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I have seen many people use an incorrect definition of the word "religion" on this website claiming it is an attempt for man to reach God. The bible does not speak this way, neither does the English language. Religion: the belief in a god or in a group of gods, an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods With that out of the way, Christianity IS a religion. The definition of religion my friends on this site work with is what the bible describes as false religion. If we are to let God himself guide us, how does this take place? Do we listen to a still small voice inside us, or look for feelings/impressions or "moves" of the spirit? Do we make it up as we go along? Does God guide us apart from his Word? The bible teaches us our hearts are wicked, that all unrighteousness flows from them (Jer 17:9, Mark 7:21). It also teaches us we are prone to deception (1 Jn 1:8, Luke 21:8, 2 Cor 11:3, Jas 1:16, Rev 20:8). To answer the question: We need religion because that is what Christianity is. Christianity is the one true religion amongst all false religions. Christianity teaches the one true God, the creator of the Universe, it has a system of beliefs which include the Trinity, the virgin birth, Jesus suffering on the cross, the atonement for our sins as well as other beliefs. It also has rules for worship; Paul lays them out for us in 1 Corinthians. Over the past 2000 years the Christian religion has encountered numerous errors introduced by dreamers or those following their own wicked hearts, it has battled for truth against heresies of all kinds, preserving the faith passed down to us, countless numbers of Christians spilled their blood protecting it. God uses trained pastors to guide us as stated in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, Jesus commanded pastors to feed his sheep (John 21) he has also given us an abundance of riches left by the saints who have gone before us. God does guide us; he does it through his people. I have no idea what my friends mean when speaking of a "relationship with Jesus" or what passage is used to substantiate this teaching. I do know all mankind already has a relationship with Jesus: that of Savior or Judge.
Why do we need religion? First let me state emphatically that religion cannot save you. Jesus found fault with the Saducees and Pharisees for trusting in their religiousness and being judgmental. If you trust in religion to save you, you will be lacking what is important. Faith in Jesus is the only way to be saved. Not reciting some magic formula even if it is in the form of a prayer which would be trusting in religion. Believe with your whole heart that Jesus, as the Son of God, died to pay for your sins and was resurrected by God and that through him you are forgiven for you sins. That being said, when you do believe (and believe is a big word), you will want to make changes in your life. Religion can help you with that as long as you never forget that it is not religion that you worship. My advice is to make the bible a very big part of your religion. Read it. Pray to understand it and unite yourself with like believers who can help you in so many ways. You can then even submit yourself to those who are over you in the Lord, which is biblical. (You need that knowledge of the bible to know if those you are associating with are rightly aligned with the word of God (as listed in the bible). Religion can be a bad thing and not just false religions but improperly directed religion. I personally could never be a part of a church with man made rules that stand as an obstacle to those who would come to Christ. (As in dress codes, unnecessary burdens, etc.) Religion can also be a wonderful thing. Benevolence, praying, worship, etc. Can make your life so much fuller and happier.
Religion is man attempts to reach God. God way is through relationship He has given man to reach him. He's a personal God who desire a personal relationship with man. Jesus said no man can come to the Father except through him. John 14:6b
By religion, I assume you mean organized religion, going to church every Sunday, having a local pastor, church body, etc. The first Scripture that comes to mind is Hebrews 10:24-25. Many people don't think going to church is really that important, and on the one hand, I can see where they're coming from. If the church you attend is not your God-ordained place, a place you get fed a living Word, encounter His manifest presence, and learn how to develop a true and intimate relationship with God, then no, your religion isn't doing you any good. It's Babylon when God's not in it and you're just playing church. However, when God sets you in a local body that He has joined you to, not a place that you chose because the worship sounds cool, or because there's a great children's church, etc., but THE PLACE God meant for you to be planted in order to grow (2 Samuel 7:10), that's a completely different story. I can say that because I lived it. I knew there had to be more to being a Christian than just going to church once or twice a week and pretending everything was okay in my life (though it wasn't) and no change was taking place in my life or in the lives of those around me. Week in and week out, it was always the same issues over and over and no growth spiritually or otherwise. That is not how God wants us to live! I poured out my heart to God about it, and He answered the cry of my heart, and brought a real pastor into my life. Jeremiah 3:15 says, "And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." They are hard to find, but true pastors with shepherd's hearts do exist and they are preaching and teaching the truth to God's people, with the intent to bring them closer to God, not to make money off of God's people. And I'll leave you with one last Scripture in Acts 8:26-31 about the eunuch who was reading in the book of Isaiah, and Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading, and he answered, "How can I except some man should guide me?" And then Philip responded to his request and talked with him about the Word. We need someone to open up the Scriptures to us. That's simply the way God meant for us to grow, and it is a principle threaded throughout the bible. There are fathers and sons. God gives us a father and we are to follow their example that they set before us. There are many Scriptures I could give about spiritual fathers and sons, but I think this answer is long enough, so I'll just say to you to ask God to bring you to the place He wants you, sitting under the Word of God from the man or woman of God He appoints for you.
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