Jesus Vs. _______: Part 1
Here is the pdf version. Part 1 Where It All Starts
Have you ever asked this… I have. How do you know that Christianity is the one true religion? What’s the difference? Aren’t they all the same?
In this next 6 weeks we are going to lay a foundation for Christianity. We are going to show you the differences in some major religions and also compare them to Christianity. Also, parallel to this we are going to be doing some be taking a more in depth look into Christianity… and knowing why you believe what you believe in the Sunday School Classes. The High School classes will be going through this through summer, the Jr. High not as long, but still the goal is the cause you to think critically and be grounded in core belief as a Christian.
The American Banking Association has training program that exemplifies our aim. I’m sure most of you have heard this. Each year it sends hundreds of bank tellers to Washington in order to teach them to detect counterfeit money, which is a source of great loss of revenue to the Treasury Department. It is most interesting that during the entire two week training program, no teller touches counterfeit money. Only the original passes through his hands. The reason for this is that the American Banking Association is convinced that if a man is thoroughly familiar with the original he will not be deceived by the counterfeit bill, no matter how much like the original it appears.
Let me pray for you all
1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”
The cults have capitalized on the failure of the Christian Church in general, but individual Christians in particular. To understand their teaching and to develop a workable methodology both to evangelize and to refute cult adherents. Basically we don’t know our bible. So when someone says something similar we easily believe it to be true. Knowing your bible isn’t just reading it and having verse memorized. But studying, asking questions, pushing back, and talking to other people about it. Basically investigating what it all means.
There are a few words I want to give you definitions too. We will be using them throughout the rest of the series. The first word is going to be worldview. A worldview is a particular philosophy of life, or a concept of the world. basically it is the lens/filter you see everything through. It effects your decisions, relationships, views, opinions, and even view of God/religion. Imagine you were to wear sunglasses all the time. My sunglasses are dark, so its going to really effect the way I see at night right? Meaning my night time vision is going to be a little manipulated from what the actual reality is. We all have worldview, but not all world views are right. Doctrine. Doctrine means teaching…
The word doctrine comes from the Greek word didache: “teaching.” A doctrine is a belief (or system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative. Content of teaching intended to be accepted and believed as truth.”
For example. the Doctrine of Baptism. Basically that means what we teach on baptism. Does that make since? Doctrines typically are pretty extensive looks into a particular topic, but it also sets the foundation for what someone was to believe and teach. What is so awesome about doctrine is that it’s not all about being book smart, and sitting around debating. But good strong doctrine leads to a good strong life. Since you have the knowledge you must do something about it. It’s like anything. You play baseball. When you learn good fundamentals… and you don’t do them. Your a fool right? If you play and instrument… you learn the fundamentals of that instrument, but you don’t use it…
Most religions have this. This idea of essential doctrines. We would call these closed handed beliefs. Meaning it can’t change. Think of it this way. If you are holding on to something with a closed fist… your telling me something. You don’t want it to get away form you. If you hold something opened handed… what are you telling me? You can have it, it’s not a big deal.
Every religions has a closed handed set of teachings… Even if your not a religious organization… you could be a club or a group… Say if someone was apart of a homosexual, gay, organization… one key element an essential part of that group is that you must be gay… right?
So having a black and white set of beliefs is not a bad thing. But they can be wrong things… So doctrine means teaching. We are just going to look at essentials… that’s really all the time we have.
The second word I want to give to you is Tolerance. This is really a catch phrase for a lot of things. It’s used at encouragement to some and criticism to others. It’s thrown around in different areas of thought. Schools, courts, capital hills, churches…. So what does it actually mean? Can Christians be tolerant?
G. K. Chesterton said, “Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” Tolerance assuming the position when you don’t stand for anything.
As Christians can we be tolerant? Yes we can. There is a Christian Tolerance. For the sake of time and… time. Let me keep this broad.
Let me tell you a story. It’s out of Luke 10:25-37. It’s title the parable of the “Good Samaritan”. Jesus is asked a question. Basically who is my neighbor. Who are the people I should love, serve, respect, take care of, show concern to, listen to, serve… The quick answer is everyone. Jesus used a radical example. That a samaritan helped a Jew in other Jews just walked by. Imagine a Christian helping a Mormon, or Muslim… How about if it is reversed. What if a Mormon or a Muslim helped a Christian like the Samaritan helped the Jew.
Jesus doesn’t say agree with him. Jesus doesn’t say worship with him. Pray like them. Agree with his moral standard. Vote the way he votes. But love him.
Listen: We can be loving, yet, we can disagree.
We don’t impose Christian faith, but we propose Christian faith. “We’d like to talk to you about Jesus. He loves you. We want you to love him.” So we don’t think that we can in any way impose faith by making Christianity the legal religion, and then making other beliefs illegal.
The big idea is that as Christians we are to have a biblical worldview (that means you read the bible, do what it says, and that becomes the filter you look through) that will tell us what is right or wrong. It will give us a moral standard. It will tell us how to live, make decisions, love, and relate to people. It will tell us about Jesus and what He think is important. So that our important will be what’s important to Jesus. You are first citizens of God’s kingdom before you are citizens of America, or your opinion.
So when comparing and contrasting these are two things that we need to be familiar with. Doctrine, and Tolerance. Each group and organization has essential (doctrines) teachings that define, outline, and decide what they believe, and are intolerant towards that. Meaning it can not be changed.
For example. Lets just say I was the president of a homosexual organization, this is hypothetical. For whatever reason, I decided I wasn’t gay. One essential (teaching) doctrine of this homosexual organization is that I must be gay… to not be apart of, but hold any sort of office. Which is kind of intolerant… right?
We as Christians aren’t different in holding essential doctrines that we must hold on to if we are to consider ourselves Christians. The reason they are criticized is that they tend to reflect Jesus and Jesus is very counter-cultural.
So what is the essential doctrines (teachings) of Christianity?
Let me tell it to you first in this way… That God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit who make up the Trinity) existed together as One in the beginning of time before creation. That in the beginning of our existence, as we know it on earth, They created. Man turned from God in an attempt to do thing on his own, and by himself. God shows grace and mercy and attempts to reclaim the relationship that God and man were intended to have. Jesus, who is God, become a man. God crashed into human history… (Christmas). God lived as a perfect man known as Jesus. Who died on the cross in our place for our sin. Who rose from the dead (Easter) demonstrating his power to replace our sin with His perfection. God doesn’t consider us guilty of sin, but rather freed from sin. This is called GRACE. You receive Grace by repenting (turning, denying, running) of sin, and being baptized (dunked under water). This act is called salvation. We saw a few Sundays ago when Alyssa became a Christian. Salvation then moves us to live a transformed (Ro. 12:1-2) (not conformed) life that reflects God. This is called discipleship.
Here are essential doctrines. I’m just going to mention them, but spend time on one in particular.
The Doctrine of the Trinity– God is one he has three persons. For sake of time. It’s like looking at an object at different angles. It like water… but frozen, heated, and normal temps. There is a gas, liquid, and solid. H2O. There is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All are equals and all existed together before creation.
The Doctrine of Man – (I know that isn’t politically correct… I don’t care right now) We are created in the image and glory of God. We are image barers of God.
The Doctrine of Scripture (Bible) – What we read in the Genesis is that God reveals himself in words. “God said”. God speaks. This is big!!!! You’ll understand why when you hear about other religions. The Creator of the whole universe created humans in his image, thereby, enabling them to communicate with him in relationship. The bible is God speaking his truth into human words… that’s why its so important. Want to know the big idea of the bible?! Jesus is the hero!
The Doctrine of Sin – Genesis 3 is one of the most important chapters in the entire Bible because it explains the source of and solution for sin and death. Sin includes omission, where we do not do what we ought, and commission, where we do what we ought not do. Sin includes our thoughts, words, deeds, and motives. Sin includes godlessness, which is ignoring God and living as if there were no God or as if we were God. Sin is invariably idolatry, which is the replacing of God as preeminent with something or someone else – most often oneself. Sin is turning good things into God things which make them bad (sin) things.
Understanding sin is crucial to understanding your nature, one that God never intended for us to understand, and why we do what we do. It helps us parenting, dating, friendships, resisting temptations, and worshiping. Before you can ever become a Christian, you must for understand your need of Christ. You don’t see a need for Christ until you understand that you are in sin.
The Doctrine of Christ – This is HUGE!!! We will need to spend time on this. That Jesus is God incarnate. Meaning he is God with meat on him… redneck theology 101… your welcome. That God is in the flesh. Born of a virgin, Mary, lived, breath, slept, ate, was tempted, and pooped.
God dies. 1 Cor. 15:3b-4 “That Christ died for our sin in accordance with scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scripture.” Jesus’ work for us on the cross is called atonement
; Jesus our God became a man to restore a relationship between God and humanity. The concept of Jesus dying in our place to pay our penalty for our sin has been expressed in theological shorthand as ‘penal substitution’. Scripture repeatedly and clearly declares that Jesus died as our substitute paying our penalty ‘for’ our sin.
Jesus rose from the dead. 1 Cor. 15:17 “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sin.” It’s a big deal. That’s why we make such a big deal over Easter. Jesus wasn’t revived… someone who dies comes back to life only to die again. Resurrection teaches that someone dies and returns to physical life forever. Resurrection does not mean incarnation or purgatory. Reincarnation means that someone’s soul moves from one body or object to the next living a succession of lives in pursuit of complete perfection. Purgatory wrongly teaches that following death there is an extended period of potential maturation and purification that allows someone to enjoy heave as an unbeliever. Hebrews 9:27 refutes both: “It is appointed for man to doe once, and after that comes judgement.”
It is more then life after death, it is a new life after ‘life after death’.
The Doctrine of Salvation – There is a real heaven and a real hell. That faith in Jesus will bring you heaven and no faith in Jesus will bring you hell. Heaven and hell are two very real places. This is going to seem very intolerant, because Jesus is very intolerant when it comes to this. That unless you have faith in Jesus you are going to go to hell. Where you are going to spend eternity apart from God like you wanted… If you are not a Christian Earth will be as good as it gets for you. As a Christian Earth is as bad as it gets for you because when you die, having faith in Jesus, you are going to spend eternity with him like you wanted when you put your faith in Jesus. John 14:6 says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no one can come to the Father except through me.” It should be noted that Jesus did not say “I am one of many equally good ways” or “I am a better way then the others, I am an aspect of truth; I am a fragment of the life.” Instead, His claim was absolute, and allegiance to Him, as the Savior of the world, was to take precedence over all the claims of mean and religions.
We make our allengece, we accapt Jesus, we come into his grace, his death makes atonement for our sin by placing our faith in him and being baptized into his death, burial, and resurrection.
This is how we are going to compare other religions to Christianity. Is going to be by these essential doctrines. We were not able to go into the depth that each one would requires. But know this is just going to be a bullet point due to our time. The majority of our comparing is going to be with comparing Jesus.
I hope that this helps lay a foundation. In order to understand a counterfeit religion we must first get familiar and know that the true religion is.