March 22 1994
A few weeks ago, an employer wanted to cut costs by making substitutions without the knowledge of a client. A person who worked for that company insisted on holding to high standards. Within days, he was informed the company had no more work for him.
Cutting corners is a common but not always ethical practice. People usually lose their jobs for doing it, not for refusing to do it. Who can tolerate being ripped off?
Yet it happens, not only in business but in the realm of religion. Substitutes are offered all the time and many people have no way of distinguishing between the real thing and sub-standard alternates that fail to deliver what they promise.
Putting the religions of the world to the test risks being simplistic; religions are complex. However, the answers to a few basic questions may reveal whether a belief system has something to it, or is merely an imitation.
First, ask if it has adequate answers to the big questions, such as: Where did we come from? Why are we here? and where are we going?
Second, ask who started the system? Where did it come from? And does it offer convincing evidence for its sources?
Third, does it change people? both their lives and their destinations?
And one more; since no one makes copies of imitation Gucci watches, ask if the belief system is copied, and do those copies do justice to the original?
In one form or another, those questions are raised every generation. Some within each era discover that the Bible answers those questions. Even though the answers are constantly challenged, it does not mean they are incorrect.
Working from the last question to the first, the Bible and Christianity have been imitated. During the first centuries, counterfeit “Scripture” abounded. Fortunately, followers of Jesus who were close to the events could tell the difference. Succeeding generations have a solid foundation of Apostolic teaching by which imitations can be discerned. Today, the Bible, the Christian church, and people who believe in Christ are constantly copied yet all the cults and isms have failed in their imitation of the genuine.
A biblical faith has solid evidence for its source. Scripture was written by 40 authors over several thousand years yet they agreed with each other, demonstrating divine inspiration. Prophets foretold future events with amazing accuracy. Honest scholarship and archeology continually uncover historical validation. Thousands of copies exist with only minor variations. No other book has withstood as many attacks against it as the Bible.
The greatest evidence is Jesus who claimed “I am the resurrection and the life.” He was crucified and buried but walked out of His tomb. He says those who believe in Him will do the same.
Those same believers are also imitated, yet genuine Christians are different from imitators. We know we fall short of God’s high standards because of our sin. We also know God will accept a substitute. We know Christ died in our place, taking our sin on Himself and accepting the punishment we deserve.
We also know Christ lives in us, giving us the only standard of life that satisfies God. In both life and death, He is an acceptable substitute, not sub-standard like we are, but perfect. Because of Him, we are different.
He also answers those first questions. Everyone is here by God’s creation, designed to glorify and enjoy Him. Everyone is also going from this life to eternity. The way people live here and the place where they spend eternity depends on what they do with Jesus.