July 29, 2015

Evangelism Tip: Two Religions

by Jordan Standridge

In 1915, Coca-Cola and its bottling partners decided to issue a creative challenge to a handful of U.S. glass companies: develop a “bottle so distinct that you would recognize it by feeling it in the dark or lying broken on the ground.”

Because they believed the taste to be so unique, and the sales proved them to be right, they wanted the bottle to be as unique as the taste. They envisioned a scenario where people would reach their hand into a cooler looking for a Coca-Cola, and they wantedcoke to make sure that the individual would be able to easily identify the bottle and grab it.

When we share the gospel we want to show Christianity as what it truly is; the only way to Heaven. We want people to walk away from the Gospel conversation understanding that there is nothing else like it. We want to make the Gospel stand-out from all other religions, in light of the fact that the Devil attempts to make all religions indistinguishable. The best way I have learned to do this is, is through the “two-religion” method.

No matter whom you are talking to, the two-religion method is helpful. Whether you are talking to a nominal Christian who still thinks he is getting to heaven based on his morality, or you are talking to a Roman Catholic trusting in his baptism to save him, or an atheist who believes that every religion is wrong, it is critical, to show the unbeliever what makes Christianity so radically different from every other religion.

So usually at some point in the conversation I explain the difference between Christianity and the devil’s religions, and it goes something like this:

I don’t know if you know this but there are only two religions in the entire world.

You might say I’m nuts.  There are hundreds if not thousands!

wearing masksBut there is one religion that likes to put on hundreds if not thousands of different masks on, and so ultimately there are only two: the religion of Human Achievement and the religion of Divine Accomplishment.

You see Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Judaism and every single religion that you have ever heard of, ultimately teaches some form of a works-based salvation. They say that you have to be a little more good than bad in order to make it to heaven. These religions encourage you to hand God a resume when you face Him one day. The resume will be filled with all your accomplishments. It will list everything you’ve done for other people, every penny you’ve given to charity and every good deed you’ve done. God will look over this resume and say, “Good job! You’ve made it into heaven”.

The problem is that if you were to enter into heaven because of a resume based on your accomplishments God would get no glory; you would be the one who gets all the praise. In fact, Ephesians 2:9 would say that salvation is not of works lest you patting-self-on-back-1should boast! Genesis chapter one shows us that God created the entire universe including you. Everything He created is designed to bring Him glory. The problem is that sin has entered the world, and from birth we all have replaced exalting God with exalting ourselves. Everything we do from birth is geared towards bringing us glory and bringing praise to ourselves. We all have a throne in our hearts that God should be sitting and reigning on, but instead we are born with ourselves sitting on it. We are so used to it we don’t even notice it to the point where we all think that our resumes are good enough to get us into heaven.

my mom thinks im coolOf course we are going to think that we are good people! Of course my mom is going to tell me I’m a good person! But what does your Creator think? He says in Romans 3:23 that we all have sinned and fall short of His glory. He also says in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death. So if we stand before God and start listing accomplishments or hand Him a resume we might as well slap Jesus in the face because God is going to look at the resume and say, “I killed my only Son because you were not good enough to get to me!”

And that’s where the only other religion comes in.

The religion of Divine Accomplishment. God in his sovereign plan, determined to come Himself to save sinners, who could not save themselves. He humbled Himself, spent nine months in a womb he created, grew up with every temptation you and I face every day, but without sinning. He then died on the cross for sins, and then rose from the dead and defeated death. He made it possible for human beings to stand before God one day and not hand Him a resume and condemn themselves further, but rather, tell God that they deserve His wrath but have placed their faith and trust in the work that Jesus did on their behalf on the cross and through His resurrection.

You see we need someone to be a substitute for us because no matter how hard we try, we can never bridge the gap between God and us. And the substitute can’t be merely a human.  It must be God Himself.

Do you see the difference between Christianity and every other religion?

Ultimately, we know that people aren’t saved based on clever marketing or slick evangelism tactics. But we want to ensure that as we present the Gospel, we do so in a way that is distinct from the impostors.

I have found this to be an effective way to explain what makes Christianity so unique.  I’m curious to hear what method you have used in your evangelism to make Christianity distinguishable. Let me know in the comment section.

 

Jordan Standridge

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Jordan is a pastoral associate at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA, where he leads the college ministry. He is also the founder of The Foundry Bible Immersion. You can find his personal blog at surrender.us.
  • That’s good, Jordan.

    • Jordan Standridge

      Thanks Michael.

  • Mike Gendron

    I use a similar approach by saying their are only two faiths – what man must DO and what God has DONE. For those who are trusting their religious activities to achieve heaven, I exhort them to exchange their religion for a relationship with God as the apostle Paul did in Phil. 3.

    • Jordan Standridge

      Thanks Mike, that’s very clear and helpful. Philippians 3 is the perfect passage to walk them through if you have time.

  • Clint Holden

    Love this explanation. Simple and very clear, Jordan. I find myself meandering at times in how I share the Gospel, but “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” from Ray Comfort has been the most consistent thing I have done. MacArthur was asked, “how many people have you led to Christ?” His answer, “Everyone I have shared the Gospel with. From there it is up to God.” This reminds me it is not up to me to convert anyone. Just tell them the truth. Again, thanks

    • Jordan Standridge

      Amen, clarity is our responsibility, Salvation is His. But then again God can still use our lack of clarity to save.

  • Alex

    Excellent post, brother. I fear that many Christians are hesitant to share their faith because they don’t know how to respond to the “tough questions” they might face. This is an excellent tool to help us respond to the accusation that Christianity is just like every other religion. Thanks for sharing and encouraging us.

  • Greg Lawhorn

    That’s good, Jordan. I would only comment that God didn’t “see our situation,” as though He was shocked that we were in such a terrible predicament, and had to figure out some solution on the fly. He Himself created our situation.

    Jesus was the sacrificial Lamb “before the foundation of the world” (First Peter 1:19-20), which means that we were sinners before the foundation of the world, and the names of the saved were written in the Lamb’s book of life (in permanent ink) before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8, 17:8).

    We know that Jesus’ death and resurrection were Plan A all along.

    So I would edit a couple of paragraphs as such:

    The religion of Divine Accomplishment. God saw your situation. In fact, He created your situation. He designed the spiritual universe just as He designed the physical universe, and He designed it so that only He could save sinners. He planned before creation even happened to come Himself as a man, Jesus of Nazareth. He lived with every temptation that we face, but without ever sinning even once. He died on the cross for the sins of His people, was buried, and then rose from the dead.

    So, those who are saved don’t get into heaven by showing God their resume, but by showing Him JESUS’ resume. They put their trust in Jesus’ holy life and perfect sacrifice for their sins. They receive His righteousness when they trust in Him.

    • Jordan Standridge

      Good add-on, thanks Greg!

  • Kay

    This was an excellent post. I used to use the Romans Road, and still do, depending on the situation. But for several years now I’ve been using “Are You a Good Person?” by Ray Comfort of Living Waters. Many times I’ve dealt with people that are so confused about all the different religions that they don’t know which one is the right one. I’ve explained that all the various religions in the world are man’s attempt to approach God on their terms, but Christianity is approaching God on His terms. I then give them the gospel and let them know that God’s way is the way of the cross, through the shed blood of Christ, and that there is no way around it.

    • Jordan Standridge

      Thanks Kay, and thanks for being bold in evangelism! I think there is much freedom in the method we use as long as we get the Gospel right.

  • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

    Excellent post, Jordan. I tell people that Christ is not a reference on our resume…we are references on His.

  • Janise Rose

    Love this! It covers everything and explains the gospel in a way that it can be easily understood…and explains how far other “religions” fall short in their ability to bridge the gap between God and mankind.

  • This is a great help…Thanks!!

  • tovlogos

    Thanks Jordan — A fresh look at biblical bedrock.
    One of my favorites is to point to John 1:18.
    Throughout the centuries one thing that is consistent with humans is the inability to have a personal acquaintance with the Father in heaven.
    The Jews were given set of documents, through prophets, which introduced mankind to the disposition of God, and His purpose to ultimately bless mankind, among other things.
    But no one could personally see Him face to face, and have a conversation the way one would with a earthly father.
    No other religious doctrine claims to know God personally, The Muslims, who simply replaced the Jews with themselves in the Bible, added Mohammad’s machinations; and presto, a new religion. They also are acting on the inspiration of their god, not knowing a thing about him — nevertheless their actions speak for themselves.

    Jesus explained/exegeted the Father and called Him Daddy. So what is the Father like? Jesus marveled when Phillip, in John 14:9, when Philip asked the Lord to show them the Father.
    If you saw Jesus, you saw the Father. We know a lot about Jesus; therefore we know a lot about the Father. This reality separates Jesus from all other would-be christs.

  • Tim McMeans

    All the other religions hand God their resumes, including their lists of accomplishments. The Christian only hands God a list of references, and there’s only one name on it.

  • Michael

    Very helpful. This opening point is just what I need to start up conversations with the goal of sharing the gospel.

    • Jordan Standridge

      Thanks Michael.

  • Kyle

    How does “well done good and faithful servant” fit into this? Why does God congratulate us when it is God who provides salvation from beginning to end? If we can’t take any credit then why does God commend our performance? I thought only Christ’s performance matters. Just a question I’ve been struggling with.

    • Judy Parker

      Hi Kyle, I think the answer to your question lies in the
      distinction between justification (salvation) and sanctification (becoming more
      like Christ). You are absolutely right that our salvation/ justification is God’s
      work entirely (Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-5). However the Bible also teaches that
      once we are saved, we are to grow in our godliness and become more like Christ,
      resist sin and do good works (Eph 2:10; 2 Cor 3:18; Titus 2:11-12). This
      process of sanctification is taught as being both something that we have to
      work hard at (Phil 2:12) through prayer and Bible reading and other godly
      pursuits and something which we are empowered to do by the indwelling Holy Spirit
      (Phil 2:13). I would suggest that this is the process for which we will hear “well
      done” and for which we will receive rewards from God. I hope that this helps, God
      bless

    • Hi Kyle, The passage/verse you mentioned “well done good and faithful servant” comes from a parable (Matt 25 & Luke19) where Jesus demonstrates the obligations of a servant to his master, such that a servant will take what the master has entrusted to him and make the most of it (to put it simply).

      The idea for us, as disciples, “servants” of Jesus Christ is that we have been made part of the Kingdom when we were justified; servants of our Master, Jesus. So with that we’re entrusted with a message (the Gospel) and with a people (the Body). So we must not be slothful with this priviledge we’ve been given, but produce fruit by it through serving the body and sharing the message of Life with those still dead in sin.

      With that in mind, a Christian should strive to please our Master, Jesus the Christ, considering the day when we finally get to “see Him as He is”, and only hope that He might say “well done…well done.”.

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