How is Christianity different from other religions?
During a British conference discussing the various religions of the world, experts were discussing whether any one belief was unique to the Christian faith. The debate went on for some time until the famous author and academic, C. S. Lewis, wandered into the room and was told what they were discussing. In his forthright manner, Lewis responded, ”Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace!”
By this he meant that a Christian cannot earn his way to eternal life and heaven, but has to accept it as a gift from God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Other religions demand adherence to ritual practices to try to gain a good form of life after death. And subconsciously many people in Britain try to do the same with non-ritual ways of doing good, but it is always doomed to failure.
Languages are always changing and sometimes it means that the way a word is used in common speech may not be the same as in another context. Here are three biblical words that can benefit from some explanation:
“Grace” means the free and unearned favour of God.
“Salvation” (being saved) refers specifically to having one’s sins forgiven, so that one inherits eternal life.
“Faith” means trusting, specifically it means trusting Jesus to do what he claimed he would do for his followers.
Here is a verse of Scripture that includes these three ideas: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church, chapter 2, verse 8)
Doesn’t the biblical account of creation disagree with science?
Many people think there is a significant disagreement, but they often have not thought it through thoroughly.
The biblical story of creation is recorded at the very beginning of the Bible from Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:4a. Let’s consider three aspects of this biblical account and compare it with the commonly accepted scientific opinion:
1. The biblical creation story indicates the staged development of the earth itself, then its vegetation, marine life, birds, animals and humans. It has a lot in common with present scientific conclusions.
2. The biblical account starts with the sentence, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In 1915 when Einstein produced his general theory of relativity, many cosmologists believed in a steady-state universe that had always existed, i.e. that it did not have a beginning, and was somehow being constantly rejuvenated. Because of this, Einstein added a cosmological constant to his equations, even though he had no evidence for it. This would allow scientists to adjust his equations to allow for a steady-state universe or one that was either expanding of shrinking. But now, cosmologists, even if they don’t believe in God, believe there was a definite beginning to the universe – the big bang!
3. The biblical account divides the creation into seven days. Does this then mean that the Bible is indicating that great changes happened in a 24 hour period? Before coming to such a conclusion, stop and think about how such a remarkable account could have come to exist at a time thousands of years before science could have given any meaningful input. The only way that seems to make any sense is that it was revealed to someone in dreams or visions and that he or she wrote it down, perhaps on seven clay tablets as with another Mesopotamian account of creation. It may also coincide with the fact that the revelation was given in seven dreams – see the “the evening and the morning” that occurs six times within the account of creation. So the ‘days’ probably do not refer to any time period for the actual creation.