PERSONAL OR IMPERSONAL,
RELIGION OR RELATIONSHIP
How do you see, view and relate to God?
Let's begin by illustrating what the difference is between these perspectives and views of Christianity by asking this series of questions.
What is the difference between.....
...the Gospel and the Good News of Jesus Christ?
...living by Christian values or the teachings of Jesus Christ?
...being grounded in the Christian faith or grounded in the Word of God? .
..Christian commitment or commitment to Jesus Christ?
...Christian or a believer & follower of Jesus Christ?
...One has faith or one has faith in Jesus Christ?
...being a Church member or a member of the body of Christ?
The thought that comes to mind, while illustrating these contrasting perspectives, are verses from 2nd Timothy 3:5,7 which describes people who "have a form of godliness but deny its power, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth."
There is a difference between knowing about God and knowing God. You and I can know that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are four books in the New Testament, but not know and love the person who they are writing about.
Jesus Himself described the difference this way in Matthew 7:21-23, "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord’ did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles." Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you."
Religion or Relationship!
Is religion the road to heaven? Many people would claim that because they have a religiosity as described in the quote from Matthew; they are on their way to heaven. But let's take a look at it from an another perspective.
What is religion?
According to Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, religion is a personal or institutionalized system of attitudes, beliefs, and practices about God or the supernatural, held to with devotion, commitment, and ardor.
There are many different kinds of religions with the definition from Websters: Hinduism, Islam, Confucianism, etc. Are they all roads that lead to a personal knowledge of Almighty God, who provided the way through His Son Jesus Christ as the road to heaven and eternal life? No, not according to the Bible. In John 3:16 we read "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Then in John 11:25, Jesus says, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live." Also in John 14:6, I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me." Please notice Jesus didn't say a way, a truth, a life; and also take note of what Jesus said, He is the only way to God.
Religion is not the road to heaven.
According to the Bible it is a personal faith, day by day relationship with Jesus Christ. Getting religion does not open the door to heaven. One must sincerely and genuinely confess and repent of their sins. Then a person needs to decisively intentionally believe in Jesus as their only Saviour, accept Him as their Lord/Master, receive His Spirit and then faithfully and lovingly commit themselves to following Him and doing His will.
Check it out!
What do you have, religion or a relationship, an institutionalized system of
rituals and practices or a personal trust in Jesus Christ?
Pastor Perry DeGroot