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CHRISTIANITY vs. every other religion Ephesians 2.8-9

Chances are if you have a random conversation with a stranger and the subject of God comes up, she will tell you that all religions are pretty much the same. That is simply not true. Or you decide to have a real conversation with your recent college grad, and based on his higher learning, he will tell you 'Mom, as long as you believe in God or a higher power, that is all that counts.'1 Also not true. Today I am going to tell you why. I memorized the following verses as a very small girl and have always known they were key to Christianity. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2.8-9. But, saved? Saved for what, or is it from what? And, why do I need to be saved? Hmmm. Back to these two important verses - remember we must look at the context in which the Scripture was written. Writing to the Ephesians, Paul has just talked about our spiritual conditions outside of Christ... but let us remind ourselves about relationship with God, before Jesus Christ became flesh. Outlined like this: 1) CREATION ->2) FALL -> 3) REDEMPTION -> if we choose At the time of creation, set before the two first parents was a monumental choice: obey God, love him first, and be free forever, OR disobey in one thing, put self first, and be encumbered by sin forever. As we know, the second choice was made,2 separating man from God by a wide chasm of sin. Until Jesus came, man made sacrifices to God to atone for sin—offering a pure, spotless lamb. Enter Jesus. [Without Jesus, man is still trying to cover and atone for sin when honest with self, and fill the void within.] Again, why do we need to be saved? Because our souls live forever...somewhere. Something like this has been said to me several times: ‘Saved from sin, is that what you are talking about? Why, compared to most people, I am not really a sinner! I don‛t cheat, kill or lie... well, hardly ever anyway. I am a good person—really I am.‛ To which I say, ‘Ma‛am, I am sure you are; maybe even compared to me, you are a better person. But since we are looking at matters of sin, only One can judge that. Now, compared to God...I ask you, Ma‛am, are you a sinner? Oh, and if it comes down to being a ‘good‛ person—how good do you have to be? I mean, what is the, what if you are 68 percent good, and God would only accept 72 percent attempt at goodness?' Kind of an interesting thought, is it not? And so it goes. But the fact is, God is eternally just, all holy, and a perfect being, therefore only perfection can be in his presence; no percentages of goodness are sufficient. Our human condition brings us up short. And so mankind tries. Why? Because we are keenly aware of our incompleteness. Yet within ourselves, we know our attempts are rather lame. I suppose religion helps, and through rituals and practices, offers us a role to play. Hinduism and Buddhism recognize the problem is self, and through meditation attempts to eliminate selfish desires and ways, in an effort to become nothing. But there is no assurance or real hope to be had. Judaism and Islam are religions of law, with elaborate rituals and codes to uphold.3 Pray five times a day. Pack up and go to Mecca. Sacrifice a lamb or a goat. Wear a long beard. Keep kosher. In the end, there is only hope ... no loving relationship with God, and no assurance. Leaves a longing within, leaves a gaping hole. Christianity alone says that to enter God‛s kingdom, perfection is required; being good is not good enough. Like the Hindus and Buddhists, Christians recognize that the self must be extinguished, but admits powerlessness in making that happen. Christianity also admits that humanity will not be able to perfectly uphold God‛s laws or commands. And so God... God came to us. We can stop our striving, and grapple with grace instead. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves. It is the gift of God so that we cannot boast about anything we have done to achieve goodness. God gave us himself. Our relationship with him is not about us being good enough. Reach out and accept him. What do you have to lose, Friend? Believe in the complete work of Jesus Christ, and you will be saved ... really... starting right now. Saved from consequences of sin into life eternal, knowing God‛s presence and love forever. You and I will never be given a greater gift than that. So... our part? Receive and know peace in this life and the next. His part? To give his all. It is an offer you cannot refuse. Amen. Every other religion - do, do, do and hope... Christianity - done. Just believe in the One who paid the price . . . and you have assurance. GOD IS IN THIS STORY: Christine  1 - Yes, I have a son that fits that description, and though that conversation hasn't happened yet, I will not be surprised if it does. Then I will cry. 2 - Genesis 3.1-19. 3 - from What‛s so Great About Christianity? Dinesh D‛Souza, “Jesus among other Gods: the Uniqueness of Christianity

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