WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD?
People often ask, "Won’t God accept people who are sincerely seeking Him even when they refuse to believe in Jesus? How can all these people be wrong?" These questions are another way of asking, "How can Jesus be the only way to God?" Again, you must point people to what Jesus said concerning the way to the Father (John 14:6) (John 10:7-9). Then address the misconceptions concerning other religions. There are two basic misconceptions that must be explained.
First, most people have very little idea what these other religions teach, and therefore cannot make a real comparison. Most people believe that all religions are the same with only differences in God’s name. They say, "You call God Jesus, but I call him Allah or Krishna." Therefore, most people believe that all religions are like different favors of ice cream (slightly different but the same substance). However, this is not true. To answer this question you must be able to explain what the differences are between religions and how these affect a person’s relationship with God. How would you do this?
A. Explain the differences between who Christ claimed to be and what other religions teach about Him. He claimed to be God come in the flesh of a man (John 8:24) (John 10:30). The people who heard Jesus understood that He claimed to be God (John 10:31-33). John believed and taught that Jesus was God (John 1:1). However, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was Michael the Archangel. Christian Science teaches that Jesus was a prophet and great teacher. Mormonism teaches that Jesus is one of many gods (one of the spirit children of Elohim). Eastern Mysticism teaches that Jesus is one of the great masters, an expression of divinity. Unity teaches that Jesus is the perfect man idea existing in every individual.
Therefore, you must explain that these beliefs concerning Jesus can’t all be true. Only one belief is correct. You could illustrate this by explaining that you can’t believe that Abraham Lincoln was the President of the United States and others believe that he was the King of England, and still others believe he was a perfect man idea. Obviously, someone must to be wrong. Likewise, these contradictory beliefs concerning Christ can’t all be true. Jesus made it clear that if anyone chose not to believe that He was and is the great I AM they would die in their sins (John 8:24). Therefore, stress that it is very important what a person believes concerning Christ.
B. Next, explain the differences between the teachings concerning salvation in these false religions and Scripture. Jesus taught that a person could be forgiven and saved from condemnation and eternal separation from God by simply believing in Him (John 3:16) (Luke 7:50). All other religions teach a complicated system of works to obtain salvation. The best way to illustrate these differences is to describe our spiritual condition as a drowning man. The difference is that Jesus gives men a life preserver and all other religions give swimming instructions. Then ask the person you are sharing with, which would he prefer if he were drowning?
The second misconception is that the sincerity of a person somehow can make what is false - true, or what is evil - good in relation to God. Sincerity has no effect upon the truth or error of a belief. Someone may be very sincere, yet at the same time be sincerely wrong. Here are some examples that you might use to illustrate this point.
A. Hitler sincerely believed that the Arian race was superior to all others and that the Jews must be destroyed to save the world. He was sincere, but sincerely wrong.
B. People sincerely worshipped the god Baal in the land of Israel during the time of the first temple. The people believed that child sacrifice was necessary to placate their god. However, the God of the Bible declared this was a terrible evil and a great abomination (Deut. 12:29-32). These people were sincere, but sincerely wrong.
C. Some people may sincerely believe that gravity doesn't exist and would attempt to leap off a building and fly. They may be sincere in their belief, but sincerely wrong.
The truth of any belief is what is important; not how sincere you believe it.
If I’m a good person, won’t God accept me?
Often when you speak with people they will claim their goodness and morality as a reason why God should accept them. How should you respond to this line of reasoning?
You must admit that there are a lot of people who do good things for others and display a level of morality. However, you must explain that there is a big difference between morality and righteousness. Righteousness is defined and revealed by our "Righteous Father" in heaven or seen in His Son "Jesus Christ the righteous" (John 17:25) (1 John 2:1). To become righteous before God means that you are innocent or faultless in His sight. Man may look moral when compared with other men, but when compared with Christ, all men fall perilously short. This is why Paul states, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). No matter how moral any person might be he or she has fallen short of the perfect mark of God’s righteousness. This is why in the next verse Paul declares that we have been "justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24). The only way anyone can stand in the presence of a righteous God is to be forgiven and declared righteous by faith in God’s work in Christ (Phil. 3:9). We are only accepted "in the Beloved" because we believe in the righteous work that He did (Eph. 1:6).