Subject: What the World Believes: Only the Bible reveals a God of love
Romans 5:8 “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
It is impossible to deny we all sin. We know it. And secretly, we all know sin deserves justice. But here in Romans 5:8, God seems to be making a bold statement to all us sinners: He doesn’t just love us in some sort of greasy affection. He claims He acted in history by visibly demonstrating how deep His love is for you – regardless of whatever sin you have ever committed. That love was laid bare in history, by God exercising justice against sin through Jesus Christ dying on the cross for your sin, on your behalf. This realization of God’s love allows you and I to not only love Him back, but understand what our sinful actions cost God in order to bring us back together. Miroslav Volf, Director of Yale University School of Divinity, puts it this way: “When one knows [as the cross demonstrates] that God’s love is greater than all sin, one is free to see oneself in the light of God’s justice and so rediscover one’s own sinfulness.”
But if you may be wondering “How do you know which God is the right one? There so many to choose from. Do these ‘gods’ all have the same message?” We can look at the other three most common religions in the world today (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism) and see what they say about ‘god’s love’.
For Islam, we turn to Ergun and Emir Caner, university professors who were former Muslims and converted to Christianity. In the their book ‘Unveiling Islam’, they explain the concept of love in Allah, the god of Islam, by describing three major names for Allah: first is ‘The Distant One’: “The Allah we worshipped as Muslims was a remote judge. When Christians speak of the intimacy and grace of God, it confuses a Muslim. In all the terms and titles of Allah, one does not encounter terms of intimacy. Even the most faithful and devout Muslim refers to Allah only as a servant to master; Allah is a distant sovereign.” The second name for Allah is Allah is ‘The Cold Judge’: “Islam looks to a god of the scales, as opposed to the atoning Son of God. Allah forgives only at the repentance of the Muslim, and all consequences for sin and the debt of guilt fall on the Muslim, who comes to Allah in terror, hoping for commutation of his sentence. One sees a judge, as opposed to a God of Love.” And the third name is ‘The Hater’: “Allah’s heart is set against the infidel. He has no love for the unbeliever, nor is a Muslim to ‘evangelize’ the unbelieving world. Allah is to be worshipped, period. The theme is conquest, not conversion, of the unbelieving world.”
For Buddhism, Lit-Sen-Chang, in the book ‘Zen-Existentialism: The Spiritual Decline of the West’, describes the main form of Buddhism sweeping the West: Zen Buddhism: “Zen Buddhism is a subtle form of Atheism: it is the love of self first, last and always. It denies the infinity and transcendence of a living, personal God. It denies the need of a Savior, thus denying the true God and the gift of His grace, by exalting and deifying man. Salvation can be secured by man’s own power and wisdom. In Zen Buddhism, there is no supernatural intervention. We bear the whole responsibility for our actions and no Sage whosoever he be has the right to encroach on our free will.”
For Hinduism, Walter Martin, in his book ‘The Kingdom of the Cults’, gives us an overview of a very complicated, yet very popular, religion in the Far East: “Hinduism gives no single idea of God. He can be pantheist (all existence), animist (all nonhuman objects such as rocks, trees, animals, etc.), polytheist (many gods to worship), henotheist (many gods, but only one worshipped), monotheist (only one god). Hinduism believes that all souls are eternal and accountable for their actions throughout time. There is no need for a personal relationship to a Savior, who by grace takes the punishment for their sins.
Rather, it is through ‘karma’ (wheel of suffering) and ‘reincarnation’ (soul inhabits successive human bodies) their bad actions are atoned for as they strive to achieve ‘nirvana’ (self-realization) through ritualistic sacrifice and discipline.”
The God of the Bible is unique when it comes to the concept of love. He stands alone in His unwavering desire to bring you to a personal experience of His love. You only have to sincerely ask Him.