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, wrote words that discriminate biblical faith from all other religious faith 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 about how to simply differentiate the Christian faith from all other faith systems.
When faith systems are 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 the highest level of spiritual consciousness, whatever the desired destination, a person must exercise human works. Christianity, in stark contrast, teaches that a person who puts their faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross to gets to heaven.
In sum, there 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.
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.
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 that he will not face God’s judgment. In return for his faith in God, he has been given eternal life.
So while New Testament saints are saved by grace through faith in God’s provision of Messiah Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9), Old Testament saints were saved by grace through faith in God’s promise of Messiah.
Paul also wrote in Galatians 3:11, “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” Here, Paul highlights that we are justified or made right before God by faith. The law has no ability to justify anyone. As Habakkuk had recorded, people have always been saved by faith, not by works. Habakkuk 2:4 is also quoted in Hebrews 10:38, where the Scripture states, “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”
Paul further elucidates this truth in Galatians 2:16, “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”
In Hebrews 11, the “Hall of Faith” chapter, each individual mentioned in this powerful chapter 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 a position of “all religions basically teach the same things,” you can pose the following question: “What do you mean by the same things?” The veracity of that statement is categorically—“No they don’t!”—and here’s an excellent article by the Josh McDowell Ministry that elaborates. But having them first attempt to provide a cogent answer to your question may reveal their actual lack of understanding on the issue and boost the power of your response.
Yes, discriminating is a good thing as it relates to Christianity and all other religious systems and understanding and articulating the difference is even better.
Lord, 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