Archives For peace

Like spokes on a bicycle wheel, roads spread from the capital of the Roman Empire. By the 1100’s, the metaphor was already being used. All roads lead to Rome.Road

All religions lead to the same end is a common belief in today’s social circles. We yearn for the same thing, a place of love and peace. Some call it Heaven, others Utopia, Nirvana, or paradise. And as long as you pursue your path passionately, you will arrive someday.

And if one doesn’t understand the differences of religions, this may seem like a valid argument. For many, they group religions as one, for each have similar traits. But as we look into just one point of doctrine, we will see one that separates itself from the others. I will show how many of the major belief systems show how one can be saved.

Jehovah Witnesses: They will claim it is by faith you obtain righteousness. The Watchtower claims though ‘to receive everlasting life in the earthly Paradise, we must identify that organization and serve God as part of it.’

Mormonism: Salvation involves faith in Christ, baptism by immersion, obedience to the teaching of the church, good works, and ‘keeping the commandments of God which will cleanse away the stain of sin.’ (Journal of Discourses 2:4) The Book of Mormon states in 2 Nephi 25:23, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

Christian Science: Mary Baker Eddy claimed sin and evil are mere illusions thus ‘Man as God’s idea is already saved with an everlasting salvation’ (Miscellaneous Writings, 261).

Scientology: Salvation is to be free from the endless cycle of birth and rebirth. Rebirth had been termed reincarnation in many of their writings. Reincarnation can include life on other planets.

Buddhism: The Eightfold plan must be followed to reach the state of Nirvana; Right belief, right resolve, right word, right act, right life, right effort, right thinking and right meditation. Until then, they are caught in a cycle of reincarnation.

Islam: Any Muslim who hopes to escape the judgment of Allah must fulfill the works of the Five Pillars of the Faith; Recitation of the Shahada, five daily prescribed prayers, almsgiving, fasting, and a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city.

Hinduism: There are several ways of salvation for this Eastern religion. Karma refers to the debt of each person’s bad actions and must be atoned for (through various ways) to escape the pattern of reincarnation.

Christianity: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God. Not a result of works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.

Apart from Scientology and other beliefs such as universalism, all believe that man is depraved and in need of peace. The existence of pain, sorrow, and torment are evidence that something isn’t right. It’s not a figment of our imagination. Something is wrong. We need freedom from this world of sin and shame.

These religions offer a remedy. Do good and you will be freed.

The problem is that we can’t do good. Sure many actions are defined as good to mankind, but in the eyes of God, the one who sees us through and through, they are not. Our false motives and selfishness reek through the apparition of benevolence. Jesus defined himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He stated without hesitation that nobody comes to the Father except through Him. And as his bloody feet crept along the Via Delarosa towards Calvary, his upcoming death and resurrection would be all that mankind needed for their chains to be torn asunder.

Christianity is the only true faith based belief. It’s not a religion, some organization formed by man to appease God. It tells us all clearly that God is near but to restore the broken relationship caused by sin, we must believe in the name of Jesus Christ. Nothing more, nothing less. This sets it apart from all others. Works has nothing to do with gaining salvation and forgiveness. Only faith. Faith in Christ.

Do all roads lead to Rome? Of course not.
Do all roads of religion lead to Heaven? Again, no.

There is one Way. There is one Truth. And they both lead to one Life. A life abundant.

Every Christmas, millions gather on Christmas Eve to remember the birth of Christ. They relax to the serene image of a child in straw, a gorgeous star lighting up the stable, and the harmonious choir of angels proclaiming the come Messiah. We rest in their message that Jesus has come to bring peace on Earth. We revel in the thought of the Prince of Peace removing the hatred and war, bringing end to violence, and initiating world peace.

But what if we are wrong? What if that isn’t why He came?

Here is the message of the angels as they sang before the fear-stricken shepherds:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.”

Matthew clearly states the reason for Jesus’ first coming. Chapter 9 states that Christ came to call sinners to repentance and then in chapter 18 says, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” Luke records Jesus reading from the prophet Isaiah as the prophecy’s fulfillment. He states it is He that has come to preach the gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, give sight to the blind, and set at liberty those who are oppressed.

Wars. Murder. Oppression. These were only the symptoms of the true problem. It wasn’t that men were not at peace with one another. It was that men were not at peace with God Himself. Sin from the very beginning created a war far more intense than bombs, tanks, and guns. This was Creator vs. creation. God vs. man. Spirit of the Living One vs. the fallen spirits of mankind. And without reconciliation in this relationship, peace between man would not be possible. The sin in each human being striving for self-preservation and exaltation, would ultimately destroy all that God created as good.

So God came down. Emmanuel. With his eyes fixed on the cross, He became sin so we could know peace. A relationship with God that was once impossible, now open for all who’d believe in Him for the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus stated very clearly a reason that He did NOT come in Matthew 10:

Do not think that I have come to bring peace on Earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father,and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.

We are commanded to be at peace with all people if at all possible. But if the gospel is being readily preached in your life, the Spirit working through you as His servant, and you living in complete obedience, you will NOT be at peace with all people. Because of some people’s hatred towards Jesus Christ, they also hate those who follow Him.

Some will see our good works and come to know the Christ we serve as well. Then they too will experience the peace of no longer being at war with God.

But too often we don’t talk about God because we don’t want to hurt a relationship. We don’t want to sever family ties by being outspoken about our faith. But Jesus continued in Matthew 10 with this:

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

So, yes, we have peace. Jesus came and brought to us a spiritual peace unknown to us before. But what if Jesus is calling you and me to preach His truth even at risk of causing rifts in relationships?

Do we love Him more?