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By on February 10, 2019

Sermon Series: Christianity and World Religions
Today: Christianity Text: John 3:16

Rev. Audrey Spencer

Introduction: Over the past 5 weeks we have looked at the world religions and some of the questions that people
ask. We’ve looked at Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.
In speaking to unchurched folks, I have found that most are interested in God and have questions regarding spirituality; but the objections are usually about organized religion and to Christianity in particular. Christians are often viewed as judgmental and close-minded in their view of other world religions. Laura’s and my prayer is that we now have a better understanding of other religions and are able to have compassion on others and their beliefs.
We, as Christians grow strong in our faith when we know what we believe, yet continue to have love and compassion for those who differ from us.

The Nature and Character of God: John 3:16 affirms the existence of God. The verse begins with God. Other world religions have something to say about God, but God is not the beginning. For Buddhism, God is a nonessential: There may be a God; but if there is, God is uninvolved in our world. For Hinduism, God, or Brahman, is an impersonal force whose nature and will are only hinted at through the mythological stories of the multitude of gods. In Islam, God is the Almighty, the giver of the Quran, who demands adherence to the new word. In Judaism, God is the giver of the Law, seeking justice, righteousness, and obedience.
In contrast, Christianity begins with a focus on the love of God. 1 John 4:8 says, “God is love.”

The Human Condition: John 3:16 says that God acted so that humanity would be saved from perishing. Christianity sees the gospel as God’s solution to the problem of sin and brokenness. Yet, sin is not the dominant theme in Christianity. We believe that we are all created in the image of God and so there is great good within us. We have the capacity to love people, to be selfless, kind and just. Yet, we also realize that evil is always close at hand. And so, we believe this sinfulness of humanity cannot be ignored. It is the underlying cause of most of the pain, struggles, and tragedies in the human existence. We’re all born with this propensity to sin. This is one of the points that we and other religions differ greatly on. They see the sin, they just don’t take it as seriously.

God’s Plan: Because of God’s love, he chose to intervene on our behalf; to set the world on the right course. God acted through historical events to deliver us from our sin. Christians believe that God acts in human history, seeking to save and redeem humankind. God acted through Abraham, Moses, the Prophets and finally Jesus to guide him to his saving grace.

Our Response: When the first-century jailer was confronted with the good news of God’s grace, he asked the apostle Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30. The world religions we have spoken of place salvation on the shoulders of human beings, teaching that we can save ourselves by working harder, learning more, pursuing five pillars, and/or eliminating desire. Christianity says we cannot save ourselves!!
God said, in effect, “You haven’t done such a good job of saving yourselves. So let’s try this way. I will save you. I will set you free from your sin. I will love you. I will give you my Spirit to strengthen and heal you. I will give you a church family who will grow in faith with. I will offer you salvation. Your response is to receive my gift. Salvation is a gift. All we have to do is receive it. We believe. We trust. And we give thanks. The work was already done for us. Jesus spoke of heaven in terms of a party, like a great wedding banquet. Invitations are sent out to everyone!! Of course, we can refuse God’s invitation. But when we do, we reject the gift God longs to give us; and we miss out on life – real life -life here and now and life eternal. I offer you this prayer. You may be praying it for the first time ever, or maybe these words will be words to affirm your faith. And of course, you do not have to pray if you choose not to. 
Jesus Christ, I would like to be one of your followers. Help me to do this. I accept the gift of salvation you offer. I put my trust in you. Help me to know you, to love you, to honor you, and to live for you. Forgive my sins. Wash me clean and make me new, as I commit my life to you. I receive you as my Savior and Lord. Amen. 
This prayer is the first step in your Christian life. God has heard your prayer, and he loves you.
The next step is to come talk to Laura or me in the next couple of weeks.

Conclusion: As we conclude this sermon series Laura and I pray that you find your own faith strengthened as a result of these sermons, and that others would see Christ through you. May we, as Christians, be the light in the World and the vessels for peace on earth in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

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Contemporary Worship 9:00am - Sunday Study Groups 10:10am - Traditional Worship 11:00am

7050 Village Center Drive, Austin, TX 78731 512.345.1743