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Religion can be defined as "belief in God or gods to be worshipped, usually expressed in conduct and ritual" or "any specific system of belief, worship, etc., often involving a code of ethics." Wel...
In considering the question, "What is true religion?" it would be wise to include the concept given in James 1:27 : "This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." If we only try to follow a portion of God's commandments, and do not practice helping others in need; then our worship, etc. Would be in vain. In Matthew 25:41-46, Jesus told His disciples that He will say to those on His left at the judgement, "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me. 44 Then they themselves also will answer, saying, "Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or in prison, and did not take care of You?" 45 Then He will answer them, saying, "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me." 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. The Scriptures tell numerous things which God asks of us. It so happens that all of them are for own good. Please do not argue against some of them; as though He has asked too much of us. Some commandments may not be totally comfortable, or convenient. However, God is the Creator; we are mere creatures. The allegiance owed is from us to Him; not the other way around. If we are to have our religion be acceptable to The Lord, we had best not be dismissing parts of what He has told us. The eventual result would be as indicated in Matthew 25:31-46. We need to give our best efforts in obedience to God, and THEN let His grace cover the rest. If to you this seems only as "legalism;" consider the situation in 1 Samuel 15:1-29. When Samuel was sent by God to anoint Saul as king over His people, Samuel told Saul that God said to "go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." Verse 9, "But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed." So we see that Saul did not obey God's commandment; but rather substituted his own reasoning, bringing back "the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to The Lord your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed." (Verse 15) In verse 19 Samuel asked Saul, "Why then did you not obey the voice of The Lord, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of The Lord?" In verses 20-21, Then Saul said to Samuel, "I did obey the voice of The Lord, and went on the mission on which The Lord sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21 But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to The Lord your God at Gilgal." Then, 22 And Samuel said, "Has The Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of The Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,and to heed than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of The Lord, He has also rejected you from being king." When God has said something, THAT is what He means. Saul disobeyed God. Christians do have grace; but we still owe to God our best efforts; not by diminishing part of what He has told us to do. God does not accept substitution of our ideas for His commandments, though we may be tempted to think that our ideas are adequate.
Christianity is the only way (not a religion) where LOVE WAS EXTENDED TO US. God created human beings even knowing that He would be back stabbed by the first family Adam & Eve. God the Father, God the Son & God the Holy Spirit said," Let us make man in OUR image, in our likeness...." Gen 1:26. The Trinity always had Love amongst them and they never had the need of anyone else to share Love with each other. The need for creation of humans was never there. Yet, God created human being in his own hands and gave his breathe to us so that His Love can be extended and multiplied to us. All other creatures were created by his word. Human beings are the only creation which God made with his own hands as a SPECIAL CREATION. All other religions mention that God had a favour from man. Christ in all his glory came in as a slave, lived among the poor, demonstrated Love, taught us the perfect way to live life, died on the cross just for you and me and rose again the 3rd day. He has also promised our resurrection if we are his disciples and not just believers. He shall come again and take me to eternal life. Christianity is never a religion. It is a perfect simple way of walking the way Jesus would love us to walk out of OUR OWN CHOICE (freewill) so that he would be pleased to take us to eternal glory. No other God as described in any other religion has died for you and me, or has resurrected. Even one of the Vedas manuscripts, Rig Veda as followed in Hindu Religion, clearly says about Jesus Christ that He is the Lamb which would be killed for our sake. All said and done, if we have a self realization that God can not be in a man made statue and the creator is the supreme King and all his creations are to be used and not worshiped, many are not far from Salvation in the name of the Lord Jesus. I'm finding it so very tough to Love a neighbor who doesn't love me. You call this a rule, a law or a passion towards Christ, I call this a perfect demonstration of God within us as He has done this. He has practiced what he preached.
1) Salvation has NEVER been through rules but by faith. Both Moses and Abraham were declared righteous by God, not because of any particular acts they did. 2) We are now under the NEW Covenant--the Age of Grace. No rules, just a desire to learn about God and have His Word imprinted on our hearts so we can become more Christ-like during our walk on this earth and then receive our rewards in heaven. Ours is a faith-based relationship with God and Christ and not based on following any rules, which define a religion.
Religion is not a set of beliefs in God, rather religion is a response to God revealing Himself to man. The Noahide religion is a response to God revealing himself to Noah, and the Abrahamic religion is a response to God revealing himself to Abraham. Religion, being a response to God, always requires a form of ritual worship that is structured and definite - the offering of a sacrifice. Noah sets up an altar and sacrifices animals and birds, Abraham also sets up an altar and sacrifices sheep and oxen. Religion also demands rules, which is part of a covenant pact between God and man, "I am your God, you are my people." Noah lists 7 (Noahide Laws), Moses lists 10 (Mosaic Laws). Christians call these the Ten Commandments, which sound oppressive, but the Jews calls these the Ten Marriage Vows because they see this covenant as a groom (God) marrying himself to his bride (God's people).
We need not worry about true religion. What we should do is to do evangelism. The true evangelism is witnessing to the "good news" of the life of Jesus Christ as He comes to indwell us by His Spirit and live out the divine character in our behavior in contrast to the performance of religion. The grace of God in Jesus Christ will be "good news" indeed. Such was Paul's testimony in Philippians 3:2-14 when he identified religion as a "total loss" and "nothing but rubbish," but rejoiced in his personal and spiritual identification with the living Lord Jesus. Religion is man-made but the true Christianity is the relationship between man and God.
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