To the Seeker with Intellectual Questions
What Sets Christianity Apart from "Religions" and Religious Philosophies?
Five Major Distinctions that Set Christianity Apart from Religions and Religous Philosophies
by M. Tyner, M.A., Christian Apologetics
I. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ was a Unique Miracle!
The “resurrection” means that Jesus Christ (God in human flesh) was alive, then He died (was crucified), and then was alive again three days later. After resurrecting, Jesus walked the earth forty days performing many more miracles before hundreds of witnesses. Then He ascended into heaven. He is alive today, sitting at the right hand of God the Father, praying for us (the people for whom He died)! The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central pillar of Christianity, and the evidence for its historicity is conclusive. We have the actual eyewitness accounts of this event (the gospels of Matthew, John, etc.); the empty tomb (despite the Roman guards and strict precautions), the transformation of the apostles, and the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. By His death and resurrection, Jesus conquered sin and death, thereby offering eternal life to us! Jesus declared,
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25)!
(See Acts 1:3; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8.)
CONTRAST: No other “religious founder” rose from the dead and came back to life! And Jesus predicted his death and resurrection.
II. The Founder was God Himself in Human Flesh!
Jesus Christ claimed to be God Himself, who humbly took the form of a human and came to earth as Savior to redeem mankind. He predicted to His disciples that He would die and then rise from the dead three days later, an event which would validate His claims to be God! He did not try to escape death on the cross, but He submitted to it. Why? Because that was why He came to earth. The God of the Bible is the eternal, triune God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity —God the Son. In the eternal past, the preincarnate Christ manifested His love by willingly becoming the sacrificial lamb who would be slain for us as our Redeemer!
“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)
(John 2:19; Philippians 2:6-8; l John 4:2; Titus 2:13; Matthew 12:40; Revelation 13:8)
CONTRAST: All other “religious founders” were merely human, not God Himself!
III. God Demonstrated Incomparable Love for Mankind.
God the Father sacrificed His Son to redeem us! God’s gift of eternal life is free to us (by His grace), but it cost Jesus crucifixion and more. God loves every person with an unconditional, divine (agape) love! He created us to have a personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. And He has a fulfilling plan for each of our lives. The Bible says that sin and death entered the world through Adam (in the garden of Eden). Thus all humanity is guilty of sin, separated from God. Jesus died a torturous death on the cross to reconcile us back to Him. If we were to ask God to prove His love for us, He would point to the CROSS. The cross was the supreme demonstration of God’s love for us!
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him [Jesus] shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)!
(Matthew 26:31,39; Hebrews 9:22, 13:20; Revelation 13:8; Isaiah 53:4-6; Romans 3:23)
CONTRAST: No other “religious founder” could love people with the agape love of eternal God, nor sacrifice so greatly to prove it!
IV. The Bible is the Supernatural and Infallible Word of God!
Historians agree as to the authenticity of the New and Old Testament writings (the Bible). Conclusive evidence for the infallibility of the Bible includes: the bibliographical test; historical and archaeological confirmations; the Bible’s harmony and unity (considering it contains 66 books written over 1500 yrs. by 40 authors on 3 continents); and the Bible’s fulfilled predictive prophecies. In the Old Testament, there were 330 specific prophecies about the coming Messiah, fulfilled with 100% accuracy in the life of Jesus, centuries later! God spoke to the O.T. prophets revealing history in advance because He is outside of time. And, contrary to popular belief, transmission of the Bible’s text has resulted in extraordinary purity, determined by textual criticism and comparisons of thousands of existing manuscripts (including 5,600 manuscripts in the original Greek and 18,000 in other languages)! And the Bible itself declares,
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God [by the Holy Spirit]…” (2 Timothy 3:16)
(See 2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:16; Matthew 24:35; Psalm 119:89)
CONTRAST: No “written religious authority” has such purity of text, such historical/archaeological confirmations, and such extensive prophecy fulfilled with 100% accuracy!
V. Jesus Christ is the Only Way to Eternal Salvation (Life in Heaven).
“Religions” are based on various systems of works (man working up to heaven), whereas Christianity is based on Jesus and what He has already done for us! Why was Jesus willing to sacrifice and die in our place? The Bible teaches there is a battle going on for the soul of every man and woman. Some people will go to heaven, but others will be separated from God forever and go to the place created for the devil and his fallen angels! Our eternal destiny depends on our personal decision, whether to trust in the only One who could settle the “sin issue” so we could relate to a holy God. Logically, if there really is a God, then we must come to Him by His own prescribed way! That prescribed WAY, according to the one true and living God (the God of the Bible) is by FAITH in Jesus Christ! In His own words, Jesus declared:
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except by Me” (John 14:6).
(See Matthew 25:41; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9; 1 Peter 3:18.)
CONTRAST: Various religions and religious philosophies claim that all roads lead to God, but their contradictory beliefs cannot be reconciled.
RELIGOUS DIVERSITY MISCONCEPTION:
It cannot be true that “all roads lead to God.” When we consider the various teachings about God from different religions, we see that they cannot all be true. They contradict each other in critical ways. God cannot at the same time be both impersonal and personal, both singular and triune, both finite and infinite, both knowable and unknowable! There is no way to reconcile the various world views, such as pantheism, monotheism, and polytheism. THEREFORE, logically, either none of them — or only one — is true. The real issue is TRUTH, an issue of infinite importance!
“Religion” is man on a quest for God!
The “Gospel” is God seeking man!
“Religion” is man trying to reach up to God!
The “Gospel” is God reaching down to man!
Jesus Christ voluntarily died on a Roman cross 2,000 years ago to pay the penalty for our sins and to demonstrate His love for us. He is “God Himself who came in the flesh” — the promised Messiah. He offers every person the free gift of eternal life. The Gospel of Grace is: Whoever believes in and receives the biblical Jesus Christ — who lived, died, and then three days later was resurrected — will have eternal life in heaven! Christianity is founded on a Person, not on a teaching as with “religions.” Christianity is relational. God longs to have a personal relationship with you through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus calls:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine [fellowship] with him and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).
(1 Corinthians 15:3-4; John 1:12, 3:16, 11:25; 1 John 4:2)
C. S. LEWIS QUOTE:
“We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed.” – Mere Christianity, p. 58
Sample Prayer to Receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior:
“Lord God, thank You for Your incredible love. I realize I am a sinner and that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and He was raised from the dead. Jesus, please forgive me, cleanse me, and be my personal Lord and Savior. I want to follow You and have a relationship with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”