There are so many religions that claim to be the true religion. How can I be sure that what I have been taught is the truth?
James F. Pope
The Bible provides instructions like this: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). I see your question as a way of following through on that advice. I can suggest three courses of action:
Consider the sources
Only a few books in the world claim to be foundational for a particular religion. Some of those books include the Qur’an (Islam), the Vedas (Hinduism), Tao Te Ching (Taoism), the Tripitaka (Buddhism) and the Book of Mormon (Mormons). An examination of these books reveals numerous problems. Different versions exist. Inaccuracies abound.
The Bible has no equal when it comes to books associated with religions. That is true especially when it comes to the content of those books. Despite being written by some three dozen people over a period of 1,500 years, there is complete unity in the Scriptures; all of it points to Jesus Christ as Savior. In addition, God’s guiding hand has preserved his inspired Word with remarkable accuracy over the years.
Contrast the messages
Page through the “holy books” of non-Christian religions and you will find a common theme. The gods of those religions are demanding, not giving. Adherents are told what they must do and not do to get in on the god’s good side. But will people be able to do enough to please their god before life on earth comes to an end? Uncertainty reigns. Fear dominates.
How different the God of the Bible is! After the Israelites passed through the Red Sea on their exodus from Egypt, the assembly asked in song: “Who among the gods is like you, LORD? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Exodus 15:11). Yes, which God has rescued people who were naturally opposed to him? None but the true God, the God of the Bible. Only the God of the Bible has shown sacrificial love to sinners. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
Convinced by God
While I can show you differences between Christianity and non-Christian religions, only God can convince you that what you have learned is the truth.
See if you can identify with Jeremiah in the Bible. When life’s circumstances tempted the prophet Jeremiah to withhold God’s Word from other people, he observed: “But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9). Consider the two men on the road to Emmaus. When they heard Jesus speak to them, they said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).
If your reaction to reading the Bible is different from reading any other book, that is not a chance happening. Because the Bible is “alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12), it has the power to convince and convict people of the truth. In that regard, God himself assures you that you have been taught the truth—his truth.
Contributing editor James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minnesota, is a member at St. John, New Ulm.
James Pope also answers questions online at wels.net/questions.
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Author: James F. Pope
Volume 103, Number 8
Issue: August 2016
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