WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE
Between Biblical Christianity
and All The Rest?
Quite frankly, there are a lot of very annoyed, irritated, and sometimes even angry people who are deeply resentful that Biblical Christianity claims to have the exclusive emet (truth) and way to salvation and heaven. I can understand them. I too felt exactly the same way. Therefore as a Bible-believing Christian/Messianic I have some explaining to do.
To begin with, I am not representing all Christians, or those who claim to be Christians. I do not accept that all Christians have the right to claim to possess the exclusive emet (truth). I wish to underline that I represent the Bible-believing Christian/Messianic position. I do not represent all viewpoints. I represent those who believe the Bible to be absolutely and completely true from cover to cover and who insist that ALL the Bible's promises and demands be represented, and not just those which people like or dislike.
Having said that, let us get to the very crux of the problem....
I am extemely interested in human nature because I was once an atheist, then a Buddhist, and then (for three years) a cultist representing a church organisation which claimed exclusive authority to represent the Christian religion. Now I am a Bible-believing Christian/Messianiac.
I am very interested in history. I was brought up and raised in the fair East and have lived my life in many countries in Europe and Africa. People interest me too. Why are they the way they are? What difference does religion make in their life? Is there qualitatively any difference between the impact the different religions make on people's behaviour? And are any changes in behaviour as a result of religion experience or committment that may be said to be consistent? What parts do culture and civilisation play?
I was brought up amongst Moslem Malays, Buddhist Chinese, Hindu Indians, Sikhs, Roman Catholic and Protestant Europeans. I lived, as a young man in a very cosmopolitan and academic city (Oxford) which was the centre for all kinds of people with different beliefs. I have watched them all with interest.
The first thing I have noticed is that human beings are all basically the same. They have the same needs and the same essential problems. All of them are capable of intense love and hatred, all make mistakes, and all are struggling to understand themselves to one degree or another. And all have explanations as to why they are the way they are and solutions for the human problem.
We are all living contradictions. We are so "contrary". There might even be a case for calling the human race schizophrenic because we display two contradictory natures that seem to be perpetually at war with one another.
Almost everyone I have met is nice and amicable at some time or another. When things are going their way they smile, laugh, and are friendly. When things seem not to be going their way they can suddenly change into highly objectional and repulsive creatures we would rather not be around. Some are more objectionable than others. And some, it may be said, are so nauseating that you wouldn't even want to expose your pet aligator to them. And yet others seem to be angels.
Why? Is it caused by the envionment? Are these genetic propensities we inherit that we have no control over? Are we the victims of blind chance?
When we get angry and irritated, is it because the person we are angry with is bad and we are good, or because that person throws up a mirror that reveals our own badness? Are we basically good with a bad streak, bad with a good streak, or an even mixture of the two?
The nazi phenomenon interests me greatly. The German people of the 1930s were a most developed civilisation -- cultured, literate, intelligent, industrious and prosperous. Yet many of these highly cultured people became cold killing machines. In the evening nazi fathers would embrace and kiss their wives, play with their children, go to a concert and listen to some beautiful classical music, yet the next day they would be mercilessly harrassing, persecuting or butchering people they considered to be inferior, and all without (in many cases) a shred of bad conscience.
The communists are another interesting phenomenon. They believed in creating an egalitarian society where nobody starved, lacked clothing or shelter, and everyone had a job. They believed strongly in communal service and were prepared to make sacrifices to make their dream come true. They promoted good music, ballet, art, and all that might be considered the fruits of civilisation. Yet there was something seriously wrong -- they ruthlessly imprisoned or exterminated all who disagreed with them, as the nazis did. They tried hard to make an atheistic socialist paradise and failed miserably. As one high ranking Soviet once bemoaned: "How do we create the perfect Soviet MAN"? They, like everyone else, came up against a seemingly impenetratible wall: human nature.
The nazis were occultists, and the communists were atheists. There are still a few fascist and communist countries but they are far from being perfect. Most of the people in them are miserable, opppressed and crying out for freedom.
Which brings us to the democratic nations and to what one might call "religious" nations. The picture there, it seems to me, is little different from the totalitarian societies of fascism and communism.
Religion seems to flourish in democratic as well as totalitarian societies, and especially in those countries that have an officially sanctioned (and sometimes forced) religion. With virtually no exceptions, religious societies have as bad a track record as the atheistic ones. There is religious conflict everywhere, much of it involving the shedding of blood. Whatever values of human brotherhood and love these religions have espoused seems to have been lost in war. The ideals just aren't livable for any period of time without some sort of harsh repression.
There are thousands of examples but let's cite some recent ones.
- The Bosnian Conflict - a war between Moslems, Roman Catholics (Croatians) and Eastern Orthodox Christians (Serbs). They have been massacring each other in campaigns of ethnic extermination;
- The Lebanese Civil War - a war between Arab Shi'ite Moslems, Marionite Christians (a form of Catholicism), and Druze;
- The Rwandan Conflict - a civil war between Catholic Hutu and Catholic Tutsi in which terrible attrocities have been committed by both sides;
- The Sri Lankan Civil War - a religious/ethnic war between Hindu Tamils and Buddhist Senghalese;
- The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - guerilla war between Moslems Arabs and Israeli Jews;
- The Armenian-Azeri Conflict - a war between Armenian Christians and Moslems Azeris;
- The Chechenya Conflict - a war between Chechen Moslems and Russian Orthodox Christians
- The Afghan, Iraqi, Libyan and Syrian Conflicts - wars between Shiah Moslems, Sunni Moslems and others
There are many, many more. Religion seems to have made little difference. They are just as bestial to each other as the atheists have been. The common denominator between them all is simply MAN.
What is the Solution?
One interesting fact that emerges from a study of conflicts and their roots is this: most religions at one time or another have been imposed BY THE SWORD. People have been coerced into believing what they do. Their decendants have simply continued in the religious beliefs and practices of their forefathers as a matter of TRADITION. Most people don't even bother to think what their religion means, less challenge their upbringings.
The Moslem faith was established (denials to the contrary) by the sword. Though some religions are more tolerant than others and (like many Moslem countries, though by no means all) allow those of other beliefs to co-exist in a Moslem majority, evangelism and conversion are often FORBIDDEN AT PAIN OF DEATH. When a person of one faith converts to another there can be terrible family consternation and heartbreak which sometimes even leads to the killing of the one who has converted. It is illegal for a Moslem to convert and it is the duty of other Moslems to murder anyone who converts from Islam to, say, Christianity. Needless-to-say, many who would like to re-evaluate their religious beliefs are terrorised into staying the way they are.
Many Christian Churches teach that to leave their organisation means certain hell-fire -- Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and others teach that outide their group there is no hope of heaven and like other religions terrorise their members into submission. In modern India there is a fear on the part of many Hindu leaders that their adherants are converting to Christianity and so they are stepping in to make evangelism difficult. Hindu mobs sometimes kill Christians. In Roman Catholic countries that have dictatorships, Catholicism us usually the only recognised religion -- only in democracies are Catholics usually more "tolerant"...because the political system demands it of them. Wherever one religion is dominant in a mixed religious society, the dominant religion tries to control or suppress the other ones. They have all done it -- Christians, Moslem, Buddhists, Jews, Shintoists, Confucianists, etc..
IN ALL THESE THERE IS THE IMPOSITION OF RELIGION FROM THE OUTSIDE, INWARDS.
The test of true religion exists when no religion is compulsory and religious practicioners are free to believe and practice what they want. This has happened in many pluralist democratic societies (to differing degrees) and the result has been interesting. Unable to exterminate those of opposing beliefs or outlaw them they have had to let their faiths stand on their own merits. The result has been interesting for everyone: the result has virtually been that people believe in as many religious and secular non-religious systems as there are people! Faith has been shown to be an intensely personal, private thing. Some religions cannot survive in a free society because no-one in their right mind would choose to follow them.
However, where physical coercision is not available, religious groups still use psychological manipulation. Some religions force their people to live in ghettos where better control can be maintained, as with the Jews throughout history. Some (like those mentioned above) threaten with hell-fire and damnation if they don't stay in the group. And in places where a religion dominates, there may be social ostracism and loss of job opportunities for those not "of the faith" (in much the same way as Communist Party members always got the best jobs in communist states).
Thus the value of any system can only truly be measured where there are no physical or psychological manipulative or controlling constraints, where people have free choice, and where religion (or unbelief) is a genuine matter of the HEART, FROM THE INSIDE, OUTWARDS.
Narrowing the Search
I have friends from all the major world religions, and many of these are converts from other faiths or from no faith at all. These are the ones that interest me the most. It is here that we can see where the real differences lie.
I have a devout Moslem friend who converted from Catholicism, a Pentecostal friend who was a Hindu, an atheist who became a Catholic, a Buddhist who became a Mormon, a Moslem who became a Bible-believing Christian. They are very interesting people indeed. They all have their stories to tell. And they all have different stories to tell. Some convert because they have led lives of disorder and chaos and crave system in their lives. Some leave religions which they feel are hypocritical to ones which seem honest and genuine. Others leave spiritually dead religions to ones they feel have more life and dynamism. Others are converted for philosophical and intellectual reasons. Some are converted because they are attracted to the love in their new affiliation and aren't interested so much in doctrine and practice. Some are converted for social reasons (because of friends) and some to keep peace in a marriage where the two parties espouse different beliefs. There are HUNDREDS of reasons why people convert from one faith to another..or to no faith at all. Some want sexual freedom to do what they want and so become atheists, humanists, occultists and even satanists. Some people have very strange motives -- they may convert to further their career or even get tax advantages (I knew one man who became a Jehovah's Witness just so he could legally run a retail business on a Sunday).
I had a relative who was a Catholic and believed that children and grandchildren should remain in the faith of their parents, forgetting that his wife was a Lutheran. Of his three children, one became a Mormon, the other a nominal Lutheran, and the other an atheist. I knew an Anglican who positively believed it was wrong and sinful to move out of the church one was baptised into (even though his church practiced infant baptism!).
There are a lot of ideas, alot of people with sincere convictions, but there is still a mass of CONFUSION. Today it is politically correct to say that ALL religion has "truth" and that different religions have different aspects of the truth or say the same thing in different ways. That is only a half-truth. Their teachings are VERY different and yet nearly ALL of them are the same because they are HUMAN INVENTIONS.
The Two Paths
There are essentially only two forms of religion (and non-religion, for that matter):
- 1. The type that says you must do A, B, C and D in order to get right with Elohim (God) and be saved; and
- 2. The type that says mankind can do nothing because ELOHIM (GOD) HAS DONE IT ALL FOR THEM HIMSELF;
The first is called man-made religion (all the religious systems in the world, including most 'Christian' ones), and the second is called BIBLE CHRISTIANITY.
The first category is a dead-end because man is powerless to change the nature within himself that would enable him to live a good life pleasing to Elohim (God), and one can struggle a whole life-time and get nowhere.
The second category is the only one that works. I've tried both. And so have tens of thousands of others.
The Way that Works
Human beings have demonstrated throughout history that every effort to change human nature by legislation, political and military force, religious observance and psychological manipulation has failed. Either people have remained as they are, they have lost their humanity or become mentally ill. Clearly man's efforts have failed.
Yahweh-Elohim, the Creator of the Universe, knew this would be so from the beginning and made provision for a man to escape the bondage of his lower/fallen nature by entering our space-time dimension and dealing with the problem Himself. There were two stages in this process of "redemption" or "salvation" (as it has come to be variously called):
- 1. Cancelling the effects of fallen nature in one localised place in the Universe;
- 2. Opening a way for those who would accept His work to enter that place of safety.
I will try to explain this by way of an analogy. Let us imagine that you are in a war zone. In fact, the whole planet is a war zone and is "enemy territory" since your side no longer owns any territory. No matter where you go, there is no place of safety, because all is under enemy occupation.
Into this bleak situation Elohim (God) dramatically intervenes by personally attacking the enemy army and defeating them. He established a BEACHHEAD or SAFETY-ZONE -- an area of land -- which the defeated enemy cannot penetrate. Elohim (God) then invites all who want safety and freedom to enter that Safety Zone where He guarantees them protection and freedom from oppression. So long as they remain within its boundaries and do not return to the enemy-occupied area, they will be safe. As more and more enter the Beachhead, so it gradually expands. Once all have been gathered to safety, Elohim (God) intervenes a second time, totally destroying the enemy and freeing the whole planet.
Two thousand years ago Elohim (God) took on human form and became the Elohim-Man Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). He engaged in a spiritual battle with the enemy who is known as haSatan (Satan) and defeated him, establishing a spiritual beachhead or safety zone. There is only one condition for entering the safety-zone, and that is to accept that Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is the Saviour/Deliverer/Redeemer, trusting Him to destroy the enemy within our souls. That part of our souls where haSatan (Satan), the Enemy, has control, is metaphorically called the "flesh", our lower/fallen nature. We do not have to destroy Satan ourselves because in truth we do not have the power. But Yah'shua (Jesus) does. And Yah'shua (Jesus) tells us that we are to have emunah (faith) in Him as defender of that Safety Zone. As a consequence of trusting in Him we are enabled to live a victorious life according to the standards He has set, not in our own power, but His. But if we lose emunah (faith), and wander out of that safety Zone, we no longer have the promise of His protection.
The condition of these two Zones -- the Safety Zone created by Messiah, and the Enemy Zone controlled by Satan -- will last until all those who will respond to Christ's message have done so. Then He will intervene a second time and take over the rest of the territory, banishing Satan forever.
The analogy is, admittedly, limited, but illustrates a vital point about True (Biblical) Christianity, namely, that all our very best efforts to do good in our own power will fail. We cannot on our own set up our own Safety Zones without being overwhelmed by the Enemy's forces. In order to be safe, we must live in CHRIST'S Safety Zone, trusting Him to protect us and enable us to live good lives by appropriating (through emunah/faith) His goodness.
This message is so simple that it is amazing that so many miss it. Men have devised all sorts of systems of religion to deliver them from man's lower nature. Bhuddha tried to deny it by detaching from it altogether -- and in the process detached from the very feelings that make us human in the firstplace. He threw out the baby with the bathwater!
Mohammad, the prophet of Islam, did what many other religions have done -- Roman Catholicism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, etc. -- by giving his people a set of man-made rules and imposing them by force (working from the outside inwards).
But Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) worked entirely the other way round. He tells us to forget all about externally-enforced rules, peronally trust Him as a Deliverer, deny the lower nature and let the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) come and live in us. By an act of emunah (faith), Messiah will come and dwell in a man's heart, supplanting the fleshy nature and creating a Safety Zone. Once Messiah is within us, then we will live His laws or Torah naturally and WILLINGLY, without the need to have them imposed upon us. We will spontaneously want to do good and obey Elohim's (God's) rules for living, not because we have decided to do so by our own efforts, because we will have residing within us the power, love and desire to. What appears to be oppressive and contrary to freedom to the natural (fallen/sinful/lower nature/man) then becomes spontaneous and delightful!
I once had a strong dislike of Christianity because I was exposed to the false kind, which attempted to impose itself on me without my consent. Not until much later in life after a long faith journey through many strange landscapes -- Anglican, Atheist, Occult, Buddhist, Mormon -- did I finally discover the futility of my efforts to become "good" and overcome my lower nature -- that disposition in ALL men and women to do evil. Instead I started yielding control of my life to Yah'shua (Jesus) and He took over, gradually cleaning me out. I no longer need to strive to be perfect, for I know He is perfect, and all I have to do is give Him place within my mind, heart and lifestyle. Once He is in (by my consent) He takes over, makes the fleshy nature submit, and opens up endless spiritual opportunities. Gradually I find myself being changed. My only duty is to be sensitive to His will by reading His Word (the Bible), making sure I understand what I should be doing, going to Him in prayer when I find that I am not doing it to identify the area in my life which is preventing me, and asking Him to take control of that life so that I may do what He wants naturally and spontaneously. It works. And it's the only PERMANENT solution to man's dark side.
The "dark side" is always there, at least in this life, but its effect is nullified so long as Messiah is within me. But it is up to me whether or not I let Him in 100 per cent. If I only admit 90 per cent entry to Him, then there will be that 10 per cent which the Enemy can continue to control and eventually unseat me. Salvation is, ultimately, 100 per cent or not at all. Most of us fail to yield 100 per cent control all at once and we must learn, through hard knocks, to yield it completely. Only then are we completely safe.
Let us remember, though, that the Safety Zone is still within a larger area where the Enemy has control. Though our spirit is 100 per cent safe, we are not assured 100 per cent safety to life and limb. There are important reasons why we are not made supermen or immortals whilst down here on this planet which is better explained in more detailed articles. Suffice to say that we, like Messiah when he came to this world, are visitors to planet earth. We are only here a short time (though it may seem like forever) in order to test our obedience to Yahweh's call in an environment where we are given 100% free and genuine choice to choose good or evil. In a heavenly environment (where all is good) we would not really have a genuine choice, and this is the reason why we were born here. Challenging and difficult (sometimes terribly so) though this life may be at times, it is all purposeful. The reasons for life's circumstances are to be found in other articles on this website.
There is only one emet (truth) that I wish to underline in this short article which distinguishes all man-made religions from Yahweh's own Emet (Truth), and it's this:
YAH'SHUA (JESUS) ALONE SAVES.
Any person or religious system that says you must DO something in order to be made right with Elohim (God), and to start overcoming human nature, is false. Fasting, beating yourself, becoming a vegitarian, being celibate, giving money to the poor, going to church, mosque or temple, obeying the ten commandments, being nice to people, visiting the sick, etc., will not save you. The only way to be saved is to CONFESS THAT YAHWEH-ELOHIM, THE SUPREME ELOHIM (GOD), ENTERED HUMAN FLESH AS YAH'SHUA THE MESSIAH (JESUS CHRIST), CONQUERED EVIL, SATAN, AND DEATH, AND HAS PROVIDED A PLACE OF ETERNAL SAFETY FOR ALL THOSE WHO WILL TRUST AND OBEY HIM. Only then shall we go to assembly or church, take care of the poor, exhibit self-control (by controlling our passions, speech, behaviour, etc.) - not by compulsion -- but out of a spontaneous, inner desire and ahavah (love) that in very truth comes from MESSIAH WITHIN.
THIS is the secret of Biblical Christianity/Messianism. It is the very opposite of "Churchianity", the religion of those "Christian" churches who say you must go to THEM to find Christ and that without THEM you cannot be saved/exalted/glorified (or whatever terminology they use). This is also called LEGALISM. It is a false route to salvation! No matter how hard you try to be good you can never please Elohim (God) because it like trying to buy your way into Heaven! It's impossible! And it's as offensive to Elohim (God) as it would be to you if your son or daughter gave you some money so that you would love them. TRUE AHAVAH (LOVE) IS FREE. And Elohim (God) has given it through Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). We have only to accept it! Once we have it, living the Christian/Messianic life becomes EASY and EFFORTLESS. If it isn't so, then there's a good chance you are still trying to earn your salvation by doing things your own way.
This is why Biblical Christianity/Messianism is DIFFERENT FROM ALL THE REST. This is why human religion is WORTHLESS because it has no power to save anyone. Worse, false religion is the habitation of demons (evil spirits) who wish to prevent you from accepting Elohim's (God's) free gift which will enable Christ-in-you to defeat them. Do not be foooled!
May the Elohim (God) of Shalom (Peace), Yahweh-Elohim, through His Son Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) give you all that you have ever desired through repentance from dead works and trusting in His Name. This is the prayer of all of us at NCAY. Amen.
This page was created on 10 October 1998
Last updated on 12 February 2017
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