Is religion still needed? Who practices pure religion?

Bro. Eliseo F. Soriano

WE LIVE TODAY in an era where there
are so many religious groups. There are so many sects. And if we are going to consult the dictionary for the meaning of the word “sect”, it means religious “faction.” There are now lots of factions in religion, which is not really surprising. Please, do not get mad at me because I am only telling the truth. In the sphere of the Catholic Church, there are so many factions. There are various groups under the umbrella of Catholicism with each faction having its own beliefs. For example, the “Kursilista” is a group different from “El Shaddai.” “El Shaddai” is different from “Couples for Christ”, but all of them claim to be Catholics. “El Shaddai” is also different from the group of Frank Jimenez, the fat man in Channel 9. And Frank Jimenez’s group is different from Bingbong Crisologo’s group. The latter’s group is called “A New Life in Jesus.” Actually, my fingers are not enough to count the number of factions within the Catholic Church alone. That is why, sometimes, I cannot help but mention also their differences in sentiments . . . differences in principles . . . and differences in beliefs. What is surprising, and at the same time, heartbreaking, is, their beliefs are different from one another, although they belong to the same religion. In the sphere of the Catholic Church, there are so many factions. There are various groups under the umbrella of Catholicism with each faction having its own beliefs. For example, the “Kursilista” is a group different from “El Shaddai.” “El Shaddai” is different from “Couples for Christ”, but all of them claim to be Catholics. “El Shaddai” is also different from the group of Frank Jimenez, the fat man in Channel 9. And Frank Jimenez’s group is different from Bingbong Crisologo’s group. The latter’s group is called “A New Life in Jesus.” Actually, my fingers are not enough to count the number of factions within the Catholic Church alone. That is why, sometimes, I cannot help but mention also their differences in sentiments . . . differences in principles . . . and differences in beliefs. What is surprising, and at the same time, heartbreaking, is, their beliefs are different from one another, although they belong to the same religion. If this is the scenario, then, we must be alarmed if we accept in our heart that we are concerned about the truth, and if we are really seekers of only the truth. If we claim that we are ONE in our faith, and yet, we are divided in our beliefs and sentiments, then, we must be alarmed, because as far as the Bible is concerned, that is not good. Please, don’t get angry, but I want you to read James 3:16, 15, which says--

Is religion still needed? Who practices pure religion?
Bro. Eliseo F. Soriano

“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.” It said that, wherever envy and divisiveness, or factionalism dwells, there also dwell confusion and all evil works. And this, according to the Bible, is not the wisdom that descended from above. Instead, it is earthly, sensual, and devilish. Therefore, it would mean that, if a group is divided – if there is strife within the group, if there is envying, factionalism, and divisiveness – it violates the will of God. I am not here to attack anyone. I am just doing my share in eliminating factionalism and differences in feelings. And that is by being united as a manner that is prescribed by God. We have to look for a common point, or a common interest, that will bind us together, and not to further divide ourselves. My objective is to foster unity. Others only misinterpret me. They thought that I simply meddle in the affairs of others. They question me why I have to mention the beliefs of others. Actually, in this world, there is really nothing wrong in talking about the beliefs of other people. That is not bad. Even our Constitution allows that. We have our freedom of speech; we have our freedom of religion. And when it comes to religion, there is such a thing as “privileged communication,” especially on radio and on television. It is a form of immunity against libel. You may talk about other’s beliefs without being sued for libel. That is, if what you say deals only with the beliefs, and not with the person. You are not actually trying to destroy the person, but you are simply telling that what he believes in is not correct. That is what we must understand. So, please, do not get us wrong. In the studies that we are making, we do not have any ill intention of attacking anyone, if ever we are scrutinizing his beliefs. I am not saying anything bad about any person; I am simply talking about their beliefs. Just consider the situation in our country today. We have a multi-party system; we have different ideologies. The government had permitted the communists to become a legal political party. There is also the Liberal Party, and the Nacionalista Party. They all have the freedom to express the ideology that they believe in. What more when it comes to religion! There is no need to seal our mouth to prevent us from proclaiming our belief that the Bible contains everything that is good, although, of course, this might offend others. But that is biblical, nonetheless. It is not bad to compare things if we truly desire to see the truth. This is what Ecclesiastes. 7:27 says-“Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account.” According to Solomon, he was “counting one by one, to find out the account.” Therefore, we cannot really avoid making comparisons. Before coming up with a

Is religion still needed? Who practices pure religion?
Bro. Eliseo F. Soriano

final choice, we cannot help but compare one thing from another. That is inevitable. In buying mangoes, for instance, you look at the mangoes closely and then, you compare one from the other. Before you court a girl, you also make comparisons. You compare Maria with Marie to find out who between the two is more beautiful. When you compare them, you later realized that one of them was very talkative while the other was a silent type. You consider a lot of things. And when you have finally analyzed who is better, it is only then that you start courting. You are making a comparison because you are given many choices. Of course, it is a different story if only one is available. If that is the case, you do not really have a choice. If there is but one religion, then, there is no need for us to choose because we are not given any alternative. But the point is, there are many religions today, and all of them claim to be the true religion. But it is doubtful! In the first place, no religious group would admit that they are false . . . and that they are heading for hell . . . and that their pastor is a liar! Nobody would say that. But take note, whenever they are introduced, they are addressed as “Reverend Pastor,” “Very Reverend.” It is wondering to note why they are using the word “reverend” when this word was used only once in the Bible. Just once! Unlike some terms, which were used for several times, the word “reverend” was used in the Bible only once. Do you know where it was used? We will read in Psalms 111:9-“He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant forever: holy and reverend is his name.” Holy and reverend is his name. “Reverend” was used to refer to the name of God. But today, it is surprising to hear how pastors, who know only three (3) verses, are being addressed as reverend. Obviously, they did not even think for whom the word reverend was been used. It was used only for God. Even the Apostles did not dare to use the word; not even the evangelists, and not even the early prophets of God. Many people today who would like to be called reverend. They overflow. There is even one who is being called “Most Reverend.” However, if we will only think more deeply, we can already consider those simple matters as vital issues that need to be reflected on. We may ask ourselves, why are they using a word, which was meant for God only? It was not even used by the first servants of God. Therefore, from that point alone—from the way preachers and pastors are being addressed today—there is already something for us to ponder on. There are also those who call their pastors “Beloved Pastor,” or “Beloved Evangelist”. There are also some who are being called “Ka Bining,” and “Ka Ramos.” But there are some who are being called “Father.” Bear in mind that we are just talking about titles, or the forms of address to preachers, and yes, it is already alarming. The different names and titles that people give to pastors are quite alarming. In 1991, before the earthquake occurred, there was one preacher who was called Father Tropa. Do you remember him? After the earthquake he did not appear anymore. He was a priest who was sporting a long hair, and he wanted

Is religion still needed? Who practices pure religion?
Bro. Eliseo F. Soriano

people to call him “Father Tropa.” His group was called Spaceship 2000, if I remember right. Perhaps, that was where former President Fidel V. Ramos derived his program, Philippines 2000. What I am trying to tell you, brothers and sisters, is, if we will begin our scrutiny from the title alone, there are already so many things that would puzzle us. Each preacher is addressed differently. “Beloved pastor, bless me.” “Your blessings, Among.” “Among” was a form of address to priests during the Spanish period— during the time of our grandparents. The priests were called “Among.” If you will only study . . . if you will only seek for the truth, then, the truth will surely surface. Now, how does the Bible call a preacher? Should he be called “Very Reverend”? Should he be called “Beloved Pastor” or “Beloved Evangelist”? Should he be called “Father”, or “Reverend Father”? How should they be properly addressed? What is the correct way of addressing them? Let us read in Matthew 23:8-“But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.” Christ prohibited us from calling anybody “Rabbi”. The Bible said, “be not” or “don’t”. We do not know if you will agree with me, but, if the Bible says, “do not,” that means we are prohibited from doing it. If the Bible says, do not commit adultery—that means adultery is prohibited. If the Bible says, do not marry a close relative . . . do not uncover your nakedness to your brother . . . do not approach your mother, or your father’s wife, nor your stepmother to uncover your nakedness . . . do not approach your close kin, nor be married to him . . . that means, all of those are prohibitions. Now, God said, do not let anyone call you Rabbi, and you are all brethren. Therefore, that is how we should be addressed – brother or sister. You should not let others call you rabbi; you are not so special in the eyes of the Lord. In a true religion, nobody is above the other. Unlike in the “Hukbalahap” wherein there is a “Supremo”. In a true religion, everybody is equal, and each is addressed as “brother” or “sister.” All are brethren in God. That was why the Apostles addressed their fellows as “Brother Paul” and “Brother Peter.” Nobody was called “Reverend”; nobody was called “Father.” Those forms of addresses are prohibited by God. That was mentioned in23:9-“And call no man your Father upon the earth; for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” It says-“Do not call anyone Father upon the earth.”

Is religion still needed? Who practices pure religion?
Bro. Eliseo F. Soriano

When it comes to religion, God is prohibiting us from calling any man on earth Father. “For one is your Father, which is in heaven.” We know very well that our words would hurt a lot of people. But, does it mean that, simply because others are hurt by our pronouncements we must already shut our mouth? Would you rather let us keep the things that we know to ourselves simply because others are hurt by what we say? And those who get hurt will eventually get mad to us? Must we prevent ourselves from talking even if the things that we say are all written in the Bible? Will you let us do that? Do you think God also wants it that way? Let us read what is written in Jeremiah 26:2-“Thus saith the Lord. Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak unto all cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord’s house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word.” Should we just keep it to ourselves? Must we no longer speak simply because others will be hurt with our pronouncements? God did not want it that way! He said, “All the words that I command thee to speak unto them, diminish not a word.” .” What must be the principle of a true preacher of God, who wants to express the truth, but in the process, he would be offending the feelings of others? Let us read in Numbers 22:18-“. . . If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the Lord, to do other good or bad of mine own mind; but what the Lord saith, that will I speak.” That is the guiding principle of a true preacher. He would still speak even if Balak bribes him with a house full of silver and gold. That could actually make him richer than Ka Erdie. Are you familiar with Balak’s house? Balak was a false god of the Egyptians, and of the early pagans. They used to build big houses and temples for their false gods. You can just imagine if you are going to fill that house with gold and silver!? Today, a kilo of gold costs 3 million. And a kilo of gold is just a small piece of gold. But Balak’s house was big, and it would be filled with gold. If you are greedy of money, your eyes would surely be dazzled. But the Bible said a true preacher of God would never be tempted by gold. He said, “If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the Lord, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the Lord saith, that will I speak.” Perhaps, that is more than enough. You see, it is just like performing a surgery. For the patient not to feel the pain, he is injected with anesthesia. That is exactly what I am trying to do with you so that you won’t get mad us. And that is how it should be. It is also biblical. We are going to study religion. And we are going to speak. For all we know, our words are already hitting your faith, and you are already mad to us. Please don’t. Just like in a surgery, you are first given a dose of anesthesia. After that, you would no longer be conscious that you are already cut

Is religion still needed? Who practices pure religion?
Bro. Eliseo F. Soriano

into pieces. But in undergoing this process, your illness will be cured. That is the doctor’s main intention. If a tooth is to be extracted, you will first be given an anesthesia. Otherwise, you might kick the dentist while he is extracting your tooth because of severe pain. That is also my intention why I am trying to tell you all these. There are teachings in the Bible, which would, inevitably, be mentioned. So, if we want to remain true to what God said, nothing must prevent us from speaking – even if you get mad to me! In the first place, why do I have to study the Bible if I would only be intimidated by your feelings? We better throw the Bible away. We will recount to you a story instead. If you want, I will tell you the stories of Lola Basyang or the story about Kapitan Kidlat, a folkloric super hero of long ago. Or, perhaps, if you prefer a more contemporary story, I will tell you the story of Luis Fernando and Maria Del Clemente of a famous Mexican television novella. If we are just going to tell each other stories, we will surely have lots of fun, but we will not gain anything, except a little laughter, which will also vanish after a while. Sooner or later, they will also be forgotten, because everything has an end. But, if we are going to talk about the word of God, there is something about the preacher that we must first realize. A true preacher speaks of things that God wants him to say, irrespective of who is going to be affected. Now, if a preacher simply wants to please other people, and he doesn’t want his listeners to get mad at him, it could be because he has a vested interest. There are, indeed, preachers who do not want to displease other people. Do you know why? We will read Jude 16. This is what it says-“These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own hurts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” Did you see the reason why they are respectful? They show respect to other people because of personal gains. That is what Judas/Jude Thaddeus said. He is the better Judas/Jude. There were two Judases. Do you have any son whose name is Judas (Jude)? You see, due to the people’s ignorance of the Bible, parents no longer want to name their son Judas (Jude) anymore. They only name their children Mary (Maria), Peter (Pedro), and John (John), but not Judas (Jude). Had I been given the chance to father some children, perhaps my firstborn would be named as Judas/Jude. Why? . . . It is because the name Judas (Jude) is not at all bad a name. In fact, there was a good Judas in the person of Judas Thaddeus. So, who was the bad Judas? He was Judas Iscariot . . . and this is the name that should not be given to a child. It is just like the name Simon. There was a good Simon, and there was also a bad Simon. Who was the bad Simon? He was the one, who after recognizing the God-given gifts in the Apostles, also wanted to possess the same gifts. For this reason, he approached the Apostles to buy from them the same gifts.

Is religion still needed? Who practices pure religion?
Bro. Eliseo F. Soriano

From that gesture, the word “simony” was derived. If you pay a certain amount of money in exchange of some powers, or authority, that is simony. Simony refers to the practice of buying a power/authority. Therefore, there was a bad Simon, and there was also a good Simon. Did you know who helped Jesus carry his cross? Do you know his name? What was his name? In other words, parents do not want to name their son Judas because they were only thinking of Judas Iscariot, and not Judas Thaddeus. The same is true with the name Simon. There is a good Simon; there is also a bad Simon. Even Peter is also Simon. He was called Simon Peter. There are preachers who show respect to people because of personal gains. Why? Let us read in Romans 16:18-“For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceived the hearts of the simple.” This is the reason why, whenever he speaks, nobody gets hurt. They speak fairly, but they are deceiving the hearts of the simple. Why? It is because they are not really serving our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly. No wonder, they make sure that the people they serve will never get angry. But if you are truly serving God, what should be your guiding principle whenever you speak? Galatians 1:10 says-“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ..” Are we persuading God, or men? Are we trying to please God, or men? If we are only pleasing men, we will never be a servant of Christ. Why? Galatians 1:11 says-“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.” St. Paul said that, the gospel that he is preaching is not in conformity with what man prefers. What the Gospel wants is different from what man wants. Man wants pleasure; the Gospel is against it. Man wants to have as much as 5, or 8, or even 10 wives. There are men who really change their partners monthly. Why are we saying these things? It is because there are person known to us who frequently changes his wife. That is why, he has so many firstborns. Man wants to change his wife from time to time. Man does not want to be fatigued; but the Gospel is not tolerating laziness. In other words, if you will truly preach the Gospel, you really could not help but hurt the feelings of some people. And if a preacher can be easily intimidated and harassed by other people, he can never preach the Gospel faithfully. But God’s instruction was clear-“Speak unto all cities all the words that I command you to speak unto them; diminish not a word.”

Is religion still needed? Who practices pure religion?
Bro. Eliseo F. Soriano

Are you all set now? Perhaps, we have given you enough “anesthesia” for you not to get hurt and offended to whatever we are going to say that might touch your wrong beliefs. Eddie Villanueva said that, religion is no longer needed. We have recorded Wilde Almeda also claiming that religion is no longer needed. There was also another pastor who shared the same belief. Pastor Louie also believes that religion is not needed. However, the Bible states that, religion is needed. The Bible is teaching us a pure religion. And from the book of James 1:27we have read that-“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.” So, pure religion displays charity and holiness. And charity is manifested by showing compassion to the orphans/fatherless and to the widows. On the other hand, holiness means keeping oneself unspotted from the world. Therefore, the essence of true, or pure, religion in the Bible is charity and holiness. That is why, religion is indispensable. You can never be saved without the true religion, which is upheld by the Bible. Our topic for this edition is: Who is practicing, or exercising, the true religion in our time? The Bible can be compared with a script. Will you agree to that? A script is dramatized; it is reenacted, while the word of God is kept within one’s heart, and then, it is lived. So, who is exercising true religion nowadays? We have read earlier that a true religion is made up of charity and holiness. Charity and holiness! Now, which among the religions nowadays is exercising charity and holiness? Are you interested to find out? Try to examine the practice of many religions today. Will they qualify to the standards of the Bible about a true religion? Do they show charity to the fatherless and the widows, and to the socalled less fortunate brothers and sisters? Do they take the necessary precautions that they may not be contaminated and be dominated by the “world”? Let us find out the answers to these questions from the studies that we are making. Let us begin. Why must a true religion exercise charity? Let us read I Corinthians 13:13. It says-“And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, but the greatest of these is charity.”