Many people choose Jesus over all possible choices of religious leaders for emotional reasons: “spiritual sensations” or they “always knew” it was true. That’s great! Burning in the bosom or Slain in the Spirit it doesn’t matter, it is an experience. Some have prayers answered so this confirms their belief that they hold as truth.
However many adherents to other religious say similar thing. Feelings are a bad indicator of truth. Imagine getting in the Space Shuttle and the engineers saying “I have goose bumps! I’m sure it will be fine!” Ridiculous?
Some of the reasons we have given for trusting Jesus sound ludicrous to others. Actually, they sound ridiculous to most of us. You might think yourself persecuted because they ridicule your reasons for believing, but maybe your reasoning is ridiculous. It isn’t surprising they would feel this way when you don’t have a sound reason. Outsiders simply find your belief to be hopeful thinking. They think “Is that the best reason you have?” It simply helps them justify not following Jesus, because it is pretty flimsy!
Here is a solid reason to follow Jesus. It is an objective approach, one that your non-believing friends won’t mock. As I have studied the major religions, I’ve discovered that Jesus is the only sensible choice. I wrote a book dealing with the issue of choosing whom you can trust. It is an objective look at a complex subject very important to everyone.
I have studied Baha’i, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Let’s look at them from one point of view: How did the religions begin? Using this, one only has a singular sensible choice. Jesus is the only reasonable choice.
The founders of Baha’i (Bahá’u’lláh), Mormanism (Joseph Smith), and Islam (Mohammad) all have similarities. Each were told by an angel of their new, divergent religions. Each were considered the Paraclete. The Paraclete is the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus who He sent at Pentecost to the disciples. Paraclete means comforter or helper.
“Paraclete comes from the Koine Greek word παράκλητος (paráklētos, that can signify “one who consoles or comforts, one who encourages or uplifts; hence refreshes, and/or one who intercedes on our behalf as an advocate in court”). The word for “Paraclete” is passive in form, and etymologically (originally) signified “called to one’s side”. The active form of the word, parakletor, is not found in the New Testament but is found in Septuagint in Job 16:2 in the plural, and means “comforters”, in the saying of Job regarding the “miserable comforters” who failed to rekindle his spirit in his time of distress.”
Each of these individuals claimed to be the Paraclete. They believed they were the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise.
Bahá’u’lláh, Joseph Smith, and Mohammad claim to be the one sent by Jesus. Each claim they saw an angel that told them to proclaim these new religions.
Hinduism has been formed over thousands of years in India. It came from ancient tribal religions that worshiped ancestors, animals and rocks; called animism. Over the many years that followed it formed into Hinduism.
Buddhism was founded by the first Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. He, through meditation, discovered Buddhism “the middle way” under a fig tree. Siddhartha lived in an area influenced by Hinduism which explains the many commonalities of the two religions. 400 years latter his ideas were written down.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses were founded by Charles Taze Russell in the US in the 1800’s. He simply started a new religion. It was a change from the orthodox Christian religion having many differing doctrines. Eventually they came up with a new version of the Bible.
Jews were waiting for their promised Messiah. His coming was prophesied in the Old Testament. Jesus is accepted as a great prophet but rejected as the Messiah by most adherents.
In summary a few guys saw an angel, an animistic culture made a religion, another had a big idea, and others refused to see what was before their very eyes. If these were my only choices, I would be hard pressed to decide who I believed.
What if someone comes to you saying they saw an angel? From this experience they explain what the angel revealed about reality and how you should live. Would you sell the farm and do what he said? Strangely many have.
How do you know if they saw an angel? How do you know if their ideas are the truth? Should you wait for a feeling?
Jesus is unique. He is prophesied to come and die and rise from the dead by the Old Testament. This was affirmed by his own words. To confirm his authority he performs many miracles. He died on a Cross in Jerusalem, a population estimated to be 80-100 thousand people. He did it at the hands of the Romans. He was given up to them by the Jewish religious leaders. He was tried and drug his cross to Calvary before the masses. There he died.
He was buried in a tomb. After three days he rose from the dead. He lived amongst the early Jewish followers for 40 days after the resurrection and they saw him ascend to Heaven. The disciples and early followers went about telling people of this resurrection. There were about 500 followers who experienced him after the resurrection.
These disciples died horrible deaths proclaiming what they had experienced. Apostle John died in prison. They told of obeying Jesus’ teaching on sacrificial love and that he must be listened to.
He was prophesied, raised from the dead and the witnesses of this event died not for insurrection but proclaiming the message.
Since there are great implications to this decision-Heaven and Hell, one must choose wisely. Do you choose the man with an idea, ignorant animists, some fellas who said they saw an angel in private or Jesus. Jesus was prophesied of for thousands of years, he rose from the dead to dwell with his followers in bodily form and many died giving this message to hostile listeners.
Who do you choose?