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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: When the God of the Bible Is Rejected

Don Stewart :: Can a Person Experience the True God through Religions Other than Christianity?

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Can a Person Experience the True God through Religions Other than Christianity? (Christian Exclusivism)

When the God of the Bible Is Rejected – Question 4

Humanity has the need to worship. Indeed, wherever we find human beings on our planet we find them worshipping something. Temples, shrines, and holy places abound. People have this basic need to worship some type of power and in doing so, experience ultimate reality.

What does the Bible have to say about how to worship God? Can He be worshipped through religions other than Christianity? Is the Christian faith the only way in which a person can know God? Does the Christian faith exclude all other religions? A number of important points need to be made.

1. The Bible Is Exclusively God’s Word to the Human Race

To begin with, we find that the Bible claims to be God’s exclusive Word to the human race. In fact, there are no other sources of divine revelation. Paul wrote to Timothy,

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17 HCSB)

Only the Scriptures are profitable for teaching God’s truth. There is no other document which does this.

Peter also wrote about the uniqueness of Scripture. He said that the prophetic Scriptures did not originate with any human will or desire but rather by the work of the Holy Spirit. Peter stated it in this matter.

First of all, you should know this: no prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, moved by the Holy Spirit, men spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:20-21 HCSB)

Therefore, God has given us His Word to humanity exclusively in the Bible. There are no other sources of divine revelation.

2. The Bible Says There Is Only One God to Be Worshipped

Scripture reveals that the God of the Bible is the one true God. He alone deserves our worship. God has revealed Himself to humankind in the Scriptures and made provision for us to know Him. The Bible also warns us about other religions and other gods:

Do not have other gods besides Me. (Exodus 20:3 HCSB)

There is no other legitimate God for people to worship. In the Old Testament, Moses wrote the following to the children of Israel:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4, 5 NIV)

There is only one God that exists, and only this one God should be worshipped. There are no exceptions to this commandment. Again, Scripture is very specific on this matter.

3. Pagan Deities Counterfeited the Truth of the One True God

Not only does the Bible say that there is only one God which exists, the Old Testament prophets ridiculed belief in the gods of other nations. The false gods were leading people astray from the one, true God. They were counterfeits to the Lord who is the true and living God. Isaiah the prophet recorded the Lord making the following challenge:

“Present your case,” says the LORD. “Bring forth your strong reasons,” says the King of Jacob. “Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; let them show the former things, what they were, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare to us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; yes, do good or do evil, that we may be dismayed and see it together. Indeed you are nothing, and your work is nothing; he who chooses you is an abomination.” (Isaiah 41:21-24 NKJV)

The New Living Translation as follows,

“Can your idols make such claims as these? Let them come and show what they can do!” says the LORD, the King of Israel. “Let them try to tell us what happened long ago or what the future holds. Yes, that’s it! If you are gods, tell what will occur in the days ahead. Or perform a mighty miracle that will fill us with amazement and fear. Do something, whether good or bad! But no! You are less than nothing and can do nothing at all. Anyone who chooses you becomes filthy, just like you!” (Isaiah 41:21-24 NLT)

Here we find the denouncing of idols in the strongest of terms. They are not to be worshipped because they do not worship.

On one occasion, the Bible records that the prophet Elijah had a contest with the prophets of the false god Baal. When Baal did not answer their prayer, Elijah ridiculed belief in this non-existent god. Scripture puts it this way,

So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no answer. They limped about the altar that they had made. At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” (1 Kings 18:26, 27 NRSV)

This god Baal could not answer them because he did not exist. The gods that the ancients worshipped were non-existent entities, there was no substance to them. Again, the God of the Bible, and He alone, is the only God to be worshipped.

4. God Has Made a Unique Way to Know Him: There Is No Other Way

The Bible says that God has provided a way that individuals may know Him. This is through the Person of Jesus Christ. The Bible says,

So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” (John 10:7-9 NRSV).

To get into the presence of God one must come through the Person of Jesus Christ. He is the gate, the way.

This is stated by Jesus elsewhere. Indeed, Jesus said that He alone is the way, the truth, and the life. The Gospel of John records the following:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6 NASB)

Nobody can come to God the Father except through God the Son.

The Apostle Peter emphasized that a person could know the true God but it is only through Jesus Christ. He said the following to the religious rulers who had arrested him and the Apostle John.

“There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them.” (Acts 4:12 NLT)

No other way to be saved except through Jesus. This is the message of Scripture.

According to the New Testament, religions that offer the individual a way to know God other than through the Person of Jesus Christ are false religions. They offer erroneous ways of knowing ultimate truth. The claim of Scripture is clear: Jesus Christ is the only way through which an individual can know the living God.

In fact, Jesus said to the religious leaders of His day that they would die in their sins if they did not believe in Him.

“Thus I told you that you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am the Christ, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24 NET)

This being the case, it is not possible for people to experience the true God in religions apart from Christianity. It is through Jesus Christ and through Him alone that a person can experience the only God who exists. This is the claim of Scripture.

5. The Opportunity to Believe in the One God Is Limited to This Life Only

There is something else that the Scripture teaches. Humans have only this life to make the decision for Jesus Christ. In other words, there is no second chance after death. The writer to the Hebrews said,

And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27 NRSV)

The translation God’s Word puts it this way:

People die once, and after that they are judged. (Hebrews 9:27 God’s Word)

The Bible could not be clearer. After death comes judgment.

Again, the claims of Scripture are exclusive. One way to reach the one God and the opportunity to believe is limited to this life and to it alone.

6. People Will Spend Eternity with Christ or Without Him: There Will Be a Judgment

Because only one God exists and has made only one way to know Him, all of humanity will be judged based upon how they have responded to Him. We read in the Book of Daniel of this judgment:

At that time Michael, the archangel who stands guard over your nation, will arise. Then there will be a time of anguish greater than any since nations first came into existence. But at that time every one of your people whose name is written in the book will be rescued. Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2 NLT)

Some will arise to everlasting life while others will be raised to everlasting contempt.

In the Book of Revelation, we read of the awful fate of those who are not part of God’s family. Scripture gives a sobering description of what will happen to them.

If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15 NIV)

The stakes could not be higher! The place where each of us will spend eternity depends upon how we respond to God’s truth. This is the claim which the Bible itself makes.

The Bible Makes Exclusive Claims Which Must Be Dealt With

Therefore, as we look at what the Bible has to say about itself, the existence of God, the identity, purpose and destiny of humanity, and the way that we humans can reach God, we find that it is exclusive in its claims. In other words, it does not allow for any other way.

The issue is thus clear: either the Bible is true in its claims or it is not. If not, then it should be ignored.

However, if true, then every human being needs to respond to the claims in which it makes. Those who believe will have everlasting life but those who do not believe will experience the wrath of God for all eternity. This is the message that all of humanity needs to hear.

Summary – Question 4
Can A Person Experience The True God Through Religions Other Than Christianity? (Christian Exclusivism)

People attempt to worship God in a variety of ways. Indeed, Christianity is not the only religion which believes that God exists. Yet Christianity makes a number of exclusive claims about itself.

First, the Bible, the sacred Book of the Christian faith, claims to be the only divine revelation which God has given the human race. According to Scripture, it is the final authority on all matters of belief and practice. There is no other source of authority.

In this sacred Book, we find that there is only one God who actually exists. We are told that the gods which were worshipped in the ancient world are not real. They have no substance. It is only the God who is revealed in Scripture that has real substance or existence.

Furthermore, this one God has provided a way by which people may know Him. This one way is through the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus said that nobody is able come to the one true God except through Him. Indeed, one cannot know God except through Jesus.

If His claims are true, then, by definition, all claims to ultimate truth by other religious leaders are false. Thus, there is no other way in which the one true God can be experienced. None. Therefore, we cannot conclude that people are actually experiencing the God of Scripture through other religions. Any spiritual experience which they have is not with the only God who exists.

In addition, it is only in this lifetime where people have the opportunity to respond to the claims in Scripture. There is no second chance to believe after death. This life provides us with our only opportunity.

The Bible also speaks of a final judgment which all people will have to face. They will be judged based upon how they responded to God’s requirements for them. Those who believe will spend all eternity with the Lord while those who reject the Lord will spend eternity apart from Him. Everyone will end up in one of these two destinations.

These are some of the exclusive claims made by the Christian faith. Scripture not only makes these claims, it provides evidence to back them up. This is what separates Christianity from all other belief systems.

In What Sense Is Christianity Unique among the World's Religions? ← Prior Section
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