BY CHARLES WOODRUFF
Often over the years as I have attempted to witness to someone about Christ, I have had these words thrown to me in reply. Or maybe they would say "I am not interested in religion." This is a rather common answer. Maybe it is your answer. Guess what? It's my answer also. As a matter of fact, over 25 years ago, I wrote an article titled "Millions Drugged on Religion!" It shocked a few people that a missionary would write such an article. I plan to update that article soon and perhaps place it on one of these blogs. The point is, religion will kill you! Religion will carry you to hell! There are hundreds of religions in this world, maybe thousands, if you count all the different variations. For instance, under the general heading of "Christian", there are Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox, Coptic, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Apostolics, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Free Will Baptists, Primitive Baptists, Quakers, Shakers, and Lutherans, etc., etc... And all these have sub-categories and spin offs.
Then the "Muslims" (or Mohammedans), have the Shiites, Sunnis, Sufism, Zaidis, Nation of Islam, and a number of others. All claim to follow Islam, i.e. submission-- (to Allah), and all have the holy book (the Qur'an), and all recognize Mohammed as Allah's last prophet. Then there are various Buddhists, Hindus, Shintos, and animists, Deists, etc...
My friends, none of these religions in themselves can save anyone--not even the "Christian" ones. A Man walked on this earth nearly 2000 years ago. He came to reveal God, and the true faith. His credibility is untainted. His truth was challenged, but has stood the test of time. He was murdered, but came back from the dead. Over 500 witnesses saw Him and testified to that. Many millions over the centuries have been converted to Him. He is not a religion-- He is a person. He is without doubt THE SON OF GOD! He is not trying to get you to join something. He is not trying to do anything. He did it! Remember at His crucifixion He said "It is Finished" (John 19:30). The work of redemption He came to do was completed. The purpose of God is right on schedule. It will not fail.
Those God has chosen from the foundation of the world will come to Him"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will" (Ephesians 1:4,5). He said "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27).
All who call upon Him do not need a religion. If they come savingly to Jesus Christ, they enter into the true religion. "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. 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" (James 1:26-27).
The word "religion" had a different primary meaning even 200 years ago than it does in the 21st century. It was more in line with the usage in the Bible which according to Strong's Concordance is "ceremonial observance". It had to do with worship itself, not related to one's sect, or groups of sects as "religions". The exception was when Paul was discussing his former alliance with the "Jew's religion". "For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood" (Galatians 1:13-16).
As you can see, it was no longer Paul's religion (the Jew's religion) that was the most important thing. Now all important was Christ the Messiah who met him on the Damascus road and saved him, and changed him from Saul the persecutor to Paul the Apostle. He did not need to confer with "flesh and blood", but with Christ the God-Man.
Later,when Paul spoke on Mars Hill in Athens, at the very beginning of his sermon he said to the people gathered there"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"( Acts 17:22). The Greek word here rendered superstitious means "more religious than others" You see, in ancient Athens, they worshiped all kinds of supposed deities, and Paul was here to tell them of the one true God.
Paul never got over that experience on the Damascus road. In a sense he was given a more than fair trade by Christ--a dead religion of types and shadows for a living faith. If Christ reveals Himself to you, then you will not need the world's religion. Like Paul, all you will need is Him. "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" ( 1 Corinthians 1:18). "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Corinthians 1:21-25.