THE ALTERNATIVES 7-29-18
July 29, 2018
The title of my message today is not the name of a band or a TV show. Instead we are going to take a closer look at what some folks might suggest as an ‘alternative’ belief system to Christianity, as if by believing something other than the truth, it would actually cause it to become truth. Or as if truth is somehow relative to human thought, or even created by it, and not an ‘absolute’.
Let’s begin with atheism. Modern atheists do not want to be defined as having a belief that there is no God. They prefer to be known as having a lack of belief in God or gods. To quote American Atheists*, “Atheism is not a belief system nor is it a religion. While there are some religions that are atheistic (certain sects of Buddhism, for example), that does not mean that atheism is a religion. To put it in a more humorous way: If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby.” And they define agnostics as a “‘weaker’ version of being an atheist.” (They say) “It answers a different question. Atheism is about what you believe. Agnosticism is about what you know.” An agnostic is simply someone who opts out by saying, “I don’t know”. They claim there is no way for anyone to know for sure whether or not God exists, at least not scientifically. An agnostic would not serve well on a jury. When presented with overwhelming evidence, and a large number of credible witnesses, he or she would still be unable to make a decision. Because there is indeed overwhelming evidence and a large number of credible witnesses for the truths of Christianity. Just ask Lee Strobel**.
So what does being an atheist or agnostic do for you? Some might claim it gives us freedom from religion, and helps us to focus on the betterment of humanity and our world. The problem with this, besides being blatantly in opposition to the truth of God’s existence, or at the very least seriously questioning of it, is that man is inherently evil. Man does not by nature focus on the good of others, unless that good somehow benefits him personally. Individuals, families, corporations, and countries will always look after their own self-interests. Even those who claim benevolence, and perhaps even reflect it in their actions, are ultimately doing so in an attempt at making themselves ‘appear’ good in order to garner the praise and acclaim of others - unless their hearts have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit. And if there is no God to whom we are ultimately responsible to, then who is to decide what is right and wrong? Morality becomes relative. And that brings us right back to the fact that without Christ our sin nature dominates us and even relative morality is only a reflection of self-interest. King Solomon mused about the futility of life without God in the Book of Ecclesiastes. The first thing he wrote is “Everything is meaningless… completely meaningless!" (Ecclesiastes 1:2) For indeed, without God, our life has no true meaning and no purpose. Add to that no promise of heaven, but only the guarantee of our body rotting in the earth or being burned in a crematory after death, and why bother at all? Live for today, for tomorrow we die. Every tick of the clock, every glimpse in the mirror year after year, doesn’t make the godless look forward to the future, it only reminds them of how quickly time is going by. And atheists call us fools? No, King David was right when he said, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1, 53:1).
Then there are those who believe in God, but believe that all religions lead to heaven. It doesn’t matter what ‘name’ you put on God, they are all the same. Are they really? Is Allah and the triune God of Christianity one and the same? Having studied all of the major religions in college, I can tell you that the gods of the other religions are not, never have been, and never will be the God of the Bible, the one true God, the only ‘god’ who is indeed God! I could write lengthy sermons about each of the other major religions in the world, but suffice it to say that their adherents have been deceived by the one that will do everything in his power to keep them from faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior, and to keep them worshipping anyone other than the true God; because even if they don’t worship him by his real name, their spirits belong to him. And I’m sure you know who I am talking about. The apostle Paul said, “…Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Every other major religion is based on good works and human endeavor in reaching God, a state of spiritual enlightenment, and eternal bliss. But Christianity teaches the truth that:
1. Salvation is only through faith in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the second person of the triune God.
2. The moment we ask Jesus to be our Savior and Lord, our spirits are cleansed of sin and given new life.
3. When the spirits of the redeemed are released from their bodies of flesh they are ushered into the presence of God and will be with Him forever.
What joy this brings to the believer! How can those of other religions ever have true peace, never knowing if they have done enough good to outweigh their bad? Always struggling against their human nature without the power of the Holy Spirit? Without ever feeling truly loved?
I might mention one last ‘alternative’. Some religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, teach that after you die, at some point in time you are reincarnated. As such, they maintain that we are a part of an endless cycle of birth and rebirth. Instead of God determining your eternal rewards, or punishment, karma dictates what your next life will entail. Buddhists strive for total emptiness, which equates with nirvana, to escape this cycle. To throw science into the mix, Albert Einstein said, “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” And indeed, our spirit, which we have received from God, cannot be destroyed. I don’t know about you, but I loathe the concept that I would have to live my life over and over again. Maybe better the next time, maybe worse, but either way, I don’t want to do this forever! And complete emptiness doesn’t exactly sound like the perfect escape to me.
Praise God that Jesus Christ is the only truth, the only way to God, and the only way to have real life (John 14:6). Do I know for certain that the God of the Bible is real? Do I know for certain that Jesus died for my sins, and rose again? Do I know for certain that I will spend eternity with the God that I love and who loves me? My answer is “Yes”. Yes, because every inch of my being confirms to me what the Holy Spirit has revealed to my heart through the Word of God. Whether you believe it or not is up to you. But consider the alternatives… Amen.
VIDEO: "We Believe" (Newsboys) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QngviYfAVec