This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
March 4, 2012 – Pastor Dr. Ronnie Wolfe
Definition of Religion Merrian-Webster dictionary says that religion is “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.” Notice in this definition we have three things: cause, principle and system. Our cause is Christ; our principle is Scripture, and our system is Baptist. If we look at the derivative of the word, we see that it comes from the Latin religare, which means “to restrain, or tie back.” Your religion will restrain you from going a different direction. It will lead you in a specific direction in life. It will push you along and prompt you to make decisions based upon which line of religion is in your heart, mind, and soul. Everyone has religion, even those who deny that they have it. The very notion that you do not have a religion is a religion, because that notion will restrain you from looking at another religion. It will keep you from searching and seeking any other thought than that religion that you have. So, you cannot be unbiased concerning religion. You are a part of it whether you know it or not. Let’s look at Romans 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Now take a look at verse 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? You will yield yourself a servant to one or the other, unrighteousness unto sin, or righteousness unto God.
So, remember that religion is not simply something that you have in your mind and that your religion has no effect in your life; but your religion directs your life, prompts you to decisions, and lays down a pattern of living for you, giving you a preponderance in accord to what religion you have. Some religions will constrain you to do various things such as beat your body, forbid eating or marrying, bow down to idols, practice different types of fasting or religious rites. Religion will also direct you to be complacent and compromising or lackadaisical. It may demand that you do not speak of any religion or that you argue about different religious view. It may allow you to perform all types of sin, or it may guide you to a biblical morality, but it will be religion that does it.
Finite Or Infinite Religion One man’s religion will demand that he believe nothing that he cannot see, or nothing that he cannot produce or at least observe in a laboratory. Another man may allow for some things that may not be seen nor understood perfectly but that are nonetheless true. He may allow in his religion for even a superstitious thought or the belief in ghosts or spirits or even zombies, but his religion will not allow him to go so far as to believe in a universal, invisible God who created the universe and sustains the universe by his own power. The difference in these two basic thoughts in religion is the idea of whether religion is finite or infinite. By finite we mean those things that come and go, the things that we see, and then we don’t see, those things that we can feel, hear, see, taste, and smell. Some of these people will also believe in idols, those rock or wooden creatures made by man who seem to understand man’s deepest needs and supply man’s pleasure through appeasement of the gods. All of this finite 2
religion is found here on earth or in the heavens. Infinite religion, however, is one that allows for the supernatural, that there is a universal, invisible, Almighty, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God who has wisdom above all other beings and who is responsible for creation, sustenance, and providence in this world. The Bible definition of infinite religion is found in 2 Cor. 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. The Bible definition of finite religions is found in 1 Cor 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
The Problem With Atheism Atheists will often say that they will not believe in something that they cannot see or observe under scientific conditions. Then they go about to disprove that statement by believing in many things that they cannot see nor can they observe under strict scientific conditions. For example, they say they do not believe in a divine creation of the universe. Let that stand as it may, but in order to believe that, they must reach across a span of time that they define as millions and millions of years to explain the origin of the universe and of man. This procedure has never been put under a microscope or seen through a telescope, nor has it been properly and empirically proven to be so; because that is impossible. The atheist will mock the Christian for believing that there is a heaven that we cannot see, a hell we cannot see, a Savior we cannot see, and a steadfast hope that we cannot touch; then they will reach back into a history that cannot be seen, it has no Savior, and in which there is no hope and cannot be touched to prove their “religion” about how the universe came into being. This is 3
their religion. If they deny this, they are being dishonest, for most atheists know the meaning of the word “religion,” but they reserve it for people with which they disagree. Karl Marx said, “Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.”1 Lenin repeated this when he said in 1905, “Religion is opium for the people. Religion is a sort of spiritual booze, in which the slaves of capital drown their human image, their demand for a life more or less worthy of man.”2 These atheistic thinkers think that Christians are the only people who have religion (or at least religions who believe in a superior being), but they are wrong in their thinking; because they are slaves of their own religion, a religion without God in the world: Eph 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: George Carlin, the comedian, has a spoof on God and says in one set, “Religion has convinced people that there is an invisible man, living in the sky, who watches everything you do; and he has a special list of things he does not want you to do . . . He has a special place for those who break
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_of_the_people (2-28-2012) Ibid
even one of the commandments, a place that is full of fire, and you will scream and cry and suffer until the end of time; but he loves you, and he needs money.” This is the kind of jesting that goes on in the “funny world” about a God to which these very comedians and others who mock his name will answer one day. The whole audience laughs at these things, but one day they will not be the ones laughing. Look at Psalm 2:1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
True Religion Let’s turn now to the book of James and read James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. The Bible never accuses anyone of having no religion, but it does accuse these of having a vain religion, an empty religion, a religion that has no meaning. Many people “seem” to be religious, but they do not have pure religion, real religion, God’s religion. Turn to 2 Tim. 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. The word form is MORPHOSIS, and it means a mere resemblance, not the real thing. It looks like godliness, sometimes it acts as godliness would act, but in fact it is a vain religion. Notice now James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. 5
Pure religion has two parts according to this verse: visitation and virtue. If you have pure religion, you will visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, caring about other people as did the so-called Good Samaritan. We can read this story in Luke 10:30-37. The Samaritan man had a more pure religion and undefiled before God when he stopped by the wounded man and had compassion upon him, bound up his wounds, set him on his own beast, brought him to an inn and took care of him, giving additional money in case it was needed to help the wounded man. Pure religion, then, is being a good neighbor, for the Lord said in Luke 10:36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? The answer is in Luke 10:37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. If our religion does not include being a good neighbor, loving our neighbor as ourselves, then our religion is vain. It is of no value. In Matthew 25:43-46 we read, I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. Now let’s consider Acts 17:22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. This word “superstitious” is a very interesting word. In the Greek it is made up of two words: DEILOS, which means “fearful,” 6
and DAIMON, which means “demon.” So, this superstition was a fear of demons, or a fear of the devil. In true religion, our fear is of God, but in false religion, the fear is not of God but of the devil or of demons. This word denotes the religion of the world, the religion that is without God, the religion that believes only what it sees (thus the making of idols), the religion of self (exalting man to a position of honor and even god). In humanistic religion man becomes god, man is the epitome of all existence. Man is the ego of the emotions, the alter ego separated from religion, the intellectual giant who defines all truth and reality.
What To Do With Religion In vain religion, man with his mind is the intellectual giant of all beings on earth and can conceive of every aspect of society, correct every malevolence, and ponder every benevolence. I wrote in the Anabaptist for March, 2012, “Thales sought to bring the mind and matter closer together; Protagoras endeavored to turn man into himself and made man the measure of all things; Anaxagoras made the mind the source of all things; Socrates went farther in making the mind the judge of all truth; and Plato followed with making the mind ultimate reality.”3 The Apostle Paul said through the Spirit of God in Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. That is why the carnal mind needs a renewing: Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
The Anabaptist, Antioch Baptist College, “Antioch Baptist College And The History of Education,” March, 2011, pg. 3.
Paul said again in Phil. 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: To have the mind of Christ Jesus, we must have a change of mind. That process is encompassed within the word repentance, Greek METANOIA, “a change of mind.” Matt 3:2 says, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. This means to have a change of mind about the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom that is of God into which we must be translated, Col 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: Luke 16:13 tells us that “Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” or God and the world, or carnality, or materialism, or science falsely so-called. Now, what to do with religion? You were born with a religion. Something constrained you. First, your parents constrained you; and we are not going to get into that, because then everyone here would be angry with me forever. But this built up inside of you as religion. Then, your teachers put a little religion in you at school. Then, perhaps the military got you and put more religion in you. Perhaps your boss put some religion into you, too. Maybe church had a little to do with religion in you, at least I hope so. But your main, basic religion as a person is in your heart. Notice Romans 1:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) God has written his law within your heart. He also gave you a conscience to understand that law and a brain to put the law into judgment in your life, accusing or else excusing one another. 8
Our whole legal system comes from God. Everyone has a conscience, and each person is responsible for that conscience, keeping the law of God that is written in the heart. That law is also written in a book called the Bible. This book with 66 books included exclusively, and now in English a good translation that is easily understood and reflects the true meaning of God’s law, the King James Version. While I am here, let me say something about this book. We have seen recently the uprising in Afghanistan about the burning of a holy book. The people of this book are really angry because their book was burned. Do you know that this holy book, the Bible, has been burned more than any other book in the world? Do you know that, if someone burns a Bible, we should not get angry? Do you know that we don’t have to worry about this book? This book is not paper and ink and leather. This is a living book. In 1 Peter 1:25 we read, But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. Even though this book has been banned, burned, and mistranslated, we don’t have to protect it. God has promised that he will keep it forever. In history Bibles were burned in great numbers, more than the Tikitaka (Teachings of the compassionate Buddha), more than the Quran, more than the Rig Vida (Hinduism), more than the Kojiki (Shinto), more than Zend Avesta (Zoroastrianism), more than Guru Granth Sahib (Sikhism), and, of course, more than Confucianism (which has no holy book); and yet I hold one in my hand today. It was banned, and many people died for having one, but I hold one in my hand today. Don’t defend the Bible, just preach it and live it. God will do the rest. What to do with religion? After we “get” true religion by being born again by the grace of God through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ, we are to live by true religion, which is written in this 9
precious book, the Bible; we are to teach it and preach it to other people; and we are to worship the God of our religion. Many religions have their gods, but none can match the attributes, the plan, the theology, the providence, and the glory of the God of true religion. True religion was once called Christian (Acts 11:26). That is because the people who have this religion look like Christ and act as Christ would act. Though many do not, it is still today called the Christian religion, because Christ is the head of this religion. He is what makes it the true religion, the only true religion. I know this thought is exclusive, but this religion is exclusive, exclusive to those who repent and believe in the name of Jesus Christ, his shed blood, his death, burial and resurrection. This true religion is given to others, not by force or constraint, but by love and compassion, for we read in Eph 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. There is no religion like this religion. If you have the religion of the world, why not today turn from yourself and your own opinions and believe in Jesus Christ? To those who have their own worldly religion there is a hell awaiting; but to those who believe in Christ Jesus a heaven is awaiting them. Put your faith and hope in him. Heb 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. This is true religion.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?