INTRODUCTION. This is the second post in a series of articles about “religions.” Last time I gave a functional definition of “religion” so that we would have a common understanding of the topic. We then looked at pagan or non-Christian religions. This post will focus on what I am calling “Christian” religions.
REVIEW – DEFINITION OF RELIGION: (From my last post on religions #495, 3/3/2022)
A good functional definition of a “religion” is “any worldview or philosophy or system of thought which exists for the purpose of intentionally obscuring the gospel of Jesus Christ so that people remain trapped away from salvation in a godless, Christless, hopeless religious system.” Additionally, religions are Satanically conceived and are designed to convince the adherents that they can ignore or despise or even hate Jesus Christ with no consequence. Thus, the definition of a “religion” is based on its function rather than its form, which allows religions as diverse as Buddhism and Roman Catholicism to fall within the definition and to both be seen as systems that are opposed to the true church of Jesus Christ and opposed to His gospel.
REVIEW – TWO CATEGORIES OF RELIGION: Also from my last post, there are two broad categories of religions. Covered last time was the first category, which are those religions that have no association with the Bible or with the God of the Bible. We refer to these as pagan religions. In this post I will cover the second category, the so-called “Christian” religions. As stated last time, these have an obvious connection to Christianity but have none of the saving power of the gospel (refer to 2 Timothy 3:5).
Religions in this second category have been developed by Satan through the agency of evil men for the purpose of obscuring, distorting, counterfeiting, and denying the saving gospel and replacing the glory of Jesus Christ with useless, faithless rituals and false doctrines. Their religious systems have some external similarities to what is publicly considered to be Christian, but they trivialize sin, and they twist and confuse the Person and the work of Jesus Christ such that sinful man is at the center of the system trying to save himself by his own pathetic sin-stained works and best efforts.
The most prominent “Christian” religious systems are Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Both of these evidently sprang from the early Christian church but have drifted far from the gospel in the ensuing centuries to the point where they are now apostate. An examination of the doctrinal beliefs of these two religions will reveal that there is no agreement between the biblical position and the position of the church. In fact, in some cases the religion directly contradicts the clear teaching of the Bible. One of the reasons for their current failure to reflect biblical doctrine in their church doctrine is that both these religions long ago abandoned the Bible as the sole authority for their doctrine and practice and, instead, opted to use “tradition” as their guide. This choice guarantees ongoing drift away from biblical truth and into man-made error and eventual apostasy, which is where both religions find themselves today.
This point about “abandoning the Bible guaranteeing eventual apostasy” should have a chilling ring to it. Satan is always eager to invent more religions and he desires to pollute any true worship with useless, man-made counterfeits. This means that there is a constant pressure from Satan to turn the gospel of the glorious Lord Jesus Christ into meaningless, impotent rituals which exalt man and his cleverness and his works and which condone sin. Satan is always seeking to transform the church into a useless social club of decent, unregenerate sinners who have lost the message of the cross and the resurrection.
So, while Catholicism and Orthodoxy are the most prominent of the “Christian” religions, they are by no means the only ones. The true church of the Lord Jesus Christ must constantly strive for obedience to the imperatives in His Word and for boldness in proclaiming the pure gospel lest we drift into apostasy. The sad truth is that the worshiping and witnessing church of today can become the shipwreck of tomorrow if there is not a vigorous adherence to the word of God as the active and only source of faith and practice.
The reason this is so critical is that the drift toward becoming a “Christian” religion can begin with a small disobedience to the Word. It can seem like such a little thing, but whole denominations are now nothing more than “Christian” religions because they ignored the Word in what seemed to be a small thing. When Jesus Christ was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He declared, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on EVERY WORD that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). My emphasis on “every word” is to point out that there is no optional obedience in the Bible. “Every word” is important and every instruction and command is to be obeyed. (What would have happened if Jesus had decided that a small disobedience was probably okay?) Jesus came to fulfill and accomplish ALL of the Law, not just most of it, and “not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass” away (Matthew 5:17-18). Paul told Timothy, “ALL Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16), which means it is ALL to be obeyed. If the Bible has a position on something, all options are void. If the Bible speaks on something, man does not get an opinion.
We have thus covered pagan religions and “Christian” religions. In the next post, I will continue to explore religions, looking at the threats that these religions pose to the church and the nature of their opposition to the gospel. The next post will also include examining the biblical warnings to the church about these religions so that the church can stand firm against them. I will see you then.
SDG rmb 3/4/2022 #497