Down through the ages there has always been the view, that view being – “Why don’t all of these religions agree with each other, surely they all worship the same God don’t they and as long as they all worship God what does it matter? Why don’t they all just get along with each other and stop all these stupid quarrels and of late surely everyone would have to agree that this whole thing has got way out of hand! All we hear on the news everyday is terrorist attacks and wars etc. and it’s always directly or indirectly to do with some stupid religion so just what is the problem with them all, why don’t they just agree and get along with each other?” Well, the answer to that line of thought and questioning is no-doubt complex but to try to put it in a nutshell then it all boils down to what is called “Works Vs Grace.” Most people would say to that: just what the hell is works vs grace and what the hell could that possibly have to do with it all? Surely there are all kinds of ways to get to God they might say and when you go this way or that way about it, surely it all boils down to doing good and being kind to each other and it’s just that simple isn’t it!
Well, sad to say people asking the above questions would be right and they would be wrong when they look at things that way and this is where it all gets sticky and again, to try to put it in a nutshell, Judaism teaches that the only way to God is by keeping the Ten Commandments and the law, Islam would teach much the same as they believe in the Old Testament but instead of Moses being the last word on everything Muhammad has the last word on everything so there’s your disagreement right there between the Jews and the Muslims because the Muslims would say that Muhammad has to have the last word whereas the Jews would say that it’s Moses and here’s your disagreement between the Christians and the Muslims and the Jews because Christians believe that Jesus is the last Word on everything and Jesus adds an interesting ingredient into this argument because He says, “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).
Jesus also goes along with the Ten Commandments in that He kept the ten commandments but at the same time He added another commandment and so with Jesus we have in this same sense an eleventh commandment, the eleventh commandment being love. The love that He was talking about was not a love that is inherent in human nature, human nature has a form of love that comes under natural affection and this can be interpreted as a kind of love that God has put in us all for the good of mankind but sad to say, natural affection in itself doesn’t and hasn’t stood the test of time and the challenges that it comes up against and so natural affection these days has come under what Jesus called, “the love of many waxing cold” etc. so you might ask: well if love isn’t something inherent in people and natural affection hasn’t stood the test of time then how does anyone do anything loving and anything right and therefore keep all those commandants? This is where Grace (mercy) comes into the equation because Jesus came into this world to set an example of true love and true righteousness and St Paul explained this by saying, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
The saved that Paul was talking about was largely to do with being saved from yourself. At the root of yourself is pride and so at the root of all sin is pride and so mankind as a whole just loves to brag and boast and prove to others that he is the biggest and the best, so much so that he likes to think that he is God and so religionists tend to work hard to prove that their religion is the best and so you have this rivalry amongst religionists, each trying to prove to the others that he and his way is the best whereas you have St Paul defusing this whole situation by saying that “it’s all by grace and not of works lest any man should boast!” Grace in a nutshell means “unearned favour from God” so you are saved from your selfish pride and your largely competitive self and from your own so-called righteousness which is really all to do with pride and boasting and self-elevation etc. by acknowledging and accepting that you really haven’t got true righteousness, that righteousness has to be a gift of God that can only come from someone who is righteous and therefore someone who is truly loving and someone who truly loved God and all His ways and that Someone just so happens to be Jesus Christ, the True Messiah.
So what a Christian does is he acknowledges his imperfect state and he realises that he can’t come to God in that state, it is too presumptuous for me or you to assume that we are in that league of person and so what we do as Christians is we come to God through Jesus because Jesus is true righteousness and true love and on top of this we accept Jesus Christ as the true Messiah who really did come to save his people from their sins (imperfections). And again, we have a difference here because both the Jews and the Muslims don’t believe that the Christ, or in other words, the anointed One, the Messiah, has come yet so they don’t believe that Jesus is the true Christ! It is as St John said, “And every spirit that confesseth not the Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 John 4:3). And so then you might ask: so how now does a Christian do good if he doesn’t do it by what you call works and pride? The answer to that again is simple, he simply acknowledges the fact being that he realises that he is something of a hopeless case in that throughout the day and every day he finds himself falling short of what St Paul calls the “Glory of God.” He still has problems with this massive impulse of yielding to his own flesh and to his own selfishness and his own self-glorifying self so much so that he has a sense of disgust about himself, he sees himself as St Paul saw himself when he said, “Oh wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:24,25).
So a Christian realises that he seriously needs Jesus in his heart to overcome all of that selfishness and pride that rears it’s ugly head in every impulse and in every pulse of his being, you see what happens to a Christian when he asks Jesus into his heart is that he is somewhat quickly aware that he has a new found love in his life, a love that he has never known before, he truly has the love of Jesus in his heart and finds in spite of himself and in spite of the trials that his own self presents that he can now rise above himself but not in self-elevation as before but instead he yields to the Spirit of Jesus in his heart and so he finds that he can truly love other people with a perfect love that only comes from God Himself and that only comes from Jesus Himself. He knows that he can’t keep the ten commandments himself, he knows that if he became a follower of Muhammad that asking Muhammad into his heart wouldn’t work either so all of this talk about all of these different religionists uniting together into some kind of brotherhood of man in some kind of New Age is just not going to work for a true Christian, it will work for many many false Christians because there are many many so-called Jesus’ in the world and it is again as St Paul said, that they teach another Christ but not the same Christ that we both know and love as true Christians and so again, we have no fellowship with these so-called other Christians “…for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness.” (2 Corinthians 6:14).
Don’t get me wrong here, Jesus is all for mankind uniting together and everyone having one religion and one God but it has to be understood that both you and I cannot attain to true righteousness for “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). I can do all things through Christ but without Christ we can do nothing (as Jesus said!). So it doesn’t matter how people cook it all up or how wonderful and fantastic they make it all sound or how colourful or how cosmic or how spirit travelling, astral travelling, Enoch translating, throne of God visiting, trans-locating, transcending, vain imagining, apparent meetings with patriarchs and the saints of old, new temple in Jerusalem worshipping, you name it, it’s all cooking out there but without Jesus the whole thing falls as flat as a pancake!