Christianity is the opposite of other religions, and the main difference is contained in a few profound words Abraham spoke to his son, Isaac. Genesis 22:7 and 8:
Isaac said, “Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
Abraham replied, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”
1. Christianity is the opposite of other religions, because God provided the Sacrifice
For a moment, consider the absurdity of Abraham’s words: “God will provide His own lamb for sacrifice. He will provide what’s necessary to worship Him.”
This doesn’t make sense. Religion is about what man does. At the heart of every religion is an individual providing a sacrifice. That’s what makes it worship. A sacrifice that doesn’t involve any sacrifice isn’t really be a sacrifice. Yet God can be worshiped even though He provided the sacrifice.
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Abraham prophetically said God would provide the Lamb for Himself. John the Baptist saw Jesus as the fulfillment of this prophecy: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
2. Christianity is the opposite of other religions, because God did the work
In other works-based religions, even those that claim to be Christian, people do the work. But in Christianity God has done the work. This doesn’t just make Christianity different than other religions. This is why Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
The Tower of Babel was the first organized rebellion against God. It also serves as a good picture of all false, works-based religions. The people said, “Come, let us build a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves” (Genesis 11:3).
- Other religions are about man reaching up to God. The people say, “Let us…”
- Christianity is about God reaching down to man. God says, “I will…”
God did this so dramatically He actually became a Man in the Person of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul explained it like this in Philippians 2:6-8:
Though [Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
3. Christianity is the opposite of other religions, because God did the propitiating
Propitiation is a gift, offering, or sacrifice meant to turn away the wrath of an offended individual. The closest English words are appeasing, expiating, placating, pacifying, or satisfying. In other religions, the responsibility for propitiating is on man. Although, whenever propitiation is discussed in Scripture, it always discusses what God did for man:
- Romans 3:25 [Jesus] whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood.
- Hebrews 2:17 In all things He had to be made like His brethren…to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
- 1 John 2:2 He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
- 1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
In other religions man puts forth the effort, brings the sacrifice, provides the offering, etc. But in Christianity, like Abraham prophesied, “God provides for Himself the Lamb.” The Lord did what was necessary to turn away His own wrath, by pouring it out on His Son, Jesus Christ.
God provided the only sacrifice that could ever satisfy Him
To go a step further, not only did God provide the sacrifice, He actually became the sacrifice. To tie it back to the typology between Isaac and Jesus, like Isaac was willing to become the sacrifice, Jesus was willing to become the sacrifice. This is why Jesus is called the Lamb OF God. He is the Lamb God provided.
If we made propitiation for our sins:
- It would be about us showing our love for God.
- It would allow us to be prideful and take credit for our salvation.
But the way God did it reveals His love for us and leaves Him with all the credit and glory. This is why Christianity is the opposite of other religions. This is why only in biblical Christianity does God receive all the glory and praise. It is not about what what we have done for God. It is about God, and what He has done for us.
- Do you often think about what you need to do for God, or do you think about what God has done for you?
- When you think about what God has done for you, in what ways should that affect your life?
I discussed all of this in greater detail in this sermon: Genesis 22:5-8: A Father’s Love.