Salvation across many religions, by Philip John

My father-in-law gave the following message during the “Explore” service at Ashraya Church in South India. I thought he did a wonderful job of both honoring the truth in Hinduism as well as highlighting the uniqueness of how Jesus reached out to us, for our salvation.

August 11th, 2006
Philip John, Chennai, Tamil-Nadu
What seems to be the problem?
Every religion recognises that man is not perfect and there is work to be done to get him cleaned up. They want their devotees to observe high standards and spell out what perfection is. Let us look at some examples?.
The Bhagavad-Gita
Loving another because of the mandate of scripture or teacher is good; doing so as a result of a compelling prompting from within is better; but it is best when love becomes a spontaneous expression of one’s whole being.
The Torah (Old Testament)
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
The New Testament
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these. Jesus
The Koran
“None of you is a perfect Muslim until he desires for his brother Muslim that which he desires for himself.” Mohammed
However, the effort of man to live a pure life is summed by a Buddhist monk.
Buddhist Teaching
Once a very old king went to see an old hermit who lived in a bird’s nest in the top of a tree, “What is the most important Buddhist teaching?” The hermit answered, “Do no evil, do only good. Purify your heart.” The king had expected to hear a very long explanation. He protested, “But even a five-year old child can understand that!” “Yes,” replied the wise sage, “but even an 80-year-old man cannot do it.?
Every religion places the burden of salvation on man’s self effort.
Examples from other religions —
  • climbing steps on their knees
  • inflicting pain on themselves to repay for their sins
  • walking around some tomb asking for the blessing of a departed soul
Here are some examples from the Christian religion —
  • getting themselves nailed to a cross to suffer with Christ
  • lighting candles at shrines of Christian saints
  • promising gifts to a church or shrine for favours expected
Man is prepared to suffer such pain to attain salvation, i.e., achieve salvation by making penance and maintaining austerity but the Buddhist monk was right – alas wretched is man that even after 80 years of trying or living in a bird’s nest on top of a tree or in a cave — man cannot save himself. It seems that we are trapped by a sinful nature.

God knew this and so he sent his son Jesus Christ to earth to announce the Kingdom of God and then to suffer, die and pay the penalty for man’s sins.

God said you cannot attain your own salvation and so let me do it for you.
Soon man made a new religion out of it and called it Christianity. Then he put some rules and regulations in. You mustn’t wear these types of clothing; you must not use make up or wear jewellery. You must take baptism / you should not take baptism, you should pay your tithes / no that was in the Old Testament.

They also decided how you must live. Some spoke about the prosperity theology while some spoke about their preference for a poverty theology. After all Jesus was a carpenter — so they have the mental picture of the carpenter who comes to repair their door.

Others prefer to call themselves “committed Christians” — the term “born again” is being fundamentalist. They take pride in the Gothic architecture of their church building or wonderful stained glass windows and of course the Alter is a holy place so you approach it without shoes and talk in hushed tones.
And all this while God is looking on in bewilderment and wondering what on earth are they doing on Earth!?
Salvation does not compute till you are able to do the second and third part of what we read in the Bhagavad-Gita
*Loving another because of the mandate of scripture or teacher is good; doing so as a result of a compelling prompting from within is better; but it is best when love becomes a spontaneous expression of one’s whole being?.
To reach that second level you need a Saviour after that the third level is a natural progression. But it is impossible to reach the second level by your own effort. You need a Saviour!
What has God done for us?
Rom 5: 8-10

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Justification by faith
– Oswald Chambers
It is not repentance that saves me; repentance is the sign that I realize what God has done in Christ Jesus. The danger is to put the emphasis on the effect instead of on the cause. I am put right with God because prior to all, Christ died. When I turn to God and by belief accept what God reveals I can accept, instantly the stupendous Atonement of Jesus Christ rushes me into a right relationship with God, and by the supernatural miracle of God’s grace I stand justified, not because I am sorry for my sin, not because I have repented, but because of what Jesus has done. The spirit of God brings it with a breaking, all-over light, and I know, though I do not know how, that I am saved.
The salvation of God does not stand on human logic; it stands on the sacrificial Death of Jesus. We have not to work out these things ourselves; they have been worked out by the Atonement: The supernatural becomes natural by the miracle of God; there is the realization of what Jesus Christ has already done?*It is finished.?
How does life through the Spirit become our way of life?
The Gospel is not just the GOOD NEWS that you will now go to heaven because your sins have been forgiven. The extra-ordinary news is that our relationship with our loving father has now been restored!! What is that worth to you? God has done it for us and all that we now need to do is to believe, receive it and say “thank you!” God’s interest in cleaning you up was so that He could have a father/son, father/daughter relationship with you! From the story of the prodigal son you know that He does not take you back as a servant but his son or daughter.
In the process the Holy Spirit cleans you up. Those habits we were bound with and impossible to get rid of now fall by the wayside.
(personal story)
But more than all that our anxieties and fears begin to recede when we learn to trust God. There are struggles when it seems that we were walking through dry land but God’s word begins to comfort us. There are storms but we are much calmer because we know that He is in control.
One of the first signs of your new birth is you begin to have a desire to worship God as if it was the most natural thing to do and we want to long to be in the company of fellow worshippers.
We begin to get answers for problems however big they appear to be. More and more we are sure that God is in control of our life. We acknowledge his lordship and come under his government voluntarily. We realize that our Creator God knows more about us than we ever will. Our experience tell us that his heart is to bless — and that He will never give us second best!
But there is the other side –

5 Those that live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. (Rom 8: 5-7)

Where do you stand?
In the light of what we have heard where do we stand?
You may have heard the salvation message many times before but perhaps you were not ready to receive God’s provision for you. But now is time to make that decision.
Perhaps you felt that you needed to first become a better person before God could forgive you. That will never happen. Now is the time.
You may think of God as being a spoilsport and taking away all your toys and wanting you to live a hard joyless life. That is the biggest lie of the enemy! Actually, I delayed my decision to follow the Lord because of this. Then I became desperate and cried out! Are you desperate?
Many people are afraid to make Jesus the Lord of their life for fear of failing and sliding back. God did not give us a partial gospel — I will clean you up the first time and from then on it is up to your self effort. No! He is not waiting to trip you up! He wants you to succeed so He will create circumstances for you to break any bad habit or bondage.
God’s desire is for you to succeed so that he builds the life and character of His son Jesus in you.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

What are you waiting for? GOD LOVES YOU! Now is the time!
Receive your salvation and walk free. Today!