January 19, 2020
Over fifty years ago, when I first started preaching, I had a dear friend ask me what was the right religion? He said he was not asking which denomination was best, but out of all the religions from all over the world, he wanted to know which one was right; which one was best. He said they can’t all be right, but all of them claim they are the right one – the best one. We continued on and talked about religion in general for awhile, then he had to leave. I was sure I had not answered his question to his satisfaction. I was very embarrassed that I had not helped my friend more. Actually, I was even ashamed.
After my friend left, immediately two scriptures came to my mind. First, I remembered in 1 Peter 3:4, where Peter admonishes Christians to always be able to give an answer (some versions say defend) as to why we have the hope we do in Jesus Christ. And secondly, I remembered when Paul told Timothy to study to show himself approved to God.
Both of those verses were very sobering to me. I knew I needed to do a lot more studying of the Bible. And I was going to have to do a lot of research on other religions from around the world.
That was way before there was an internet. I either had to buy some books or spend time at a public library. So I did both. Not all at once, because it was going to be a daunting undertaking. I wanted to be a good pastor, and I wanted to be able to help people who had questions like my friend had. I told myself this self-education was just something I had to do.
It took me several years to study all the world religions. But I needed to know about them so I would not only know about them, but know why I thought Christianity was the best religion for me.
I read from several Dalai Lama’s why they were Buddhists. I studied the Vedas (books of knowledge) from the Hindus. I read the entire Quran to understand Muslims. I’ve read the Book of Mormon and writings of Joseph Smith. I even read a lot about the Wiccan religion, whose followers worship goddesses and horned gods. I read extensively the writings of Confucius. I read all the Jewish writings I could find and even attended two different Jewish synagogues.
How else can you know these things without serious study? And I pondered often about the beginning of religions. The worship of a divine Creator. I know what the divine books of many different religions teach. But how did it all start?
I believe God, our Creator, put within every human the desire to worship something bigger than himself.
I know there are some people who claim to be atheists – people who don’t believe in a God. But I wonder if that’s what they really believe.
When I was a little boy, I once heard my granddaddy Jay Sinclair talking about being in hand-to-hand combat in World War I. He was talking to his grandchildren about God. He said when you are in war, there’s no such thing as an atheist. He told us how he heard men yelling out for God to help them when they were fighting and feared for their lives. I’ll never forget that story. It was the only time Granddaddy ever said anything about fighting in the war.
All throughout the Christian Bible there are stories of people worshiping. Often they were worshiping false gods, but it shows us there’s something in us that makes us want to worship.
Paul told a bunch of people in Athens that they worshiped so many false gods that they even had a big sign up identifying “the unknown god.” Just in case they missed one. Paul told them that “the unknown god” was the one he wanted to tell them about.
When settlers first came to North America, they encountered Native Americans. They were called Indians back then. They worshiped a great spirit and spoke of a happy hunting ground.
Dr. David Livingston, a Scottish explorer who was looking for the source of the Nile River, saw some amazing things in Africa. He later became a missionary and in his writings about his encounters with many of the natives, he said he met many natives who had never seen a white man or heard the story of Christ. But they were worshipers. They often were led in their worship by a witch doctor, and sometimes they made sacrifices to their god. Sometimes they even sacrificed humans to their god. But Livingston’s observations proved once again that humans have a need and desire to worship.
So what religion is the best? In all my studies, I learned that every founder of all these ancient religions is dead. Yes, even Muhammad. People know today where his grave is. He is in it–still dead.
Only Jesus Christ, who is also God, continues to live and speak to his people and guide them through the Holy Spirit. I now know why I am a Christian. And I know why I do not believe in any other religion.
You need to know about your religion. It’s part of who you are and what you are. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whom you worship, will be with you yesterday, today and forever.
God Bless You,