“So, for the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”
I read with interest the comments of a mainline denominational pastor the other day as he explained the marketing difficulties of starting and maintaining a church in today’s American culture. We have so many diversions, so many activities that keep us from the eternal issues of life. He said the church must change in order to attract today’s population. In a way he is right, the church must change. But his ideas lead people away from the truth, not toward it.
Christianity isn’t Kentucky Fried Chicken!
Christianity doesn’t need a market study to determine it’s message. The “Church” with few exceptions has lost it’s way and it’s message. Jesus asked, “When I come again will I find faith?”
What is “its way?” What is the faith Jesus was talking about? These are not hard questions. The answers are in the Bible. We keep looking elsewhere because of rebellion and unbelief.
If the first century Christians could propagate the Gospel and change the world, there may be hope for us.
The Gospel or Good News is this:
- Man could not reach God nor win His acceptance, so God did something
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
(2) Man has only two choices.
(A) Accept God’s gift of salvation through Jesus the Anointed, (Christ).
(B) Reject God’s gift.
Your decision will determine your relationship with God both in this life and for all eternity.
(3) You must except Jesus Christ as savior and Lord on Grace alone. You must acknowledge that you can do nothing and you have done nothing to merit your new relationship with God.
(4) You are now to allow the Spirit of God to live through you in order to love people into wanting to have what you have, peace, joy and eternal security.
I read his comments with interest because if there were ever was a time of other interests keeping people away from the Gospel it was in the first century with the pagan practices of competing religions which glorified and satisfied the flesh, the human senses. Yet during that time the mainly uneducated believers helped in turning the world upside down for God with the good news that Jesus was, is, and always will be Lord.
How did they do it? Look in the book of Acts.
If you want to build a church; heal the sick in the name of Jesus. Open blind eyes. Make the lame walk, and deaf ears hear, or in other words, preach the message of deliverance in the name of Jesus. You can’t build a building large enough to hold the crowds of people eager to get answers to their problems. You won’t have a problem of marketing or maintaining, only of finding room to hold the crowds. Most churches today are little more than service organizations. They help people with the philosophy of mans wisdom instead of the power of God.
If you want to build a church, be a deliverer not an entertainment director on a cruise ship or in this case building.
Aren’t all religions the same?
Won’t we all spend eternity with our God?
YES AND YES!
Religion is man’s attempt to reach God. Therefore by definition all religions are the same in that all are trying to DO something to be accepted by their god.
And yes, you will spend eternity with YOUR god, the god of your choice and your making.
Both of these questions can be explained with a common thread of thought and evidence.
The reason so many people believe all roads lead to God and heaven, is because all religious thought has a common beginning. That proves the obvious; “In the beginning God---.” Not monkeys, not slime, but God.
Regardless of how many religions there are, or how many denominations, (see my definition of denominations on our web site at www.rejoicetoday.com), there is the common beginning of God creating man in His image and likeness and giving him dominion over all of creation.
God set the rules for communion with Him. The creator directing the activities of the created. Man in turn, starting with Adam and Eve and continuing with Cain, Nimrod and the infamous Tower of Babel, as well as countless others down through the centuries have attempted to circumvent God’s commandments with their own interpretations of the rules.
In fact what man has done in each religion and denomination is “created their god in their image and likeness.” Man was created to be an under god, under only Almighty God and man has never forgotten his intended role, that of being a god. He wants to be god of himself and all he sees but God our Father will not allow it under this present curse. Man’s answer to non-submission is to change gods. He simply designs a god to fit his beliefs and bows down to him. Then if in the course of time man changes his mind on what a proper god would ask of him, he changes again until he finds the god that best fits his life style. Isn’t that what denominations are doing when they try to fit the message to the current culture?
“So, for the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites!”
And it is true you will spend eternity with YOUR god. There is only one true God. If your god isn’t Him then your eternity will not be spent with him. What is your definition of Hell? Mine is simply not being with Almighty God, His Son Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
Knowing that there is but one God who loves you so much He sent His only Son to show you the way to His glory, doesn’t it make sense to accept Him as your God?
Almighty God never started a religion. He did not start what the Bible calls the Jew’s religion. He is not the originator of the Roman Catholic religion nor the Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, Assembly of God, Church of God or any other denomination. Nor is He the originator of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or any other of the religions of the world. God is not religious! Man in pretended piety acts very religious, but not God. God reached down to man and accomplished what man, through religion tries to do but never can. God, seeing the futility of man’s efforts to reach Him, sent His Son to touch man with His love and to put man back into a vital, vibrant, personal, intimate, relationship like, but better than the original relationship He established with Adam and Eve. We have a better covenant than the Israelites, so the Scriptures tell us, and better than the one with Adam, because we serve Jesus the second Adam with all His power and authority given to us to use here and now for the Glory of God!!! If you are steeped in a religion or denomination or doctrine, where you are trying to follow their rules in order to be accepted by God, you have missed God. Step aside, be Man, and let God be your God. He will draw you to himself and cause you to worship Him.
God created man to have an equal with whom He could have communion. I know that comment has a few people gritting their teeth. But look at the Scriptures.
Genesis 3:8 “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:”
Almighty God calls Himself our Father. What father doesn’t want a personal relationship with his child? Father God treats us according to our spiritual age. I treat our children, now all grown, differently than when they were small and inexperienced. Our Father does the same for us. But whether we are new babes in Christ or full grown He wants to talk to us and walk with us in an equal being relationship, not as a master to his dog. We need to accept who we are and what we are in the Father’s eyes and start acting like children of the King!
If what I have just said is true, then how and why do false religions and various denominations grow? because each religion or doctrine feeds off the desires to be accepted by God and the fear of nor being accepted by Him. How? If I can convince you that I know the way of salvation and others have missed it, I have my first convert to the First Church of What John Believes. I now have power over you and together we will work to find others who have lost their way and need someone to lead them.
Let’s look at just a few examples.
The first break in the oneness of the early followers of The Way, comes in the glorious celebration after The Day of Pentecost, when every believer joined in food and fellowship with each other.
Act 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecian's against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
The 12 Disciples stepped in and corrected an error, because they understood the importance of Oneness, as Christ had prayed to the Father for, and instructed them to be.
Acts 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
The second attempt to create confusion we find in:
Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
Acts 15:2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
When the arrived in Jerusalem to clarify the teachings, they were met by another group who had departed from the simple truth.
Acts 15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
Acts 15:6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
These are just the beginning of groups who wanted to add something to the simplicity of The Way, or Christianity.
Christianity means Christ Like.
First let us state the truth. God is able to find those whose hearts are pure, who love Him and who have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, regardless of what division, or denomination they belong to.
It makes no difference what Church they belong to, or attend, as long as they have and continue to follow this admonition:
Romans 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Romans 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Rom 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
I realize there are good people in all denominations who may disagree with this, because of teaching they have had from their youth, but it must be said. Christianity is not a religion! Neither God nor Jesus Christ ever set up a Religion or Denomination, From the earliest writings from Genesis on, this has always been about a Relationship each person needs to have with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, period.
Whether you are a Catholic, or Protestant, or a member of a fringe group who tries to follow Christ, you are still required to establish the personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Amazingly God sifts through all the foolishness of man’s creations, finds the good and continues on toward the end He alone sees and proclaims.
When my Father was the Pastor of the Evangelical United Brethren Church in George Iowa in the late 1940's, I had a friend Greg Winkle, who belonged to a different church. One year he attended our Vacation Bible School, and I attended his. On the graduation Sunday for our Church, Greg was treated just like the rest of us. However when I attended the graduation service at his Church I was not allowed to take communion, because I wasn't a member of that denomiantion.
Every denomination has their own set of do’s and don’t. I am reminded of what Jesus accused the religious leaders of His day of doing. I see our church leaders doing the same today.
Matthew 11:16 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,
Matthew 11:17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.
It is interesting that Jesus called their kind of worship, "the Jew's religion", not their relationship with God the Father.
We must start each day with a prayer of thanksgiving for the immeasurable grace of God to look past our child-like foolishness of religious trappings and see our hearts, which for the true believer are focused on Him and Jesus our Savior.
This is a perversion of Christianity spawned by the abhorrence of the atrocities of some so-called Christians. They acknowledge Jesus as a great teacher by not as the Son of God. They accept Him but without power. They set up their founder as greater than Jesus. Mohammad was a terrorist who with his band of followers killed anyone who refused to believe as he did. He had nine wives the last one was just nine years old when he took her. Today we would call him a pedophile.
Why does this sick religion grow? Because many of the same tactics used at the outset are used today. Look at other parts of the world where Islam is forced upon people. The Muslims want us to believe the terrorists are radical Muslims and the true Muslims are peace loving people. This is a lie. True Islam teaching follows its founder and it is violent and hateful. Think about this a minute. If the one true God is love and His Son came in peace to show the reality of what and who God is, then one who comes in violence and hatred is by definition His enemy or of the devil.
The kinder Islam we see today is simply a lie used to draw people into itself and away from the truth.
Some will say Christianity has a cruel history. Not true. Our founder never hurt anyone, never forced anyone to accept Him or the one true and living God, but rather through love, kindness and compassion demonstrated God’s love to all mankind. Those acts of cruelty committed by religious people who called Christianity their religion were acting out of dogmatic zeal, not Christian love.
I heard an evangelist say one day that a lot of uppity Christians were going to be very surprised by some of heavens inhabitants. God is not bound by denominations or religions. There will be people in heaven that God judged by what was in their hearts not having had the privilege of hearing the Gospel.
There are Baptists and Presbyterians, Methodists and Catholics, people from every denominations who have been baptized, have taken communion, attended church all their lives but who will not be in heaven because they rejected God’s gift, they followed their own self-made god. Remember we will spend eternity with the god we chose to worship.
Listen to the words of the hate mongers and you can tell what spirit moves them, a spirit of demonic dimension, or the Spirit of Love. There are those who call evil, good, and good, evil and there are those who will call me a hate monger for not excepting other points of view. However telling the truth is not hate mongering and telling lies is not acting in love.
Jesus used the most scathing words when chastising the religious leaders, the clergy of his day, trying to shock them truth into them. That was the most loving thing He could do because they were on the road to perdition and were taking the multitudes with them.
Jesus is called truth, light and life. Therefore those coming against Him either covertly or overtly are liars, darkness and death.
Simple Christianity can best be defined as follows: Deliverance from the results of sin, (Hell), deliverance from continuous sin, (the sin nature), and deliverance from the effects of sin, (sickness, poverty and premature death), and living now in the Kingdom of God at one with Jesus our Savior and our Father God.
True Christ-likeness is God in human flesh demonstrating the love and deliverance of God to man again.