IS IT FAITH … OR RELIGION?

Faith, the Bible tells us, is believing in things that are not seen, but when coupled with intelligence, is based on the strongest and most reliable inference as to what truth is. Jesus told us He came to “bear witness to the truth” and that He is the truth. Religion is a man-made construct of ritual and liturgy that too often substitutes for the personal relationship with our Lord that He desires. We are called to surrender to the truth by our faith. We don’t want the practice of religion to substitute for the real thing.

  • MARK 11:22 (ESV): “And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.’”
  • ROMANS 4:16a (NKJV): “Therefore, it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed.”
  • TITUS 2:1 (NIV): “You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.”

THE FORM OF RELIGION

EVERY SUNDAY MORNING in churches across America, the same rituals play out. In some churches, the faithful are praising the God of creation, while in many others, half-hearted “attendees” are simply  going through the motions.

 We know this because the Bible is clear that “you will know them by their fruits’ (Matt. 7:16 NKJV), and the fruit from churches where the Bible is cast aside, or updated to be “relevant,” leads to false witness.

Most of the errant churches fall into one of three categories: mainline Protestant churches, liberal Catholic churches, or “seeker-friendly” churches. 

Each is marked with its own apostasy, and while true believers may be found in each one, the churches as a whole are failing to proclaim God’s truth as contained in His revelation.

SOUND DOCTRINE

TODAY’S RELIGION is that of “syncretism,” or a blend of all religions. This falsehood is built on the flimsy foundation that “all religions” teach pretty much the same thing, which is how to live “a good life. 

Living a “good life,” by this world’s standards, is considered “good enough” to warrant eternal life post-death in “a better place.” That “better place” is ill-defined as to substance and location.

However, for today’s populace, governed by reason, which is the conclusion of their individual thought process and a melding of the zeitgeist, or spirit of the times. 

“Everyone” does it or thinks it or says it, is a common refrain, as if truth were something discovered by counting noses — the more people do something or believe something, the greater likelihood it is of being true.

Of course, the Holy Bible teaches the exact opposite.

BIBLICAL TRUTH

THE BIBLE TEACHES God’s eternal and universal  truth, good for all people in all places for all time. It is not subject to “updating” or “tinkering” to make it relevant to one’s time and place.

When the faithful are called to worship God each Lord’s Day, the question remains: How many are worshipping their Creator and Savior, with whom they have a personal saving relationship, versus how many are going through the motions, content to follow familiar ritual, as though that alone were sufficient to give them brownie points with “the Man upstairs.”

At the end, our Lord tells us the tares (or weeds) will be separated from the wheat, but meanwhile, the two sit side-by-side, singing the same hymns, mouthing the same prayers, and hearing the same preaching.

When the final “Amen” is said and the church doors open, the faithful depart to re-enter the world, some to shine a light into the darkness while others go to blend in with it.

POSTSCRIPT

WHICH GROUP IS WHICH?

It’s a fair bet that those moved to worship the King of kings and Lord of lords are eager to share their faith, both by how they act and what they say, while those content to observe the liturgy of religion will leave all that “God talk” in church as they re-enter the “real world.”

God will not be mocked, nor will He be fooled as to which is which. He reads our hearts and knows where we side. 

The Lord is clear in telling us we are to be a part of the world, to witness to the world, to pour salt and light into the world, but we are not to love the world or become absorbed or conformed by it.

Instead, we are to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. 

That renewal takes place via God’s grace through our faith, not the false piety of “religion,” which can mean almost anything but has this in common with all religions: It is man-made and reflects man’s hopes and desires, not God’s truth. 

God’s truth requires faith on our part because only with faith are we able to please Him.

_________

PRAYER

LORD, THANK YOU for Your love and  tender mercy, we thank You for sending Your Son to pay the price of our sin so that we wouldn’t have to and we could be freed from sin and enjoy eternal fellowship with You. Help us now, O Lord, to speak for You to others, to share our faith, as we enjoy Your promises. Let us not block a personal relationship with You by interposing mindless ritual and liturgy that often substitute for the real thing. In Jesus’ name we raise this prayer. AMEN

Author: Ward Pimley

Journalist/Author (retired) Evangelical Christian, Politically Conservative. Eager to share God's Message of Salvation and Grace.

7 thoughts on “IS IT FAITH … OR RELIGION?”

  1. Great post !
    I like how you describe how some people will leave the ‘God talk’, and go back into the ‘real world’.

    So true, people can sit in the same pew, and we can never tell who the true believers are, but God can.
    Let us always ask God for increased discernment, and let us leave all the judging up to Him. 🤗⚘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right; it’s comforting knowing that He’ll do the ‘heavy lifting,’ so we don’t have to. My concern is with those who are not saved but think they are, so never take the next step and trust the Lord for their salvation. A pastor friend told me he finds those people the toughest ones to reach. I’m also concerned about my own witness. My heart is not where Jesus’ heart was, so He and I still have some work to do. Thank you for your comments, and God bless!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Ward, thank you for these post, I long for the days we spent jn Gateway. I pray that you and yours are well in these trying times. God bless you my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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