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Subject: Focus On Faith
RELIGION VERSUS CHRISTIANITY

Have you ever wondered why there are so many religions in the world? Roughly estimated, there are 4,200 religions, including cults/sects. Christianity is counted in this number but shouldn’t be and here’s why. Religion is any system of belief and worship. Genuine Christianity is not a system, but a living and personal relationship with the person Jesus Christ. The following quote best summarizes the difference. "The difference between Christianity and every other faith in the world is that all other religions are about man trying to reach up to God. Christianity is about God reaching down to man." So why don’t people willingly "grab God’s hand’ and receive His gift of eternal salvation?

Perhaps Romans 1:19-21 provides the answer. In these verses, we see that from the beginning of creation mankind has witnessed God’s everlasting power and His deity as the stars nightly shine, the moon lessens night’s darkness, and the sun perpetually rises to announce another day. Clearly, Almighty God has revealed Himself through creation. Yet man did not and does not want to acknowledge Him. "…Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." (Romans 1:21,22) From these vain imaginations and foolish hearts came, and continue to do so, erroneous philosophies, idol worship, false gods, and ungodly doctrines. Hence, we have religion.

As for why there are so many different religions, the answer is simple. People want God to fit into their way of thinking. Even though we were created in God’s image, people want to make God in theirs. Sadly, many believe they have succeeded in this task by creating many forms of beliefs (religion). If man doesn’t want to accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God, simply create a belief system (religion) that denies it. ("For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten SON, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16) If man believes that Jesus’ dying on the cross, shedding His blood and being victorious over death isn’t enough for eternal salvation, create a works theology religion. ("For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of YOURSELVES: it is the gift of God: NOT of works lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8,9) If people believe traditions, rituals and human directives must be followed, develop a religion. ("Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men…" Colossians 2:8). If man believes that everybody will be granted eternal salvation, establish such a religion. ("And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." Revelations 20:15) If man feels that various paths will lead you to eternal life, start a religion. ("…strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Matthew 7 :14) If man believes that there is no hell, create such a religion. (Jesus said, "…Fear not them which kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell." Matthew 10:28) If man wants to worship and pray to dead gods and idols, start a religion. ("Thou shall have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…" Exodus 20:3,4). If man wishes to deny the Trinity, create a religion opposing it. ("Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name (word ‘name’ is singular not plural) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" Matthew 28:1.) Truthfully, such religions exist, and more will follow. Regrettably, many of these belief systems are humanist in nature, and damningly contradict God and His divinely inspired Word!

The Lord’s opinion of religion was verbally expressed when He spoke to the Pharisees and scribes (religious leaders) saying, "Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias (Isaiah 29:13) prophesy of you saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in VAIN they do worship me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:7-9) Many, many good and moral people, religious people, claim the name of Christian, but their hearts have not experienced repentance (Luke 13:3), and their worship is but lip service. Therefore, and said with much kindness, if a person has not accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior they can be called religious but not a Christian!

Christianity is a sincere, heartfelt and authentic faith in Jesus Christ which includes unwavering belief in His death, burial and resurrection. Almighty God sent Jesus Christ down to earth – to us - to pay our sin debt on the cross! Thus, nobody has to ‘reach-up’ to God by performing works and religious traditions to gain eternal salvation. One simply has to call out His name. (Romans 10: 13) Being a Christian is NOT belonging to a religion. Being a Christian IS belonging to Jesus Christ!

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." (Colossians 2:8)

Nancy Hamilton


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