The Faith Factor
Discrimination is a good thing! Whoa! What do I mean by that, you may wonder? Well, let’s define the word and unpack the context of the statement, which is also good. Discrimination: recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another. There’s a simple definition. The context of the statement for our purpose is discriminating between biblical Christianity and all other religions.
In that light, Paul, in the letter to the church in Rome, writes words that discriminate biblical faith from all other religious systems:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).
Regarding the witnessing endeavor, believers sometimes get confused as how to simply differentiate the Christian faith from all other faith systems.
When broken down into their essence, discriminating between them is rather simple, yet profound. Christianity is based upon the concept “done”, while other religions are based upon “do.” In other words, all religions except Christianity teach that to get to nirvana, heaven, paradise, or higher level of spiritual consciousness – whatever the desired destination – a person must exercise human works. While Christianity teaches a person puts their faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross to get to heaven.
In sum, their are only two religious systems – the system of religions based on human accomplishment (“do”) and the system based upon divine accomplishment (“done”) – Jesus did it all on the cross. Remember the Lord’s words as He hung on the cross for our sins: “It is finished” (John 19:30).
Once I was witnessing to a young man named Dale, who leaned toward Eastern philosophy and religion. He told me he believed in reincarnation. I then asked him if he wanted to ultimately achieve nirvana. He answered in the affirmative. I then told Dale that many people want to make it to nirvana, paradise or heaven. The big difference between beliefs is simply the vehicle. I then told him that he believes reincarnation is the vehicle, while I believe Jesus is “the Way” – sharing with Dale that Jesus clearly stated:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
I then added that Jesus either is the way or He is not the way. And if He is the way, there is no other way…to heaven.
And faith is the key! Faith, not in what we have done or could do, but in who God is and what He has done for us in Christ.
When Paul wrote the just shall live by faith in Romans 1:17, he was quoting from the Old Testament (Habakkuk 2:4).
To be just in God’s eyes is to be acceptable to God, righteous, not on the basis of one’s goodness or religious works, but on the basis of God’s mercy and kindness. When Habakkuk wrote, “The righteous (just) shall live by his faith,” he was echoing a timeless truth first modeled in Abraham’s life:
And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).
The righteous or just man will “live” in light of the fact that he will not face God’s judgment; Rather, in return for his faith in God, he has been given eternal life. As the Apostle Paul wrote:
Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes [in Psalm 32:1-2] the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin” (Romans 4:4-8).
While New Testament saints are saved by grace through faith in God’s provision, Messiah Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9), Old Testament saints were saved by grace through faith in God’s promise of Messiah.
Upon a review Hebrews 11, the “Hall of Faith” chapter, each individual mentioned in the hall is an Old Testament saint! You see, earlier in Hebrews 9:15, we find that the blood of Jesus was applied retroactively to all those who believed in God and His promised eternal inheritance:
And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
In a witnessing encounter, when a person takes universalist position, communicating in so many words: “All religions basically teach the same things” – you can respond with the following question: “What do you mean by the same things?” Ultimately, the Christian response to that claim is simple and straightforward: “No they don’t!’” – and here’s an excellent article by the Josh McDowell Ministry that elaborates. Additionally, in an attempt to defend such a position in tackling our question, providing a cogent answer may actually reveal their lack of understanding on the issue and boost the power of your response.
Yes, discrimination is a good thing – as it relates to Christianity and all other religious systems. And to understand and articulate the difference is even better.
Lord, during this Christmas season open doors and provide opportunities for us to share the uniqueness of the gospel and the Christian faith. Amen!
Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. Psalm 96:2-3