The Two Religions
A certain Christian used to spend much of his time witnessing about Jesus on the streets of the California city where he lived. Time and again he was asked the same question: “How can you say that you have the truth? There are hundreds and hundreds of religions, and all of them think that theirs is the only right one. Who’s to say which of them is the right one?”
And the Christian would answer, “Hundreds of religions, you say? That’s strange! I’ve heard of only two.”
“Oh, but you must know that there are many more than that!” his listeners would retort.
“Not so,” he would reply. “I will admit that within these two religions there are many different sects and differences of opinion, but there are, after all, only two. One religion consists of all faiths that believe that they can earn their own salvation by doing good deeds and keeping various religious laws and commandments. This, you realize, comprises most of the faiths of the world. The other religion consists of those who know they are incapable of saving themselves, and look to God alone to save them.
“So you see,” the Christian went on, “the whole question is really very simple. Do you think you can save yourself or somehow earn your salvation by being good?—Or do you realize that you need a Savior to rescue you from your sins and shortcomings? If you know you need help from above to make it, then Jesus is for you!”
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“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works—a teacher of such men as receive truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was (the) Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named after him, are not extinct at this day.
—Flavius Josephus, Jewish historian and general
“There’s nothing to Christianity,” a skeptic once commented to the French statesman and diplomat Talleyrand (1754-1838), who was also bishop of Autun. “It would be easy to start a religion like that.”
“Oh, yes,” Talleyrand replied. “One would only have to get crucified and rise again the third day.”
Socrates taught for forty years, Plato for fifty, Aristotle for forty, and Jesus for only three. Yet the influence of Christ’s three-year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who were among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity.
Jesus painted no pictures; yet, some of the finest paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci received their inspiration from Him.
Jesus wrote no poetry; but Dante, Milton, and scores of the world’s greatest poets were inspired by Him.
Jesus composed no music; still, Haydn, Handel, Bach, and Mendelssohn reached their highest perfection of melody in the hymns, symphonies, and oratorios they composed in His praise.
Every sphere of human greatness has been enriched by this humble carpenter from Nazareth.
Let’s not just remember Jesus’ death on the cross and the suffering He went through. We don’t have a Jesus on the cross; He’s left the cross! We have a bare cross! “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55 KJV). We don’t have a Christ in the grave! We have a live Jesus in our hearts! He rose in victory, joy, liberty, and freedom, never to die again, so that He could redeem us as well.
—David Brandt Berg
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