Sometimes it seems that there are as many religions as there are people on the earth. Even those who belong to the same religion or denomination of a religion have disagreements about what is really important or "true" within those religions. How, then, can a rational person come to the conclusion that any one religion is the "true" religion? If those within the religion can't even agree, perhaps the logical conclusion is that no religion has Truth or that all religions have some Truth, but none is any better than the others. Some skeptics even use the existence of many religions as proof that there is no way to know God or that God really doesn't exist.
Why are there so many religions?
That God does exist is clear to everyone because God has made it clear and He has declared it to be so: "For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20). The creation speaks to us in a loud, clear voice of God's existence. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork" (Psalm 19:1). There is no culture, no language, no group of people who can deny this (Psalm 19:3). But equally clear is the fact that human beings often reject the truth about God (because accepting it means things like submission and obedience) and choose instead to go their own way, seeking God according to their own way of thinking, which is futile because no one finds God with his own reason (1 Corinthians 2:14). Attempting to find God and discern truth without the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit is where we find the basis of the "many religions."
There are two characteristics shared by all cults and false religions. First, they deny the deity of Jesus Christ and His declaration that He is the only way to God (John 14:6). All religions and cults that deny this truth are false, and because the human heart rebels against the exclusivity of Jesus' claim, false religions abound. They may proclaim that Jesus was a "good teacher" or a "moral man," but could a good teacher or a moral man make the claim that He alone is the path to heaven? Either He was lying or He was deluded or He was telling the truth. In any case, He cannot be dismissed as simply a good teacher or man.
The second characteristic shared by all false religions is the idea that we can earn our way to heaven or to acceptance by God through our own efforts. Adherents of false religions have invented a false god who will accept them based on their "good works" or the amount of effort they have expended in trying to follow certain rules or obey certain laws, at least to the best of their ability. They simply cannot bear a holy God who declares that all their "righteousness is as filthy rags" before Him (Isaiah 64:6 KJV) and that the only righteousness they can ever attain is achieved not by works, but by faith in the One who exchanged His perfect righteousness for our sin on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). They reject that life-giving message and pursue their own path to a god they can control by their own efforts. The existence of so many religions is a testimony to humanity's rejection of the one true God. Mankind has replaced Him with gods that are more to their liking.
In a sense, all religions do lead to God, but not in the way most people think. All false religions lead to God's judgment. Only one—true, biblical Christianity—leads to eternal life through forgiveness of sin provided by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for sin (Romans 6:23). All human beings will meet God after death (Hebrews 9:27) and all who trust their own religion will find His judgment harsh indeed. All who have rejected the only means of salvation—the means God has provided out of His love and mercy—will spend an eternity in hell. Only through His salvation through faith in Jesus Christ can anyone approach God with confidence.
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