There are lots of different religions in the world. How do I know which one is “right”? Here is the answer I found.
I was born into a Christian family, and for as long as I can remember, I believed in Jesus as my personal Saviour.
As I grew a bit older, I asked myself: “Of all the many religions in the world, how do I know that I have the ‘right’ religion? If I had been born into a family of a different faith, would I still have thought that Christianity was the ‘right’ religion? Would I have converted to Christianity? So, how could I be so sure about my faith?”
In Hebrews 13:7 (BBE) it is written, “… seeing the outcome of their way of life, let your faith be like theirs.” It became clear to me that the outcome or result will show if it is true.
I started thinking about people I know whose Christianity has been a conscious, personal walk in their life. They have a “spirit that gives life”. (1 Corinthians 15:45.) Their eyes show a deep inner peace, goodness, trust, and love. It makes me want to be with them.
“I want to be like that!” I thought. “I want to be full of thankfulness and goodness instead of being bitter, complaining, and angry. I want to have a ‘spirit that gives life.’”
That was my answer! I would choose the path that I know will lead me to those results.
This simple faith carried me through many years, but still I knew the answer was much deeper. People of many religions also come to a level of peace, unity, joy, etc. I wanted an answer to this. Someone told me that “all religions are the same”. I didn’t agree with that and started thinking about what it is that makes true Christianity different from other religions.
Fullness of love and goodness – is this possible?
In Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) it is written, “He has planted eternity in the human heart.” God created us with a desire to search for truth and eternity. Through the ages, people around the world have tried to reach that in many different ways. So most religions also seek goodness, peace, kindness, unity, love, and so on.
They do this through selfless serving others, meditation, sacrifices, and many other things; and it is clear that people who really seek peace, love etc, do reach it to a degree. But not even the greatest prophets and spiritual teachers have been able to come to the fullness of love and goodness, and perfect unity with God on their own.
Then I discovered the solution
God looked on His creation and saw the people struggling. Through Moses, He gave His people His laws which helped them hold back the evil. But even that couldn’t deal with the root of the problem — which is the sin within us. (Romans 8:3; Hebrews 7:19.) Therefore, He sent His Son, Jesus. Jesus came as a human being with the same human nature as ours. (Romans 8:3; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 2:14.) He also had God’s Spirit to guide and help Him. (Luke 3:22; Luke 4:1; Luke 4:14,18.) With the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was the first man to fully overcome evil.
This was something new! Jesus showed His disciples the way to God: “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23 (CEB). Not only say No to myself, to my own will, but also take up my cross. This daily cross is not Jesus’ death on the cross on Calvary; no, I have to daily take up my own cross – saying No to myself whenever I’m tempted to sin, just as He did, and never give in until this sin is “dead”.
Jesus’ disciples saw that He had the answers they needed, so they were scared when He told them He would leave them. They knew they couldn’t do it on their own. But Jesus explained that He had to leave so that He could send them “the Helper” — the Holy Spirit. (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7; Acts 1:8.) And when they received the Holy Spirit, they received power over sin. (Acts 2.)
So that’s it! This is how Christianity can help where other religions can’t: First, Jesus showed us the way; then, He gave us the Holy Spirit within us to give us the power to overcome sin - that which separates us from God. Instead of trying my best but not being able to come to the oneness with God I wanted, Jesus has shown me the way, and given me a Helper, the Holy Spirit, so I don’t have to do it on my own.
Suddenly I started to understand the Bible. Paul wrote in Colossians 1:26-28 (CEV), “… this message was kept secret from everyone, but now it has been explained to God's people. God did this because he wanted you Gentiles to understand his wonderful and glorious mystery. And the mystery is that Christ lives in you, and he is your hope of sharing in God's glory. We announce the message about Christ, and we use all our wisdom to warn and teach everyone, so all of Christ's followers will grow and become mature.”
I don’t have to try to reach God on my own; no, I have Christ living in me! What is the goal? To share in His glory, to become perfect in Christ Jesus, just as He is perfect! (Matthew 5:48.)
Experiencing myself that the Lord is good
To say that all religions are the same would be the same as saying Jesus didn’t need to suffer and die, that we could reach God on our own if we only did enough good works, followed the right rules, meditated enough, or offered enough sacrifices. In that case Christ would have died in vain! (Galatians 2:21; Hebrews 7:11,18-19.)
But although Christ is the answer the world needs, even many Christians don’t really understand it. Actually, very few Christians are truly living this way and using the power of the Holy Spirit to become perfect in Christ Jesus, just as He is perfect!
Many people look at those Christians, shake their heads, and decide that the truth must be elsewhere. Many Christians are greedy, selfish, love money, are full of unthankfulness, hatred, and evil suspicion, etc. Even in the days of the apostles, people started getting away from what Jesus had taught, getting bound by rules, false freedom, and much more. In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul warned them against being turned away from their simple and pure love for Christ.
Following Jesus is so very simple, but also so difficult because we need to surrender and give up our self-will.
Paul wrote, “The teaching about the cross is foolishness to those who are being lost, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. The Jews ask for miracles, and the Greeks want wisdom. But we preach a crucified Christ. This is a big problem to the Jews, and it is foolishness to those who are not Jews. But Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God to those people God has called - Jews and Greeks.” 1 Corinthians 1:18,22-24 (NCV).
This is not just theory or theology for me. This is life. I have personally experienced the Holy Spirit giving me power to overcome my sinful nature. In the beginning I accepted this truth because I saw the outcome in other people’s lives, but now, as I continue doing what the Holy Spirit shows me, I am personally starting to “taste and see that the Lord is good”. Psalm 34:8.
I am fully convinced that I have found the way that leads to God. The more I walk on this way, the better I get to know God, and He shows me more of what I must give up to become like Christ. So like the apostle Paul, I can say with confidence: “I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his.” Philippians 3:12 (NCV).