Friday, July 27, 2012

Why Christ?

It is important (and interesting) to note that no religion changes lives as drastically as does Christianity.

The night I surrendered and submitted myself to the Supreme Being of the Universe, why didn't I immediately think of Allah, Brahman, Waheguru, Baha, Ahura Mazda, Gitche Manitou, or the god of any other religion? There is something about the God of Israel - "I AM THAT I AM" - that extends its reach past geographical locations. It is not as simple as our locations determining our faiths for us, as one particular person would love to have you believe. So, what sets Him apart from all other humanly-devised ideas? What makes Him stand out so uniquely that I would know which is the one true god that I was crying out to?

God vs. Religion

The misconception people generally have of religions is that they are fundamentally similar and superficially different. In other words, their essential cores are the same, but they appear different on the surface. This perception could not be further from the truth, as a study of religious founders and their ideas reveals the exact opposite; religions have fundamental differences and superficially appear similar.

The thing that sets God's Word apart from other religious text is its perfect track record of fulfilled prophecies. The Old Testament, completed two to three hundred years before Christ, foretells of a coming Saviour who would redeem God's people. Christ fulfilled the clear prophectic predictions of the Messiah and the rest have yet to be fulfilled at His Second Coming. Divine revelation is a common claim among religions, but a personal God who is interested in His creatures is a unique one. No other religion offers salvation, only ways of trying to attain it. Even Islam, by denying Christ's death and resurrection (thereby eliminating His victory over death and offering us the way to the Father), must rely on hope for salvation. By rejecting the grace found in Christ, the grace of Allah they seek is unclear in this lifetime. This means that their works, mainly the Five Pillars, do not guarantee them Paradise. The most devout Muslim who prays five times daily could end up in Hell, whereas a non-practicing Muslim could potentially end up in Paradise, all according to the mercy of Allah (this I read in a former Muslim's testimony). This is evident in the following statement from Muhammad: "Unless God throws His cloak of mercy over me, I have no hope." Religious founders were striving for enlightenment, not teaching that a personal creator God has revealed Himself in history. Classic Hinduism teaches that man's ultimate goal is attaining the self-realization of being a part of a monistic god. When we think about what this means, it implies that Brahman cannot be all-knowing if he has to realize who he is. Christ does not offer us a mere attempt, but is God Himself, incarnate as our sinless example. In fact, God came to reveal the truth to us (leaving His mark in the timeline of our history in the process) and to do away with man-made religion by giving us a personal relationship. Without the direct connection God has made with His creatures, all other conceived gods can only strive to reach us. Without Christ, we only have gods as prisoners of time and space imprisoning us also in our helplessness of being liberated. Without the Creator of the Universe revealing Himself through the God-man Jesus, we are left with an impersonal void that can only be filled and satisfied by a personal God.

The Lord Jesus Christ claimed to be "I AM" Himself. No other founder claimed to be God, because they were smart enough to know that that is an absurd claim and would make them appear crazy. Muhammad admitted his sin and violated his own laws (such as those concerning polygamy), while even the Quran affirms Christ as the virgin-born sinless miracle-worker we know (albeit denying those things that also make Him our salvation-bringer). The Lord Jesus Christ gave credence to all His claims by leaving us with an empty tomb, while all other founders could not escape death. Muhammad rested his claims on the fact that his aorta hadn't been cut. In the Quran, 69:44-46 (Dawood) states, "Had he invented lies concerning Us, We would have seized him by the right hand and severed his heart's vein." Interestingly, as he lay dying, he confessed that he could feel his aorta being severed. Just one example from the Hadith (Sahih al-Bukhari 4428) reads, "The Prophet in his ailment in which he died, used to say, 'O Aishah! I still feel the pain caused by the food I ate at Khaibar, and at this time, I feel as if my aorta is being cut from that poison.'" It seems as if Muslims are actually submitting to Muhammad, for if they truly submitted to Allah, how could they ignore this correction of their false prophet? Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, aimed to attain freedom from suffering and the supposed illusion of the self, but also could not escape the reality of death. In his attempt at gaining enlightenment, he said, "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." This is self-defeating and unwise, for stating the truth that there is no absolute truth only affirms what he was trying to deny. Christ is world-affirming, person-affirming, and reality-affirming. He is honest about suffering and helps us to face it until He will make all things new.

The uniqueness of Christ that undeniably places Him above and beyond all religious leaders is the reason why those who deny Him are trying hard to bring Him down to their level by attempting to reduce Him to a legend, fable, or invention. However, try as they may to deny the supernatural, Jesus the Christ continues to supernaturally save. The person of Christ has been so reviled, because, unlike other religious leaders, His statements and truths affect all aspects of our lives. He doesn't merely suggest a path to enlightenment, He demands our whole selves in obedience in order for us to inherit His promises. We cannot make Him out to be what we would like Him to be in order to suit our own interests. It's all or nothing, love Him or hate Him. I once was on the other side, so I understand how blindly we can misunderstand Him in our sinful nature. We are so depraved, He has to draw us to Him. It took me a long decade of trying to suppress the truth in unrighteousness, but I eventually gave up and I praise God He faithfully waited! Thus, if you are on an unclear path towards an unsure destination, I plead for you to seek true enlightenment through the Holy Spirit. As we foolishly attempt to escape death by immortality, cybernetics, and cryonics, all we have to do is look to the Lord Jesus, who did it once and for all through the cross (Matthew 16:25).

Why Jesus? This is why: "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" (John 14:6)

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