Monday, December 9, 2013

What's Wrong With Religions?

Matthew 23:13

Some time ago ... 

I was talking to a friend who asked me; 

“what religion are you?” 

"I’m a Christian, I replied." 

“Well, I know that but what religion are you?”

I explained to her that I was not a member of an organized religion but attended a non-denominational church which believes that to receive eternal life we must believe in Jesus Christ alone, and it is my opinion that religions can often get in the way of a personal relationship with Jesus the Messiah.

“You’re not one of those born again Christians are you?” Why I asked?
“My husband says they are the ones who cheat him at work, she said”
I replied; it does not matter what your husband or I think but rather; it matters what Jesus says about this. Would you like to see what Jesus has to say about being born again? “Yes she said.”

I then turned to 1 Peter 1:23 and again asked her to read:

She was silent and confused and then asked; “I have been a Catholic for 35 years, why hasn’t the church taught me this?” I did my best not to be critical of her religion. A short while later, this friend and her husband prayed to be born again.

This story shows the biggest problem with many religions. They claim to be Christian; but often do not teach their followers the most important Words of the Savior; but rather the principles of their man-made religion are the primary focus. They then add a few out of context and misinterpreted Bible verses and a man-made false religion is born.

This is clear in the opening verse above. Jesus called out the Pharisees for the exact same thing. This led to their hatred of him, and His eventual crucifixion.

Here is another example: A friend came up to me and said. “Bob you are a Christian, right?” Yes I answered, why do you ask?
“Well we have been visiting with some elders of the Mormon Church on Wednesday nights at our home and we are considering joining. What do you think?” I replied with confidence; “although they are most likely good and sincere people ... the Mormon religion is not a Christian religion."

Put off … she said, “why would you say that, who are you to judge them?” I will give you more specifics tomorrow, if you like I replied; but the fact is that Christianity is a monotheistic belief system (with only one god) and Mormonism is a polytheistic religion (that believes in many gods.) Like oil and water, the two beliefs are totally opposite and not compatible. Both could be false, but both cannot be true.

The following day I gave her a tape and a personal challenge to the Mormon elders. My friend was surprised by the claims on the tape and decided to ask the Mormons to listen and give answers to the questions raised. The elders said they were not allowed by the church to listen. They refused and left the house … never to return again. My friend later told me she was not interested in a religion where you are not allowed to ask questions.

I could go on and on with examples of religions and their teachings that come between sincere seekers, and Jesus their Messiah, but I will close with what I believe is possibly the most deceptive of all.

Churches that teach we achieve eternal life by being a good person and following the perfect example of Jesus Christ. What could possibly be wrong with that you might ask? The scriptures teach otherwise. This idea will possibly lead to better people; but not eternally redeemed people.

Atheists may well decide to be good citizens and care for others more than themselves; but this does not make them a Christian.

See the words: “through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;” For “all who believe” means “all who believe” … nothing more and nothing less for those who desire to receive redemption.

Recently, a friend said to me; “I only follow the love teachings of Jesus” Many religions teach a variation of this idea. What could be wrong here? Only that the person or religion making that decision is the one who is deciding his own belief system, and therefore disregarding the clear teachings of Jesus. The redeemer has made the only path to His eternal redemption quite clear.

So what is God saying here … that doing good deeds and being a good person counts for nothing? No, not at all. But good deeds do not count in regards to forgiveness and eternal salvation. We are told that we will receive rewards for our good deeds.

But more importantly we were created in Him to do good deeds and to live the love of Christ every day. It is our duty to not be conformed but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. 

For the redeemed, their redemption is an occurance in the past ... not something they are working towards. These good deeds and our spiritual service of worship begins the day of our redemption, not before.

There is a difference between receiving eternal redemption through faith in Jesus Christ; and living the Christian life once we have His free gift of never-ending redemption.

In closing, what’s wrong with religions? Like the Pharisees, often religions created by men, their teachings, and human logic “shut off the kingdom of heaven from the people” and lead the faithful away from the promised eternal redemption that comes only through faith in Jesus Christ.

God Bless you my friends, Bob

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