This Sunday Pastor Miles began his series on True Religion?, a series designed to investigate how "true" the beliefs and promises are for some of the most commonly practiced religions. Along with today's topic, Buddhism, the series will cover Scientology, Islam, and Catholicism.
Pastor Miles emphasized that the series is designed to tell you about the teachings of each religion, not about the people who practice them.
A religion can be defined as a "system of beliefs and practices designed to lead someone into a relationship with the supernatural." A major focus of many religions is life after death. Pastor Miles shared four reasons why Buddhism is not a true religion but a hopelessly suicidal system of beliefs that leads nowhere.
It is hopelessly suicidal to view life as an endless cycle of useless suffering and sorrow
Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, believed life was an endless cycle. He studied people looking for an answer of how to escape the endless cycle of reincarnation.
There is always a little bit of truth in every lie, and in this one, the little bit of truth is that there will be lots of suffering and sorrow in life. In our culture, we try to avoid pain and suffering, but that outlook is unbiblical.
John 10:10 states, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. The Bible teaches that the Enemy is out to destroy lives. He will create plenty of suffering. But that is not the end of the story. Jesus came to give us eternal life, which will be completely free of suffering and sorrow.
The Bible also teaches that the suffering and sorrow we experience on earth is not useless. James 1:2-4 states, Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Problems have a purpose- to show you something about your relationship with God. When you are down you will hear God in ways you can't hear Him when you are not down. You may want to escape your problems, but do you want to lose your closeness with God along with them?
It is hopelessly suicidal to view salvation as nirvana, the complete end of your existence
Nirvana is defined as a state of perfect peace. But reaching nirvana means ceasing to exist. Hope is expectant desire, but self-termination is suicide. Hoping for nirvana is like hoping for your own annihilation.
It doesn't make sense. Why seek something that leads to your end? Pastor Miles shared that if he was close to reaching nirvana, he would start doing something bad every once in awhile, just so he could keep on existing!
Luke 16 tells the story of a beggar who lay at the gate of a rich man. The rich man lived in luxury every day, while the beggar hoped for crumbs from his table. But eventually, both men die. Lazarus is carried by angels to Abraham's bosom, while the rich man ends up in torment in hell.
From hell, the rich man sees Abraham up in heaven, and asks if anyone can be sent to warn his brothers. Abraham replies that they have Moses and the prophets to listen to. The rich man replies that they would really listen if someone came to them from the dead. But in Luke 16:31, Abraham replies, If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.
The Bible does not teach that death is annihilation. Instead, death will lead to one of two places: Heaven or Hell. Buddhism teaches that your life on earth will affect your next life on earth, but the Bible teaches that life on earth will affect eternity. Eternal rejoicing or eternal torment is the choice, and we are given one chance, this life, to make the decision to repent and go to Heaven.
Think of all the beauty in this earth: the sky, the ocean, the animals, and the mountains. Then read God's promise to make a new heaven and a new earth. Revelation 21:1 states, Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. It is hard to imagine anything more beautiful than this earth, but that is the promise.
Revelation 21:4 states, He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. This is true hope. Believing in Jesus is the only way to truly escape the suffering on this earth.
It is hopelessly suicidal to view the process of salvation as repeated incarnations until nirvana is achieved.
There are a few parts of this idea we need to understand more clearly. First, Buddha believed there is no eternal soul. So the reincarnations are simply reorganizations of physical matter.
Second, Buddha believed in karma, which is a sum total of the good and bad you have done throughout your life. If you end up with more bad, your next life is bad. If you end up with more good, your next life is good.
Pastor Miles shared a few problems with this idea. First, if you end up with more bad, how would you "get good" in your next life if you only have "bad" to work with? Second, if you do have perfect karma, the reward is annihilation. Why would that motivate you to do good? Third, there is no proof of reincarnation. Some point to Déjà vu as proof, but it is ridiculous to base a belief on the "feeling" that something has happened before.
The Bible teaches that we only die once. Hebrews 9:27 states, Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.
In the story of the rich man and the beggar, Abraham tells the rich man in Luke 16:25 that he had good things in life, while Lazarus had bad. In the context of the rest of the Bible, the fact that the rich man ended up in Hell means that he did not repent and believe in Jesus.
He also did not use his talents and gifts to help Lazarus, who needed help desperately. God gives us our gifts, from financial wealth to playing the guitar. We can choose whether to use them to serve God and to work for His kingdom.
It is hopelessly suicidal to pursue salvation in your own power without acknowledging God.
It is not weak to say "I need God" but wise. Jeremiah 17:5 states, This is what the Lord says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord."
The rich man in the story says three little words: "I beg you." Pastor Miles says it is those three words that make him yell during the service.
It is those three words that make him feel so much sorrow for all the people in the world who don't know Jesus. He said to just look at the people around you. The drinking, the drugs, the sex it isn't working. It just isn't working.
Matthew 7:13-14 states, Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
It is a lie that all roads lead to the same God. Jesus is the only road and the only true hope.