Vol: 20 Issue: 15 Tuesday, March 15, 2016
”Religion” is system of worship whereby man attempts to make himself acceptable to his God. That is why the word can be universally applied to any system of theology.
Catholicism is a religion. Hinduism is a religion. Islam is a religion. Even secular humanism is a religion, recognized as such by no less a secular authority than the Supreme Court. (Torcaso v Watkins, 1961). Secular humanism dictates man is his own supreme being, and is the systematic endeavor to reconcile man unto himself.
Of all the world’s great religions, the only one for which the appellation ‘religion’ is wholly inaccurate is that of Christianity.
Religion, with all its rituals, sacrifices and dogma, is man’s way of making himself acceptable toGod, while Christianity is a system where God makes man acceptable unto Himself.
That is not a distinction without a difference. Christianity is the mirror image of ‘religion’ — its core doctrines might even be called ‘anti-religious’.
Religions demand adherence to certain rules and regulations as a condition of salvation. Those rules are compiled by religious men, set forth as the defining characteristics of that religion, and followed by its religious adherents, if they are to remain in good standing with their religion, and therefore, with God.
Religion, in all its forms, is a series of theological laws that must be kept by its followers in order to make themselves acceptable to whatever their understanding of God might be. Christianity is accepting God’s definition of Himself.
Jesus Christ was put to death for exposing the hypocrisy of religion. Not just the religious leaders, but religion itself. When the religious leaders tried to trap Him with the Law, He exposed the hypocrisy of religion for all to see.
“Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting Him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40)
Loving God above all things and loving one’s neighbor as oneself is God’s ‘law’. Religion is a man-made substitute system that offers alternative choices. Historically, more wars have been fought over religion than any other cause, many in the name of the ‘Christian religion.’
But Bible Christianity teaches that our war is this life is spiritual; “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
That is not to say true Christians are forbidden to go to war, as in the case of the current war on terror. Christians are not OF this world, but we are IN it.
As secular national citizens, Christians are admonished “to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,” (Titus 3:1) But that is not the same as banding together to conquer for Christ’s glory. That is a religious concept, not a Christian one.
The true source of religion — and its underlying concepts — was revealed in Scripture BEFORE the fall of Adam.
“For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)
Let’s break the oldest lie in the Book down into its component elements;
1) “Your eyes shall be opened.”
The serpent begins by hinting that God is deliberately withholding beneficial information from them. The argument that some Scriptures seem to require salvation by faith plus works, while others seem to support eternal security stems from that seminal deception — that God’s Word is ambiguous when examined closely.
2) “Ye shall be as gods.”
It goes against the grain of human pride to believe that the only role we play in our own salvation is to accept a free gift of unearned pardon. Most human religions — including most Christian denominations — insist that mankind play some role in his redemption.
In this view, the sacrifice of the Cross is not enough — it is just a kick-start that gets us going. We must then perform at a certain level or that sacrifice is negated by our own failed efforts.
3) “Knowing good from evil.”
This goes back to the belief that we humans can know WHICH sins are sufficient to disqualify us from heaven and which ones God will let slide because they weren’t as evil — which is the ONLY rationale for rejecting the doctrine of eternal security.
There are seemingly as many religions within Christianity as there are religions outside Christianity. Religions within Christianity are Christian in the sense that they claim Christ as their Lord, but write their own rules to substitute for His standard of salvation by works.
The Lord’s standard for salvation by works is somewhat harsh:
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12)
So religion attempts to rewrite the rules, claiming unto itself special righteousness and understanding provides it with insights that make it unique in that it ‘seeketh after God’, claiming unprofitable rituals and sacrifices are now profitable, and organizing itself to ‘do good.’
Religious Christianity is a system that substitutes its own, more attainable standards of conduct for God’s standard of perfection, adding temporal punishments and penalties as atonements for the inevitable failure of its adherents.
When discussing the doctrine of eternal security, I note that most argue the phrase, not the doctrine. The doctrine of eternal security is the essential difference between religion and Bible Christianity.
The terms used to describe salvation scream ‘eternally secure’; “Eternal life” (John 3:16, 1st John 5:11), “full assurance” (Hebrews 6:11, Colossians 2:2), “hope. . . sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:19)
Salvation is described in Scripture, not as something yet to come, but present-tense. Each true believer is described as “forgiven” (Romans 4:7, 1st John 2:12), “justified” (Romans 5:1,9,Titus 3:7), “reconciled” (Romans 5:19) “risen with Christ” (Romans 6:3-6, Colossians 3:1-2) a “new creation” (2nd Corinthians 5:17)
The Bible says of believers that we ARE: “God’s family” (Galatians 3:26, 1st John 3:2), effectively ALREADY “seated in the heavenlies with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5-6) and “translated into the kingdom of His dear Son” Colossians 1:13)
Salvation cannot be lost unless one discounts the following core doctrines: Salvation is eternal (John 3:16, 36), it is a present possession (Romans 5, 1st Peter 2:24-25) it is imputed, not earned, (2nd Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 2:20, Hebrews 9:10, Romans 3:24, Ephesians 2:8-9,Titus 3:3-7, Romans 3:19-28, 4:4-5, 11:16)
Eternal security is NOT a license to sin. It is important to understand that eternal security does not apply to a person who merely professes Christ. Salvation demands repentance.
Repentance means a change of mind resulting in a change of life. The person who has never changed his mind about God, sin, Christ, the Bible, etc., has never repented and has never been saved.
A sinning believer is out of fellowship with the Lord, but the relationship remains the same. He is helped and loved by the Lord Jesus Christ (1st John 2:1-2). He is chastened by the Father (Hebrews 12:5-11) BECAUSE the relationship remains intact.
Although forgiven, a sinning Christian cannot regain lost opportunities or the hurt caused by his sin. And the sinning Christian will suffer loss at the Bema Seat. (1st Corinthians 3:11-15, 2nd Corinthians 5:10, 1st John 2:28)
Logically, to deny the doctrine of eternal security is to embrace religion as an acceptable way to please God.
But God says those who stand before Him trusting in their works will be judged ACCORDING to their works. Those who stand before Him trusting in the Promise that Christ’s Work at the Cross was all sufficient will be judged according to that standard.
“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1st Corinthians 3:15)
Religion doesn’t save us. It can’t keep us. There is only One Who can “keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 1:24)
Featured Commentary: One Thorny Question ~ Wendy Wippel