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Why All Religions Are Not the Same

You Can’t Eat Soup with a Fork


Imagine a steaming bowl of tomato soup in front of you. To the left of the bowl is a fork, and to the right is a spoon. Which utensil will you use to eat the soup? Why?


For almost 2,000 years, Christianity has been the only “vehicle” designed by God to take human beings from earth to heaven. Getting people like us there is unimaginably complex, and many believe all religions lead to the same destination. The truth is that all except Christianity have a severe flaw, and they don’t solve our most pressing spiritual problem.


Stranger in the Mirror


We see sin's dark, downward pull at work in others with 20-20 clarity. It’s so obvious.

Their pettiness is disgusting. They drive like crazy people. Their kids are a mess, and they’re so self-centered.


When it comes to seeing our faults, however, we’re legally blind! What about our pride, pettiness, driving habits, kids, and self-centeredness? “Mirror, mirror on the wall, I can’t see myself at all.” Why are we so blind to many of our faults?

Did You Hug Your Serpent Today?


Sin dominates us. We’re like alcoholics who insist they’re in control of their drinking. Sin has us by the throat, but we won’t admit it.

Our natural rebelliousness seems like no big deal, and self-rule seems virtuous. Independence from God and “sin-dependence” are closely connected.


We dwell in a God-centered universe but live like we’re in control. Which is more natural for you—to give God control of your life or to control yourself? Why?


A foolish combination of independence, self-sufficiency, and imagined invulnerability sank the Titanic. Its builders underestimated the destructive power of icebergs.

Humans consistently misjudge the ability of sin to sink them. According to Romans 3:23 NLT, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” According to Romans 6:23 NLT, “the wages of sins is death.”


Wearing the Wrong Glasses


Imagine wearing glasses that distort everything. Airplanes look like bluebirds and vice versa. Trees look like weeds, and weeds look like mature oaks.

Black is white, and white is black. Your view of the world doesn’t correspond to reality, and your glasses are to blame.


The teachings of the Enlightenment of the 18th century are glasses that have influenced us. We believe that we are good. We have within us the resources to live a moral life, manage society, and solve all our problems.

If that were true, every day in every way, civilization should be getting better and better. Is it? Explain.


Are all religions similar? That belief arose during the Enlightenment. Supposedly, religions look very different on the surface, but the deeper you go into each, the more similar they become. All are rooted in a shared religious consciousness.

Many share similar moral values, and none approve of adultery, theft, or murder. The essence of the golden rule (“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you,” Matthew 7:12 NLT) has been contained in almost every religion since Confucius. 


We now know these 18th-century ideas were precisely wrong! Religions are most alike at the surface. Imagine ten department store Santa Clauses in a lineup.

Underneath the white beards and red suits are ten very different people. Similarly, each major religious tradition has its distinct way of viewing the world. Religions aren’t the same and don’t claim to be.


Do Many Paths Lead to God?


Religions aren’t interchangeable belief systems that lead to heaven by different routes. They often contradict each other.

For example, Judaism rejects Jesus as the Messiah; Christianity affirms Him. They can’t both be correct. Either tolerance or truth must give way. Which is more important to you? Why?


Christianity alone teaches that people can have an intimate personal relationship with God, leading them down the straight and narrow path. How does that agree or disagree with your understanding of the Christian faith?


Christians vs. Islam


Different religions don’t believe the same basic things at all. Let’s contrast Christianity with Islam, the second most common religion in the world.


Muslims don’t believe that man is, at heart, a sinner or that sin wrecks man’s relationship with God. Christianity teaches that “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23 NLT) and that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23 NLT).


Muslims consider Jesus a prophet but not God’s Son. Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us that God has spoken to us through his Son. Muslims say Jesus didn’t bear the world’s sins, didn’t die on the cross, and that everyone must accept responsibility for personal sin. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Paul wrote that Christ died for our sins and was buried and raised on the third day. 


Muslims teach that almost everyone will spend at least some time in hell and perhaps all eternity. The only hopes for escaping it are Allah’s will, the prayers of Mohammed and saintly Muslims, and one’s good deeds.

According to 1 Timothy 2:3-5, God doesn’t want anyone to spend eternity in hell. The one person who “goes to bat” for us before God is not Mohammed but Christ Jesus.


According to Ephesians 2:8-9, escaping hell is by God’s grace received through faith, and it is not the result of works so that no one has any room to boast before God or men.


Four Key Differences


Islam teaches: (#1); Christianity teaches: (#2)

1. The Bible is corrupted and untrustworthy.

2. God inspires all scripture (2 Timothy 3:16).


1. There is no religious assurance.

2. We can know we have eternal life (1 John 5:13).


1. One cannot know that he is forgiven.

2. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all wickedness. (1 John 1:9 NLT).


1. The Holy Spirit doesn’t live in the believer. 

2. The Holy Spirit lives in believers (Romans 8:11).


The Uniqueness of Jesus


In John 14:6, Jesus claimed that no one comes to the Father except through him. What He did on the cross has no counterpart in any other religion.


“There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NLT).


“There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5 NLT).


Jesus is uniquely qualified. He is the “holy, righteous one” (Acts 3:14 NLT). He never sinned (1 Peter 2:22 NLT). He’s the only one capable of paying the penalty for our sins because He was sinless.


Therefore, He had no penalty of His own to pay. The early church worshipped Him as God. 


Jesus lifts crushing guilt off fragile human shoulders. He gives us strength to conquer the passions and desires that control us like the wind turns a weather vane.

He offers peace to replace a petrifying fear of God’s condemnation. He experienced that condemnation. He took our place on the cross.

Do the things Jesus offers correspond to what you need in your innermost being? Explain. 


No other great religion has a savior. None has a God who personally paid the price to set his people free. No other forgives through undeserved favor alone. None has a religious leader who rose from the dead.


God’s Truth Standard


Henry Rowland taught physics at Johns Hopkins University. He was an expert witness at a trial. He had to answer questions about his qualifications. He said, “I am the greatest living expert on the subject under discussion.”

Jesus is the most outstanding living expert on truth. Through Him, God has revealed Himself in a form we can understand. He is God’s “Show and Tell" demonstration. He lived and spoke the truth.


God Is Fair


If Jesus is the only way to God, what about those who’ve never heard about Him? We can be sure that God will be just. Genesis 18:25 NLT asks, “Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?”

The expected answer is “Yes.” No one will be saved because he is a Methodist, Hindu, or Buddhist. All receive salvation who accept God’s unmerited forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice in their place.


The tax collector said, “‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner,” and went home with a right relationship with God (Luke 18:9-14 NLT). The first requirement is a God-given sense of the need for mercy. The second is trust in God to give it. 


No Good Deed


We can’t pave a road to heaven with our good deeds. That’s like trying to construct a four-lane concrete highway across the United States from a single wheelbarrow of cement mix.

That’s the fatal flaw of almost every religion. The problem—we don’t have nearly enough building materials, especially when that material is limited to the good things we’ve done for the right reasons. What are some self-serving reasons for doing “good” things?


We can get to heaven from here, but there’s only one way. It’s narrow and impossibly steep. The good news — it’s an escalator. God Himself constructed it at a tremendous cost.

It ends in heaven and begins one faith step before every person. According to Jesus, He is the only way to get there (John 14:6).


The Way to Life Is Narrow


The issue is truth, not a superiority complex. A math teacher expects her students to add two plus two and get the same answer she does. Four isn’t the best answer, and it’s the only right one. There’s no room for pride, and no other solution will do. 


Imagine a surgeon with a scalpel that hurts more than any other. It’s also the only scalpel that unfailingly cures cancer.


Suppose you have cancer. Would you submit to that scalpel? Why?


The Christian message has never been wildly popular. The scalpel hurts before it heals. It’s painful to admit a total inability to meet God’s right-living requirements.


Accepting His unmerited forgiveness through trust in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection is humbling. The unrelenting, stubborn fact is that no other way leads to life.

Learn how to walk the straight and narrow path God designed for you. Learn how to share your testimony with others and lead others in your church.




Hunter III, George. Church for the Unchurched. Abingdon. 1996. 

Gumbel, Nicky. Searching Issues. Cook Ministry Resources. 1996. 

Green, Michael. Evangelism Through the Local Church. Oliver-Nelson Books. 

Photo: Stephen Leonardi/Unsplash

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