Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Only Two Religions

Pastor’s Window for October 2010
Only Two Religions

Beloved in the Lord,

There are only two religions in the world! Really? I can name more than that: Christianity (of course!), Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Shinto, and the list goes on and on. Still, in spite of the plurality of religious movements, there are really only two religions: the one true religion, Christianity, and the false religion of man, which includes all the rest. In other words, there is the religion of the Gospel, and there is the religion of the Law.

All the religions of the world, with the exception of Christianity, have one basic fundamental principle in common: They are about salvation by good works. However they define “salvation,” be it heaven or nirvana or liberation or something else, every religion with the exception of Christianity maintains that you are saved or condemned by your own merits. In each of these religions, you are weighed on a divine scale. If your good works outweigh your evil deeds, you are saved. If your evil deeds outweigh your good works, you are condemned, be it to hell or to a lower life form or simply annihilation.

Christianity is fundamentally different. It is the only religion of its kind. Christianity is not a religion of the Law, but a religion of the Gospel. This means that, unlike every other religion on earth, you are not saved by your good deeds, but by something completely outside of you. You are saved by Jesus Christ, by His fulfillment of the Law in your place, by His suffering and death in your place, by His victorious resurrection from the dead, the pledge of your own resurrection from the dead. You did not earn this salvation. You are saved by grace alone, which means that this is God’s undeserved kindness to you in Christ Jesus. And you receive the benefits of this salvation by faith alone. Faith is simply trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins and salvation. None of this is your work. It is all God’s work for you.

This is not to say that Christianity doesn’t preach God’s Law. The Law is preached so that we may know our sin and our need for the Savior. The Law is preached to drive us to Christ and His Gospel. It is also preached so that we may learn to crucify our sinful flesh and begin to do works that please God. But we do not do these things in order to be saved. We do them because we already have been saved. Jesus Christ is our salvation.

How different are the other religions of the world, which teach that we must be reconciled to the deity (or deities) by our acts of devotion and worship, our good conduct, our sacrifices, our abiding by a strict moral and ceremonial code, by punishing ourselves, or living the ascetic lifestyle. Humanity instinctively knows that God must exist. Creation itself, along with our conscience, teaches us that there must be a god, or gods (Rom. 1:18-20; 2:14-15). This is called “the natural knowledge of God.” But without the revelation that God Himself gives to us in the Bible, we do not understand who this God is, or that He is determined to be gracious to us by the sacrifice of His Son. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14; ESV). Christ crucified is a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles (1 Cor. 1:23). By nature, sinful man believes he must earn God’s favor, appease God by works. Thus every man-made religion is a religion of works, a religion of the Law.

But thanks be to God, He has revealed to us another way, the only way, in fact: Jesus Christ and the salvation that comes to us in Him alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, without works. Jesus Christ is the only way to be reconciled to God, as He Himself says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Thus Christianity is the only true religion. This is not a politically correct statement, because this means that every other religion is false and leads only to damnation. But the truth is never politically correct. And in the end, even the false religion of political correctness (with its dogma of tolerance of all things except Christianity) will not save us either. Only Jesus Christ will save us. He has earned our salvation by His blood and death. He bestows this salvation to us in His Word and blessed Sacraments. We receive this salvation by faith.

There are only two religions. There is the religion of the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And there is everything else. Jesus Christ alone is the way, the truth, and the life.

Pastor Krenz

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