Daily Devotional – I’m Normal.™ I AM Ministries
“To promote Godly living in a culture committed to destroying it”
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Most people think all religions are fundamentally the same, just superficially different. They think all religions promote a set of values and principles for their followers, which only differ slightly from religion to religion. This assumption reveals the great mystery of Christianity – it is just the opposite! Christianity is fundamentally different from all other religions and only superficially the same. How can that be?
Christianity distinguishes itself in two partnerships: (1) grace and love; and, (2) life and death. Grace, defined as undeserved favor or receiving what we don’t deserve, is a gift from God, and one proof of His love. Grace allows us to enter Heaven. It is not something we earn or deserve; it is an extension of God’s love for each of us. Because the magnitude of even the smallest sin is infinite in His eyes, we cannot perform enough good deeds to earn our salvation and, therefore, a place in Heaven. Our sin creates an infinite separation between a Holy God and man. Only an infinite sacrifice by an infinite being can bridge the chasm. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross bridged the gap. His resurrection conquered death and through Him we gain eternal life.
Grace is like an infinitely valuable lottery ticket given to every person on Earth. Each of us has such a ticket to Heaven. However, as with a lottery ticket, it is necessary to redeem the ticket and claim the prize. On Earth, if you have a winning lottery ticket and fail to redeem it, you do not receive your reward. Similarly, if you have a plane ticket but fail to get on board, you don’t reach your destination. The same is true spiritually – if you don’t claim Jesus Christ as your LORD and Savior you will not receive you Heavenly reward or reach a Heavenly destination (John 14:6, Acts 4:10, 1 Timothy 2:5).
The blessing of grace creates an unfortunate misperception of God’s intentions. Critics claim Christianity is exclusive because non-believers are denied Heavenly rewards. The Truth is all are given the same chance to enter Heaven; those who fail miss the opportunity due to their own personal choice, which God allows and accepts. God wants everyone to be in Heaven and none to perish (2 Peter 3:9). Scripture states clearly that anyone who accepts Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior can enter (John 3:16). This offer is grace, not exclusion. Grace offers a contract between God and man, but as with Earthly contracts, some people find the terms unacceptable.
Amazingly, grace does not require works or good deeds. This also makes Christianity fundamentally different from other religions. God wants Christians to do good deeds after they receive Christ (James 2:14-19) as they express our gratitude for our salvation. Works do not earn us a place in Heaven; only God’s grace through faith in Christ does that. All other religions require works to achieve salvation, which makes them fundamentally different from Christianity.
The works concept in other religions also comes with a mystery – one never knows exactly what deeds, how many, for how long, or the magnitude necessary to earn a person’s salvation. One can only hope. This arrangement would be a tough sell on Earth. Imagine a salesman whose boss won’t tell him what his sales quota is in order to receive the reward of a paycheck. The salesman can only hope he performs well enough.
The I AM God of Christianity states clearly, specifically, and with assurance what it takes to enter Heaven. Christians receive their reward by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, nothing more or less. We all desire to contribute to our salvation, but God designed a different, but simple plan. The moment you confess Jesus as LORD and Savior you have redeemed your ticket to Heaven. Those who choose to reject His offer are excluded. Our choices come with consequences.
Death, either physical or spiritual, differs for Christians, specifically in how Jesus Christ conquered it. Jesus died on the Cross, but three days later He was resurrected to eternal life, thereby conquering death. Through Him we receive life if we choose to follow Him (John 3:36, 5:24). Thus, His empty tomb and Earthly reappearance is fundamentally different, which imposes a stumbling block for other religions. No ancient religious leader such as Mohammed, Buddha, or Baal ever died and came back to life as Jesus did. Neither has any modern religious leader such as Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, or L. Ron Hubbard performed a resurrection to life. They are dead. Jesus Christ is alive.
In a spirit of inclusiveness, Jesus said, “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37). He also says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20). Jesus does not exclude anyone; He will take everyone who responds to His call.
Although Jesus will not exclude any person, He does exclude alternative ways into Heaven. He is the only Way (John 14:6, Acts 4:10, 1 Timothy 2:5). Each of us has sinned, which causes spiritual death, and only Jesus has paid the price of atonement. This is another example of God’s immense love for us, that is, to sacrifice His only Son. Imagine – why would a Father sacrifice His only Son if there were other, easier paths into Heaven? If other ways existed, Jesus’s sacrifice would have been unnecessary. Jesus Himself raised this question before His crucifixion, but confirmed with God the necessity of His death (Matthew 26:39).
If God loves us so much, why does He deny access to Heaven? One reason is He loves not only us, He loves righteousness, holiness, and justice. Because He loves these, He sinned must be either atoned or punished. Our atonement comes through Jesus Christ.
It is normal to view Christianity as fundamentally different from other religions. Despite its superficial similarities, Christianity’s core attributes are unique. Exclusion results from our choices, not His. Consistent with God’s desires (2 Peter 3:9), Hell was never intended for humans; rather, it was meant for Satan and his rebellious angels. Each of us has been given a “Get out of Hell free” offer, a chance to be fundamentally different. Will you accept the opportunity of an eternity in Heaven?
In His love and service,
A servant of Jesus Christ
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