Ministry of Love

The intention of this blog is to share Biblical messages at least on a weekly basis. Any response is appreciated. I do not expect everyone to agree with my interpretation of Biblical passages. I will try to respond with love and thoughtfulness.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Christmas and Religions by John House

Christmas Sunday, 2005
Deuteronomy 6:3-9, John 3:16

1. We had our Christmas program last week, so even though this is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus, I want us to consider Him from a different viewpoint.
2. I want us to consider the difference between Christianity and the religions of the world.
3. In order to do that, we need to consider that Christianity and religion are not synonyms.
(1) Essentially religion is our attempt to find, or manufacture a god.
(2) Christianity is an act of the One and Only God. He reveals Himself to all mankind in a Saving Relationship. Once established that relationship is ongoing.
4. If we understand that difference, we are ready to look at the religions of the world. We cannot look at all of them today, so we will look at one with a long history and with a large following.
5. Let’s consider Buddhism. (If you find this an interesting study, tell me, and we will consider other religions in the next weeks.

I. Buddhism about six hundred years before the birth of Jesus.

1. The information I am using came from a number of sources. The dates were gathered from a little desktop encyclopedia that I’ve had for forty or fifty years.
2. Around 590 b.c., Siddhartha Gautama ruled a portion of India. He got fed up with luxury, and renounced it. He was “enlightened” at the city of Buddh Gaya while he sat under a Bo tree.
3. He was 29 when he assumed the title Buddha.
4. He established a system of phlosophy and ethics closely related to Brahmanism (a branch of Hinduism).
5. Buddhism is based on 4 assumed truths: 1) Existence is suffering; 2) The origin of suffering is desire: 3) suffering ceases when desire ceases; 4) the end of desire is to follow the “noble enlightened path.”
(1) This sounds sharp and good, but is it?
(2) I don’t think so. It eliminates laughter and affectionate love among other things.
(3) Would you want to live without those things?
6. The “noble enlightened path” has 8 goals. They are: 1) right belief; 2) right resolve which involves renouncing all fleshly pleasure and to harm no living creature; 3) right speech; 4) right conduct; 5) right living: 6) right effort; 7) right contemplation; 8) right ecstacy.
7. The final goal is to reach “Nirvana.”
(1) Reaching the final goal is almost never considered likely, if possible, in one lifetime.
(2) That means you may have to be reincarnated a number of times!
(3) I don’t think I want to be reincarnated even once!
8. Buddhists are famous for their belief in reincarnation.
(1) If they have done well, they return from death as a higher form of life, probably nobility or something.
(2) If they did badly in life, they returned as a lower form of life,, maybe even a bug, or a germ.
(3) This, of course, results in respect for all forms of living things. (Don’t step on an ant! It might be an ancestor! Don’t hate a criminal, he could also be kinfolk from another life!)

II. Let’s make some observations about Buddhism?

1. There is almost no hope for the future.
(1) They believe they will return to a new life, but it may be worse than before.
(2) At best, it is an perhaps endless cycle in which the person just keeps on being “reborn” into this same old world of hopelessness.
(3) It they do well, their end certainly doesn’t appeal to me. It’s Nirvana. Nirvana means complete annihilation!
(4) That certainly does not hold out any real hope for the future, right? It makes you think, “Why was I ever born?”
2. It is basically a religion of self-denial.
(1) Most religions involve a work ethic.
(2) If you do good works, you get rewarded.
(3) The only reward in Buddhism is that you may return to life after death as a better person.
3. You see Buddhists do not have a savior.
(1) No one died to pay for people’s sins.
(2) There is no great god who loves them.
(3) Essentiall there is just a set of rules to live by!

III. It is wonderful to be a Christian.

1. We have one great God!
2. He loves us, and He sent His only born Son Jesus to die for us, to pay for our sins with His Own life on a cross!
3. We have relief from guilt the moment we put our trust in Jesus our Savior!
4. We have hope for the future because our Savior Jesus has already entered into eternity with His promise to us. (John 14:1-3).
(1) He is making a wonderful place for us in the very presence of His Father and ours.
(2) It’s a permanent place where taxes, mortgages


and death will never intervene.
(3) It’s a place of JOY! There will be no more tears of sorrow and anguish like we have here on earth.
(4) And Jesus Himself is coming again to receive us into heaven and into the new life we have with God!
5. Buddhism has little to offer. Christianity offers everything to sinners like us! It is wonderful to be a Christian!

Conclusion:

1. There are an awful lot of religions in the world today, and there are just as many philosophies of life.
2. There is only one hope for mankind. It’s Jesus!
3. He, His Father and ours, and the Holy Spirit are all one God!
4. Just as Jesus told us in John 3:16, God the Father loves us, and He sent Jesus to die for us.
5. When we accept Him as our God and our Savior, all of the good things of eternal life and the world to come are ours immediately.
6. We have hope for the future, but we also have immediate forgiveness and cleansing from all sin.
7. We immediately receive eternal life that cannot be taken away or lost in any way.
8. We have the sure knowledge that we can face anything in this world because we belong to God!
9. We know that we will not return to this earth to make another dreary journey with no hope for the future.
10 When we leave this earth, as the song says, We will be “Safe in the arms of Jesus! Safe ever more.

ECC, Christmas, 12/25/2005

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