Ed Young, pastor of the Texas-based, multi-campus Fellowship Church, explained in his Sunday sermon the difference between Christianity and other world religions to make the point that following Christ is not a religion but is rather based on a relationship.
Young's sermon was part of his current "Mythbusters" series which he has used to biblically clarify preconceived notions about God that society tends to hold as true. In talking about religion, Young emphasized that God does not want His followers to be religious, contrary to what people think.
"There are some similarities among world religions because all make exclusive claims but Jesus says in John 14:6, 'I am the way, the truth and the life. No one gets to God but by Me,'" said Young. "So to call Jesus just a good teacher is being intellectually and historically dishonest."
He added, "What separates Christianity from other religions is the fact that it's actually not a religion. Jesus was the most anti-religion person that ever lived. Religion is a set of man-made do's and don'ts in order to appease God."
Young noted that world religions are different from Christianity when it comes to salvation, the human condition, their history and claims.
Hinduism, he said, is about the notion of karma while Buddhism is "an offshoot" from Hinduism in that it's goal is to reach nirvana. Young also explained that these eastern religions are considered esoteric, meaning their philosophies are based on looking inward.
On the other hand, western religions like Judaism, Islam and Christianity are exoteric because "God revealed Himself from the outside through nature and also through a trust textbook," Young explained.
"The Jews are not concerned with the after life, they're waiting for the Messiah to give them back their land and dominion on the earth. It's very historical, a religion based on works," said Young.
He added, "The Quran was written 580 years after the Bible, it's basically a crude copy of the old testament. They follow the five pillars of Islam and depending how well you follow the pillars, you either get punished or go to eternal paradise. It's a fingers-crossed game."
To illustrate his point, Young told an anecdote of a man on the verge of drowning at sea who refused help from a lifeguard because he wanted to get saved by his own account, through his own efforts. Young also spoke about another man in the same dire situation who allowed the lifeguard to help him as he was rendered hopeless.
That is how many religious people are, said Young, because many try to do good on their own with hope that they will achieve their religion's end goal. However, the difference with following Jesus compared to Islam and Judaism is found in the Bible which states "good isn't good enough," said Young.
"Religion is spelled 'do' while Christianity is spelled 'done' because the work has been done, the price has been paid because Christ did something for us that we can never do on our own," said Young. "God arranged this ingenious plan. He arranged Jesus to be man and God and He did two things; he fulfilled the law perfectly, sinless and He took the punishment on the cross for your sins and mine."