Sharing the Message of Christ with Buddhists
When sharing your faith with a Buddhist, remember that
there are many different branches of Buddhism. While
they all share many of the same core beliefs, they can
vary greatly in other beliefs and some may involve more
animistic superstitions than others. The Buddha
taught that speculation about spiritual beings hinders one
from achieving spiritual enlightenment, however, many
Buddhist groups are very concerned with appeasing evil
spirits and are very much enslaved by spiritual bondage.
Though the different sects within Buddhism may differ in
beliefs, all of their beliefs conflict in every way with
the teachings of Christ. Below are some tips to keep
in mind when sharing the Bible and the message of Christ
Certain religious terms or phrases that you might use
while witnessing to a Buddhist may have a completely
different meaning to a person of a different heritage,
culture, or belief system. For example, you wouldn't
want to suggest to a Buddhist without much explanation
that they should accept Christ and be 'born again'.
To the buddhist, being born again equals a failure.
Buddhism teaches that through a cycle of rebirths you can
reach Nirvana, therefore being born again may confuse them
and give them a negative view of what accepting Christ
means. You might use the term 'new birth'.
Explain to them that by accepting Christ we are born as a
new person spiritually and are saved eternally. It
isn't a physical rebirth, but a spiritual one.
Also, be careful when explaining that we are saved through
grace. The Buddhist has been taught that you must
work for anything good. They feel to attain
something as desired as nirvana, one must practice
meditation, observe the required rituals, live a life free
from wrong desires and actions, and perform many other
traditions and works. The idea that salvation is a
free gift will seem very foreign to them and perhaps too
simplistic and illogical. It will take time for them
to understand God's love and forgiveness, and to accept
their own inability to resist sin. Explain that
salvation is not a gift handed out to anyone, there is an
action on the part of the seeker, but the value of the
gift is found in God's love for us. Spend a lot of
time reading the Bible with them to help them understand
When explaining Christ's crucifixion and the role it plays
in salvation, don't be surprised if Buddhists find this
idea abhorrent. They may ask "How can an
all-powerful God allow himself to be killed in such
a humiliating way?" There may also be a cultural
barrier if the person you're speaking with is of Japanese
descent. To them, Jesus' death on the cross
possesses none of the qualities they admire in their
society, such as serenity, strength, and honor.
Point out to them that Christ is a living God and He
conquered death. His death paid the price for our
sins. Christ died for us because He loves and cares
for us. Only a God who has suffered as He had can
identify with our inner torments; only a God who
really cares for us would allow himself to be so cruelly
afflicted; and only a God who truly is God could rise from
the dead and give eternal life to those who follow Him.
Paul prophesied that some would stumble over the cross in
Galatians 5:11. We are also instructed not to be
ashamed of it.
Buddhists do not believe in heaven or in an eternity
anywhere for that matter. They believe that by
following the teaching of Buddhism strictly and leading a
perfect life they will escape a cycle of rebirths and
cease to exist. This end to the soul is called
Nirvana. It might seem hard to believe that anyone
would look forward to a gift of nothing, but it's
important to understand that family traditions, an
attachment to earthly pursuits and worldly pleasures, and
a strong disbelief in God can blind them to how much
better the hope Christ gives us is. Use your
personal experiences and your own life as an example of
the hope they can have. But, also keep in mind many
Buddhists will look at Christians who are wrapped up in
worldly things as an example of Christianity and they may
not understand how people so focused on their earthly lives
could really believe in a better place. Explain to
them that some people have fallen short, while others are
true to God's calling, but all who repent and seek God are
forgiven. We have a loving God.
When witnessing to a Buddhist, be prepared for spiritual
warfare! We can always expect to be attacked when
we're sharing our faith. Satan never wants to see us
succeed. But, spiritual warfare may be especially
intense in this case because Buddhists participate in idol
worship, the veneration of the spirits of deceased
ancestors, and ceremonial rituals for the purpose of
appeasing evil spirits. If they are actively
interacting with evil spirits, we can expect to be
attacked. As Christians, we need not fear evil.
Explain to the Buddhist that we don't need to appease evil
spirits because we have power over them through Christ.
Jesus already won that battle, and we can resist them, and
cast them out as Christ did. Use examples from the
Gospels of Jesus and His disciples doing just this.
I John 4:4 "You, dear children, are from God and have
overcome them (evil spirits), because the one who is in
you is greater than the one who is in the world."
Most importantly, love them. You have an opportunity
to share with them the greatest gift they could ever
receive, a relationship with Jesus Christ. Share the
love of Christ with them in what you say and how you treat
them. They have been deceived and they need your
help. In Deuteronomy 10:19 God instructed the Jews
saying, "And you are to love those who are aliens, for you
yourselves were aliens in Egypt." We should also
love those who are different from us while not being
afraid or ashamed to share the hope that is within us.
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