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Three Reasons Christianity Is the Opposite of Other Religions

3 reasons Christianity is the opposite of other religions

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.

Discuss: 

  • 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.

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Taking Types Too Far

01022001-RLW-Genesis-22-1-Abraham-and-Isaac-climbing-Mt-MoriahThe last few Sundays I’ve been preaching on Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22, really focusing on the typology between them. Here are the parallels I used. Isaac and Jesus…

  • Were named by God (Gen 17:19 cf. Matt 1:21).
  • Were loved by their father (Gen 22:2 cf. Matt 3:17).
  • Were only begotten sons (Gen 22:2; John 1:18, 3:16; 1 John 4:9 cf. Heb 11:17).
  • Were offered up in Jerusalem (Gen 22:2; 2 Chr 3:1).
  • Were raised on the third day (Gen 22:4 cf. Heb 11:17-19).
  • Carried the wood for their sacrifices (Gen 22:6a cf. John 19:17).
  • Were placed on the wood for their sacrifices (Gen 22:9).
  • Silently laid down their lives (Gen 22:9-10; Isa 53:7; John 10:11, 15, 17-18, 15:13; 1 John 3:16; Matt 26:52-53; 1 Pet 2:23).
  • Met on Mount Moriah (Gen 22:11-12).
  • Were burnt offerings (Gen 22:2; Lev 1:9, 13, 17 cf. Eph 5:2; Lev 6:11 cf. Heb 13:12; Lev 1:4 cf. Isa 53:6).

One of the difficulties with types is making sure they aren’t taken too far. Below are the parallels I chose not to use because I thought they were too much of a stretch…

1. Jesus and Isaac were “offered” or “lifted” up.

Genesis 22:2 [God] said, “Take your son and offer him as a burnt offering.”

The Hebrew word for “offer” is ‘alah, but it doesn’t mean “give” or “present” as we’d expect. It means, “to go up, ascend, climb, be taken or lifted up.” The idea is when you sacrificed something you “lifted” it up to God.

Of the 889 times `alah occurs in the Old Testament, 676 times it’s translated as “up”. When Abraham was commanded to “offer” Isaac, he was basically commanded to “lift him up.”

Jesus spoke of His sacrifice this way:

  • John 3:14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
  • John 12:32 If I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.

2. Jesus and Isaac were accompanied by two men on their way to be sacrificed.

Genesis 22:3 Abraham took two of his young men with him.

Like Jesus was accompanied by two men when He was crucified, so too was Isaac accompanied by two men on his way to be sacrificed. But in Genesis 22:5 Abraham said to the servants, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”

The two men were only able to go so far: they were not able to witness what took place between Abraham and Isaac. Similarly, when Jesus was sacrificed, nobody was able to see exactly what took place between Him and the Father. Three hours of darkness (Matt 27:45) helped conceal the divine transaction when our sins were placed on Christ.

3. Jesus and the ram had a “crown of thorns” around their heads.

Genesis 22:13 There behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham took the ram, and [sacrificed it] instead of his son.

The words “instead of his son” are one of the clearest pictures of substitutionary atonement in the Old Testament. The ram that died in Isaac’s place had a crown of thorns around its head, like Jesus – who died in our place – had a crown of thorns around His head (Matt 27:29; Mark 15:17; John 19:2).

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Spock Versus Jesus

This past week I was watching Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan while doing cardio. No I am not, nor have I ever been a Trekkie, but as a kid Star Trek was my favorite movie series along with Superman…of course behind Star Wars. Anyway, we’re going to jump to the end of the movie to get to the part relating to Jesus…

The Enterprise’s engine was damaged preventing the ship from entering warp speed (aka Star Wars’ lightspeed), which would allow them to escape the explosion from the Genesis Device a dying Khan activated to finally enact revenge on Kirk. With the Enterprise unable to get far enough away from the detonation (ALERT: spoiler coming!) Kirk and all the crew were killed. Of course that’s not what happened…or else there wouldn’t have been films III, IV, V and VI (although must people wouldn’t mind the absence of The Final Frontier). So anyway, with the lives of all the crew in the balance, Spock restored power to the warp drive by entering the nuclear reactor and exposing himself to a lethal amount of radiation. When Kirk realized Spock was gone (by the way, you and your crew are about to die and you don’t notice your brilliant, right-hand Vulcan adviser is missing?) he made his way to the engine room where he saw his friend within minutes of death.

Using his last words to ask Kirk if the ship is out of danger, Spock then famously says, “The needs of the many outweigh…” which Kirk interrupts, showing he’s learned from his logical friend throughout their relationship, “…the needs of the few…” and Spock continues, “Or the one…I have been and always shall be your friend.” Then making the Vulcan salute, which Kirk mirrors from the other side of the glass that protects him from radiation, Spock utters, “Live long and prosper.” To Kirk’s grief, his friend expires (don’t worry he only stays dead until the beginning of the next movie).

theneedsofthemany

Now, here’s what I liked…

  1. First, Khan was consumed with hatred toward Kirk that led to his death and the deaths of his friends and family. Khan is a great example of the danger of bitterness and its destructive potential for any involved: Hebrews 12:15 Beware that any root of bitterness grow up to cause trouble and defile many.
  2. The second, and most obvious lesson relates to the personal sacrifice Spock made for his friends. He’s willing to die that they might live: John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. Of course Spock looks like Jesus and the typology is continued into the next movie where Spock comes back to life. There’s even an empty coffin complete with burial clothes paralleling Jesus’ empty tomb and burial clothes.

Now here’s what I didn’t like…

  1. First, Christian themes were borrowed…without being Christian. There are clear allusions to Jesus, but there’s no Gospel. Nobody is going to come to salvation through watching this movie. It’s sort of like, “We’ll use what we want from Christianity, but we aren’t Christians and we aren’t really concerned about people becoming Christians. We’ll give a nod to Jesus, but mostly to increase ticket sales.”
  2. Second, this is the most popular of the Star Trek series, and I’m sure much of the success relates to the dramatic and touching ending. I was actually having trouble doing cardio because I was crying so hard…that’s not true at all, and here’s why: what Spock did paled in comparison to what Jesus did. If people like this movie, and history definitely shows that to be the case, they should find what Jesus did to be infinitely more touching. I think when you come to faith in Jesus and the sacrifice He made, nothing compares.