Way Truth Life Part 2: The Truth About Religion
On Sunday 19th March at our morning service, we continued our series 'Way Truth Life' with the topic 'The Truth About Religion'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to the talk on-line, please click here.
To download the talk to listen to off line, please click here.
At the start of our service we watched a Youtube clip called 'Man In The Hole'. You can watch that by clicking here.
In this blog there are three passages of the bible that have been referenced.
If you would like to read these and the verses surrounding them in more detail please click on the links next to them.
John 14 v 6 (NIV) Click here.
John 3 v 16 (NIV) Click here.
Ephesians 2 (GNB) Click here.
In part one of this series Steph explored the truth that there is only one way to God. This statement has big implications for our world today.
If there really is only one way to God then what about all the other religions?
To start us off thinking about this big question I would like you to picture a bottle of Heinz tomato ketchup.
There is a rumour, denied by Heinz, that all ketchup comes from the same factory. And no matter what label is on the bottle we all eat the same stuff. Is this how it is with religion? The label might read Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism or whatever but is the substance inside any different? Do we all worship the same God and do all religions have the same nutritional content? The more you know about ketchup the more convinced you will be that the ‘one type of ketchup’ theory is not accurate. The same applies to religion.
Take for example how each of the major religions believe you should go about following their religion and staying in ‘God’s good books:’
A Muslim will tell you that it is by observing a regular system of prayer and fasting and by giving to the poor. A Hindu believes it is a matter of appeasing the many gods by worshipping at a shrine or idol and practising personal discipline. A Buddhist will say that there is no God to keep in with – but that by looking inward and doing good you will get a better deal next time round.
As Christians we believe that it is not by our own efforts that we can earn our way into God’s presence but by personally trusting in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.
These religions are not even expressing complimentary views that go together to form a complete picture – they are totally different.
Perhaps, God is like a city – all roads lead to him. It sounds attractive doesn’t it? - Very inclusive and none confrontational. If God were a city perhaps we could travel down Muslim avenue or Hindu Street or perhaps meander around several streets before arriving at our final destination. But God is not a city – a destination to be reached - God is a being / a person, and as a person, just like you and me he is reached only through a relationship.
So, how do we have a relationship with God? Jesus put it simply:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father, except through me.” (John 14 vs 6)
At great personal cost to himself God restored the way for us to have a relationship with him through the sacrifice of Jesus. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son [Jesus], that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ‘(John 3 v 16)
Christianity is unique. All other religions require their followers to do something to work their way into God’s good books. These requirements vary but the message is the same – do enough and get it right and you’ll be okay….maybe. While this is the treadmill that other religions put people on, God offers us something completely different.
In a letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul, an enthusiastic advocate of the early church, explains the significance of what God has done through Jesus when he writes:
“For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it.” (Ephesians 2 vs 8-9)
At its heart grace is the undeserved favour of God. Grace is the key to how we are able to have a personal relationship with God. In this passage Paul is explaining to the church that it is not about what we do to get into God’s good books. There is no way that we could restore our relationship with God by ourselves – the debt is too great!
God loves us so much that he sorted out our separation from God – he sacrificed his Son in order to restore our relationship with him and give us eternal life with him in heaven. This marks out Christianity from all other religions. This is what makes Christianity unique!
So, what about the faith that is mentioned in this passage? Faith is about us trusting in God for what he has done for us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
God has restored the way to him by grace though faith. But, it is one thing to know that this gift of a restored relationship with God is available, quite another to accept the gift and begin to unwrap it.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your Life Group)
1. What do you think about what you have just read?
2. How does what you have just read make you feel about people who follow a religion other than Christianity?
3. Are you ready to accept all that God has done for you and to follow him as ‘the way’? If not, what is holding you back? If you are then ask him to be part of your life and for him to help guide you on your journey.
4. If you already have a relationship with God, what difference has accepting God’s gift of grace made to how you are living your life right now?
5. How is your relationship with God going?
6. Do other people know you are a Christian? Is the way you are living your life reflecting what you have read in the Bible or heard about in church?
7. How might you begin to tell other people about the uniqueness of Christianity?
Christianity is unique – For it is by God’s grace that we have been saved through faith. It is not by our own efforts, but is a gift from God