Frequently the question is asked, “Why do we preach to people of other nations who have their own religion? Is it not arrogant and presumptuous of us to try to get them to exchange their religion for ours?”
The message of the Gospel, however, is infinitely more than just another religion. The message of the Christian witness is the message of reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. While religion is man’s effort to find God and/or to pacify God’s anger on his sins - Christianity is the Good News that God has come in Jesus to forgive man’s sins and offer him the gift of eternal salvation. (John 3:16-17) In his book “The Quest,” L.C. Kulathungam examines the DNA of the Judeo- Christian community. He states, “Most world religions seek some sense of transcendence. Only the Jewish and Christian traditions speak of the transcendent God seeking for them.”
Religion makes man bow down before some of the most grotesque inventions of his own hands. It has also led to human sacrifice and some of the worst kinds of creature degradation you can imagine. Some of the most terrible atrocities that have scandalized history have been done in the name of religion.
The mission of the Christian church is not a matter of trying to get people to “scrap their religion for another.” It is an invitational mission to deliver God’s message to everyone and invite them to embrace Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6) The Apostle Paul wrote, God “…has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (II Corinthians 5:20) Our duty is to share the good news of Jesus and to urge them to receive God’s only provision for their eternal salvation. It is “to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus.” (Acts 26:17-18)
Our message focuses on Jesus – his substitutionary death, burial, and triumphant resurrection. Religion, however, is faith in human nature. It is man trying to lift himself by his own bootstraps. Karl Barth observed that “Religion is infidelity because it is man’s faith in himself.” Christianity on the other hand is faith in God, in His Word, in his forgiveness, and in His totally undeserved grace and mercy provided through His Son Jesus. (John 3:16-17)
The distinguished theologian, Dr. Emil Brunner, was asked at an event attended by several hundred pastors, “Do you really believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God?” This was his answer. “There is a verse of Scripture (Acts 4:12) which says, ‘There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.’ Do you expect me to quarrel with that?”
“The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.” (Psalm 135:15-18 NIV) But “…everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21 NIV)
Henry Martyn, a missionary to India and Persia, said, “The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.”
Be blessed my friend.
The Barnabas Group (Loads of Love)
Romans 1:16-25; I Corinthians 1:6-14; 1:18-19; I Timothy 2:4-6
P.S. This week I leave on a ten-day mission trip to Nicaragua with four others to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ and to help make Jesus known. We would deeply appreciate your prayers.