In a post I wrote several years ago called Ten Reasons Christianity is Superior to Other Religions, I noted that Christianity was superior because the leaders of other religions needed Christ for their salvation as well. Understanding this truth helps us dispel the notion that, somehow, leaders of other religions have found favor with the God who is, and therefore should be held on a reverent level.
For instance, the Dali Lama came to Dallas a few years back and I was surprised at the number of Christians who went to see him. Members of my family stood in line so they could listen to this supposedly spiritual guru give his wisdom about life. These people ended up pouring out praise and adoration on the man; they assumed that since he is the leader of another religion, he must be holy and must have found favor with God.
Part of their deception in revering this man, is the fact that they do not hold God’s holy word with enough reverence. In their hearts, they exalt what the Dali Lama says over and above what the word of God says. This leads to the false belief that all religions are equal and offer different roads to the same ending.
Yet, as Christians, we cannot fall into the trap of thinking such foolishness. Just given what the word of God says about the fallen nature of man shows that none of these leaders, be they the Dali Lama, Mohammed the Prophet of Islam, Mary Baker Patterson Eddy, Joseph Smith, Buddha, or any other false teacher, will measure up when Judgment Day comes and they stand before Him.
The standard for acceptance is absolute perfection according to the Law. We see this in Christ’s encounter with the rich, young ruler:
Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
Jesus, as the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, the One who has the pleasure of the Father (Matthew 17:5), is asked about eternal life, and what is required. He is showing the standard that is required for all men, “keep the commandments.” This is the response to those who seek to earn their own salvation, as this man does. This is at the heart of every religion, no matter how pagan it is: keeping a standard of righteousness for acceptance to a god, or some esoteric force (like the eastern religions), in order to obtain some future eternal bliss.
What sets Christianity apart from all of the other religions is that no one can keep the standard of righteousness that is required for eternal life, except Jesus Christ. He is the only One to do so. This is implied in His statement to the rich, young ruler: “No one is good but One, that is, God.” As for Christ being a part of that One, He declares as much in John 10:30 “I and My Father are one.” He is included in the only one that is “good.” That goodness is only achieved in relationship to the Law of God, otherwise known as the Ten Commandments, and one’s keeping of those Ten Commandments.
Most other religions do not even adhere to God’s required standard of acceptability. They completely ignore God’s standard, and come up with their own standards.
Why is this so? Simply put? It’s convenient for false prophets, which all the religious leaders are, to set standards that they are perceived to keep. If we create our own standards of righteousness, then we can pretend that we keep them. The problem is that even the standards of righteousness we invent, we do not keep. The Apostle Paul declares to us that those who judge others by a standard, break that same standard: Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things (Romans 2:1). All religions are set up to judge those inside the religion as being acceptable, and those outside the religion as being unacceptable. Yet the very standards they set up for others they violate themselves.
This is the nature of sin. It is so heinous that it blinds us to our own inability to keep even the simplest of standards that we set for ourselves in search for a righteousness apart from our own. Paul will go on to declare the truth of our total depravity in Romans 3:10-12, There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God… there is none who does good, no, not one.”
This indictment is just as true for the Dali Lama as it is for Abraham. It is just as true for Mohammed the Prophet as it is for Elijah the Prophet. It is just as true for Jezebel as it is for Mary Baker Patterson Glover Eddy. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
This is why the leaders of other religions lead their followers into eternal damnation. They do not measure up to the righteous requirements of the Law and they have no one to deal with their own personal sin for they are rejecting the One who offers such a propitiation for sin, Jesus Christ. They were damned before they got started in their new religion.
These “new” religions are not really new. These “new” religions are no different than the unacceptable religion practiced by Cain in Genesis 4. What makes them seem new is that they have new window dressing, but essentially, they are the same damnable practices that Cain offered and are unacceptable to the Father.
These leaders are false prophets, of which, Jesus and the writers of the New Testament warned us against:
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:23-24).
If the Dali Lama wants to give his followers true hope, he must point them to Christ, for Christ is the only way to salvation. Christ is the only hope for mankind. Christ is the only who deals with our sin, and makes us acceptable to the Father. Salvation is of the LORD (Jonah 2:9). Christ bestows that salvation on whom He pleases. In talking about His sheep, He says: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand (John 10:27-28).
Dali or Mohammed or any other leader cannot offer such a promise because they are not of His sheep. How do we know? The same way we know that many of the Pharisees were not of His sheep: “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep (John 10:25-26).
False prophets do not lead their people to Christ, because they do not believe in Him. They believe in themselves, but are found wanting of any righteousness of God. They are condemned already because they rejected the only way into the Father’s pleasure, which is through Christ alone (see John 14:6). To sum it up, they need Christ for their own salvation as much as we need Him for ours. Yet, in their self-exaltation, they don’t come to the Christ who is, and make themselves out to be anti-Christs instead (1 John 2:18).
God of the Bible
If all this bothers you, and you want a God that is not so forceful in His declarations of our sinfulness, that is fine. Just make up a god to suit you. But do not continue to call yourself a Christian; you are not one. For a true Christian hears His words and does them. The true believer never swoons at the feet of a false prophet, they fall at the foot of the cross, trusting in Christ’s shed blood for salvation and in nothing else.