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You may find this answer quite odd, but I believe the origin to religion is found in Luke19: 39-40. In verse 39, Jesus was asked to keep his disciples quiet. His answer was, “If they keep quiet, even the rocks will cry out!” How can this statement be the origin to religion? I believe that what Jesus is saying is that God has placed evidence of himself in nature upon the earth, from the relationship between a bee and a flower to the Fibonacci ratio, from the currents in the ocean that control our weather to the wonder in the eyes of a child, evidence abounds that there must be a God. From the beginning of time, observers have noticed this evidence and responded by letting their imaginations run wild, and they’ve even tried to make their own gods to answer their quest to discover God! Religion was born. This was all part of God’s plan so that when he revealed himself through the nation of Israel and later sent Christ to us, no one would have an excuse to not believe. The evidence was all around them. Crying out for them to believe!
Religion started with Cain. Cain offered up the works of his own hands to God instead of a blood sacrifice for his sin. Abel offered up the right sacrifice, a blood sacrifice confessing that he was a sinner. The religion of Cain is still very much present in the world. The bible gives us the right way of salvation by grace through the blood of Jesus to be saved from hell. Jesus is our blood sacrifice for all sin. Many have vain religion where they offer up their own works to God to be saved. But the bible says we are saved without works, and only by the finished work of Christ can we be saved. God made a way for us sinners to be saved by faith in His perfect Son that came to die and take our place of punishment so that we could no longer be condemned but have peace with God through the atoning sacrifice for all our sin by Jesus blood. But men still want religion and so try to earn salvation some other way by trusting in their own righteousness to be acceptable to God in the flesh. Men believe if they can live without sin they can make themselves acceptable to God by the works that they do instead of the work that Christ did for us. So men become self righteous through religion and believe they can earn merit before a Holy God by what they do instead of what Jesus did for us. They have gone the way of Cain. They only have self righteousness instead of the righteousness of Christ that only comes by faith alone, without works. Those who have religion have something to boast in. Those that have Christ have nothing to boast in except the cross. Our good works could never save us. But they do make us self righteous and full of pride in what we do to save our selves by faith in ourselves that we are righteous and do not need a savior if we can save ourselves by what we do. But God says we are all sinners and can only be saved by faith in the blood sacrifice of Christ alone. That our works can never save us. Only His work can save us. So some just have vain religion believing that they can make themselves acceptable to God by what they do, instead of the righteousness of Christ that only comes by faith alone. Religion says we can justify our selves by what we do, but God says we can only be justified by faith in Jesus finished work on the cross. Those that have put their faith in Christ alone are saved, those that are trusting in their own righteousness are not saved and only have vain religion.
The origin of religion comes from the revelation of God (or a particular god) to man, which gives him a relationship with God and the rules or commandments which must be observed to maintain this relationship. It is God that is the originator of religion, revealing himself to man before man himself has ever imagined the true nature of deity and divine reality. Atheists believe religion has been invented by man to explain the unknown and the fearful events in life. They would say that all religion is a matter of creative self-deception, and only atheists are facing reality in a brave or noble fashion. This is despite the fact that no known human culture, present or past, has ever existed without religion of some sort. The question then arises, if man is so creative as to invent religion to explain the unexplainable, why isn't he able to solve all the other problems of living as a human being? In fact, man is naturally an abject creature, the victim of his own physical weaknesses and helplessness in the face of negative circumstances. Normally, inferior species don't last long, if at all, on our planet, but humanity has somehow survived and thrived despite its objective shortcomings, and is prophesied in Christianity to live indefinitely into the future. This is something that atheists today are highly fearful of - the extinction of the human species by any number of catastrophic events. What are Christians advised to do regarding these catastrophic events? The answer is in Luke 21:28 "But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads; because your redemption draweth nigh." Without religion, people have no reason to be optimistic about their future or the future of humanity. Perhaps that is why God has instituted religion and issued new and improved versions from time to time.
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