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I woke up yesterday feeling miserable- painful sinus congestion causing a horrible headache, body aches, and a very tight chest from coughing all night (before anyone chastises me, I went to the doc’s and got checked out). I spent the day at home in bed so our wonderful church secretary didn't have to listen to me being miserable all day. :)

So after sleeping a bunch, I tuned into Netflix hoping to catch up on a show I really like, "Everybody Loves Raymond" (ok, so I'm just a few years behind on my tv watching)...

Anyways, as I was watching an episode, Robert Barone, the rather large, and gloomy older brother found himself in a sticky situation. Rather than just taking the easy way out, he chose to take the moral high ground. As one of the other characters tried to make him regret that decision, Robert remarked, "I sure hope there really is a heaven." In saying this, Robert was implying that he was hoping that choosing the right thing, instead of what he really wanted, would get him into heaven, because then it would have been worth it for what he just gave up.

Hopefully you see where I'm going with this example. In Sunday’s message, we busted our final myth in our Biblical Mythbusters series: "All Religions Lead To God; All Roads Lead To Heaven." We saw that the various world religions fall short of getting us to heaven. The sentiment Robert Barone was expressing is similar to all those religions. It’s one we’ve seen everywhere, and one that way too many people believe- "If I'm good enough, I'll go to heaven."

Just like the other religious beliefs we looked at, this 'good-enough' theology, known as Moralism, teaches something quite contrary to what God teaches through Scripture. Moralists profess that it is the good you do in life that determines your eternal destiny, not what you believe. In fact, you can believe whatever you want, as long as you are 'good'.

But this notion is completely contrary to what we claim to believe as Christians. Re-read the Scripture texts from Sunday’s sermon: John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9. We read over and over again that there is only one way to heaven- by faith in God through Jesus Christ…nothing else! You see, it’s not about your religion- it’s not about being Christian. It’s about having faith in and following Christ. Can that be done without religion? Absolutely! Can it be done without Church? It’s possible, though it’s tough. Can it be done without faith in God through Jesus Christ? Scripture teaches us no. Can it be done by just “being good?” NO!

Just being good enough…that isn’t good enough, not for heaven. Matthew 7:13-14 says, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way…” I seem to remember hearing something about the road to hell being paved with good intentions.

There are days I wish that all it took to get to heaven was “being good enough.” But Scripture doesn’t teach that. And I know, deep down, that I could never be “good enough” to deserve heaven. God knows that too! Thankfully, God doesn’t require us to “be good” to get into heaven. We have to believe, to have faith in Jesus Christ. And if we want others to enjoy heaven as well, then we have to share that truth with them- the truth of Jesus Christ as communicated through Scripture- nothing else! No moralist theology; no “just be good” platitudes; no other religions. For “there is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).” That’s what we must believe. That’s what we need to tell everyone! So…do it!

Sermon Notes for “Biblical Mythbusters: Myth #5” from Mar 9, 2014

Myth #5: “All Religions Lead To God; All Roads Lead To Heaven”

Existential Questions are those questions concerning the essence of what it means to be alive

            Who we are? Why are we here? What is my purpose in life? What happens when we die? Is there a god?

            These questions are an essential part of the human experience

                        Where religion comes in: religion is man’s attempts at figuring out how to answer these                             questions

By some estimates, there are 4,200 religions in the world; 21 main world religions

            Christianity is the largest; Islam is second; Atheism (not professing any faith) is third

            Various world religions seek to understand life, death, divinity, all with their own views of God, moral                 values and worship practices

If there are so many religions, are any of them true? Which ones? What about all of them?

            Religious Pluralism: the view that all religions are equally valid paths to God or to ultimate reality

Two approaches to busting this myth: Comparative Religion & from within our own Christian Faith

1) Comparative Religion

            Many religions share common beliefs and moral values, but there are fundamental and irreconcilable              differences between them concerning:

                        Who God is, how God communicates, what it means to be human, our need for salvation and                                     reconciliation, the destiny of humanity, issues of life after death, the purpose of life, etc

                        Differences in view of the divine: monotheism (one God), polytheism (many gods), atheism (no     god)

                        Whether God is in the world or beyond it, or both; knowable or identifiable or not

            Even trying to reduce the world religions to a single ethical belief system fails because of different views of           reality and differing purposes for moral living

                        Right living is motivated by:

                                    Christianity: honoring and glorifying God because of His love for us

                                    Hinduism: karma and desire to move from samsara and dukkah into nirvana

                                    Mormonism: desire to become a god of your own planet and bring family with you

                                    Islam: desire to worship Creator Allah, and view that life is a test determining one’s afterlife

            Most religions differ on what they consider to be essential beliefs, nonnegotiables

                        Jesus as God; Allah as the only one to be worshipped; reincarnation; no divinity; nothing apart from                what can be observed through science and reason

            Logic demonstrates the impossibility of all religious claims being true at the same time

                        Christianity claims Jesus is God incarnate; Judaism teaches Jesus was only a good Jew and a great               teacher; Islam teaches Jesus was a great prophet, but not divine

                                    They cannot all be true because they claim completely different identities for Jesus

2) Christian Faith

            As Christians, we claim certain beliefs that make us different from other religions, chiefly our view of Jesus

                        To be a Christian means claiming Jesus to be your God, you believe the things He did, you trust God                     to guide you and lead you, and you seek to glorify and worship God

            Also means that you believe the things He said and taught, and that we said about Him in the Bible

                        Matthew 7:13-14; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9

                                    Scripture teaches there is no other way to heaven than through faith in Jesus Christ

            To claim that other religions are just as valid ways to God is to claim that their Bible is wrong!

Religious pluralism- believing all religions lead to God- destroys our beliefs as Christians, makes a mockery of God, and serves no other purpose than to make us popular with society.

As Christians, we need to have a discerning spirit with regard to this, and many myths and popular beliefs

 


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