Summary: There are not thousands of religions as some claim; rather there are only two: the religion of works and the religion of grace.
Only Two Religions
TEXT: Ephesians 2:8-9
A. There seems to be a multitude of religions in the world. It seems like there are literally thousands of them. But, in reality, there are only two religions in the world. (EXPAND AS LED
B. Before we begin, let me clarify that we don’t really generally like to refer to biblical Christianity as a “religion.”
C. True Christianity is about a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus Christ, not “religion.”
C. But for lack of a better word, today I will use the term in the sense of a faith system generally.
I. WHAT ARE THE TWO RELIGIONS?
A. First is the religion of HUMAN WORKS
1. Human works are Satan’s oldest trick (EXPAND ON EACH AS LED)
a. Adam and Eve – Fig leaves versus animal skins (Genesis 3:6-7,21)
b. Cain and Abel – An offering of agricultural produce obtained through labor versus an offering of a blood sacrifice. (Genesis 4:3-5) (Compare Hebrews 11:4 – “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”)
c. The heathen’s false religions of works versus the Jewish sacrificial system.
d. Phariseeism versus Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.
2. Non-Christian religious manifestations of the false religion of works.
a. Hinduism – Salvation in Hinduism can be attained in one of three general ways
1. The way of knowledge – Knowing one is actually a part of the ultimate Brahman (ultimate reality, or the universe) and not a separate entity
2. The way of devotion – Love and obedience to a particular deity (idolatry)
3. The way of works – Following ceremonial ritual
b. Buddhism – The way to Nirvana is attained by “The Eightfold Path”
1. Right Views – You must accept the Four Noble Truths (four central Buddhist teachings about suffering and pain) and the Eightfold Path.
2. Right Resolve – You must renounce the pleasures of the senses, harbor no ill will toward anyone, and harm no living creature.
3. Right Speech – Do not lie, slander or abuse anyone, or indulge in idle talk.
4. Right Behavior – Do not destroy any living creature; take only what is given to you; to not commit any unlawful sexual act.
5. Right Occupation – You must earn your livelihood in a way that will harm no one.
6. Right Effort – You must resolve and strive heroically to prevent any evil qualities from arising in you and to abandon any evil qualities that you may possess.
7. Right Contemplation – Be observant, strenuous, alert, contemplative, free of desire and of sorrow.
8. Right Meditation – When you have abandoned all sensuous pleasures, all evil qualities, both joy and sorrow, you must then enter the four degrees of meditation, which are produced by concentration.
c. Islam – All Moslems must believe the “Five Articles of Faith” and observe the “Five Pillars of Faith.”
1. The Five Articles of Faith
a. God – There is only one true God and his name is Allah who is all-knowing, all powerful and sovereign judge, but not a personal God whom man can know.
c. Scripture – There are four inspired books in the Islamic faith:
i. The Torah (Law) of Moses
ii. The Psalms of David (Zabin)
iii. The Gospel of Jesus Christ (Injil)
iv. The Qur’an (Koran) – This is the most important supposed revelation, and supersedes all others.
d. Prophets – They believe that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad were prophets, of whom Muhammad is the last and greatest of all Allah’s messengers.
e. Last Days – The last day will be a time of resurrection and judgment, with those who followed and obeyed Allah going to Islamic heaven, called Paradise and those who oppose them going to hell.
2. The Five Pillars of Faith
a. The Creed (Kalima) – “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah,” is the bedrock of Muslim belief and must be repeated constantly by the faithful.
b. Prayer (Salat) – The reciting prescribed prayers in Arabic five times a day while facing Mecca.
c. Almsgiving (Zakat) – The giving of one-fortieth of their incomes for the destitute, and other offerings.
d. Fasting (Ramadan) – Faithful Muslims fast from sunup to sundown each day during this holy month.
e. The Pilgrimage (Hajj) – A pilgrimage to Mecca is expected of all Muslims at least once in their lifetimes.
1. Modern Judaism has not specific system of salvation.
2. It maintains that salvation, or atonement for sins, is accomplished by sacrifices, penitence, good deeds and a little of God’s grace.
3. “Christian” religious manifestations of the false religion of works.