Basics of Biblical Christianity
Compared with Selected False Religions & Cults
Purpose: To present the essential beliefs of Biblical Christianity with comparisons to selected religions and cults that are especially active in the Mid-Hudson valley: specifically: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, the New Age Movement, Judaism, Mormonism & Jehovah’s Witnesses. Resources will be provided to research these and other religions and cults in depth as well as tips on how to witness to those in false religions and cults.
The doctrines I will be presenting will include only those beliefs that are either essential for salvation or critical for orthodoxy. In other words, will only be covering what you must believe in order to be saved from sin and reconciled to God and what you must believe in order to avoid the path of heresy which eventually leads to apostasy which is a rejection of the beliefs necessary for salvation.
Presentation: We will go 50 minutes and take a 10 minute break, then conclude our remaining 50 minutes
Methodology: I will present the Doctrine of Biblical Christianity, then contrast those main points with the teaching on the same subject with the selected religions and cults.
The Necessity :
1 John 4:1 (NASB95) : Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 Corinthians 11:14–15 (NASB95) 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
2 Peter 2:1–3 (NASB95) 1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
1 Peter 3:13–16 (NASB95) 13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
Founder: Jesus Christ Date: About AD 30-33 (after resurrection of Jesus)
Location: Judean province of Palestine under Roman Empire
It is important to understand from the start that Biblical Christianity is founded on the Bible which includes both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures: The Old Testament was written in Hebrew with a few chapters in Aramaic (Daniel) and the New Testament was written in Greek.
Biblical Christianity arises out of the same sacred text upon which Judaism is founded. It completes many Jewish prophecies in the first coming of Messiah (Christ) and holds to belief in the rest of the prophecies being fulfilled in Messiah’s return.
“We believe the Holy Scriptures, consisting of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, to be the verbally and plenary inspired Word of God, His only special revelation to man, the final authority for faith and life, inerrant in the original writings, infallible and God-breathed.”
What this means is that Biblical Christianity teaches:
*The Bible originates from God – it is His Word – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
*God used men to record or say exactly what God wanted revealed – 2 Peter 1:19-21
*The Bible is sufficient as the final authority for life and godliness – 2 Peter 1:3-4
The Attributes of God
*Three distinct persons, not one person who manifests Himself differently – modalism / Sabaellianism
God is a self-existent infinite being (eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent) whose attributes include being immutable in character, holy, just, righteous, loving, merciful, gracious and perfect. (Exodus 3:14; Psalms 90:2; Psalm 139:7-12; Psalms 147:5; Isaiah 46:9,10; Matthew 19:26; Malachi 3:6; Isaiah 6:3; Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 11:7; 1 John 4:8; Titus 3:5; Exodus 34:6; Psalm 18:30)
The Attributes of Jesus
Jesus is fully God
He has the Offices of Deity
He has the attributes of deity
Immutable – Hebrews 1:10-12; 13:8
Omnipotent – power over
Nature (Matt 8:23-24),
Disease (Luke 4:38-41),
Demons (Mark 5:11-15);
Death (John 11:38-44);
Sin (Heb. 4:15)
Prerogatives of Deity
Made Divine claims
To have authority over laws and institutions of God (Matt 12:6)
To be the object of saving faith (John 17:3)
To have met in Himself all spiritual & eternal needs of humanity (John 7:37; 14:6)
To be equal with God (John 8:24,58; 10:30 [“one” is neuter])
Identified with Old Testament Jehovah/Yaweh –
Christ’s own consciousness & claims of deity
At baptism He was assured of His special sonship (Matthew 3:17)
Asserted His pre-existence (John 8:58; 17:5)
He requested that prayer be offered in His name (John 16:23f)
Claimed to be one with the Father (John 10:30
Jesus is Fully Man
True Body of Flesh
Body with physical limitations
Grew from birth through childhood – Luke 2
Increased in wisdom – Luke 2:52
Hungry – Matthew 4:2
Thirsty – John 19:28
Tired – John 4:6
Sleeping – Matthew 8:24
Suffered – Hebrews 2:10,18; 5:8
Died – John 19:30,32-34
His soul could be troubled – John 12:27
His soul could be grieved – Matthew 26:38
He felt compassion – Matthew 9:36
He had emotions of anger and grief – Mark 3:5
Theological Importance of His Humanity
He had to have a human nature in order to be our High priest – Hebrews 2:17-18
Jesus is one person, not two.
He speaks of Himself and is spoken to or about only as a single person – I, Me, Mine You, Yours He, Him, His
Jesus has two natures, not one
He has Divine Consciousness – John 10:30 (I and the Father are One)
- Jesus’ two natures, divine and human, were welded indivisibly into one person without confusion (He is still both) and without conversion (He did not become a third thing).
Only a person who is both completely divine and completely human could fulfill all three roles of Prophet, priest and king.
The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment – John 16:8
Anthropology – The Doctrine of Man
Adam & Eve were created good and given dominion over the earth – Genesis 1:28-31
Soteriology – Doctrine of Salvation
Requirements for Redemption from Sin
A blood sacrifice – Hebrews 9:24
A human sacrifice – animals are not enough – Hebrews 10:4-10
A sacrifice of infinite value or it would be insufficient – Hebrews 10:1-2
Jesus’ Qualifications as the Redeemer
Jesus is human – Matthew 1:16
Jesus is sinless –
Jesus is God and therefore of infinite value – Hebrews 1:2-3;
His sacrifice was sufficient for all – Hebrews 10:12-14
Jesus rose bodily from the dead proving His claims – John 20:1-29
Without the resurrection, there would be no hope – 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
The Application of Redemption
Salvation is applied to the individual on the basis of faith alone in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ for His righteousness is then imputed to the one who believes – Romans 4:23-25; Ephesians 2:8-9
Ramifications of Redemption
Salvation results in forgiveness of sin, adoption as God’s child, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, eternal life, heaven as your eternal home, and the blessed hope of Christ’s return – Colossians 1:12; John 1:12; Romans 8:9; Ephesians 1:13; John 5:24; John 14:1-3; Titus 2:13
What Happens After Death?
Believers go to be with Jesus – 2 Corinthians 5:6-8
Unbelievers will await final Judgment – Revelation 20:12-13
What Happens at the End?
Other Beliefs and Practices of Christians
Group worship – Hebrews 10:25
Open teaching (No secret rites) – Matthew 28:20
Comparison to Other Religions and Cults
It is easy to get bogged down in important but peripheral issues when dealing with other religions and cults. The two most critical areas are what they believe about Jesus Christ and how they believe a person can be justified before God (saved).
The Apostle John did not mince words – 1 John 2:22–23 (NASB95) 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. Without the Son, there is no salvation – 1 John 5:11–13 (NASB95) 11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
Let’s quickly compare Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Mormonism & Jehovah’s Witnesses on the key issues of: Founder, Sacred Writings, Doctrine of God, Teaching about Jesus, View of the Holy Spirit, Means of Salvation and What Happens after death.
Hinduism – (Remember that the New Age movement is an off-shoot of Hinduism mixed with paganism and Eastern Mysticism)
I will add Secular Humanism whose foundation is Evolution
Key Books: Many sources of human philosophy and darwinian “science”
God: Atheistic or agnostic for no God needed in their system
Jesus: Just a man in history who was an ethical teacher and religious leader.
Holy Spirit: Irrelevant
Salvation: Man’s own ability to improve his world – he must rescue himself
After Death: Your body decays and returns its elements to the cosmos
Summary: All false religions and cults will have one or more of the following:
Key Texts: Denial of Scripture or making other writings superior to the Bible
God: A different god or gods or denial of key attributes of the Biblical God
Jesus: Irrelevant or a different Jesus or denial of key attributes of the Biblical Jesus
Holy Spirit: Irrelevant or denial of key attributes of the Biblical Holy Spirit
Salvation: Man appeases God by personal works of righteousness & religious rituals
After death: The future of the soul after death is determined by the manner life was lived