus therefore declared, “You must be born again.” (John 3:7) This takes place naturally when we exercise sincere faith and receive the gift of eternal life which God graciously offers.
For seekers, there are no mountains to climb or hurdles to clear – just humble repentance with the faith that is needed to know God’s redeeming Son! Jesus explained, “Truly I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) This simple honest faith in our Savior is followed by the transforming peace and joy experienced during our fellowship with Him. It is one’s spiritual hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness that demonstrates the depth of that spiritual relationship.
As you prepare to share your faith today, remember that there are only two religions. If the assurance of those you talk with is not dependent on God’s grace – then you can be certain that whatever they are currently relying on – is unfortunately a spiritual counterfeit! Keep this understanding in your heart. Then you will be ready for God to use you. The Bible explains, “The testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. The one who has the Son has the life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” (1 John 5:11-12) There is no ambiguity about God’s grace or eternal life, so be prepared to “…share the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)
By Billie Hanks Jr.