Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
Authored By :
Published On :
October 13, 1997
Last Updated :
March 17, 2018
Diversity Of Global Religious Beliefs Results In Confusion, Monotheistic Religions: Belief In Only One God, Simplified Overview Of Other World Religions, What Differentiates The Christian Faith From Other Monotheistic Religions, Saved By A Savior Or Through Our Own Good Merits, We Are All Sinners, Lack Of Love And The Selfish "Me First" Attitude, Dishonest With Ourselves And Others, The Wages Of Sin Is Death, God's Mercy And Compassion, Peace With God Through Christ, Jesus Took Our Sins Upon Himself, Atonement Means "One With God", Jesus Is The Lamb Of God And The Author Of The New Covenant, Jesus Paid The Ransom Price For Our Salvation, Freed From Fear And The Chains Of Death, Our Blessed Hope Is In Christ
In the world today, there are so many different religions; each one of which has their own churches, temples, mosques or other places of worship. Because of this religious diversity, many people often find themselves wondering which one is the correct one to believe in and follow. They feel overwhelmed, and completely lost amidst the multitude of choices available to them. Perhaps you are one of such people. What creates this confusion in the first place, is the fact that each of these religions has a set of beliefs which may differ with, and contradict what is being taught by some of the others. The reasons why this is so are many, but the end result is that many people don't know in which direction to turn in order to find the truth.
One idea which is shared by Christianity, Judaism and Islam, is the belief in one God, Who created the Earth and all life on it; in fact, the entire universe; a Supreme Being. This is why they are referred to as monotheistic religions. This belief in one supreme God sets these three religions apart from other belief systems, being as some of the others do not teach that there is one Supreme Being. Instead, they worship many different gods and goddesses, each with its own power and authority. For example, such is the case with Hinduism, from which different popular forms of meditation are derived. Other religions worship the forces of nature, such as Wicca, or dead relatives, such as Shintoism.
In the case of certain religions, an ordinary human being is elevated to the status of a god, through the erection of temples and statues in that person's honor, and through the widespread teaching of his belief system. Such is the case with Buddhism. While Buddhists don't claim that Buddha is a god, there extreme reverence of him pretty much puts him in that category anyway.
Some belief systems go as far as to say that we are gods. They rely upon the self-help technique, and claim that all answers are to be found within oneself. They teach that we have the power to control our own destinies without any intervention from a Higher Power. These kinds of belief systems often embrace any number of New Age concepts, and will also employ different forms of meditation.
And yet a number of other religions, such as the African derived Santeria, bow down to Satan and the wicked forces of darkness. Tragically, Satanism and devil worship are alive and well, even in self-proclaimed Christian nations such as the United States of America, where they no longer even hide their rejection of the Christian God, and boldly flaunt their misguided beliefs in music, and via other art forms as well.
In certain developed countries, people also worship power, money and materialism. Basically, it is Satan's whole grab bag. Such individuals will do whatever it takes in order to climb to the pinnacle of success; even if it means using and hurting other people, and stepping all over them. People are just viewed as pawns, in a calculated game where position or a fat salary are the ultimate prize.
Of course, there are also those misguided people who claim that they do not worship any god or spirit. In fact, they deny the existence of the spiritual world altogether, and view such things as mere fairy tales. This current life is all there is, such people claim. There is nothing else to follow death they insist. We simply cease to be, and rot in the ground, kept alive only in the memory of our loved ones.
Even between Christianity, Judaism and Islam, there are some differences of which you should be aware. Just because a religion promotes the belief in one Supreme Being does not necessarily mean that it is safe to follow. What makes the Christian faith different from all other religions, is the fact that it is the only one which is honest enough to speak of our need for a Savior, Who offers us the free Gift of Eternal Life, in a new and better world where all suffering, pain and sorrow will be removed. Other belief systems, such as Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, erroneously teach that we can gain Eternal Life, and be a part of this wonderful new world, even if we don't believe in the Savior. According to their doctrines, Salvation is based upon doing good things, or perfecting ourselves by living many times, or keeping many rules. In other words, they would have us to believe that we can gain Eternal Life through our own good merits. Even though it shares some common history with the Christian faith, Judaism likewise rejects basic Christian beliefs.
Exactly what are these beliefs?
As I noted a moment ago, Christianity teaches that we cannot save ourselves. We need some outside help. We need a Savior. Why is this so? According to the Bible, we are all sinners. We aren't perfect. We have all made mistakes, regardless of how young or how old we may be. Our greatest mistake, or sin, is that we don't love God or each other as much as we should. That is why there are so many problems in the world today. Many people simply do not act out of love for God, or out of love for others, but only out of love for themselves. They live self-centered lives, instead of God-centered lives. "Me" must come first, and whatever is good for "Me", is good for everyone else. It is this kind of sick attitude which results in war, murder, rape, abortion, theft, the oppression of the poor, and many other social crimes.
This misguided attitude also results in our being dishonest with others, as well as with ourselves, because we are not willing to face up to the truth regarding ourselves. So we each wear a hypocritical mask, and then promote an image of ourselves to others which is often very different from the way we actually are. We live a life of lies and deception. Such things are all motivated by pride, selfishness, and the evil which lurks within our own heart.
Not only do such acts hurt others, but they hurt God as well. Furthermore, they keep us separated from Him, just as parents are sometimes not too happy to see their children when they have been disobedient. In fact, because we do not obey God's Laws of Love as we should, and because we rebel against His Will for our personal lives, it forces Him to punish us; just as responsible parents will punish their children when they too do something wrong. In this case, the Biblical law is very clear regarding the penalty for the sins of rebellion and unbelief. It states such things as the following:
"For the wages of sin is death . . ."
Romans 6:23, KJV
". . . he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
John 3:36, KJV
"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
Matthew 10:28, KJV
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God . . . For our God is a consuming fire."
Hebrews 10:31, 12:29, KJV
"And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
Revelation 20:15, KJV
"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."
Revelation 21:8, KJV
That is a heavy price to pay, but we choose it through our own continual stubbornness and unbelief. God does not choose it for us, as some false accusers would have you to believe. Moreover, we can have peace in our hearts, knowing that no matter how bad we have been, or how rebellious we have been, all is not lost. Just as most parents eventually embrace their children in love once again, God too does not remain mad at us forever. He does not cast us away forever; unless that is what we truly want. He is mindful of the fact that we are weak, human flesh. Thus, as King David wrote, God has pity upon us, as we see here:
"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust."
Psalms 103:13-14, KJV
In His mercy, God, is willing to give us time to acknowledge our errors, to ask for forgiveness, and to repent. That is why in the midst of the great affliction which engulfed his nation -- ancient Israel -- the Prophet Jeremiah wrote the following wonderful verses:
"It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23, KJV
So you see, God's love and mercy are renewed every single morning; and because they are, He has purposely made a way for our sins to be forgiven, so that our relationship with Him can be fully restored, and peace can reign between us; that is, between God the Father and ourselves. Consider the following group of verses which confirm this point:
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
John 14:27, KJV
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
John 16:33, KJV
"Therefore being justified by faith, WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD through our Lord Jesus Christ:"
Romans 5:1, KJV
"But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For HE IS OUR PEACE, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father."
Ephesians 2:13-18, KJV
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:7, KJV
"For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, HAVING MADE PEACE THROUGH THE BLOOD OF HIS CROSS, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:"
Colossians 1:19-22, KJV
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
Jeremiah 29:11, KJV
As the previous group of verses reveals, the manner in which God made a way for our sins to be forgiven, and our broken relationship with Him to be restored, is by allowing His own Son, Jesus Christ, to take our punishment for us. It is as if one of our brothers or sisters or friends decided to take the blame for something that we did, and be punished for it; even though we really did it. This is true love. This is putting others before self. And this is exactly what Jesus did for us. The Bible informs us that He took upon Himself our sins, as we can determine by the following verse:
"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
2 Corinthians 5:21, KJV
In other words, even though Jesus was sinless, and without spot or blemish just like a sacrificial lamb, God the Father allowed His Son to take upon Himself the sins of the world. He allowed Jesus to be punished for us, so that we could find Atonement, or forgiveness and reconciliation with the Father, through His Sacrifice. In case you were not aware of it, that is exactly what the word "atonement" means in the Biblical sense. That is, to become one with the Father once again. The word was in fact invented by William Tyndale to describe this state of oneness with the Father through reconciliation. That is why John the Baptist said the following upon recognizing Jesus as the Savior of all mankind:
"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world . . . And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God . . . And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!"
John 1:29, 34, 36, KJV
Why was Jesus obligated to die such a gruesome death in the first place? Couldn't it have been avoided? In a word, no. According to the laws of the Old Testament, the remission of the people's sins could only be achieved through the altar sacrifice of an unblemished goat or lamb. That is why we find the ritual sacrifice of animals throughout the Old Testament. It was a foreshadow of better things to come in Christ. Thus, as the Apostle Paul and other writers explain, Jesus became the Lamb of God of the New Testament. By His dying on the Cross, He became the Author of the New Covenant -- or the New Testament -- between God and man. He became the Final Sacrifice. There needs to be no more. These clear Biblical truths are revealed in verses such as the following:
"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth."
Isaiah 53:7, KJV
"The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:"
Acts 8:32, KJV
"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,"
1 Peter 1:18-20, KJV
"For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
Matthew 26:28, KJV
"And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many."
Mark 14:24, KJV
"Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."
Luke 22:20, KJV
"After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me."
1 Corinthians 11:25, KJV
"Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."
2 Corinthians 3:6, KJV
"But now hath he [Jesus] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away."
Hebrews 8:6-13, KJV
"And for this cause he [Jesus] is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance . . . And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."
Hebrews 9:15, 22, KJV
"And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."
Hebrews 12:24, KJV
Jesus accepted the guilty verdict of His accusers. He took the whipping for us. He took the death sentence which we truly deserve; by His own loving choice. We were all held hostage by sin, and Jesus paid the ransom price for our freedom, through His sufferings upon the Cross. This truth becomes evident by verses such as the following:
"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and TO GIVE HIS LIFE A RANSOM FOR MANY."
Matthew 20:28, KJV
"For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and TO GIVE HIS LIFE A RANSOM FOR MANY."
Mark 10:45, KJV
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, WHICH HE HATH PURCHASED WITH HIS OWN BLOOD."
Acts 20:28, KJV
"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For YE ARE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, KJV
"YE ARE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE; be not ye the servants of men."
1 Corinthians 7:23, KJV
"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption OF THE PURCHASED POSSESSION, unto the praise of his glory."
Ephesians 1:13-14, KJV
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; WHO GAVE HIMSELF A RANSOM FOR ALL, to be testified in due time."
1 Timothy 2:5-6, KJV
As you can see, what an expensive price it was indeed! In other words, Jesus did not look out for Himself first as so many people are inclined to do today. He was not concerned with His own wellbeing. He was only concerned about our wellbeing, and our future in the Kingdom of His Father. He was concerned with liberating us from the chains of death, and from the fear of death, which at the time were in the hands of the Devil. Jesus came to fulfill a mission, but He had to be willing to temporarily forsake His place in Heaven, and His life on Earth, in order to fulfill it. That is why the Apostle Paul also writes the following:
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Philippians 2:5-11, KJV
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he [Jesus] also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through FEAR OF DEATH were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
Hebrews 2:14-15, KJV
To reiterate, a main part of Jesus' mission on Earth was to free us not only from eternal death due to sin, but also to free us from the very fear of death itself. He wanted us to know that there was something after death -- an Afterlife in the Kingdom of His Father -- for those who believe in Him. Consider the following additional verses where this freedom is discussed:
"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free . . . If the Son therefore shall make you free, YE SHALL BE FREE INDEED."
John 8:31-32, 36, KJV
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, TO PREACH DELIVERANCE TO THE CAPTIVES, and recovering of sight to the blind, TO SET AT LIBERTY them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord."
Luke 4:18-19, KJV
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father . . . Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the GLORIOUS LIBERTY OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD."
Romans 8:15, 21, KJV
Thus, through His own Death and Resurrection, Jesus offered solid proof of the life to come, and gave hope to us all. He removed the fear of death from the hearts of all Believers. This hope of the Eternal Life to come is expressed over and over again in the pages of the Epistles. Consider this group of verses where the Apostles reveal their expectations:
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."
Romans 8:18-25, KJV
"Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:"
Colossians 1:25-27, KJV
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;"
1 Timothy 1:1, KJV
"Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;"
Titus 1:1-2, KJV
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;"
Titus 2:11-13, KJV
"That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
Titus 3:7, KJV
"And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end."
Hebrews 3:5-6, KJV
"And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:"
Hebrews 6:11, KJV
"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ . . . Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God."
1 Peter 1:13, 21, KJV
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
1 Peter 1:3-5, KJV
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."
1 John 3:2-3, KJV
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
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