Inevitably, there comes a time when people speak of religion and begin to try and harmonize faith into one set of beliefs. The idea is that any path taken to honor God will lead to Him. This is most common for people who believe in a singular God. There are also times when people will question why one faith is superior to another.
What I’m not going to do is tell you why my faith is superior to another faith. What I am going to do is simply explain why I need Christ.
Let me ask you a brutal yes or no question. Remember, you can’t explain or justify your answer; you must simply think, “yes” or “no.” Are you perfect? I didn’t ask if you were generally a good person. I didn’t ask if you’re no worse than someone else. I didn’t ask if you haven’t done anything truly bad. I mean, are you absolutely perfect?
I know I’m not. The first chapter covers this same theory. Remember, I’m not good, and neither are you. This is the first part of why I need Christ. I’m not perfect. I’d even go so far as to say I’d rather not even attempt to justify myself next to some other mortal men. I have regrets in my life.
The next part of this explanation demands yet another important honest question. The same rules apply. Do you believe you could earn your way into Heaven? Some religions do. Some people do. If you answer, yes, then there’s really not much I can tell you. Time will tell. I however, do not think I could earn my way into Heaven. Why? Because if I’m not perfect, I can’t honestly expect a perfect God to want to have anything to do with me.
Here is another issue that needs to be addressed. It’s perhaps comforting to think of God as someone who loves us. This is actually true. However, the idea of “love” is the one that needs clarification. There are those who want the idea of God’s love to mean, “I can do whatever I want, and he still loves me.”
I don’t believe that’s true. First, let’s look at this as any Christian should look at a question. Does God love everyone? He does love us in that he offered salvation to us (Romans 5:8). But if you lean on that verse, then you must remember the whole thought. God shows his love for us (which is there) in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. If Christ is the mechanism for which he showed his love, we must, therefore need him for that love to have been shown.
But why then did Christ’s death need to be? I’m coming to that, but first we must address the concept of God’s love.
God’s hatred does exist. There are those he hates. Who? He hates evildoers (Psalm 5:5). He hates those who are haughty, those who’ve lied, those who’ve shed innocent blood, those who devise wicked plans, those who hurry to evil, a false witness, and those who sow discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19).
Anyone as self defensive as I am would quickly shout, “I’ve never shed innocent blood!” They may say, “I’ve never devised a wicked plan!”
I’m not going to invest time to explain how God sees hatred of another itself as murder (the shedding of innocent blood) (Matthew 5:21-48). I’m also not going to invest time discussing what constitutes a wicked plan. Indeed, I’m going to simply conceded those two arguments.
However, the items on this list I, for one, can not dispute condemn me are those who lie, and those who sow discord. Here comes another brutal question. Yes or no: have you ever, ever, lied? Welcome to the list of those God hates (or hated, we’ll come to that). I’ve lied. I don’t have any idea of the number of times I’ve lied. From, “Mom, this sure tasted great!” to “You look fine!” I’ve lied. Those are just the “white” lies. Lies we tell for good. Let’s make something clear. You can not do something evil for good. You can not lie for a good reason. If you’ve lied, you, like me, are on the list.
What about sowing discord? Well, have you ever talked about someone behind their back? Have you ever vented to a friend about that guy you “just can’t stand?” Have you ever spoken about that boss who “everyone hates?” That’s right, you’ve sown discord. Welcome to the list. Don’t worry, I’m on that list too.
What then can we do? There are some who would say, “Sure, you’ve done some bad in life!” They conceded the first question above proclaiming, “no one is perfect.” Then they try to make that lack of perfection ok by either stating “God loves us anyway,” which we’ll address here in another moment, or they say, “the point is to try to do more good than evil.”
Here’s were that logic just falls short for me. Taking from the list of things God hates listed above, just imagine every “fib” every “white lie” you’ve ever told. I don’t know about you, but I lost count. So how can I know how many good deeds to do? If my single list of this one “bad” thing is already too difficult to count, how, exactly can I hope to know how many “good” deeds I need to do?
This line of thinking becomes even more mind boggling to me. What about the severity of the sin? I was a little thief in my younger days. Does that mean I have to give in these days? Does the “right” I’m obligated to do have to be at least equal to or greater than the “wrongs” done? It just gets too complicated. It also leads back to one very important thing. Do I really think I can earn my way into Heaven? If I don’t think I can, then no amount of good deeds is going to be enough anyway.
And I don’t. I don’t think I’m going to do a darn thing for the creator of the universe. I don’t have a resume item I think will compare with, “created all things.”
So I need help. If I realize I can’t earn my way into Heaven because I’m not perfect, I’m can’t even tell the amount of good I must do to outweigh the bad I’ve done, and I’m not able to do anything to impress the God who created the universe, I need someone or something to help me. Therefore, I need Christ.
The next question then must be, “What does Christ do for those who believe in him?” There are several different ways to ask that question, but that version works for me.
The first thing he did for us what that very same demonstration of love I mentioned above from Romans 5:8. His very death, if we believe in him and his death, is a symbol of God’s love. Why though? Why did his death for us help us? Why is his death the symbol of God’s love?
Because death is the price for sin (Romans 6:23). In the days of Moses, a substitutionary sacrifice was enough to temporarily pay the price for a man’s sin. That substitutionary death was to be a lamb without blemish, a perfect lamb.
These sacrifices had to be repeated though. They were offered at specific places in specific times and repeated because man continued to sin. This had to be repeated because an animal was never regarded as equal to man (Matthew 6:26 gives one example of this fact). So the only way for man to be permanently forgiven is for a perfect man to die.
Therefore, I need Christ. He was perfect. He did die. More importantly, he was raised. His death paid for my sins. His resurrection broke the bonds of death so that life everlasting becomes possible.
So I choose Christianity for a great number of reasons. The reason that’s relevant to this particular chapter is that I already know there’s nothing I can do to be good enough to get into Heaven. I need help. I know I need help because I already know I’m not good enough on my own. What Christ did is pay the price for my sin. What Christ does is advocate for me with his Father in Heaven (1 John 2:1). Rather than rely on myself to negotiate my way into Heaven, I rely on Christ to be the way.
Again, this isn’t where I say to those of other religions, “This is why you’re wrong.” Instead, this is where I say, “This is why I need Christ.” No other religion has a figure who, in perfection, provided me a means to be cleansed and a person to advocate for me.
Dr. John MacArthur once broke religion down into two ultimate groups: Faith based religion and works based religion. If you believe in your core as some do that you are the one who must earn your way, I’m not going to convince you other wise. I just don’t agree. I’m just too aware of too many people who did so many good things, but I can always find one guy who doesn’t think that person measures up. However, what I can choose to do is have faith in one who was perfect and paid my price and speaks for me.
I offer this prospective to you to help you understand why I feel the need I feel. If you don’t feel good enough, Christ is. If you don’t feel as though you can do enough, Christ has. If you don’t feel you’re perfect, Christ is.
For our panel: What are some other ways to demonstrate how Christ served as our substitutionary sacrifice? What is the relationship between sin and death? What was it that showed you the need for Christ? How is Christ unique as a savior in comparison to other religions? How does Christ serve as our advocate in Heaven?