But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7
We have been raised in a time and place where nothing is supposed to be sure and everything seems uncertain.
Experts say religion is fiction, and all faiths are cut from the same foolish bolt of cloth. As a result, many people distrust, disbelieve and disregard anything that seems spiritual. If that describes someone you know, let me tell you a story -- a true story which took place years ago when a great parliament of the world's religions was being held in Chicago. Every religion seemed to bring something to the table, and it would take a most perceptive man or woman to discern which faith, if any, was right or best.
As the event was starting to wind down, the planners of the symposium felt relief there had been no serious fights between the faiths. Most religions agreed people should be nice to each other, those that had should provide for those who had not. Still there were some folks who seemed disappointed. These were the people who were looking for ultimate answers to life's ultimate questions. Many of them felt as if they would leave the convention just as unsure and uncertain as when they had come.
It was then a pastor from Boston, Joseph Cook was his name, stood up and offered a very simple challenge. Although I could quote him, space limitations force me to paraphrase. Cook said (in effect): Honored representatives of the world's religions, today I bring before you a husband and a wife who have committed murder. There are bloodstains on their hands and nothing seems able to remove that blood. They are desperate. Let me ask is there anything in your religion which will remove that sin and absolutely assure them of God's forgiveness and eternal life?
Cook challenged the unbelieving world and asked the same question of skeptics. Then, disregarding political correctness, he spoke to Islam, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Brahmanism. To each and all he held up the challenge: can your religion guarantee forgiveness and salvation?
Cook's challenge went unanswered. That's because skeptics can offer sympathy, and some may extend empathy to a murderer, but they do not have the belief system that can promise salvation.
* Buddhism can encourage: change your state of mind and you may be lifted up, but that doesn't seem too solid.
* Islam can say fulfill the five pillars and that will help you escape your sin. It will help, but does it make any absolute guarantees?
* The Hindu faith promises many mental and physical exercises to help a sinner, but those who fall short find they are condemned to try and try again.
* Science, advocating the idea we are human animals, argues against the condemnation of the conscience, even as it questions the concepts of sin, heaven and hell.
Now you understand why Cook's question was met with silence.
In truth, Christianity -- and Christianity alone -- is able to say, "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin." Only Christianity can claim, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks I am saved by grace -- grace free and boundless. May I always believe that fact and doubt it not. And, if possible, may others be given a similar faith and realization. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries