While millions strive to attain peace through self effort, the free gift of salvation through Jesus awaits all who turn to Him.
• Pray for spiritual oppression and fear to be replaced by the presence, peace, and freedom of Christ.
• Pray for more Gospel witnesses and personal revelations of Jesus Christ.
• Pray for courage to follow Jesus when accused of betraying family and culture.
Number of adherents: 488 million
Birthplace: Bodh Gaya, India
Founder: Siddharta Guatama
Date Founded: 5th century BC
Holy Book/Text: Tripitaka and sutras, Pali Tipitika,
Mahayana, Vajrayana Canons
Holy Sites: Lumbini, Bodh Gaya
Major Subgroups: Mahayana 56%, Theravada 38%,
Growth Rate: 1.0%
% of Growth, Conversion: 4.3%
% of Growth, Birth: 95.7%
Who They Worship: Theravada: some Hindu gods;
Mahayana: Buddha; others: none
Place of Worship: temple
Many think of Buddhists as monks focused on attaining inner peace. But to God a Buddhist is more than a meditating caricature. Buddhists are beloved by God and made in His image.
The fourth-largest organized religion in the world with an estimated 484 million followers, Buddhism dates back 2,600 years to a prince in present-day Nepal named Siddhartha Gautama. After seeing four visions revealing the fragility of life, the young prince sought enlightenment. After intense meditation, Siddhartha was said to penetrate the truth and become the Buddha, or “Enlightened One.”
The majority of Buddhists live in southeastern Asia and the Pacific, while the religion’s simple message of peace and serenity has also become popular in Western nations such as the United States.
Buddhism shares similarities with Eastern religions such as Hinduism (from which Buddhism emerged) and Jainism, but it maintains a distinct set of beliefs. A few hundred years after Siddhartha’s death the idea of multiple Buddhas developed, which led to different sects of Buddhism.
The Theravada group (located mostly in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka) follow the original belief that nirvana, the liberation of oneself that brings total peace, is exclusive to monks. They believe in the Ten Precepts, or moral codes. Mahayana Buddhism, located in East Asia, is not as exclusive, allowing those besides monks to achieve nirvana. Mahayana itself has subgroups such as Pure Land Buddhism and Zen Buddhism, the most well-known in the West.
Siddhartha rejected the existence of a creator, as many Buddhists also do. The Bible says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). The ultimate purpose for Buddhists is the purging of all suffering through the elimination of ignorance and desires. Their moral actions affect them through karma, the idea that past actions affect a person either positively or negatively. Humans, they believe, are in a cycle of reincarnations that can only end through perfect enlightenment. The Bible says, “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Heb 9:27). The goal of Buddhism is to escape from this cycle by recognizing it is not permanent. But Jesus is forever. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (Jn 11:25-26).
Buddhists may escape reincarnation through the Four Noble Truths, which together state that suffering is caused by attachment to this life. By then following the Noble Eightfold Path, which emphasizes traits such as right actions and meditation, one can achieve nirvana (also known as extinction or cessation). Through this a Buddhist loses his or her identity and is liberated from the cycle of suffering. The Bible says, “But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Pet 4:13). Some Buddhists can attain nirvana, particularly monks or nuns, but others might receive a more favorable reincarnation by living a righteous life. The Bible says, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Rom 3:10).
Buddhists believe that bodhisattvas, who help others obtain enlightenment, have achieved this more favorable reincarnation. They will only attempt to achieve nirvana after others have done so. While there are parallels here with Jesus, who humbled Himself and took the very nature of a servant, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6).
Buddhism is the fifth-fastest growing religion in the world, with 3 million new followers each year. It is steadily rising in Europe, with France having the highest growth rate (4%). Yet Christians have not made significant gains in sharing the love of Christ with followers of this peaceful religion.
Less than 5% of people in Buddhist heartlands like Japan or Thailand have come to Christ. Only 14% of Buddhists say they have even had personal contact with a Christian. The 98.4% of Buddhists who live in Asia face persecution from Muslims and Hindus every day. The Dalit people of India, considered “untouchables” in Indian culture, have steadily turned to Buddhism to escape the repressive caste system, leading to widespread persecution and even violence from Hindus.
Buddhists live a never-ending cycle of works, determined to live for something they do not typically think they can fully achieve. By hearing and experiencing God’s amazing grace, they can have His free gift of salvation—one that is available for all who believe, with or without works.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
I Corinthians 15:52
"I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself,
Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps."
"The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see;
they have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths."
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. - John 14:14