1.1. How do people deny the reality and significance of life after death?
One solution is to deny the issue's significance. We are told death is a natural part of life, and we should embrace it. When we draw our last breath we will cease to exist. That's it. But at least we can take comfort knowing the cycle of life continues after us.
1.2. How do some major world religions deal with the issue of life after death?
Practically all faiths believe something awaits us on the other side of this life. Here are examples from three major world religions:
ISLAM - For Muslims, the purpose of life is to live in a way that pleases Allah-the Arabic word for God. This is done so they may gain paradise. In the end, a person's eternal fate is determined according to an accounting of his or his good deeds outweighing the bad. + / -
The name of this religion is rooted in the word "aslama" which means submission. The prophet Muhammad taught that peace can be achieved by submitting one's life to Allah. Muhammad (born in 570 A.D.) started the religion when he was angered by idolatry and immorality in Arabia. Using his foundational phrase, "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet," he waged "holy war," conquering most of Arabia, and purging it of other deities.
Islam's holy book, The Qur'an, contains Muhammad's teachings. It was written by Muhammad's followers after his death. The Qur'an elevates Muhammad, and it claims Jesus was his forerunner. It portrays Allah as a deity high above and detached from his material creation. The five pillars of Islam are the following:
Hinduism grew out of the tribal cultures of India. It has many practices, philosophies and laws and does not have a single God. Hinduism believes when a person worships any god that praise is being received by the supreme God named Brahman. Deities are present in sculpted images; therefore, food and physical care is offered to these idols. You've probably heard of "karma" before. This rule states that our good and bad actions have consequences in this life and the next, affecting how our soul will be reborn at our next reincarnation. Once spiritual perfection is attained, the soul is united with the Supreme Being in total enlightenment and peace. Getting multiple chances at earthly life may sound wonderful at first, but Hindus see the downside of living in this ruined world. The goal of their faith is to live a life so exemplary you finally break free from the cycle of repeated reincarnations and become united with the Supreme Being forever.
"Buddha" means "awakened one." Have you seen a statue of a heavy-set Buddha with a peaceful, satisfied look on his face? You are looking at Buddhism's founder, Siddhartha Gautama. Buddhism teaches an eight-fold path to this freedom: Right understanding, Right-directed thought, Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right mindfulness, and Right concentration. Does that sound like a lot of things to keep right?
1.3. Is the bar set too low?
One common trend in all religions, except Christianity, is the requirement of personal achievement—we must do something to reach perfect peace or attain God's favor. But this has some major problems. How do I know when I have been good enough? Since I am imperfect, why must the holy, sinless God lower His standards to accept the imperfect and sinful behavior of His followers? Let's read what the Bible says.
1.4. What are we really capable of?
All religions, except Christianity, are based on humans accomplishing some requirement of God. However, the Bible tells us the truth about human capabilities in the third chapter of Romans.
"Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
Now we know that whatever the Law says it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the Law no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the Law comes knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:10-20)
1.5. What is God willing to do about it?
Well, everything! Knowing we are powerless to save ourselves. He sent His Son Jesus to do something completely revolutionary. God's eternal Son took our human nature upon Himself and—as our Substitute—kept God's Law perfectly throughout His life. Then He made a great exchange by giving us His perfect life of obedience and taking from us every sin and failure. He carried them to the cross where He suffered their consequences in our place.
1.6. What is God's ultimate plan?
We could not connect to God, but the good news is that God connects with us. He has been doing this from the beginning in amazing ways. To restore our connection to God which had been shattered because of sin, on the cross Jesus willingly pays the penalty for our sin—with His own death! This is the most authentic, startling and reckless love that could ever be imagined. + / -
Compare the eternal life in paradise Jesus promises to the highest aspirations of other religions. We will live in perfect peace and harmony with all, while still enjoying the emotions and holy passions God created us to enjoy. We will live in a perfectly moral world where everyone loves and cares for one another. But, best of all, we will be forever connected to our God, without having to live thousands of lives to get there.