Itís a myth that the Major Religions are basically the same
-Robert Fawcett, Author
The Major Religions of the World ....Revisited
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Christianity: Sermon on the Mount

 

If you were to take the sum total of all the authoritative articles ever written by the most qualified psychologists and psychiatrists on the subject of mental hygiene

– if you are to confine them and refine them and cleave out the excess verbiage

-– if you are to take the whole of the meat, and none of the parsley,

and if you are to have these unadulterated bits of pure scientific knowledge concisely expressed by the most capable of living poets,

you would have an awkward and incomplete summation of a Sermon on the Mount.

And, it would suffer immeasurably through comparison.

For nearly 2,000 years the Christian world has been holding in its hand the complete answer to its restless and fruitless yearnings.   Here rests the blueprint for successful human life with optimum mental health and contentment.
                                              Dr. J. T. Fisher, MD
                                              Psychiatrist

 

From the Gospel of the Apostle Matthew, Chapters 5—7 (See Gospel of Luke 6:17—46, also):

One day, as the crowds were gathering, Jesus went up the mountainside with his disciples, and sat down to teach them.

This is what he taught them …..

God blesses those who realize their need for him,

     for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.

God blesses those who mourn,
     for they will be comforted.

God blesses those who are gentle and lowly,
     for the whole earth will belong to them.

God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice,
     for they will receive it in full.

God blesses those who are merciful,
     for they will be shown mercy.

God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
     for they will see God.

God blesses those who work for peace,
     for they will be called the children of God.

God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for
God,
     for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

God blesses you when you are …mocked …and persecuted …and lied about …because you are my followers.  Be happy about it!   Be very glad!   For a great reward awaits you in heaven.   And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too.

And then, Jesus went on to teach about these other things:

about Salt and Light;

meaning, Christians should affect others positively and not merely blend in with everyone else, just as seasoning (salt) brings out the best flavor in food; if we show others what Christ is like, we will glow like lights showing the way to truth.

You are the salt of the earth.  But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor?  Can you make it salty again?  It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.

No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.  Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

about the Law;
meaning, in the Old Testament, there were three categories of law:

1.  Ceremonial -- the principles behind them, to worship and love a holy God, still apply.

2.  Civil -- while the laws dictating current daily living are different due to modern society and culture, the principals are to guide our conduct and guidelines for living.

3.  Moral -- the moral law, such as the Ten Commandments, reveals the nature and will of God and is the direct command of God, and requires obedience. This is really the central part, the true meaning, of this teaching below.

By Jesus’ time, religious leaders (and a group called Pharisees) had turned the laws into a confusing mass of rules, so he was actually trying to being people back to its original purpose.

Don’t misunderstand why I have come.  I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets.  No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.  So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven.  But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!

about Anger

You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder.  If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’   But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!  If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court.  And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar.  Go and be reconciled to that person.  Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly.  Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison.  And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.

about Lust

meaning, when Jesus says below to "get rid of your hand or your eye," he was speaking figuratively.  He didn't mean literally to gouge out your eye, because even a blind person can lust.  It is better to experience the pain of removal (getting rid of a bad habit, or something we treasure, for instance) than to allow the sin to bring judgement and condemnation.

You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery'. But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

So if your eye — even your good eye — causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your hand — even your stronger hand — causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

Sinful action is more dangerous than sinful desire, and that is why desires should not be acted out.  Left unchecked, wrong desires will result in wrong actions, and turn people away from God.


about Divorce

You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’   But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery.  And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.

Divorce is as hurtful and destructive today as in Jesus' day.  God intends marriage to be a lifetime commitment as we see in Genesis 2:24: This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.  And Jesus adds to this in Matthew 19:6, "Since they are no longer two but one, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together."

However, the Bible outlines reasons for divorce:

^ unfaithfulness, as Jesus explains above, but this is the last resort, however, with forgiveness and reconciliation being tried as later explained in the Scriptures;

^ an unbelieving spouse, but only if the unbelieving spouse insists on leaving; otherwise, they are not to divorce as we see in 1st Corinthians 7:14--16, "For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage.  Otherwise, your children would not have godly influence."  And goes on to explain that "You wives must remember that your husbands might be converted because of you.  And you husbands must remember that your wives might be converted because of you."

about Vows

meaning, vows were common, but Jesus taught the people not to use them -- their word alone should be good enough.  Obviously, the words used below reflect words used in the culture of the time.  People were using sacred language casually and carelessly.  They were swearing falsely in God's name, also.

You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’

But I say, do not make any vows!  Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne.  And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool.  And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King.  Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. 

Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’   Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

about Revenge

meaning, when we are wronged, often our first reaction is to get even; instead, Jesus said we should do good to those who wrong us.  In the below, "make the punishment fit the crime" is not a guide for personal revenge.  Our desire should not be to keep score, but to love and forgive.

You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’   But I say, do not resist an evil person! 

If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.  If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.  If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.  Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.

about Loving Our Enemies

You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.'  But I say, love your enemies!  Pray for those who persecute you!

In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.  For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that?  Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.  If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?  Even pagans do that.  But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

about Giving to the Needy  (This begins Chapter 6)

Watch out!  Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.  When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do — blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity!

I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.  But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.  Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

about Prayer

When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.

But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.  Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do.  They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.  Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!  Pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,
        may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
        as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
        as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
        but rescue us from the evil one.

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

about Fasting

And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting.  I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.

But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face.  Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private.  And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

about Money

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body.  When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.  But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness.  And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

No one can serve two masters.  For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.

about Worry

meaning, here is the difference between worry and genuine concern.  Worry immobilizes (the ill effects of worry), but concern moves you to action.

That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life — whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear.  Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds.  They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.  And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

And why worry about your clothing?  Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow.  They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.  Why do you have so little faith?

So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat?  What will we drink?  What will we wear?’   These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

about Judging Others  (This begins Chapter 7)

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  For you will be treated as you treat others.  The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?  How can you think of saying to your friend,  ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?  Hypocrite!  First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy.  Don’t throw your pearls to pigs!  They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.

about Asking, Looking, Knocking;
meaning, Jesus tells us to persist in pursing God.   People often give up after a few halfhearted efforts, and conclude that God cannot be found.   Knowing God takes faith and focus and study, and Jesus assures us that we will be rewarded.

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives.  Everyone who seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

You parents — if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?  Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake?  Of course not!  So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

Take note, as this is the most important teaching of Jesus..

about the Golden Rule

Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.  This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

about the Way to Heaven

You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate.  The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.  But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

about False Teachers;
meaning, false prophets were common in Old Testament times, and false teachers are just as common today -- and it is difficult to know the difference..  

You can tell who they are because in their teachings they minimize making Jesus known.   In addition, they either champion or glorify other popular topics, particularly social issues and causes, as well as themselves, or a leader of their denomination/religion.

Cults, such as Mormonism and Bahaism, are difficult to recognize. The basic characteristics are (a) a desire to unify humankind into one religious kingdom (b) by a founder who claims to represent God by some revelation, some supernatural certification (God, prophets, Jesus, Apostles).

A few other characteristics are

(^) an allegiance to the founder’s ideals (presented as having divine endorsement),

(^) a neglect of Christ’s universal church, claiming to be an elite group,

and

(^) legalism, or legalistic rules on getting to Heaven and missing the intent of God’s word (religious rules cannot change a person’s heart).

Then there are several others such as

(^) encouraging severance of ties with family (assign a new “brother” or “sister” from this group, this congregation, by way of example).

The important point, however, is that doctrine, teachings, and beliefs as outlined in the Creeds deviate from the orthodox teachings of the historic Christian faith (cults distort essential Christian doctrine), and this comes from either a separate book (example, Book of Mormon) or Holy Scripture being presented in a complex fashion, bouncing around using select verses of the Bible rather than letting the Bible speak for itself.   The Apostle Paul on his final visit to Ephesus, speaking to the elders: “Even some of you will distort the truth in order to draw a following.” (Acts 20:30)

Translated: a growing church, or any Christian denomination, is producing good fruit when teachings and beliefs are orthodox, those fundamental principles.   Refer to The Creeds.

Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.  You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.

Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.  A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.  So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.

Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

about Building on a Solid Foundation;
meaning, many people think they are “good” people and say religious things, and they will be rewarded with eternal life. This is not true in that faith in Jesus and his teachings is key:

Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.

On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord!  We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’   But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

In Jesus’ words, “Anyone who listens to my teachings and obeys me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.”

And then the Apostle Matthew finished with these words:

"After Jesus finished speaking, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught as one who had real authority – quite unlike the teachers of religious law."

Thus, this was the Sermon on the Mount.   It is called this because Jesus gave it on a hillside near Capernaum.   This "sermon" probably covered several days of preaching.   In it, Jesus, proclaimed his attitude towards the Law.   Position, authority, and money are not important in his Kingdom – what matters is faithful obedience from the heart.

…..we become right by God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ.   So, we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be accepted by God because our faith in Christ – and not because we have obeyed the law.   For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law.
                                                          Galatians 2: 16

God saved you by his special favor when you believed.  And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

                                                          Ephesians 2:8--9

“The law (example, Ten Commandments) is holy and right and good” (Romans 7:12), but what this passage goes on to explain is that the law itself can never make us acceptable to God.  See Romans 7:9--25 in this link:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+7&version=NLT

These teachings by Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount, are referred to as The Beatitudes; that is to say, the perfect happiness and inner peace.  Each beatitude tells how to be blessed by God.  The beatitudes don't promise laughter, pleasure, or earthly prosperity.

To Jesus, "blessed" means the experience of hope and joy, independent of outward circumstances.  To find hope and joy, the deepest form of happiness, ....follow Jesus no matter what the cost.


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It is a myth that the Major Religions are basically the same.

It just isn't true. They don't have a different path up the same mountain -- they are not even on the same mountain!

Judaism says there is a God, and the way to him is to fulfil God's will which is found most clearly in The 10 Commandments.

Islam says there is a God, but the way to him is that we must obey Muhammad, and therefore, the discipline of the Koran's teachings.

Hinduism says there is a God, but we have to go through reincarnation to get to him, from sub-human form to human form to improve the soul.

Christianity says there is a God, Jesus died on the cross for our sins (he removed that burden from each of us), and he is the way to God.

Buddhism says there is no God.

The other isms have their own twist.

Which is correct?

The book is succinct, and gets to the core issues -- the key questions. You do not have to read the entire library to understand the differences among the religions.

Further, this book makes it simple: it asks the same questions of each religion as to its beliefs and teachings.

What does each religion teach as to a Creator?  The origin of the universe, our planet Earth?  The origin of humankind?  The origin of evil and suffering?  A messiah?  About reconciling with God?  Each religion's role, what is their purpose?

 


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