The way to be right with God in every religion is by earning your way.  It is based on works, not grace.  Christianity is different from every religion in this aspect: all other religions (including Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism) state that you must earn the right to be reconciled with God.  It is by what you do in this life (good deeds or bad deeds) that determines your eternal destiny.  Christianity is completely different from this.  It is not religion.  My high school American Literature Teacher, Mr. Patton, (who wasn’t a Christian) described it this way:

“The difference between Christianity and every other faith in the world is that all other religions are about man trying to reach up to God.  Christianity is about God reaching down to man.”

This is a very important distinction, and it is core to what I believe, so I would like to try to clarify what I mean.  Here is the way I am defining religion:

Religion is a system of beliefs or a code of moral conduct that judges (qualifies or disqualifies) a person based on their adherence and obedience to certain codes, rules, laws, traditions, or the performance of required acts.

Religion (almost universally) is enforced by those in power in an attempt to maintain, increase, or abuse their power over others.  Religion is the creation of man and is not the intention or design of God.  A modern day example (taken from the movie “Footloose”, starring Kevin Bacon) is a preacher who believes that dancing leads to promiscuity and destructive behavior (the Bible does not speak against dancing).  He uses (abuses) his influence and his position of authority to convince his congregation that dancing is evil and forbids it.  He sets up rules that are not in the Bible and adds additional beliefs that Jesus never endorsed.  He is trying to control the people, using their trust of his authority to force them to believe his version of the truth.  He adds rules that don’t exist in the Bible.  In this example, he even has good motives, but he is still being religious and this “religion” is not from God.  This is so very common.  People have used Jesus to justify adding so many “requirements” to being a Christian.  Here are just a few of the countless examples:

  • Not drinking alcohol
  • Not listening to certain types of music
  • Insisting that church meet on certain days
  • Only certain forms of music can be used in church
  • You can’t be saved unless you are circumcised
  • Reciting ritualistic prayers
  • Saying you aren’t saved unless you get baptized
  • You can’t eat certain foods
  • Requiring you to perform rituals
  • Being saved is conditional upon attending church or church membership
  • Saying that you have to earn your salvation by doing good deeds

I could go on and on.  When Jesus was on the earth, religion was very rampant, as it is today.  There was a group of corrupt religious leaders called the Pharisees who had taken the word of God, passed down from Moses and the prophets (the Torah), and written a commentary on it interpreting what the scriptures said (called the Talmud).  Then they wrote another commentary on that commentary called the “Mishnah”.  The Mishnah was a list of hundreds rules to meet in order to insure that you were obeying the word of God.  These were created by man and had little basis in the actual scripture.

For example, one of the 10 Commandments (from the Torah) was, “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy”.  The Pharisees had made literally hundreds of rules in the Mishnah that detailed to the n-th degree what you had to do in order to keep that commandment.  There was a rule that you couldn’t walk through a field on the Sabbath because your sandal might clip a grain of wheat, and if it did you would be harvesting grain.  If you were harvesting, you had worked on the Sabbath and sinned.  Another example is that you could not spit on the ground on the Sabbath because your spit would create mud and this was making mortar.  If you created mortar you were working on the Sabbath and therefore sinning.
 

Jesus hated this!  He hated the way the Pharisees used the people’s love for God (or fear of God) to control them, limit their freedom, and empty them of the relationship with God that was intended.  When you practice religion, your relationship with God is degraded to a mathematical formula.  Do this, then do this, don’t do that, and presto. . . you are right in the eyes of God.  This is TOTALLY missing the point!  God wants so much more.  He wants to have a real relationship with you.  He wants to show his love to you and He wants you to love Him.  That was the point of the original commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy”.  The Sabbath day was supposed to be a day for us to take a little break from working, refocus on what’s important, spend time with our family, and spend time with God.  You can’t build a deep relationship without spending quality time together.
 

If you read the 10 Commandments you will notice that they are all about relationships.  They are either about improving our relationship with God or with other people.  As Jesus Himself said:

 “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.  The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” ~ Matt 22:37-40

And Paul said:

 “For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” ~ Rom 13:9-10

So the law can be summed up in love; love for God and love for others.  The law is about relationships; vertical and horizontal.  It is about our vertical relationship with our creator and our horizontal relationships with the rest of mankind.  It was never intended to be a list of rules that can be relegated to a checklist or mathematical formula.  We are talking about love.

So the Pharisees took the commandment to remember the Sabbath and added religion to it by making that ridiculous rule about spitting on the ground.  Jesus showed his complete disregard for their rules when he repeatedly healed people on the Sabbath.  The Pharisees considered this “work”.  On one particular occasion, He healed a blind man on the Sabbath by spitting on the ground, making some mud, and rubbing it on the man’s eyes.  Jesus was God.  He didn’t have to spit on the ground to heal the man.  He was making a point to the Pharisees and everyone watching him that religion was wrong.

 “Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam“.  So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.  Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees, because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him.  Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.”  ~ John 9:6-7, 13-14, 16

Religion is man trying to reach up to God.  The message of Christianity is God reaching down to man.  Religion is about what man has to DO to be right with God.  Christianity is about what God has already DONE to provide us the opportunity to be right with Him.  Religion says you must EARN your salvation by doing good deeds or certain acts and not doing evil.  Christianity says all we need to do is BELIEVE that Christ has already paid the price for the evil we have done.  Christianity says we are all evil (filled with sin) and there is nothing we can do to earn the right to be saved.  Christianity says that God (in the form of Jesus Christ) stepped into our place and paid the awful price that had to be paid for us.  He gave us the free gift of salvation if we choose to believe in Jesus.

“Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.” ~ 1 Pet 3:18

“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” ~ John 1:12

“Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.  But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.  For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.” ~ Rom 3:19-25

We are free by God’s great gift.  All we have to do is claim it.  Just like a Christmas present, it is a FREE GIFT (that cost the giver dearly), but it doesn’t become ours until we believe that the giver does care for us and that what is inside the box is something good.  We then have to receive the FREE GIFT.  It doesn’t become ours until we trust the giver and choose to receive the gift.
 

You see, as the verse from Romans above states, we can’t be saved by abiding by the law (the 10 Commandments).  This is a list of rules.  We can’t be saved by the effort of man.  The bible clearly states this.

 “God saved you by his grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” ~ Eph 2:8-9

So often you hear from people that they think they will go to heaven because they have “been a good person”.  Being good has nothing to do with whether you are saved or not.  That’s religion.  You can’t earn it.  Thank God, because none of us could ever be good enough.  “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”  God is perfect, and in order to be one with God and commune with the Almighty we would have to be perfect too.  Only one person could ever do this, Jesus Christ.  That’s why it took Jesus to stand in the gap and pay the price for all of us.  Our sins are erased because of Christ.  Theologians use a big term for this called “Substitutionary atonement”.

 “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.  But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.” ~1 John 1:8-10

So, you might ask why, then, was the law was given.  It was given to show us that we need God.  As Paul says in Rom 7:7:

 “In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin.  I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, you must not covet.”  ~ Rom 7:7

Without the law as a standard we would not even realize that we needed a redeemer and savior from our sin.  The law was just and correct.  There was nothing wrong with the law.  This is the way we are called to act.  However, as humans we do not have the ability to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, and minds and love our neighbor as much as ourselves all the time, everyday.  Because sin was introduced into the world by man, we are inclined to sin and no one can live this way.  So, we are in need of redemption from this predicament.  Christ provided this.  He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.

“Don’t misunderstand why I have come.  I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets.  No, I came to accomplish their purpose.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.” ~ Matt 5:17-18

Through Christ we are made perfect in God’s eyes.  We are forgiven from all sin; past and future.  When we receive Him, He gives us his Holy Spirit that has the power to change us and make us more like Him.  This is a process, but as this happens we begin to realize that we are living in the love originally required by the law.  The original intention, the heart of the law, is established in our lives.  Our relationships with God and others are founded in love.

It is the Holy Spirit that accomplishes this within us, not our own human effort.  The Bible describes this process as Holy Spirit producing fruit:

 “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.  The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants.  And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.  But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful natureto his cross and crucified them there.  Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” ~ Gal 5:16-18, 22-25

This is the difference between religion and true Christianity.  There is no checklist or list of rules that you must follow.  It is ALL about your relationships, vertical and horizontal.  There is no rhetoric or rituals that have to be practiced.  Believe that Jesus Christ came to earth and died for your sins, accept his FREE GIFT, let God help you to love Him and love others.  That’s it!  It is so simple it sounds stupid, and it would be if there was no real power here.  I’m here to testify that when you do this, the relationship with God is REAL and the power to change your life is there!  Religion is empty.  But, in Christ there is power.

“The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” ~ 1 Corr 1:18

So when you look around at the church and what has happened in history you see a lot of bad things, and some good as well.  The key thing that you must understand is that historically “the church” is predominately a religious organization with man-made rules and controls.  This is evil and God is not in it.  Good has been done by the few that truly understand what it means to be a Christian.  These look like Christ.  The Bible says, “You will know them by their fruits.”  It also says:

“But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him.  Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” ~ 1 John 2:5-6

Here is a verse that shows why most people who claim to be Christians really aren’t:

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” ~ Matt 7:13-14

So don’t look at what has been done by religious people and discredit God for it.

If you want to know hear more about why the “good people go to heaven” argument doesn’t fly, you should check out this book.  It is a quick read (it took me about 2 hours) and is worth the time investment.  <http://www.howgoodisgoodenough.com>

139 Responses to “Why Christianity is NOT a Religion”

  1. Marion Says:

    Read some of your why Christianity is not a religion. God wants us to have a relationship with him ????? It takes at least two to have a relationship. Both parts need to put in. After four years of trying to have that relationship with God, I have given up. It seemed like nothing I did was good enough for him. I never felt his presence, love, help or intervention in my life.I am now totally broken. No faith or trust left in this God who loves me and wants a relationship with me !!. I have cried and prayed but nothing. I have more issues than I can handle…. all from the Bible.God was the one person I believed could help me no matter what was happening in my life. I thought he was the potter and I the clay that he would mould and shape but now I just believe that we have to make ourselves change through determination etc. I will try harder next time !!! There is nothing left in me to bring to God.My daughter is also in the same place. She seems depressed all the time and has seen the counselor at church but nothing works or helps. How can this be a loving God who wants a relationship wit us when he ignores our needs and hurts. God is demanding and thats that.The Bible says we must be perfect like the Son and Father.

  2. philippians1v21 Says:

    The following response was emailed directly to the person who sent the comment. Reprinted here your everyone’s benefit.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Hi Marion! Thank you so much for having the courage to write me and be so honest about your feelings. It is apparent that you are going through a tough time and have been for a while now. I really do feel for you and your daughter. I just want to tell you that you are not alone! Most all of us go through times in our life where we wonder where God is and question our faith. I have been through it myself.

    I apologize that this letter is so long. But I do hope you read it since I spent my 4th of July (holiday in America) writing it J. Seriously though, there is truth in here that can help you.

    I want to talk to you about the pain and sense of abandonment that you are feeling (because it is very common and it is valid), but first I feel that I need to address the root issue here. The root problem you are encountering is that someone has painted a very poor picture for you of who Jesus Christ is.

    What picture of God has been painted for you? Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). Also, Colossians 1:15 states that Jesus Christ is the “image of the invisible God.” John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”’ Then verse 14 says “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

    When a person wants to know what God is like, she need look no further than Jesus Christ. He came to clear up the confusion about God’s nature AND to be the initiator of the relationship with all who are willing to believe (Matthew 22:3).

    He came to be our example and our substitute. God is not interested in your perfection! You will never be perfect, and neither will I. No one (except Jesus) ever has or will be!
    God, in gracious love, knew that we could not be perfect (or even close). Thus, we need atonement for our sins. We need someone to “step in” and do what we could never be “good enough” to accomplish.

    The “relationship” with God happens because of Christ’s ministry of reconciliation. We are the offenders, but God receives us through the sacrifice AND ongoing work of Jesus Christ (1 John 2:1, Romans 8:34). He loves us too much to let us go.

    In your comment you say, “It seemed like nothing I did was good enough for him” and “God is demanding and that’s that. The Bible says we must be perfect like the Son and Father.” I am very sorry that someone has characterized God for you in this way. Jesus himself said:

    “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

    How could Jesus say this if he demands perfection? Is perfection easy to bear? Does trying to be perfect give you rest? He says his burden is light. I can tell you that this has been so true in my life. When we accept Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior our position in Christ is settled. We don’t have to earn it. We become saints, not sinners. Yes, we may still choose to sin and this sin will impact our relationship with God (disrupt the harmony of our relationship) but it will not change the fact that we are his children . . .forever. Here are some excerpts from a great book, “Victory Over the Darkness”, by Neil Anderson:

    “God does not want us to be “imitators” of Jesus. God has made us partakers of His nature so we will actually BE like Him. You don’t become a Christian by “acting” like one. You are not on a performance basis with God. He doesn’t say, “Here are my standards, now you measure up”. He knows you can’t solve the problem of your own sinful self by simply improving your behavior. He must change your nature, give you an entirely new self—the life of Christ in you—which is the grace you need to measure up to His standards . . . Only after He changes who you are and makes you a partaker of his divine nature will you be able to change your behavior.”

    If this weren’t the case then Paul couldn’t say in Romans 8:1-2:

    “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

    It is the Holy Spirit that enables a Christian to become like Jesus Christ. As we trust in, seek, and rely on God in every aspect of our lives, the Spirit begins to change who we are. As we change, we desire to sin less and desire to serve God more, because we love Him, and not because we have to or because he demands it from us.

    Neil Anderson gives a great example: “For instance, as mortals we can’t fly in our own strength, but we can fly in an airplane because the airplane has a greater power than the law of gravity.”

    It is the airplane that has a greater power than gravity and allows the person to accomplish their desire to fly. Similarly, it is the Holy Spirit that has greater power than the temptations and desires of this world that enables a believer to actually accomplish their desire of living according to God’s design and not caving in to the desires of the sinful nature

    “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” (Galatians 5:16)

    When we place our whole trust in Jesus, He puts the desires in our heart to obey Him. It is no longer something we do out of obligation.

    “I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” (Hebrews 10:16)

    That doesn’t mean you, or anyone, will be perfect. This is a gradual change and it doesn’t happen over night. The bible says in 1 Timothy 4:15:

    “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.”

    It doesn’t say let everyone see your perfection! Thank God for that! As we give more and more of our desires and our control over to Jesus, He will change us and our progress will be evident, obvious, to all who look at us.

    I praise God that anyone around me can tell you that I am not at all the same person I was even a year ago. But it has been the Holy Spirit’s gradual change in my life, not my effort to “be a better person”. All I have tried to do is focus on Him. He has showed me sin in my life and I have repented of it and gradually given it over to Him. I have, one by one, started to give up my own desires and received from Him a fresh new set of desires. They bring me so much more joy and satisfaction than my own interests, desires, and plans ever did! Jesus’ “burden” and “yoke” really ARE light!

    “Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” (Galatians 3:2-3)

    We can’t earn God’s favor by our own human effort. It says it right there in His Word. We must BELIEVE the message, that is, we must BELIEVE in the truth of who Jesus Christ is (God, who choose to come to the earth as a man) and what He did (paid the debt of our sins by living a perfect life, dieing on the cross, and conquering death). If we believe this message, we already have favor, good standing, in the eyes of God. It is a done deal!

    Unless this issue is firmly, once and for all, settled in your mind and heart, you can’t and won’t experience the transformation that I talked about above. And, God WILL seem distant, unreachable, and like he isn’t there.

    I can’t know for sure (only you and God can), but I suspect this might be the source of your frustration. Have you ever been so grieved and saddened by the all sin in your life that you repented of it and gave it over to Jesus? Have you ever asked Jesus to come into your heart and forgive you of all your sins (past and future), including the sin of resentment expressed in your letter? Have you ever (in complete faith) placed total control of your life in Jesus’ hands (made Him your Lord)? Did you do this while whole-heartedly believeing that He was God and he came to earth to die for you so that you can be free from the weight and penalty of your sin (free from the condemnation of not being perfect)? Did you believe Him and trust that His blood shed for you was powerful enough to pay for all your sins and that He was the perfection lived in your place? If not then do so now!

    You see, we don’t have to be perfect . . . because Christ was. He did it for us, in our place, because it was something we could never do. You wrote in your comment that you “have nothing left to bring to God”. That’s just it; you can NEVER bring anything to God! The bible says:

    “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” (Isaiah 64:6)

    Even the best things we can do for God are tainted, filthy, before Him because they are done with impure (selfish) motives. No one can ever come to God and say, “I am such a good person, look at all these wonderful things I have done for you.” God will not hear such a person because they are proud in heart and not repentant of their many sins. For Jesus gave this example:

    “The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’”

    “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:11-14)

    The tax collector (like you) realized that he had nothing to bring to God. This is why Jesus said in the Beatitudes, “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” (Matthew 5:3) A person who is “poor in spirit” knows that they need God and that they can’t earn his favor, they can’t bring anything to the table.

    God doesn’t call us or pick us because we have something to offer Him. He doesn’t choose an “A-Team” of winners. He isn’t the “Team Captain” at recess picking the fastest, most athletic, or popular payers. In fact, it is just the opposite.

    “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

    Niel Anderson, in the book I have been quoting, says this:

    “Too many Christians are trying to show that the bible is true by the way they live. It will never work for them. We accept what God says as true and live according to faith, and this abundant life works out in our experience. If we try to make it true by the way we live we will never get there . . . We are saved by faith and we walk or live by faith . . . We are neither saved nor sanctified by how we behave but by how we believe.

    “You have to know and believe the positional truth [who you are in Christ . . . a saint] to successfully progress in your sanctification [spiritual growth] or you are going to try doing for yourself what God has already done for you.”

    If you can come to understand this it will free you! You say you have many questions about the bible. I think once you understand this truth, much if it will begin to make a lot more sense for you. I would be happy to answer any questions that remain (to the best of my ability). In fact, Please call me or, if you’d rather, give me your phone number and I will call you. I would love to explain this over the phone because I could then understand better what you are going through. It is hard to convey what I mean in writing.

    If your answers to the question I asked you about accepting Jesus Christ were all “yes”, then the next possibility is that you are a Christian that is experiencing a period where it seems like God is not near to you.

    In fact, some of the godliest men in the bible went through this. They even recorded their crisis of faith for us to read. I believe God had those put in His word so that we can be comforted, knowing that it is not uncommon for us to wonder God, where are you? Why can’t I hear you? Why aren’t you helping me?

    I encourage you to read the book of Psalms. It is littered with the earnest cries of people desperately seeking to find God in the midst of feelings of abandonment, loss, hopelessness, loneliness, and doubt. Some examples are Psalms 6, 13, 22, 25:9 & 15-22, 28, 34:18, 42:1 & 11, 51:11-12, 62, 63, 77, 88, and 102. I don’t think this would be such a reoccurring theme if it weren’t a common feeling. What you are feeling is real and valid. Here are some examples of how the psalmists cried out in the midst of this pain:

    “Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me? Return, O Lord, and rescue me. Save me because of your unfailing love . . . I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears. My vision is blurred by grief; my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies.” (Psalms 6:2-4, 6-7)

    “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.” (Psalm 22:1-2)

    “O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?” (Psalm 13:1-2)
    “Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” (Psalm 51:11-12)

    “I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help. You don’t let me sleep. I am too distressed even to pray! I think of the good old days, long since ended, when my nights were filled with joyful songs. I search my soul and ponder the difference now. Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?” (Psalm 77:1-9)

    The feelings you have are no different than the ones expressed by these men of faith. The only difference is how you have responded. The difference is in what these experiences have caused you to conclude. The psalmist in Psalm 77 above doesn’t just leave his feelings there. He asks the question of God, “have your promises permanently failed”, but he concludes that they have not. He goes on to say:

    “But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you?” (Psalm 77:11-13)

    Life in this world is hard. The world is fallen and needs to be redeemed. Redemption starts with the individual soul before God. One day, it will extend to all creation (Romans 8:18-29). Remember, when God came in the flesh to this world, it was hard for Him (he was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief – Isaiah 53:3). In fact, Christ even quoted the verse from Psalm 22 above when he was hanging on the cross. Even Jesus felt that sense of abandonment that you are feeling.

    “At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema abachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46)

    Our feelings are not adequate to reveal reality. Feelings change with the wind…and time. When my feelings tell me that God does not love me or accept me, I discipline myself to focus on the cross of Jesus Christ. It becomes for me a neon banner in the black of my night flashing the love of God for me whether I feel it or not. GOD WILLING TO DIE FOR ME. Therefore, I am willing to live for Him, whether I feel it or not.

    Marion, Jesus loves you. He died for you. He doesn’t “ignore our needs and hurts” as you say. He cared so much about your need (to be forgiven and saved) that he endured your hurts (your sin) and bore them all on the cross. Jesus did not come to remove hurt and pain from your life. . . that is heaven. He came to save you from your sin and take the heavy load of living perfect off your shoulders.

    The very fact that you are reading this shows that God cares a ton about the very needs and hurts you are talking about! He compelled an absolute stranger (on the other side of the world, mind you) to spend almost a whole day (a huge holiday in my country) praying for you and responding to you. You need to know that God told me to do it. These words are His very words to you. He loves you so much! I only wish you knew.

    You can’t rely on your feelings as the barometer of what is true. Whether I feel like I am 31 or not, it doesn’t change the FACT that I am. The same is true of what God promises us. And He does promise that if we seek Him we WILL find Him.

    “But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.” (Deuteronomy 4:29)

    “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD. . .” (Jeremiah 29:11-14)

    “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:7-11)

    This I know for sure, if you really come to God in a contrite heart, broken over your sin, and seek him with of your heart (as the verses above state), you will find him! What is the condition of your heart? Are you coming to Him with bitterness, resentment, unconfused sin, or parts of your life you are unwilling to give Him? You must seek Him with your whole heart.

    God is near to the brokenhearted. “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalms 34:18) You must be broken over your sin, broken of your desire to live life your own way (through “your determination”). Come to Him in this way. As you do this, you must wait patiently for the Lord to act, trusting that He will. Sometimes He may wait just to see how much we really trust Him or believe in Him. If we give up then it shows He really wasn’t first in our life and we didn’t really seek Him wholeheartedly.

    “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” (Psalm 37:7)
    “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.” (Psalm 40:1)

    As you wait patiently, continue to ask God and seek him (“Keep on asking and knocking”).

    Lastly, you must find a church that will teach the bible correctly. It seems like you have been taught that you must earn God’s favor. There are churches everywhere that will help you to understand the truth of the bible. I can help with questions (and I will), but you need a group of believers to walk through life with you. Your daughter needs to see the Christian life lived out.

    I sincerely hope this helped you. I will pray for you. If nothing else, you have at least 20 people praying for you in America now! And God answers their prayers, I’ve seen it! Please call me, I’d love to talk with you more and help in anyway I can.

    You Brother in Christ,

    Jake McWhirter

  3. Pastor Jim Says:

    Jake,
    Great article and great answer to Marion.
    I hope your article and answer to Marion will minister to many others too.

    Pastor Jim

  4. Caleb Says:

    Jake, I just wanted to say that you have a very powerful argument here. In the past year I’ve been leaning toward this idea of having a relationship with God in Christianity, and it makes much more sense than any of the other legalistic “religious” ideas about it. This page really sums up the kind of lifestyle I want to start living.

    Thanks for taking the time to explain it to me and to anyone else who’s read it.

    Caleb

  5. philippians1v21 Says:

    Caleb,

    Hi. Thank you for the encouraging comment. It sounds like you are on the right track. If you have come to the place where you believe that Jesus Christ came to earth as God and man, that he died for your sins on the cross, and was raised again, and you have repented of your sin and chosen to turn over control of your life to him, then you already have the relationship with him. John 1:12 says you are his child.

    You now have direct access to the throne of heaven! No need to go through anyone else or jump through any religious hoops. Jesus alone is your mediator, your bridge (See 1 Timothy 2:5).

    Now you can work on growing that relationship, making it stronger and deeper. Spend time with him in prayer, praise, and meditation on the Word. The Holy Spirit will guide you and teach you. Also, it is important for you to be part of a local church that believes in the truth of scripture and can help you grow. You don’t need to be part of a church that wants to push religion on you. Where do you live? Perhaps I can help you find one.

    What you need to seek out are close relationships with Christians that can help you grow. That means spending time with you and living life with you. I have grown more in my life through the help of others than I ever have on my own.

    A great resource that can help you as you begin the journey of a relationship with God is “Victory over the Darkness” by Neil Anderson. It should be available at most Christian book stores. Visit this website. It may help with some of the questions you have: http://www.theinvitation.tv/. Good bible study tips there.

    I will be praying for you. I am also here to help with any questions or issues you encounter. Please feel free to contact me. If you’re ever in the Seattle area, drop me a line.

    Welcome to your new family. . . God’s family :)

    God bless,
    Jake McWhirter

    “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son” ~ Ephesians 1:4-6 (NLT)


  6. [...] That’s right, Christianity is anti-religion.  I talk a lot about this on my page called “Why Christianity is NOT a Religion”.  Basically, the bible says the Jesus came to pay our debt for us and die in our place.  We [...]

  7. John Rose Says:

    Dear Pastor McWhirter,

    I came across this thread by googling “Christianity as gift not obligation.” That does seem to be the thrust of your ministry and I am glad to discover it.

    You contributed your response to Marion so that it would be available to others as well for you are hopeful, I assume, that others will enjoy the gift Jesus brought you as you have yourself.

    So I also would like to offer an addition that I have found most helpful and comforting. I call it an addition because it goes beyond your response and seem more radically Christian and therefore more likely, in my view, to be what Jesus had it mind. It certainly has been a gift to me.

    My suggested addition is to carry further the understanding that Jesus’ gift is none other than the Holy Spirit who acts in our hearts and minds. All that is required of us is openness. Believing is not a requirement. Believing is itself a gift given by the Spirit who blows where he wills.

    So your exhortation to Marion to believe sounded to me like imposing an obligation. Believing will or will not happen as God wishes. All we can do is give testimony to what it is like for us and to tell the stories that have inspired us.

    The rest is for the Spirit to accomplish. She is up to the task (I hope I do not offend by using the female pronoun,) and it is very likely that task will not be done our way.

    Sincerely,

    John Rose

  8. philippians1v21 Says:

    John,
    Thanks for the comment. Just to be clear, I totally agree with you about the Holy Spirit being a gift of God. Indeed He is God gifting Himself to us. This is why I say in the blog above, “It is the Holy Spirit that accomplishes this within us, not our own human effort.”

    Additionally, I also agree that even our faith in God is a gift from Him. You can see this in Eph 2:8-10. However, I do hold that faith and belief are requirements for salvation. While it is given by God, it is absolutely required in order to know Him. Jesus says,

    “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

    I don’t want to get into a huge theological discussion here about free-will vs. God’s sovereignty. But to be sure, I believe in both. I urge Marion to believe, because Jesus urged people to believe. I am putting no “obligation” on her apart from what Jesus did.

    “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” ~ Mark 1:15

    “Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” ~ Mark 5:36

    While the spiritual reality is that faith is given by God, the way we perceive that faith being given is by us choosing to follow. By this I mean to us it seems we choose (even though in reality we are chosen). So by all means, I encourage people to choose God. The realization that they were really chosen by God can come later.

    You need to be careful about the implications of the theology you are espousing here. It has the dangerous potential, if taken to its ultimate conclusion, of downplaying the importance of preaching the gospel, sharing Jesus Christ and evangelizing the lost. If you go to the place where you hold a theology that there is no point in telling someone to repent and believe, then you have taken God’s sovereignty to place that is contrary to the Word. Jesus Himself commands us to go and make disciples (the great commission Matt 28:18-20). The verbs here are go, make, baptize, and teach. These actions are intended to tell us we need to do something. Paul expressed it this way:

    “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” ~ Romans 10:14-15

    My effort is to bring the good news to all who will listen. The good news does call people to repentance and faith. I can’t give them the faith. Only God can do that. However, I must be obedient to preach the truth and call them to it.

    Hopefully that clears it up a little.


  9. my sister and i loves to read christian books because it inspires us to live life in its fullest ~-‘

  10. jesthh Says:

    This article and the comments left have added considerably to my understanding! Thankyou very much for taking the time to write everything you have. I do, however, have some difficulties (most likely stemming from the VERY little knowledge I have of Christianity):

    Firstly, I have yet to understand how exactly our sins are removed because Jesus Christ died on the Cross. I know that he made the ultimate sacrifice so we did not have to carry the burden of being perfect for Him – but I still don’t quite understand how Jesus dying meant that we were forgiven! I feel that this gap in my understanding is indeed a huge abyss, for it is the basis of faith and belief, is it not? (Although I have faith and believe already – I’m just trying to learn it all now!)

    Secondly, I am conflicted with Jesus’ call for us to “go and make disciples”. Though I am proud to be Christian and God’s child, I will always maintain that everyone has the right to choose their religion – I don’t want to be ‘converting’ my friends or whatnot (though I will certainly voice my beliefs on my blog etc. should I feel like it). I think I just don’t quite agree with the task of ‘spreading’ Jesus’ word if people don’t want to hear it!

    I know these are probably common, rather broad and simplistic questions. Forgive me, I’m only eighteen and have just very very recently started to seriously understand Christianity! I really hope I can find answers to my questions soon :)!

    That being said, thankyou again for this article – I will hunt for more of your work to expand my knowledge!

    Much love,
    Jessica

  11. philippians1v21 Says:

    Thanks Jessica. These are very good questions. In fact they are some of the best I’ve heard in a while. I can see that God is at work in your heart. Keep asking questions like this and pursuing the answers and your knowledge of the Bible won’t be small for long. I want to address your two questions in two separate responses so that I can spend some time on each. I only have enough time right now to answer the first one, but I will also address the second when I get a chance.

    Your question about how exactly Jesus’ death takes away our sins is very intelligent. Indeed, I think most Christians probably struggle with understanding this point. I know I used to. My lack of understanding here came from my small understanding of who God is. The more I began to learn about who He is and how great He is, the more this idea of Jesus paying the penalty for me began to make sense.

    Let me see if I can help some. Many people will say, “God is love”. This is of course true (1 John 4:8), but it is also only one aspect of who God is. God is also just and holy. Did you know that the bible speaks about the wrath of God, His justice, and holiness WAY more than it does His love? His wrath alone is mentioned over 600 times! People will say, “But Jesus was this loving man who was so peaceful, nice and kind”. But, Jesus also spoke about hell more than anyone else in the bible! The very verse people quote above that said God is love (1 John 4:8) is immediately followed by this passage that talks about wrath and justice.

    “But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to satisfy His wrath and take away our sins.” ~ 1 John 4:8-10

    Did you catch that last part? God’s love is linked to the ultimate display of His wrath…the death of Jesus on the cross. In fact, the justice of God is the reason we know what love is. We see that God is love because God is just. The two go hand-in-hand.

    Let me explain why. Anger is not always bad, it can be a righteous virtue. Anger is the correct response to injustice. God is aroused slowly and often withholds His response (Ex 34:6-8 and Ps 78:38) but He does get angry with sin. In fact this response from Him is necessary. So why is this response from God necessary?

    We can’t understand the love of God without understanding his wrath. The bible says that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Ps 111:10). We need to first start our understanding of God with an understanding of His justice and holiness before we can rightly know what His love is. Paul starts out his presentation of the gospel in Romans with discussing the wrath of God (Rom 1:18). God’s love is not mentioned until the 5th chapter. This is why Paul starts here.

    God is just or righteous (same word in Hebrew and Greek). In fact, God’s holiness is His attribute that is most mentioned in Scripture (Some examples are: Deut 32:4 and Is 45:19). He does not (and cannot) overlook evil. If God did not punish all sin he would be unjust, unrighteous. He must be angry because of sin because God is good. His anger is directly linked to His goodness. He can’t be one and not have the other. In fact, the bible says that God is so holy that He can’t even look on sin (Hab 1:13)! God hates sin (Prov 6:16-19 and Zach 8:17). I believe if we understood how holy God really is it would totally blow us away. We would feel so dirty and ashamed of our sin. I think one day when we fully understand how ugly our sin is, we will start to grasp how we have wronged God.

    So you have these two huge parts of God’s character: His love and His justice. Both must be upheld. Both are equally important aspects of His character. One cannot be ignored in favor of the other or God would no longer be God. He cannot act outside of His very nature. If God just turned His back on all the evil, all the wrong things done in this world and just let it all go, He would be unjust. So the idea that people have, that “God is love” and therefore won’t punish them, is totally wrong. He must punish evil or He is no longer just. This doesn’t just apply to Hitler or Osama Bin Laden. It applies to my sin and yours. Either God is just or He isn’t. Wayne Grudem, theologian and Professor at Phoenix Seminary says it this way . . .

    “The Scripture points to two things [that are the ultimate cause of Christ coming to die for our sins]: the love and justice of God.”

    “The love of God as a cause of the atonement is seen in the most familiar passage in the Bible: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). But, the Justice of God also required that God find a way that the penalty due to us for our sins would be paid (for he could not accept us into fellowship with himself unless the penalty was paid). Paul explains this was why God sent Christ to be our “propitiation” (Romans 3:25 NASB)—That is, a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath so that God becomes “propitious” or favorably disposed toward us: it was “to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins” (Rom 3:25). Here Paul says that God had been forgiving sins in the Old Testament but no penalty had been paid—a fact that would make people wonder whether God was indeed just and ask how he could forgive sins without a penalty. No God who was truly just could do that, could he? Yet when God sent Christ to die and pay the penalty for our sins, “it was to prove that at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus” (Rom 3:26).”

    “Therefore, both the love and justice of God were the ultimate cause of the atonement. It is not helpful for us to ask which one is more important, because without the love of God, he never would have taken the steps to redeem us, yet without the justice of God, the specific requirement that Christ should earn our salvation by dying for our sins would not have been met. Both the love and justice of God are equally important.”

    Ok. There are some big ideas and large words in that quote. But hopefully it helps you to get a picture of the situation. God is just and therefore cannot let the penalty go unpaid. Jesus volunteers to pay the penalty so that God can remain just and display His love for us in a way that is completely unbelievable. This is why God couldn’t just wave His arms and forget all the sin. Nope, the debt had to be paid. The only way was for God to pay it Himself. He was the only one qualified to pay it. He alone was without His own sin. It had to be Jesus or we were doomed to hell forever.

    When Jesus went to the cross for us, God literally placed all of the guilt from our sins on Jesus (Isa 53:6, 12). Paul tells us that God made Christ “to be sin” (2 Cor 5:21) and that He became “a curse for us” (Gal 3:13). Hebrews says that Christ was “offered once to bear the sins of many” (Heb 9:28). Peter says, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). When Jesus was on the cross He became so filthy with our sin that God could no longer look upon him. God turned away, and for the first time in history Jesus felt separation from His Father. He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46)

    These verses tell us that it was God Himself that actually placed our sins on Jesus. But how could this be? In the same way that Adam’s sins were imputed to us (or bestowed on us) so also God imputed our sins to Christ, that is, that he thought of them as belonging to Christ. As a result in God’s eyes the penalty is paid. Additionally, God also imputed Christ’s righteousness to us. Not only are we not guilty before God if we have faith in Jesus, but when God looks down and sees you He see Christ’s good works, not yours!

    Some have objected that it was not fair for God to transfer guilt to an innocent person, but we need to remember that it was actually Jesus who volunteered to pay the penalty. There was no coercion. Jesus voluntarily went in our place. It reminds me of the seen in Hunger Games when Katniss takes the pace of her younger sister as “tribute” to play in the games. The difference, of course, is that in this situation it was an unjust debt. In our situation we owe it, big time!

    Hopefully that helps some. If not let me know where you are hung up and I’ll try to elaborate. I’ll address your second question in another post when I get a chance.

    In Love,
    Jake

  12. Nina Says:

    Thanks for everything you have written here Jake.

    As a Christian of many years I am still so young in my journey and it is a constant learning curve for me.

    The area I struggle with the most is how to convey God’s Love and sacrifice to those who really don’t want it to be true.

    Raised in a non-christian house I have been surrounded by non-christians all my life. My acceptance of Christ as a teenager was something that disturbed my non-christian family and to this day, they still question my faith.

    Their disbelief is primarily that God is a figment of ones imagination and is a means by which people seek solace in times of need or by which people try to control others. Therefore they want no part in it.

    For them to hear about God’s sacrifice for them, is meaningless because they feel there is nothing wrong with them and their life choices in the first place. On the other hand they feel that in saying humans are sinful and wrong Christians are passing judgement and trying to impose their beliefs on others. We are bigots and we are doing a horrible thing by trying to indoctrinate them and most especially their children.

    I have learned over the years to step back and to love my non-christian family and ignore their alternative lifestyle choices even though I don’t agree with them. For me to tell them in any way shape or form that they are being sinful and are doing wrong would cause them to feel anger and hatred towards my faith and to detest the fact that I love the Lord with all my heart.

    So how does one share the love of God with unbelievers who have serious concerns about the “evil cult known as Christianity” So far I have just tried to be loving and warm to them regardless of their lifestyle whilst making it clear that while I don’t chose to partake in some of their lifestyle choices and believe that they are not something acceptable for me and my family, I still love them. I don’t ‘Bible Bash’ them or try to indoctrinate them but at the same time just living my life doesn’t seem to be influencing them any closer to Christ either, at least not yet.

    I’d love to hear how you think Christians should relate to and approach non-believers who are vehemently opposed to Christianity and it’s perceived attempts to indoctrinate them.

    Thanks

  13. philippians1v21 Says:

    Nina, thanks for the comment and question. First I would just like to encourage you to keep pressing on fighting the good fight. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you to stand by your beliefs in such a hostile environment. Remember that God says you are blessed when you are persecuted for His name. In fact He says to consider it joy! That’s because you are storing up reward in heaven, which lasts forever while this life is so temporary.

    My advice to you would be to wage a campaign of prayer. Prayer is SO powerful! It is usually the first thing we talk about but the last thing we do. Pray for the Holy Spirit to work in your family; to convict them of sin and prepare the way for you to share. If your family made it clear that they do not want you to try to persuade them to believe, I think you should respect their wishes and pray that God would soften their hearts. Yiu cannot do anything to save them. Apart from a work of God in their hearts giving them faith, they will not hear or understand your words. This is what Paul tels us in 1 Cor 2:14. Consider fasting in and praying. I have found that fasting is a powerfull way to break strongholds of the enemy in people’s lives (Isaiah 58).

    As you pray for God to work in them, also pray the the Holy Spirit will fill you with the power to live like Jesus. you need to be able to love them like Jesus does…sacrficially. If they see a real change in you, how you react, how you serve, and how you love, they will see your faith as a source of strength, not a crutch to help the weak. study Jesus’ life; how He served, loved, forgave, and suffered. They will know your faith is real when they can see it lived out. Repay evil with kindness. Love when you are attacked. You cannot do this in your own power. It will have to be God working through you, this is why it is important to pray for Him to do this work in your heart. Confess your sin. Repent of anything God shows you that needs to change. Your focus needs to be on your life.

    As you do this eventually God wil begin to make headway into their hearts. God can use your life as contrast to theirs and point out their sin. He will guide you and show you when the proper time is to share why there is a change in you. This part takes some discernment so pray for that as well. As a general rule, wait until they ask you what is going on. When you do speak about God be sure do do it from a position of humility, acknowledging your many faults and showing thanks for how much God has saved you from. There are times when it is appropriate and necessary to point out their sin, but if they are seeing you and Christians as judgmental, then the best approach may be to talk about your sin and what God has saved you from.

    I wish you the best. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.

    With love in Christ,
    Jake

  14. Stephanie Says:

    Amen!!! <3

  15. Tony Says:

    if Christiantiy is not a religon than why dont your churches give up their tax-exempt statuses? as well a religon is belief i a god, or God, and thats what christians do, theorfore Christianity is not a relationship

  16. philippians1v21 Says:

    Tony,
    Your argument that churches don’t pay taxes doesn’t make your case that they are religions at all. Paying or not paying taxes has nothing to do with being a religion. Churches get tax breaks because they are “not-for-profit”, charitable organizations. It has absolutely nothing to do with if they are religions or not. If being tax-exempt defines you as a religion then Kiwanis, The Elks Club, Green Peace, and the Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs of America would be religions. Is that what you think?

    The key issue that you and I are disagreeing over is the definition of “religion”. The word religion certainly has many definitions (like many words in the English language). When you are going to discuss whether Christianity is a religion or not it is very important to define exactly what you mean by “religion”. I have done this very clearly in my blog above. By the definition that I am using, Christianity is NOT a religion. Do you disagree that Christianity is not a religion by the definition that I gave?

    If you define “religion” to simply mean a belief in a god, then certainly, Christianity would fall under that description. No argument there. We agree. However, this is not the common use of the word. It is not what most people mean when they talk about religions or say that someone is “very religious”. There is much more implied there than that they believe in a god of some kind. Also, people can believe in the existence of a god but not be religious and not belong to any religion. Your definition of religion (a belief in a god) isn’t very helpful and is too broad for the context of this blog.

    Your argument that Christianity is not a “relationship” because it is a “belief” makes no sense at all. I believe in the existence of my wife. Does it then follow that I don’t have a relationship with her? Belief is absolutely necessary in order to have a relationship. It’s kind of the first step in a relationship. Unless I believe in the existence of someone, it’s going to be hard to have a relationship with them. I believe in God BECAUSE I have a relationship with Him. This is no different than the fact that I believe in the existence of my wife because I know her.

  17. Tony Says:

    the defintion of religon is one THAT YOU INVENTED, not its proper meaning!

  18. Joe Chambers Says:

    If you are going to comment here,Tony, you need to bring an argument and not just verbally stick your tongue out because you don’t like the response. That is not intellectually honest.

  19. Tony Says:

    and what kind of realtionship is it if you cant see hear, touch, smell or taste, If you look at what it involves, this “relationship” with God / Jesus Christ is indeed an odd one. In it, a Christian is supposed to obey God without question. He/she does NOT have the freedom to disagree or hold opinions contrary to Bible teaching. This means that he/she cannot say to God, “I love you God. But I don’t agree with what you said in the Bible here and here…” To do so would mean he/she was not a true Christian, and the church would not accept such an opinion either. Instead, any believer disagreeing with God or parts of the Bible in ANY issue would be encouraged or lectured to submit and acknowledge that God’s opinions/ways are perfect, righteous, and therefore there is no disagreeing with it, and to do so is morally wrong.

    what kind of relationship is that-one between a slave driver and the guys thats picking cotton….

  20. philippians1v21 Says:

    I can’t see you or hear you or smell or taste you. Does that mean you don’t exist or that it is impossible to have a relationship with you? The fact that we are communicating shows that at some level we ARE having a relationship. I may not be able to see God, but I can and certainly do hear Him and feel Him. My relationship with Him is undeniably real. Since I am the only one who can testify what MY relationship with God like, I think I am in the best position to comment on it. I am the world’s leading expert on my relationship with God.

    He is very real. He speaks to me frequently in unmistakable ways. He stirs my heart and my spirit and moves me to want and desire new things that I never thought I would ever desire before. It is only someone who knows God, who has experienced this same thing that can understand this or will believe it. But, once you have, there is no doubting it. My relationship with Jesus is as real to me as any earthly relationship. In so many ways it is deeper. It is one of mutual love.

    That is what you cannot understand without experiencing it. The relationship between me and my Savior is not one of slave to master. It is one of close brother to brother. It is one of son to loving Father. I don’t choose to obey God out of fear or compulsion. I gladly choose to obey because I love Him and I know that He knows what is best. His plan and His way is the best way. It is in my best interest to follow Him because He knows everything (all ways) and has chosen the best path for me. Additionally, He is continually at work in my heart changing me. He gives me new desires and I find that I no longer want to go my way. I am able to see a little more from God’s perspective and I start wanting to go His way. So, I find I am actually doing what I WANT to do, not obeying out of compulsion.

    There are certainly times when I disobey and go my own way and not His. However, without fail this turns out to my detriment and to the detriment of those I love. When I repent and turn back to His way He is always there with open arms welcoming me back and helping me want to grow. When I don’t agree with the bible or with God, it is me that is wrong, not Him. What arrogance to think that we can tell God what is right and that He is wrong. It is simply a fact that God is right. It is His very nature. He cannot be un-right. Right and wrong only make sense in relation to God. God is the very DEFINITION of right. Without an external God separated from His creation there is no such thing as objective right an wrong. We would have no concept of right or wrong apart from God. Everything would be purely subjective.

    So, of course God is right. That doesn’t mean I always agree or that I always obey. However, your idea that this means you don’t have a real relationship is ludicrous. I have a real relationship with my earthly Father. However, there are certainly times when we disagreed. I frequently disobeyed my Dad’s rules and did what I wanted to do. Yes, this was wrong. Yes, it was “morally wrong” for me to disobey my father. There were consequences when I disobeyed. But this didn’t change the fact that my father loves me. My relationship didn’t change. He was still my father and I was still his son. I still have a relationship with him (in fact a very good one). I am not his slave just because he gave me healthy boundaries, set rules and called me to obey them. They were for my safety and well being. Do you think that perhaps my Dad may have know a few more things that I, as an 8 year old boy, did? Is it possible he might have known better than I did if it was a good idea for me to go walking around town at midnight? Perhaps the almighty God of the universe might know a little bit more than you do? Just say’n.

    Your root issue here is your unwillingness to surrender your will to God’s will. You are a sinner. Like all of us you have chosen to rebel against the holy, just and good God of this universe. You have thumbed you nose at Him and and the sound of submitting to Him is like nails on a chalk board to you. You would rather continue to go your way because you have believed the lie that you know better than God what is good and right for you. If you only could see the truth that of what you are missing. If you only knew that the real freedom, the real joy, the real hope, the real life is only found when you fulfill the purpose for which you were created and repent of your way and let God lead.

    It is my prayer that you will. There is a real eternal hell at stake here. Just as God cannot be un-right, He can also not be unjust. His very character is just. He must punish evil and sin. If He overlooked it He would be unjust. The only hope of escaping this punishment is the fact that Jesus agreed to take this punishment for those who repent and agree to let God lead. Jesus stepped in on the cross and took our punishment, the penalty that we rightly deserved so that God could remain just and so that we could live. This was the only way both could be satisfied. If you do not repent and place God in His rightful position of Lord of your life, you will pay for your own sin in hell for all eternity. However, if you swallow your pride, admit you are wrong and that He is right, and place your trust in Him, you can live forever with Him in a love relationship that will grow and grow for eternity.

    This is the most rewarding and wonderful relationship you could ever have. I know from personal experience. I was where you are now. But I gave in, I realized my way was not the right way. I realized that I was drinking out of the toilet when I was being offered fresh, purified water. I came to Him dirty and full on sin and my own pride. I laid it all at the foot of His cross and repented and it was all gone, in an instant. He took it all upon Him and suddenly I was set free in a way I cannot express. I have never been the same since. I am a new person. I truly do desire this for you. I will pray for you and I am here if you have any questions.

    Dear God, please work in Tony’s heart and help him to see you for who you are. The greatest thing he has never known.

  21. Matiny Louis Says:

    How do you explain the quote “Those who love me keep my commandments?”

  22. philippians1v21 Says:

    Matiny,
    This is a good question. You are referring to John 14:15. Ironically (and most likely not coincidentally), it is a subject that was directly discussed in the sermon preached at my church on the same day you posted your comment. Pastor Daniel does an excellent job of answering your question and discussing the Law and its purposes in yesterday’s sermon, titled “God Says”. I highly recommend that you listen to this sermon. I think it will help answer your question and provide you with my perspective in better detail. You can find the full sermon here: http://thebridgetolife.com/wordpress/?p=1700

    The sermon above is much more thorough than I can be here, but I will try to give a quick summary of my thoughts.

    The scriptures are very clear that we, as New Testament followers of Jesus, are not under the specific and direct commands of the Old Testament law. This can be clearly seen in numerous Scripture passages. A few are: Eph. 2:11-16, Romans 10:4, Hebrews 7:12, 8:13, and 2 Cor. 3:4-18. The Mosaic Law was not intended as a universal and eternal reflection of the will of God. It was intended for a particular time, place and people. In Christ, it is no longer binding. Abel, Noah, Abraham and many others were declared righteous before the law. Moses, Joshua, David, the prophets and many others born under the law were declared righteous not through obedience to the law but through faith in the promises of God. Now, in Christ, we relish in the final revelation of the fulfillment of the promises in the coming of the object of the faith (Jesus Christ) who alone justifies.

    We are not under the law but under grace (Romans 6:14). However, this is not a passport for living how we want and thumbing our nose at God. As Paul said, “By no means!” (Romans 6:1-2). Instead of the old law we are under the “law of Christ”. This is what Jesus meant when he says, “keep my commandments”. But what is the law of Christ? This can be answered by looking at a few verses. . .

    “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” ~ Gal 6:2

    “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” ~ John 15:12-14

    The law of Christ is love; love for others and love for God. Jesus tells us that love fulfills the whole law (Matt 22:38-40). We are called to love. By doing so, we fulfill all the intent and purpose of the rules of the law without needed to obey the letter. Jesus actually modeled this for us when He was on earth.

    But, the problem remains that we still don’t have the ability to live this way. That is where the passage you asked about comes in. Look at the verse the immediately follows the one you quote, John 14:16 . . .

    “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” ~ John 14:16-17

    He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us with this commandment to love. Thus it is actually His work, not ours. The Holy Spirit empowers us and helps us love overcoming our selfishness.

    Paul explains that obeying the law doesn’t make us righteous. He says that if you try to obey part of the law then you are obligated to keep the whole thing . . . every piece of it. He says that such people have “fallen away from grace” and are “severed from Christ”. He goes on to say that “the only thing that counts is faith working through love” (Gal 5:2-6). As we place our faith in God, he changes our hearts. The Holy Spirit helps us to genuinely love God and love others. This faith works itself out as love in our lives. Therefore, those who have faith will love, and thus, fulfill the law of Christ.

    Hopefully that helps some. Please watch the sermon for a better explanation.


  23. so there is nothing wrong with drinking alcohol and not listening to certain type of music.

  24. philippians1v21 Says:

    Not sure i understand your post. There may not be anything wrong with it, depending on why you are doing/not doing these things. These things themselves have no moral implications. They are just things. How they are used and why they are used is what is relevant. It is always about the heart.

  25. pradeepa Says:

    Why there are so many denominations in christianity?

  26. philippians1v21 Says:

    Pradeepa,
    The short answer to your question is that it is because of sin. Sin always divides. As I explained in the post above, sin separates us from God. It also separates us from each other. We see this every day. As a result of sin, marriages split up, friends part ways, relationships are strained, etc. Relationships are always impacted when we sin (usually our horizontal relationships with others, but always our vertical relationship with God). We repeatedly see this example in the Bible. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, they became separated from God. Their close, personal relationship with Him wasn’t the same anymore. We see this with the Nation of Israel. When King Solomon sins by worshiping idols, the result is that his kingdom is divided. It is split into two kingdoms (Israel and Judah). The once unified Nation of Israel is torn in two as a result of this sin.

    This is similar to what has happened to the Church. God did not desire for Jesus’ Bride, the Church, to be divided. Jesus’ prayer for the Church was that we would be unified, united just like Jesus is united with the Father (John 17:20-23 also 1 Corinthians 12:15). However, when Jesus left, Satan remained. His desire is to spread dissension and division (Romans 6:16-20). The Church has a real enemy that is continually warring against it to try to create as much division as possible. Additionally, Christians still have sinful natures. We are far from perfect! We still sin. Sin also has the effect of clouding our minds so that we cannot perceive things correctly. It tends to skew our interpretation of things. Thus, there were many disagreements of how to interpret various things in Scripture.

    The result of this sin is that divisions came up. Christians didn’t always agree on everything. Sometimes they even fought over these disagreements. In most cases these disagreements and different interpretations of Scripture were not major, but were more minor. However, it is the proclivity of mankind to focus on our differences instead of the more important points we agree on. Some of these points of disagreement are listed in my post above (what day of the week to meet on, forms of music to use, ritualistic prayers, dietary requirements, etc). These things are minor points and should not cause fellow believers in Christ to divide. But, all too often, our sinfulness comes out and we fear those who do not agree with us. We do not give our brothers and sisters in Christ the freedom (as Paul urges) to be “fully convinced on his own mind” of the way he thinks while not “passing judgment on the other” (Romans 14:5, 13).

    In addition to these minor points, theological differences caused division. Many of these differences are about concepts about God and how He works that are very difficult for us humans to understand (such as the role of human free will in relationship to the sovereignty of God). Other theological points of disagreement centered on who should be baptized and how. People disagreed on the proper use of spiritual gifts (with some people leaning more towards supernatural experience with the Holy Spirit and others leaning more toward intellectual disciplines like reading and studying God’s word).

    Instead of bearing with one another and allowing each other to disagree on minor matters like this, churches split up over them. They formed whole organizations of churches around their way of thinking. Groups who believed that the right way to baptize was by immersing the person in water instead of sprinkling water over them split off. Groups of churches that believed that infants should be baptized at birth joined together and separated themselves from churches that believed only believers in Christ should be baptized.

    The result was that the Church, as a whole, lost out. In most of these cases there are correct points on both sides (as well as some errors and over reactions). We cannot put God in a box, and the reality is that we need perspective of the whole Church to better understand Him. By surrounding ourselves with only the people who think like us, everyone loses. I look forward to the day when Jesus returns and there will no longer be any denominations, nations, or any other divisions; only followers of Jesus. God will correct all the wrong thinking in all of us, align us and help all of us to see and understand more of Him than we can now.

    That is my short answer, I hope it helps some. Let me know if I didn’t directly address what you were after.

  27. Nina Says:

    Pradeepa the various different denominations to my understanding have come about much in the same way that cultural differences come about. When the disciples were sent out to all the ends of the earth to spread the Good News, they naturally came across people from very diverse backgrounds and cultures which resulted in slightly different traditions and practices within the one faith. I imagine a lot of this is reflected in the various different denominations that you come across today.

  28. philippians1v21 Says:

    Nina,
    Thanks for the response. However, that is not really historically accurate. For the first 1,000 + years of the Church there were no separate denominations, just one Church. The Church had already spread over the entire known world. It wasn’t until the “Great Schism” that occurred in 1054 that the Church began to divide. At this point it split in two. It further divided when the Protestant Reformation occurred in the 16th century. The king of England also split the church in 1534 because he wanted to get a divorce. For a good summary of the actual history you can see this link: http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/denominations/history.htm

  29. gohar Says:

    Hi, I heard that when people die, instead of going directly to heaven or hell, they sleep until the day God would comes back and question us about our sins. I was just wondering if that was correct?

  30. philippians1v21 Says:

    Gohar,
    That is called “soul sleep” theology. It is false teaching. The bible never teaches that. There are several clear bible passages that directly contradict it. One example is Jesus’ words to the thief on the cross in Luk 23:43, “Today you will be with me in Paradise“. Also, Jesus rebukes the Sadducees by claiming that “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Mk 12:27). Jesus claimed He would never die (John 5:24 and 8:51). Also, Moses and Elijah join Jesus on the mountain top when He is transfigured (Matt 17:1-4). They are clearly alive and not asleep. The apostle John sees saints alive in Heaven when he is taken there by an angel in Revelation. Paul very pointedly confronts this bad theology when he asserts that to be “absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8).

    Here is a web site that goes into more length refuting soul sleep: http://www.pmiministries.com/soul_sleep.htm

    Hopefully that helps.

  31. Alex Says:

    So Christians, why is your religion more valid, than say, Hinduism? Judaism? Islamicism? Buddhism? Sikhism? What is so veeeery believable about Christianity that you take it above all other religions?


  32. [...] many important differences between Christianity and the other religions.  I pointed out a few in a previous blog, (such as how Christianity is unique in the fact that is about God coming to man instead of man [...]

  33. philippians1v21 Says:

    Alex,
    This is a good question. I chose to write a blog post to answer it. This will allow me a little more space to more fully address your question. See blog linked below:

    http://missionarybrewer.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/why-believe-in-christianity-over-other-religions/

  34. DS Says:

    Your entire essay here can easily be undone by the first sentence of your fabricated definition for religion.

    “Religion is a system of beliefs or a code of moral conduct that judges (qualifies or disqualifies) a person based on their adherence and obedience to certain codes, rules, laws, traditions, or the performance of required acts.”

    Christianity is built on the “system of belief” that you must accept Jesus as your savior. Accepting Jesus “qualifies” you to go to heaven. In order to go to heaven, you must “adhere” to believing Jesus was the savior.

    Done and done.

  35. philippians1v21 Says:

    DS, thank you for the comment. However you have hardly refuted what I’m saying. In fact, it seems you have completely missed (or intentionally avoided) my entire point. Yes, Christianity is a system of beliefs that one adheres to. That is not my point, though. I was very specific in how I defined religion. I specifically laid out WHAT religion adheres to: “codes, rules, laws, traditions, or the performance of required acts”. “Believing” is not mentioned in that list. Christianity is unique in that it is a belief without requiring anything more than believing. All religions require belief + performance of works. It is this last part that characterizes religion. Religion says you have to EARN it. In Christianity the work is already done by God. All that is necessary is to trust is His work. Jesus earned it for us on the cross.

    Everyone has a belief that they adhere to. This is even true for those who don’t believe in a god. They BELIEVE there is no god. Religion is not just believing something. If that were true, then physicists would be religious because they believe in Newton’s laws of motion. Just because you believe something doesn’t mean you are “religious” about it. Religion is a belief that requires you to to do something to earn favor from God. This is why Christianity is so different from the others. It is unique in that it isn’t about what you do you. You can’t do anything to earn it.

    Hopefully this helps you understand my point better.

  36. Brian Says:

    I am a Born again Christian and I will say this again and again till
    The Day Jesus comes Back what I believe in is Not a religion
    Nor does it have anything to do with Religion. Religion is the reason
    why they are killing us innocent Men Woman and Children..
    I believe in Relationship with Jesus and Following Him Trusting Jesus
    Be all That I need. Not some code of men made Rules/

  37. bhav Says:

    Having been born & raised in Hindu Religion, I was trying to find truth based on “self efforts” & “works”. As nothing was working, I did participate in Buddhist meditation, astrology and many other mechanism, rituals & scientific technics. The end result was complete failures.
    By Grace of God, someone shared “Gospel” 3 years ago and got “Born Again” & “Baptized in the Holy Spirit” without attending any church or following rules & regulations. Jesus changed my life entirely instantaneously and the peace he gave me is unspeakable & beyond human comprehension.
    Devil is using people to tempt me by asking, “are you converted”?
    Answer is = YES, I’m converted from SIN to Righteousness (of Christ by faith).
    It’s Not a Religion at all and saved by Grace through faith alone.
    I sometimes prefer to use word “Believer” rather than christian while you are in midst of unbelievers and sharing the Gospel because there are 100s of christian denomination and religions out there to conuse people. I believe God has chosen me to share Gospel among Hindus and will use some of the teaching shared here on this blog.
    I’m following some good teaching form….
    Peter Youngren, Joseph Prince, Andrew Wommack, Pastor Chris – All Grace based teaching and nothing to do with religion.
    thank you
    bhav

  38. philippians1v21 Says:

    Bhav,
    God bless you. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

  39. Jill Says:

    I have goose bumps from reading all of this. To everyone who responded so kindly to the people who had questions and doubts, may God bless you. All I know is that my life has dramatically changed since I invited Jesus Christ our Lord into my life. I am not religious, but instead have a wonderful relationship with Him.
    Jill

  40. Tubs Says:

    As I have learned over the years, trying is religion. Jesus never said try in His Word he said “know me”. If you let Jesus captured you heart you would not be trying anymore because you will be living it. There wouldn’t be no more trying. Let Jesus capture your heart.

  41. philippians1v21 Says:

    Tubs,
    Thank you for your comment. I must disagree with you, however. That is not at all what I intend to say with this blog post. Trying does not equal religion; or at least it doesn’t always equal religion. It totally depends on WHY you are trying.

    It should be clearly understood that the bible calls us to try to live how God wants us. We are to try to live like Jesus did. In 1 Cor 9:27 Paul says that he “disciplines his body to keep it under control.” He exhorts Timothy to “toil and strive” (1 Tim 4:9-11). We are to “strive to excel in building up the church” (1 Cor 14:12). Paul provides us an example by telling the Church that “we labor, working with our own hands.” (1 Cor 4:12) He testifies the he “worked harder than any of them [the other Apostles]” (1 Cor 15:10). He addresses us as “fellow workers and laborers” (1 Cor 16:16). He calls us to “walk in a manor worthy of the Lord…bearing fruit in every good work” (Col 1:10). Paul says “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Col 1:29). He goes on to exhort us “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Col 3:23). Paul provides his example by saying “For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God” (1 Thes 2:9, see also 2 Thes 3:8). He tells us to “devote ourselves to good works” (Tit 3:14). The author of Hebrews says we should “strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall to disobedience” (Heb 4:11). There are countless more I could list.

    Clearly it is not “trying” that is bad. The above verses (among many others) make it very easy to see that as Christians we are indeed called to strive, toil, work, obey, and labor. These are descriptions of “trying”. Not just trying but trying very hard!

    “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…” ~Heb 10:24

    When then, does it become religion? The answer to this question is what I was attempting to explain in this blog. It is all about why you are working. Why are you trying? It is because you think you can earn God’s love or favor? Do you think you can make him love you more by doing good things? If so, THIS is religion. If you think it is like earning a reward, then you are working from religion.

    However, that is not why Paul and the other New Testament authors worked hard. Paul understood that his good works were worthless. . .

    “Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.

    I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” ~ Philippians 3:4-9

    Paul understood that he had to discard these attempts to earn favor from God and rely only on God to make up the gap and save him. He threw his pitiful attempts to earn God’s favor away like last week’s garbage. He understood that it is not what YOU do that earns you favor in God’s eyes but it is what JESUS did on the cross.

    However, it was the understanding of how much grace and mercy God had shown him that made him want to work so hard. He worked hard out of love for God and a desire to show gratitude with his life. He also worked hard to gain an eternal reward in heaven. God promises that he will reward all the work that is genuinely done for His glory. Paul “strived toward the goal, to win the prize” (Phil 3:14).

    So, it is not trying that is religious. If so, then we should just do whatever we want. That is NOT biblical Christianity. We are still called to try and try as hard as we can. But, our reason for trying has changed. We now try out of love and gratitude and in expectation of an eternal reward that will never fade away.

  42. Tubs Says:

    :) Awesome, agreed. Now I know

  43. Tubs Says:

    Wondering are you a pastor?

  44. philippians1v21 Says:

    Yes I am a pastor, but not vocationally (that isn’t what I get paid to do). I am an Elder/pastor at The Bridge Church of Snohomish County. I also work as an Engineer at The Boeing Company. Glad I could help. God bless.

  45. Tubs Says:

    I am doing a research paper on Christianity vs Religion how being a Christian is religious or a religion. do you have advice for me to put into the paper?

  46. Brenda Williams Says:

    Good morning Mr. Driscoll How are you? I do believe in the Word of God. I do believe Christianity is not a religion of system of rules it is based on relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. Their are so much cult religions out their in the world that is based on a system of rules by man. Since we have a relationship and believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. The enemy wants to hurt us by killing us off because we believe in our Lord Jesus Christ and not a false God..

  47. Amanda Says:

    So you’ve made up your own definition of “religion” that conveniently allows you to distance yourself from religions you disagree with. Just because Christianity only has one rule–“believe that Jesus Christ came to earth and died for your sins”–doesn’t make it not a religion. “You must believe in this particular god” is still a rule. You just made up the part about how true religions require “belief + performance of works.” It’s something you invented to set Christianity apart as a non-religion. But words mean things, and that’s not what “religion” means in the English language.

    Merriam-Webster defines religion as:

    1 a : the state of a religious
    b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
    2: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
    3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
    4: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

    All of these prominent sources call Christianity a religion:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity

    http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/american_english/Christianity?q=christianity

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Christianity

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/christianity

    http://ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=Christianity&submit.x=13&submit.y=19

    I suppose everyone is free to make up their own definition of words, but you can hardly blame the rest of the world for not acknowledging your invented definition.

  48. philippians1v21 Says:

    Amanda,
    First off, thanks for the comment. I hope you understand that what I have written comes from a desire to help you and others. I don’t have any desire to argue or attack you. It is certainly perfectly fine if we disagree on this. I wish you the best and hope that just because we don’t agree doesn’t mean we can’t do so with goodwill and respectfully.

    I appreciate your point that many dictionaries and other sources do not define religion as I have done here. I know and understand this. The truth is that there is not great agreement on the actual definition. I surveyed several sources with widely differing definitions. There are also many that include my definition as one of the definitions for religion, so I am not out in left field by myself here. Consider these:

    From Dictionary.com:
    2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects
    3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices
    5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith

    From the freedictionary.com:
    3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
    4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

    From the Dictionary of Word Origins: “Latin religio originally meant ‘obligation, bond.’

    I could certainly site others. Notice the use of practices, obligation, activity, devotion, and rituals above. So no, I didn’t make this up. The point here is that there is certainly a use and way in which the word religion can mean exactly what I am saying here. I think that the vastly different definitions for this word show that you can’t claim the exclusivity of one definition. I think this gives me some room to point out that there is a major element contained in all of all the world religions that is absolutely missing in Christianity.

    If you want to argue that this doesn’t make Christianity NOT a religion, fine. That just comes down to an argument over how you want to define religion. As Patrick McNamara once said, “Try to define religion and you invite an argument.” Indeed. But it isn’t a very beneficial argument. The point is that there is something vastly different about Christianity. This is the point you are missing here. There is something common to all religions that is absent in Christianity.

    You say “You must believe in this particular god” is still a rule”. But this is not true. Belief is NOT something you can chose to do. It is not an action. You don’t perform it. It is a state of being. It is something you either possess or you don’t possess. It is like the color of your skin. I can’t change the color of my skin by doing anything.

    Think about it, if I told you right now to “believe” there is a pink elephant floating above your head now, could you? What if I offered to pay you $200 if you believed that? No you could not. You could think about a pink elephant but you do not actually believe it is floating over your head. This is because your will does not control your beliefs. You believe what you think is actually true based on the evidence you observe. If belief is not an action of your will, then it isn’t something you actually control. You either have it or you don’t. Rules are about choices. Rules govern behavior, not mental states of being.

    Additionally, I agree that Christianity depends on belief. Belief is a requirement, but this is not an action you perform. It is something you either have or don’t have. If you possess it, it is something given to you by God. This is made clear in the bible in Ephesians 2:8-10. Similarly, all other religions require belief. Even non-religions require belief. Everyone has belief. This is because it is a state of mind. You believe something. You cannot be absent belief. If “belief in something” is the state of every person in the world it is unfair to point to belief as a rule particular to Christianity.

    Yes, Christianity requires belief, but so does anything else. So does Buddhism, Islam, Shintoism, or even atheism. But, there is a fundamental difference about Christianity from all the other world religions that you are refusing to acknowledge: that is all that is required . . . faith. Every other religion adds to this works, rituals, acts of service, essentially requiring you to earn it yourself. You can say that Christianity is still a religion, but this doesn’t change this undeniable difference. There is truly something VERY unique about Christianity. This is the point I am trying to get across here. Jesus has already done all the work for you. He has earned your redemption and restoration. He has actually dealt with sin and evil and addressed it (something no other religions does). Christianity is the only one to address the problem of evil and offer a solution.

    You said,” you just made up the part about how true religions require “belief + performance of works.” Ok. I don’t agree that I made it up. I’m not that original. I am certainly not that smart. But, even if what you say is true and I made up that all other religions require belief + works, am I wrong? Is this not an accurate statement? Think about it for a moment. What religion doesn’t require you to DO something in addition to having faith in order to earn your way back to God? What other religion says that nothing you do will ever get you closer to God and that all your attempts to “do good things” to earn favor from God or earn heaven are “worthless”? What other religion has God doing the work needed to make it right Himself? Don’t you agree there is something very unique and special here?

    I sincerely wish you the best, Amanda. I pray that you will not see this response as argumentative. Regardless of whether you and I agree on if Christianity is a religion or not, I hope that we can both agree on the vast, amazing way in which it is different and unique. I hope that you will spend some time considering how different Christianity is. I truly think that it is the only one that makes any sense. I do not understand how anyone could think that sinful, flawed humans can try to earn our own way to a perfect and holy God. Even if I were perfect and totally righteous from this day on, it doesn’t erase all the evil I have done in my past. How can I expect a perfectly just God to overlook the things I have already done? I can never earn this. I know I am a sinner and I know that my penalty needs to be paid and I can’t pay it. Then here is the offer of Christianity: God offers to pay it for me. This actually makes sense, since He is the only one qualified to pay it. This allows Him to remain just, punishing the evil but also to display His love by not giving me what I deserve.

    God bless,
    Jake McWhirter

  49. Maryjo Says:

    Jake, I so enjoyed your article…the scripture specifically states that we must “Obey” Gods Law…not to be confused with “Religion” or “Works” as many would suggest…I believe in the literal “Word of God” which is breathed by God and only God…when Men attempt to take God’s word and slice it up any way they please to exact their earthly mission or agendai…attempting to “Play God” for whatever reason…then this is tragic because in the end many will think they are “Heaven Bound” when in actuality they are being deceived and remaining in their ignorance at the sake of “Truth” and allowing a Man (Preacher) to do all the work while sitting in church on Sunday never having given any thought or concern to testing or checking “all” things…”Does this line up with The Word of God”??…There is only one God, One Body, One Church anything other than the word of God is heretical and of this world…that includes “Denominations”…God is not the “Author of Confusion” rather His desire for a church was a “forethought” not an “afterthought”…and never did God mean to have his Body “Chopped Up”…Go to THETRUTHABOUT.NET….

    In Christ Enduring Love,

    Maryjo

  50. philippians1v21 Says:

    Maryjo,
    Thanks for the comment. I absolutely agree with you. God saved us not because of our works, but he also has called us to do works which he has appointed for us. Consider Eph 2:8-10. This idea is made explicit.

    “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

    I talk some about this idea in some of my response to comments. Consider my response to Matiny’s comment above.

  51. philippians1v21 Says:

    Thanks. I’m not Mr. Driscoll, but Jake welcomes you :)

  52. Sanya moses Says:

    I really love this page,because it is saying the truth

  53. Michael Hassan Says:

    Id’e just like to say thank you so much to philippians1v21’s response to Marion as it was exactly what I needed to hear at the right time to give me that boost and clear my own mind, I believe God did really inspire you to write it, Jesus paid our sins and full and Christianity is a gift not a religion, bang on wish I noticed that earlier, Thank you and God bless.

  54. Abby Says:

    I am so glad I found this page. Thank you so much for clearing things up for me. I have a question for you philipians. Could you please help me understand the tithe in the Church. There is so much controversy on this topic. I thought that was something that was done only in the old testament. I would greatly appreciate your help in helping me understanding this topic. Thanks.

  55. philippians1v21 Says:

    Abby, thanks. I’m glad I could help. You ask a very good question about tithing. It is true that in the Old Testament the Jews were required to give a tenth (10%) of everything they earned to God. Hence the word tithe. However, we are not under the law anymore so this requirement doesn’t directly apply to us. Many Christians will mistakingly try to apply this to us today, but I never do so.

    Like many New Testament ideas it is much more ambiguous (and fuzzy) than the old Law. In some ways the law was easier because it was so cut and dry. The New Covenant is all about relationship and listening the the guiding of the Holy Spirit. There are very few cut and dry rules. Because we each have the Holy Spirit we are given much more freedom to listen to His individual guidance for each of us. This does not mean it is easier now or that the call to holiness is less high. It just means we need to put out a little more work to determine what we should do. We should pray and ask the Spirit to help us know how much we should give.

    Whenever I am asked what percentage we are required to give now I always answer “100%”. Jesus calls for 100% of our lives. He asked the Rich Young Ruler (Matt 19:17-26) to give up everything and His call is the same for us. He says whoever loves this life will lose it but whoever gives up this life will gain life (John 12:25). This means you can’t come to Jesus and say “you can have 10%”. It is all or nothing (Romans 12:1). The call in the New Testament is much higher.

    This doesn’t mean you literally have to give all your money to the Church. It could mean that, but most likely not. It means you should pray about what percentage of God’s money you should keep. He has given it to you so that you can use it for His glory. Your money is like the talents given to the servants in Matthew 25:14-30. God has entrusted it to you so that you can make wise use of His money. We should alwyas be looking for what will bring the greatest glory to God. Ultimately, we will all answer for what we did with it. You can bring glory to Him by loving and caring for your family. He calls us to do this. But, he also calls us to act like we are aliens here and this isn’t our true home. There isn’t one set percentage for everyone, but all Christians should be generous and to give sacrificially (like the example of the widow in Mark 12:41-44 also Paul’s instruction in 1 Timothy 6:17-18)

    Typically 10% is a good starting point but you should always be striving to grow more in your giving. I have found that you cannot out give God. My personal experience is the more I give the greater He blesses me. This doesn’t mean it is always financial, but God does bless us that way too. Give sacrificially (enough that it hurts and requires faith). Give regularly (to your local church body). And give cheerfully. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7). If you give out of compulsion you might as well not give at all. These three principles are good general guidelines to help you.

    God bless,

    Jake M.

  56. Edwin Says:

    I’m sorry to tell this but Christianity is indeed a religion. Also in the so called evangelical churches (that claim it’s about having a relationship with Christ) a lot of religious activity is taken place (tithing, church attendance, obidience to leaders/holy men, rituals like baptism/holy supper, offerings, etc) One of the first things church has taught me was that it’s about having a PERSONAL relationship with Christ… but others set the rules and principles for that relationship. Christianity (or Churchianity) is so institutionalized that it, in my opinion, is totally different from following Jesus. I try to follow Jesus and not the religion called Christianity. I do not agree with a lot of christian views. When somebody asks if I’m a Christian; I answer by stating that it depends on what he means with the word ‘christian’.

  57. philippians1v21 Says:

    Edwin,
    Thanks for your comment. I think responded to yourself. Let’s compare the first and last sentences of your comment. You said, “I’m sorry to tell this but Christianity is indeed a religion.” Then you said, “When somebody asks if I’m a Christian; I answer by stating that it depends on what he means with the word ‘christian’”. I totally agree that it depends on what you mean by “Christian”. I just think it is strange that you emphatically insist Christianity is always a religion and then say that it depends on what you mean by “Christian”.

    In the same way that you could be called a “Christian” but you don’t follow all the “rules” and don’t go in for the “internationalization” is the same way I am saying Christianity (true Christianity) is not a religion. It would seem that you actually agree with me. You define your beliefs as “following Jesus” and you say this is “totally different” from “Churchianity” that is religious. You “Follow Jesus not the religion called Christianity”. Fair enough. So do I. That is actually what I mean above when I am talking about Christianity. So we agree. True Christianity isn’t religious.

    You also say that “so called evangelical churches (that claim it’s about having a relationship with Christ) a lot of religious activity is taken place (tithing, church attendance, obedience to leaders/holy men, rituals like baptism/holy supper, offerings, etc)”. I agree that activity is taking place but just because people are doing things doesn’t necessarily make them religious. It could be religion, and I’m sure for many it is. But that doesn’t mean it is always religion for all of them. I do many of these things, but I don’t do them to earn favor with God. I certainly give money to the church but not because I am compelled to, or because I think it gets me favor in God’s eyes. I do it because I want to help support the church and pay the pastor who gives so much to me and because I want to help others and because I love God and it is an act of worship. You can give something freely without it being religion. It’s only religion if you are under compulsion or if you are doing it to earn something. By your understanding no one could never do anything good, help anyone, or ever attend church or they would be religious. This is ridiculous. You simply don’t grasp what religion is and how it is different than love, joyous giving, serving, appreciation, and celebration. Don’t be so quick to judge the “so called evangelical churches”. Most have it more right than wrong.

  58. Edwin Says:

    Thanks for your reply. Indeed we do agree in a lot of things. The thing is that I have heard this statement (christianity is not a religion) too often. I really believe it is a statement by which people look down on others (i.e. so called religious people) I am not saying that you do (sorry for my english… It’s not my mother tongue) You say that you give money and a lot of other things because you want to do this and without compulsion. But how can we say that, when a Jew is keeping the Sabbath, he is religious? Perhaps he wants to do this because he believes it to be a good and healthy thing and not a rule that he has to observe or else…
    We must be honest to others and ourselves! When a pastor (and I have done this also…) is teaching about tithing -a lot of times Malachi 3:8 is quoted. ‘Can a man steel from God?’ Than it is said that it’s not a rule but something you do out of your free will!
    My reaction above is perhaps somewhat raw. I have been a member of a G12 church that claimed to be non-religious. But we were forced to do a lot of things (unwritten rules and regulations) and I have seen this in a lot of other churches too. So I’m a little bit ‘hurt’ by a statement like this (that’s why I felt to put some oil on the fire;-)
    I’m just saying: we’re more religious than we want to be…

  59. Paul Mate Says:

    In Christ Jake
    Thank you so much for who you are in Christ and everything you do for His Kingdom. Top through bottom, I gave my time because I saw God’s glory in you. As I am looking for help for the whole thought I had, I found in the right track. Honestly, I am so close to you that I am your contemporary. for HIS kingdom on this earth.

  60. Colby Says:

    How can i view christianity other than following a set of rules? I realize that my works don’t save me. But whats the point of following them if they don’t save us? Maybe its to prove our love and faithfulness for God? But if thats the case then the rules are being put on a petistool. Because if u dont follow them then it shows that u have superficial faith. What if following the rules brings us closer to God? Well then the rules are the focus; they’re on a petistool again because following them brings u closer to God but if u dont follow them ur distancing urself from God. If the work is done by Jesus and im saved from my sins then why can’t i get drunk or have sex or do things that im tempted to do? We put SO much emphasis on how: If u have faith in Jesus then ur saved and going to heaven (which i believe). And also that: God will always forgive u if u sin and repent (which i believe); so if those two things are true whats the point of rules? Why cant we give into temptation and then repent? Im just saying; either christians disregard the rules and do what they want which proves superficial faith, or christians follow the rules to grow closer to God which makes following rules the focus because its ur stepping stone to grow closer to God. I just have trouble wrapping my head around where rules should be at in my faith and how i should follow them and how much of my focus i should have on following the rules God tells us to follow. Also i feel like i have a hard time grasping what James means when he says “faith without good works is dead”. That is engraved in my mind to believe that if you are not following rules then u do not have real faith. And by rules i mainly mean drunkenness and sex. Its annoying being in college and going to FCA every wednesday and bonding with people over conversations about Jesus, then seeing the same people get drunk and have sex on the weekends. So if they are saved and going to heaven then why should i discipline myself not to fall into the same temptations as them? If we are all going to end up in heaven then why should i try so hard not to have pre marital sex or do whatever sinful thing im tempted to do? I feel like my view of christianity is what u consider religion. But i have no idea what true FAITH is. Or what true christianity is. Or what God truly wants from me. Because my christian upbringing and what i’ve been taught has had an affect on how i interpret the Bible so i don’t know how to find this true faith because i don’t know what it is and my bible reading skills have me interpret the Bible maybe differently than u do.

  61. philippians1v21 Says:

    Colby,

    Thank you for your comment. I think I understand your struggle. I will try to clarify what I meant and give my perspective on your questions.

    When I contrast religion and Christianity I am specifically talking about this factor of earning our righteousness. Other religions require us to earn it by works and good deeds. Christianity is different in that we are not required to earn it, it is a gift from God who earned it for us. This is not to say that as a result of this gift there are not rules that we are to follow. Of course there are. The difference is the order of things. In religions you must do God works to appease God and earn his favor. In Christianity God is appeased by Christ’s good works and his favor is given BEFORE we do ANYTHING good. We come empty, with nothing good to bring, in desperate need of God to fix it. God steps in and removes our guilt (by placing it on Jesus at the cross) and we are washed clean. Christianity is a realization that we can NEVER be good on our own.

    When a person does this God changes them forever. I think this is what you fail to grasp completely. You ask, “But what’s the point of following them [rules] if they don’t save us? Maybe it’s to prove our love and faithfulness for God?” But this is not right. It has nothing to do with our faithfulness to God (thank goodness). Our faithfulness sucks. It’s the other way around. It proves God’s faithfulness to us. You see, you can’t follow the “rules” by your own power. It takes God’s work inside you. When a Christian becomes more like Jesus, it is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in them, not their own effort. Therefore when they notice they are a different person than they used to be it is God who gets the credit. It proves His faithfulness to them.

    When a person is saved, the Holy Spirit enters that person and begins a process of changing their heart. A new believer will often say things like this: “It’s strange, I used to want to do these things but now I find they really repulse me and I have all these strange desires to show genuine love to people and respect them.” They change at their deepest level. They find they are gradually living the “rules” without even working that hard at it. This is because they have a new heart. It has replaced their old heart that lived to serve its selfish interests. These “rules” just remind them of what their new desires truly are.

    Here is another way in which Christianity is different (from religion): even after salvation, it isn’t about us following rules by our effort. It is about God gifting us a new heart that has a new set of wants and desires that align with His rules. Then He enters us and gradually goes about changing our wants to further align with His so that, more and more, we find ourselves living the way He has said is right. We follow the “rules” because we are changed. It isn’t religion to do that which I most want to do. Religion is forcing people to do what you want them to do and that which they do NOT wish to do.
    The “rules” (as you call them) are God’s will, plan and intention for all people. They are the right way to live. They are actually the way that results in the most pleasure, joy, peace, and happiness for us. A Christian doesn’t follow them begrudgingly and reluctantly, assuming they are there to limit our joy and kill our fun. God is not the cosmic party-popper. That’s the oldest lie in the book (remember the serpent’s lie to Adam and Eve, Gen 3:4-5). A follower if Jesus will learn that when they live His way, they are actually happier, freer, more content, and at peace than when they were going their own way. These rules are actually for our good.

    It is like a loving parent with a young child. The parent wants good for the child and sets up rules to help the child make good choices that they are not equipped to make themselves. A child doesn’t know that running down the stairs will result in pain for them, but the parent does. Following the loving parent is the best way for the child. Similarly, a genuine follower of Jesus has come to Him because they realize their own way is futile and results in hurt, pain, and death for themselves and others. They turn to Jesus and agree to go His way because it is the best way. They realize their own inclination and natural way of thinking is incapable of seeing all ends and is prone to leading them astray. God has changed their heart so that they can begin to see the wisdom in following Christ’s path. They WANT to live the way God has said. Like the child they gradually learn that when they disobey the parent it ultimately results in discomfort, pain, guilt, and relational consequences. They learn that when they obey, they are at peace with a free conscience, not weighed down by guilt, have an unexplainable joy, and harmony in their relationships. This is what Jesus meant when He said “My burden is light and my yoke is easy” (Matt 11:30).

    A true believer in Jesus will have a hard time continuing to do it their way. If you have really been saved you will be changed. Your deepest desires are no longer the same. You will still have competing desires that wage war against your new desires, but they are the foreign ones now (see Romans 7:13-24). You may be able to embrace the old, foolish ways for a while but it is be harder for you. You will feel this new sensation…the conviction of the Holy Spirit. You will feel the weight of conviction grow. For a true believer this feels like ugliness inside them. It grows until the point where this robs any potential happiness the sin would have given. It is immediately replaced with nothing but ugliness and shame. It can take some time to get to this point (perhaps years for some people). But a true Christian can never continue to act in a manner that is contrary to their new character, indefinitely. This is what John tells us in 1 John 3:6. . .

    “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.”

    You cannot have an encounter with a semi-truck and walk away unchanged. How much less so an encounter with the living God?! The person who life continues to reflect the old pattern of sin, and who lacks even a root desire for something different, should look closely at themselves to see if they are really in the light (2 Cor 13:5). If you are not a different person than you were before (with new desires and the conviction of the Holy Spirit in your heart) then you should question if you have ever really been saved. I cannot know this for you. Only you can God can determine it.

    You ask, “If God will always forgive you of sin then what’s the point in obeying?” This question blows my mind because I just can’t imagine intentionally presuming on God’s forgiveness like that. More than that, I can’t imagine intentionally hurting God because I know He is forgiving. Take that idea to any other relationship you have and apply it. If I know my wife is a very loving and forgiving person and would forgive me if I have an affair why shouldn’t I just do it? Because I love my wife!! Because I care more about HER happiness and joy than I do some temporary gratification that will only serve to destroy me and the other person and damage my relationship with my wife.

    This question shows me something very troubling. It reveals a lack of love for God. A person who actually has a real relationship with God will love God. They will want to obey Him in order to make Him smile and bring Him joy. The idea to intentionally sin because they know God would forgive them is unthinkable. As Paul says, “by no means!” (Rom 6:1-2). Someone who understands that they deserve hell (justly and rightly) but that God has chosen them to save by taking their place and dying for them would be blown away by this unfathomable act of love. Such love strips you bare of all self and prompts a person to love such a God in a very personal and real way. Such love begets love. Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing or seek its own way (1 Cor 13:5-6).

    You are speaking of Christianity as if it were just a transaction. Have faith, get salvation . . . transaction over. Christianity is about a relationship between you and God . . . that lasts forever. It isn’t just believing in Him and then going about your life, your way. You can’t add Jesus on to your life. You must come to Him and lay your whole life down at His feet along with all your sin and pick up His cross and follow after Him. It may seem like the cross is heavy and burdensome, but the more you carry it you realize Jesus is doing all the heavy lifting. He is doing the real work, not you. The burden is light.

    You say, “What if following the rules brings us closer to God? Well then the rules are the focus; they’re on a pedestal again because following them brings you closer to God but if you don’t follow them you’re distancing yourself from God.” You have this backwards again. It isn’t following the rules that brings you closer to God, it is perusing God that changes your desires and allows you to live out the “rules”. The focus is NOT the rules, but God. Follow God. Pursue God. Fall deeper in love with God. Learn more about Him. Study His words. Test His promises. See if His words prove true and if His way is really best. Talk to Him. Bring your struggles and doubts to Him. You will find that as you do this, you will realize the rules make a lot more sense to you and you somehow are following them by choice. That’s when you realize it isn’t really you that is carrying the weight of that cross.

    You said, “If the work is done by Jesus and I’m saved from my sins then why can’t I get drunk or have sex or do things that I’m tempted to do?” I have tried to explain here that it isn’t just about getting saved. People forget that Jesus said the way (path) is narrow, not just the gate (Matt 7:13-14). To be saved is to walk in the way of the Lord. The person who is truly saved desires this. He does not lead to sex and drunkenness. But, where He does lead is so much better! This doesn’t mean Christians are never tempted (or don’t sometimes give into temptation), but their deepest desire is to follow Jesus where He leads. When they sin they feel guilt and conviction (as I described above) and their joy is restored by confession and repentance. Of course, there are practical answers to your questions above that show why these things are not really in your best interest. God wants what is best for you. Being a Christian means trusting Him because He knows more than you.

    I hope this response helps you. I will be praying for you, Colby, that you will be able to test your faith to see if you are really a child of God who posses love for Him and a desire to follow His way. Please let me know if I can help more.

    Jake

  62. Nina Says:

    As a Christian I have the freedom of choice to do whatever I like, whenever I want to do it. However as with all things in life there are consequences for our actions as well has blessings which result from our actions.

    Through being kind, generous & helpful not only do we bless others but we are also blessed in return. Our salvation may not depend on our actions but our quality of life and enjoyment of life is definitely effected by them.

    Our love of God motivates us to share love with others and they in turn see that we serve a God of love and kindness. In serving others we make ourselves less than them and we serve God at the same time not because we have to in order to earn our salvation but simply because we love him and desire to do what pleases him and blesses others.

    It is the same with those that we love here on earth we serve them and do good things for them not because we are obliged to or have to but simply because we love them and want to please them and make them happy or ease their load. Since God commands us to love others this love should naturally be demonstrated in our actions just as our love of friends and family is witnessed in our actions.

    We’re human and humanity brings with it both good & evil. When we follow & serve God by loving others we overcome evil.

    Love isn’t just a noun it is a verb, an action word and thus it naturally requires action on our part. However these acts of love should not be self serving or because we want to achieve something from them as would be the case with earning ones salvation through good deeds.

    1st Corinthians says….

    If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    This is the type of love that God asks of us but then leaves it up to us to decide whether or not we are willing to show this type of love to others. His Holy Spirit meanwhile guides us and we want to love in this manner without the need for coercion, force, threats or bribery.

  63. philippians1v21 Says:

    Well said Nina.

    Sent from my iPad

  64. Nina Says:

    I should add that certain things that some would consider arbitrary rules such as no sex, not getting drunk etc… are there for our own protection and the protection of others.

    Sexual relations are considered holy and sacred between a husband & wife. Outside of marriage sexual relations become self serving and involve a lot of personal risk as well as risk to our sexual partners. Keeping ourselves for our future wife or husband is an act of love for them and for ourselves, it is an act of respect & honour because if we aren’t prepared to commit our lives to that person why would we give them a part of ourselves that is intended to be kept for our husband and wife. We disrespect them in this way by saying with our bodies “you’re good enough for sex but I don’t consider you good enough for marriage.” Add to that the risk of STD’s and cervical cancer not to mention unwanted pregnancy and the resulting issues that come with that and God has shown us his love and protection just as a good father would by telling us to keep ourselves pure for marriage.

    With regards to drunkenness the same applies… look what can happen when a person is drunk. Being drunk means losing control of some part of our body & life which can lead to all sorts of problems ranging from stupid mistakes, hangovers to addiction and liver disease, Why risk it? God wants us to be safe and healthy he does not want us to suffer in any way so he warns us but leaves it up to us to decide whether or not we will heed his warning or whether we will risk and no doubt suffer the consequences.

    Alcohol is not forbidden as even Jesus drank wine. It is the abuse of alcohol that God warns us against. Drunkenness is alcohol abuse.

    I hope this helps you understand our perspective better. We don’t see Gods forbidding of premarital sex & drunkenness as dictatorial control as a rebellious child or perhaps teenager often would, We see it as love, protection and discipline intended for our own good.

    How we respond to this is up to us. We can choose to weaken and give into the temptation & thus suffer the consequences or we can choose to stand strong & resist in His name & for our own sake.

    It’s up to us!

  65. Colby Says:

    Thank you Jake and Nina for your helpful comments i greatly appreciate it!

    What is the difference in loving someone and supporting and/or turnig a blind eye to someones sin? Say a follower of Christ constantly struggles with something; maybe they get drunk consitantly. It is our job to love them, not judge and to be there for them. But how would you guys go about loving them but at the same time try and get across to them that there actions aren’t the best?

    Also i feel like i struggle with trying to live other peoples lives or something. I get so caught up in every right or wrong decision that they make and never just focus on my own. For example there’s been people talk to me about changing or making better decisions and i feel like we make a break through then they just keep making the same mistakes. And i put it on my shoulders and get really upset at them about it. (Even though in reality im making mistakes over and over again too just in different areas). Again, thats my pridefulness and maybe lack of faith in God that is really giving me trouble but i dont know how to fix it.

    Also what do you guys do to seek God and have that genuine relationship with Him? I feel so desperate to be consumbed by the Holy Spirit and be alinged with Christ but my pridefulness and selfishness constantly get in the way. God has revealed Himself to me in undeniable ways a couple times in my life but there’s still this wall between us. At times i completely connect with His word but a lot of times i struggle with understanding His message. I just feel like im in a huge funk right now. My prayer life feels disconnected and my reading does as well. Maybe its hard for you to relate to my situation but i feel lost on how i can find Him even though i know He’s right there waiting for me.

  66. Nina Says:

    Welcome to the world of being an imperfect human being.

    Can I ask you a few questions…

    What exactly do you want from God?

    Do you need a miracle to prove to you that he loves you & is there?

    Are you any less sinful than those who get drunk?

    Most importantly…

    Do you trust God in His infinite Wisdom to know what is best?

    As a Christian if I personally distance myself from those who are caught up in a destructive sinful habit & are not repentant. I figure God will convict them in His own time and in His own way but I also do this for the protection of my family and especially my children. If the Christian who repetitively gets drunk is unrepentant then what more can you do other than mop up their mess and help those they hurt. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want help and if the person who is constantly getting drunk is a devout Christian then it is likely they are experiencing a fair amount of guilt & shame and quite possibly could be alcoholics. In these circumstances they need help and I would point them in the direction of their Pastor or a Councillor or some other person who is more gifted in the area of helping those with addictions than I am. You could confront them and tell them that their destructive behaviour is hurting them & others and that they need to stop & to get help but beyond that there isn’t much more you can do because if they don’t want help & don’t see the problem they will keep up the behvaviour and there is nothing you can do except wait for them to realise they have a problem and need help and then you can step in and help. In the meantime the only thing you can do is clear a path so others don’t get hurt or caught up in their destruction and pray, pray, pray for them and those who love them,

    As for getting closer to God…. I have times when I feel so distant from God that it hurts & others when His love overwhelms me.

    When I look at the blessings in my life I am so thankful for his provision & his love that it is inconceivable that He could NOT exist and be there with me. When I am overwhelmed with the love I have for my children I know that this type of love comes from someone and is only a shadow of the love God has for His children.

    When I look at the hurt in the world & the pain and suffering in the world there too I can see the good & evil in man and know that it had to come from somewhere. I sometimes don’t understand how God can let things happen but I have to trust that He can turn all things to good and that he does not want any of us to suffer. That’s why He gave us Jesus.

    But when I get caught up in the day to day monotony and start wallowing in the little discomforts & disappointments in life etc then I can sometimes feel like He isn’t even there. At these times I have to choose to believe & choose to continue to live as would be pleasing to Him, to carry on and to have faith and to let this overcome my doubts.

    Reading His word, Fellow-shipping & surrounding myself with other believing friends, praying, giving thanks, being around those that I love, singing & listening to worship music these all make me feel closer to Him.

    But all Christians have doubts & difficulties, all lapse sometimes in their faith.

    Remember even Jesus called out:”My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me!”

    This cry to God should not be confused with despair. In despair, we give up on our relationship to God and let it go. Even in in this crying out, Jesus still acknowledged the very existence & authority of God.

    We have no capacity to appreciate the utterly horrific experience of having the sins of the world put upon the Lord Jesus as He hung, in excruciating pain, from that cross. The physical pain was immense. The spiritual one must have been even greater. At this time he was bearing the worlds sin and because of it He felt separated from God.

    Yet Still He acknowledged God’s power & authority.

    Another example is in Luke 22…

    Jesus is preparing for his fast approaching death and He prays “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

    Again you can imagine his human side wanting to be free from the suffering he knew he was to endure but at the same time accepting that God in His infinite wisdom knew what was required and that His Will must be done.

    For me at times I have doubts and feel a sense of despair but when I remember these words I remind myself that He is there and that if Jesus Himself can experience a sense of being separated from God and still acknowledge Him, His power & His authority then so can I because it will pass eventually. God promises us that time & time again in scripture.

    Hold onto the following verses…

    Hebrews 6:10 – 12

    God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
    We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

    Hope this helps

    Nina

  67. Ebenezer Says:

    Thank you pastor for teaching me the truth and it has set me free..

  68. Anatole Galmukov Says:

    Jake,
    I am 60 years old. I grew up Catholic on one side, and Russian Orthodox on the other. Nonetheless, Your Words are what my parents told me when I was a mere child, in that it was my faith above, and beyond our practiced religions that was first and foremost, and that is was a free gift.
    Nonetheless, In my mid twenties, I was living a debauched lifestyle, though I never lost my faith, though I ignored it. I then became a Jehovah’s Witness for the next 15 years, and yet it was my faith that lead me to walk away from that “religion” in 97′. Since then, and up until three years ago, I was pretty much done with “religion”. However, these past few years I have been longing to congregate again. I’ve tried the Baptist, a Calvary congregations and few small independent congregations. But because of the “preachiness” of them all, I am drawn again, over and over to a tiny Orthodox Christian Church where preachiness is not first and foremost in the service.
    Oh, yes of course the service is replete with what some would call, “the trappings of the old orthodox dogma”, but considering my faith is settled, I find it quite spiritually invigorating to go, and spend two hours doing nothing but worshiping in fellowship, in the Orthodox tradition rather than getting preached at. But, then again I will feel that twinge of guilt from my JW days that this Orthodox form of worship is full of empty tradition.
    I’m curious as to your opinion on attending any one particular congregation (church of Christendom)?

  69. philippians1v21 Says:

    Anatole,
    Glad to hear you are pursuing going to church again. It is so vital and important. Many Christians mistakingly think they can do it on there own and don’t see why going to church is necessary. God never envisioned or intended His followers to be islands unto themselves. Most of Jesus’ promises to believers are not to individuals but the Church. It is the Church that He calls His Bride. Jesus explains that is by our love for each other (brothers and sister in Christ…the Church) that people will know we are His followers. He promises to be there when we gather in groups of two or more, not alone. Paul writes his letters to churches. He makes it clear that spiritual gifts are given, not for our own purposes but for building up of the church. We need other brothers and sisters and they need us. This is why Paul calls the church “the body”. All the parts are vital and all are needed. A hand cannot function without the eye.

    You can find good churches in most all denominations. Everyone has their preferences and theological distinctives that may sway them to one over the others. If you enjoy the higher church, a more liturgical and traditional style of worship expression there are plenty of great churches that do it that way. There is nothing sacred or holy about a style of worship or music. You should go where you can best worship.

    That being said, there are certainly churches that are better than others. The most important thing that churches do is teaching and preaching. Everything else is secondary to this. My encouragement to you is to find a church that preaches well. By this I mean that it preaches the truth of the Bible wholly, fully, and faithfully. Some pastors are more skilled at delivery than others, but that isn’t what I mean. That is also secondary. Find a church were the pastor can teach you and you can grow. This will NOT be a church with soft, feel good, self-help, positive thinking, life enhancement, or political sermons. It will be one where you walk away feeling a little beat up. You want to go to a church that shows you God’s standard and points out where you don’t measure up, and then shows you the cross and takes you to Jesus. We ALL need this. Trust me, your faith is NOT solid. It can be stronger. You are not holy enough yet. God wants to make you more holy. You need to go where you will be challenged to grow. The Holy Spirit is not done with you yet. He will keep working until you become like Jesus.

    Believe it or not, churches that preach this way are hard to find. This criteria will rule out most of them. That is why I say don’t be so picky about the other factors. Find a church that preaches the word and you have 90% of what you need. I also find at the rest usually falls into place as well. This is because people are more Christ-like when they are being taught the truth of scripture. It has that effect of you.

    I encourage you to second think your position on preaching. It is truly the main reason we need to go to church. We all need to be preached at. We need to be called to repentance and called to be more like Christ. If a churches doing this, the other things will also be happening.

    I should also point out that JW is not on the same team. I think you know this already since you left, but they are not worshipping the same God we are. The God of the JW is not a triune God and they do not believe Jesus is God. This is why they are not Christian. They are in the same category as Mormons in this regard.

    God bless,
    Jake

  70. Anatole Galmukov Says:

    Thank you. Very helpful.

  71. Anatole Galmukov Says:

    “I should also point out that JW is not on the same team. I think you know this already since you left, but they are not worshipping the same God we are. The God of the JW is not a triune God and they do not believe Jesus is God. This is why they are not Christian. They are in the same category as Mormons in this regard.” – Jake
    Well, that’s where you and I will have to disagree. I’ve had a somewhat unique background by being “of” the religions who are “of” the trinity doctrine, and then being “of’ a religion who was not “of” the trinity doctrine. And, then going back to an Ancient Religion which is a staunch believer and defender “of” the trinity doctrine.
    At least for JW’s, I can attest by first hand knowledge, and from me, myself being a JW for 15 years that they do believe that “Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior”, and that He is “The Only Begotten Son Of God”. Nowhere have I read in God’s Word where man has to believe “in” the trinity doctrine, nor that such a requirement of faith even exists scripturaly, but surely has to believe in Christ being our Lord and Savior.
    I do also know for a fact that Mormons also have a full faith that “Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior”, and that He is “The Only Begotten Son Of God”.
    “Why Christianity Is Not A Religion…” Well, yes! Nonetheless, for you to to say (judge) that, “they are not on the same team” is beyond your pay grade. We are not doing the separating work, but our Lord Jesus Christ is. (“Separating the goats from the sheep…”)
    This gets me thinking about what Vasia had written about the false paradigms that exist in the “religion” of Christian Orthodoxy, that ancient and original Christian movement… “The road to Hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts…”-St. John Chrysostom. This same comment can be made about every single Christian organization on earth today, be they of old or modern origin…” You see, all of these religions of Christendom have their particular, and at times unique false paradigms.
    But if they are, “Proclaiming the Good News” (Luke 9:1-9), which they are, what commission can we claim to judge them above, and beyond that One who is commissioned by God Almighty to separate the goats for the sheep? i say none of us, us humble servants of the One and Only True God!
    That said, I Do wholey understand your concern.

  72. Anatole Galmukov Says:

    Surely there are those in JW and Mormons who have faith above, and beyond their practiced religions that is first and foremost, and that they too know it as a free gift from Above…

  73. philippians1v21 Says:

    Anatole,
    Unfortunately, it is not just important that you have faith and that you are sincere. What is important is what you have faith in. I can believe very sincerely that I can fly, but what I believe doesn’t change the truth…I cannot fly. If I jump off a building, I will fall and die regardless of what I believe. What maters is that you believe in what is true.

    Jesus came and said that He alone was the way to God. He claimed this, not me. Jesus said if you don’t accept Him you don’t have the Father either. JWs and Mormons both reject Jesus as God, equal with the Father. They also reject His work on the cross as sufficient to save them. They try to add to it or supplant it. The free gift that God offers is Jesus’ work on the cross; God gifting Himself. If you refuse to acknowledge the gift you cannot accept it. Those who think they can earn heaven have stumbled over the stumbling stone. This is why Paul calls Jesus the rock of offense that causes people to stumble.

    The reason Jesus is so important is that it is only the God-man that can put His hand on you and God and reconcile the two. It is only God who could pay the penalty for your sins. It had to be Jesus. Without Him the sin problem is not removed. Without accepting Jesus for who He is and what He did, you can’t be saved. This is what the bible says.

  74. DS Says:

    “Religion (almost universally) is enforced by those in power in an attempt to maintain, increase, or abuse their power over others.”

    LOL! This is exactly what Christianity has been doing for the past 1800 years! Read some history (legitimate history mind you, not your apologist’s revisionist propaganda).

    “Religion is the creation of man and is not the intention or design of God”

    Yep, and that includes Christianity which IS a religion and IS man-made. Hell, The Bible and its god are man made. Both were based upon the earlier religious texts and gods of ancient Mesopotamia. The creation myth, garden of Eden, global flood myth etc are all in the Enuma Elish which predates the Bible by millenia. Yahweh was a mere storm god serving in a pantheon of gods under the father god EL.

    Sorry Christians but you must face the facts. Your religion is just as absurd an man made as Greek mythology. If there is a God(s) or creator(s) out there he/she/it doesn’t resemble anything you worship or pray to and is a far more intelligent being than the men who wrote your Bible and created the tribal totem deity found in its pages.

  75. philippians1v21 Says:

    DS,
    Welcome to the blog. I welcome your comments and respect your right to believe whatever you want. On this page we critique arguments and debate points. We do not attack people or belittle them for their beliefs. Attacking the person is an “ad hominem” that does nothing to undermine their position. I would ask you to return the same respect you will receive. If you cannot do so, your comments will not be posted. But, if you can do so feel free to dialog. There is no harm is disagreeing. Remember what I believe doesn’t affect you. So there is no need to be hostile about it.

    You said Christianity has been enforced by those in power in an attempt to abuse their power over people. You commented, “LOL! This is exactly what Christianity has been doing for the past 1800 years! Read some history (legitimate history mind you, not your apologist’s revisionist propaganda)”. What I think is odd is that I agree with you on this point. LOL! Read what I wrote. In fact, I say just that in my blog post. I start saying “This is so very common. People have used Jesus to justify adding so many “requirements” to being a Christian.” Then I list many examples of how this has been done in the Christian church! So, we agree that people have used religion within the Christian church to control people. The whole point of this blog is to illustrate how the Church has been very wrong to do this and it is NOT what Jesus Christ taught. The point I am making (but that you seem to have missed) is that Jesus was not religious and He taught people not to be religious. I never said that the Christian Church has actually followed this. In fact, I said the opposite. You are attacking a straw man.

    You then proceed to make a wild and unsubstantiated claim that Christianity and God are “based on earlier religious texts and gods of ancient Mesopotamia”. This is the same old arguments made by fringe pseudo-historians that have been repeatedly and resoundingly refuted. Even the vast majority non-Christian ancient historians today recognize this for what it is, a desperate attempt to attack the bible based on little if any credible evidence. It seems like I always have to point out all the scholarly work that has been done on this topic. Where do you guys come up with this stuff? It’s like you all go to the same class of “Bad Objections to Christianity”. Or, perhaps you watched the same pseudo-documentary (ZEITGEIST Movie perhaps?). Here are a couple of good videos (the first on is short and the second one has more detail) from some elite thinkers on this subject:



    http://vimeo.com/39513078

    The idea you present is NOT a new objection to Christianity. It is an old idea. It originated in Germany in the early 1800’s. By the 1830’s it began to die out because scholars realized there was absolutely no evidence to support it. It has surfaced again in the internet era where anyone can write and publish anything without the requirement for peer review. Many are anxious to embrace this idea and are not qualified to critically examine the evidence for themselves.

    Claiming that Genesis is based on Enuma Elish (since there are similarities) is a “False Cause Fallacy”. It’s similar to saying “I knew it would rain, I just washed my car”. Washing the car may have come first, but it doesn’t necessitate the washing was a causal factor in the rain coming. The fact that a previous religion has similarities to the bible does NOT imply that they are the cause of bible. You must argue for a causal relation. You can’t just assert parallels and think that implies a causal relation. It does not.

    People have alleged that the biblical writer/writers borrowed from the Babylonian record. However, sound scholarship has demonstrated that such a view is fallacious. Simpler accounts (e.g., the Genesis record) may give rise to more embellished versions, but the reverse is not the case (Kitchen, 1966, 89).

    D.J. Wiseman, Professor of Assyriology at the University of London, suggests that the parallelisms between the narratives can best be explained on the basis that both suggest primary creation facts, while the Bible record reflects a “dignity unparalleled in any other account” (1958, 8).
    It is true that there are certainly similarities between the Genesis account and the Enuma Elish. However, these similarities are dwarfed by the stark contrasts. Here are just a few major differences:

    1. The Enuma Elish opens with the heavens and the earth, while Genesis opens with God. The gods in the Enuma Elish are not really creators. The world is part of them. On the other hand, the Genesis account tells us that first there was God, and He created the heavens and the earth (out of nothing).
    2. In the Enuma Elish, as almost all other near eastern creation myths, creation is accomplished through conflict and warfare with lots of noise. In the Genesis account, however, we find a profound sense of peace and quiet. The opposite of warfare and conflict can be seen in the instant obedience of God’s divine fiat, “And God said…” “And it was so…”
    3. Genesis is strictly monotheistic; the Enuma Elish is very polytheistic
    4. In the Enuma Elish, magic incantations are the ultimate source of power, thus making the gods subject to nature or magic. In Genesis, power is manifest in the commands (fiat) of God, and nature is one of His obedient subjects.
    5. Babylonian gods are identified with nature, but God, in Genesis, is Creator of, and distinct from, all creation.
    6. Genesis reveals that God desires a relationship with humans; the Enuma Elish says that the gods created man to do their bidding
    7. The Genesis account systematically includes all general realms of nature. The Enuma Elish omits major aspects of creation such as vegetation, animals, the sun and light.
    8. In Genesis, God forms the heavens and the earth on the first three days. This does not take place until the fourth tablet of Enuma Elish.
    9. In the Enuma Elish man will be made by one of the gods dying. The God of Genesis creates man out of the dust of the ground, and honors him by making him reflective of the greatness of his Creator.
    10. Genesis shows that God allows man to choose (free will); the Enuma Elish says the burdens of the gods were imposed upon man
    11. Marduk, the god of the Babylonians, was considered to be both created and begotten. The God of Genesis, however, is seen as creating, yet not created. He is before time, space, and matter.
    12. Marduk is established by the gods as the ruler of the universe, while the Creator God of Genesis is supreme by merit of being the Creator of all things and before all things.
    13. The gods of Enuma Elish must be supported by their creatures. They must eat. They must have relief. The God of Genesis is seen as being before time, space, and matter. Thus it is that He is recognized as needing nothing from man.

    After comparing the two accounts, it becomes clear that if one is to base a conclusion off of the similarities alone, then some important differences are being ignored. While there are indeed parallels between the accounts, the differences are of such degree that there should not be as much comparison between Genesis and Enuma Elish as there should be contrasts. In the Genesis account, Moses purposefully portrays a monotheistic God who operates within the parameters of organization and peace. The Enuma Elish is polytheistic and the gods operate within the parameters of war and violence.

    Enuma Elish is clearly mythological, but Genesis is not only non-mythological, but anti mythical. It is a polemic against pagan mythology. Genesis makes clear that the things mankind worships as gods are little more than the creations of the one God.

    Another challenging issue for the assertion that the Genesis account is based on Enuma Elish has been the question as to when it was recorded. The story has been said to have been written anywhere from the 18th century to the 12th century BC. Many believe that Genesis was recorded in the 15th century during Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness. Either way, it is highly unlikely that Moses, with all of the biblical history recorded about him, would have borrowed creation history from a polytheistic civilization existing to his respective east, while he lived and served a monotheistic God in the respective west. Genesis is far different in nature than any of the ancient Near Eastern creation myths and therefore must not be considered among that fold.

    Even secular scholars recognize this. Here is just a smattering of quotes from respected and secular Assyrologists and historians. These are the experts.

    “Thus most Assyriologists have long since rejected the idea of any direct link between Gen. 1-11 and Enuma Elish, and nothing else better can be found between Gen. 1-11 and any other Mesopotamian fragments.’, Kitchen, ‘On the Reliability of the Old Testament’, p. 424 (2003); his footnote reads ‘Assyriologists generally reject any genetic relationship between Gen. 1-2 and the Mesopotamian data because of the considerable differences ; see (eg.) J.V. Kinnier-Wilson. In D. W. Thomas, ed., Documents from Old Testament Times (London: Nelson, 1958), 14; W. G. Lambert, JTS. n.s., 16 (1965): 287-300, esp. 289. 291, 293-99. and in ISF, 96-113, with addenda; A. R. Millard, TynB 18 (1967): 3-4.7. 16-18, and in ISIF 114-28; T. Jacobsen, in JBL 100 (198 1): 513-29, and translation, both now in ISIF 129-42, plus 160-66.’, ibid., p. 591.

    ‘The similarities between the Genesis account and the ‘Atra-Hasis Epic’ do not support the idea that Genesis is a direct borrowing from the Mesopotamian but do indicate that Mesopotamian materials could have served as models for Genesis 1-11, as Jacobsen holds. P.D. Miller also admits that ‘there were Mesopotamian models that anticipate the structure of Genesis 1-11 as a whole.’, Tsumura, ‘Genesis and Ancient Near Eastern Stories of Creation and Flood’, in ibid., p. 47.

    “The Bible’s accounts of the creation of the world, the creation of humankind, and the flood were not borrowed from these, but neither are they unique in every respect.’, Arnold & Beyer (eds.), ‘Readings from the ancient Near East: primary sources for Old Testament study”, p. 13 (2002).

    ‘With Genesis 1-11 we seem to be working more with shared motifs and basic plotlines that originated in Mesopotamia rather than with actually known texts directed [sic] borrowed into Israel.’, Smith, ‘God in Translation: Deities in Cross-Cultural Discourse in the Biblical World’, p. 182 (2010).

    Dr. Millard (Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages), observes there is no evidence for direct literary borrowing. More on this here: http://bibleapologetics.wordpress.com/tag/enuma-elish/#_ftn10

    Regardless of all of this, your whole assertion here hinges on one great assumption. You said, “Sorry Christians but you must face the facts. Your religion [Christianity] is just as absurd an [sic] man made as Greek mythology.” However, is this really the case? Is there no more evidence for Christianity than for Greek mythology? If that was really true, then I would never believe it. I am a scientist and an engineer. I require evidence. I would never believe something in the absence of any supporting evidence.

    Let’s look at that challenge objectively. If it is true then it should be quickly apparent that the bible is false. We shouldn’t have to look far to find examples of where the biblical accounts contradict archeology and history. But, I’m afraid after thousands of years of trying no one has yet produced one finding from archeology or history that refutes the biblical accounts! In fact, there has been so much archeological evidence confirming the bible that it has become very highly respected among archeologists. This is unlike any other ancient religious document. Consider these statements from renowned archeologists. . .

    “There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament tradition . . . The excessive skepticism shown toward the Bible by important historical schools of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, certain phases of which still appear periodically, has been progressively discredited. Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history.” ~ William F. Albright

    “Archaeology has in many cases refuted the views of modern critics. It has shown in a number of instances that these views rest on false assumptions and unreal, artificial schemes of historical development. This is a real contribution, and not to be minimized. . . On the whole, however, archaeological work has unquestionably strengthened confidence in the reliability of the Scriptural record. More than one archeologist has found his respect for the Bible increase by the experience of excavation in Palestine.” ~ Millar Burrows, professor at Yale

    I have written a ton on this already so I won’t go into greater detail here. I encourage you to read this blog post I wrote: http://missionarybrewer.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/does-archeological-evidence-support-the-history-recorded-in-the-bible/

    Here is a short video clip that lists some of the major archeological evidence:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3RcmE4pnqM&list=PLPXgxSQ3nINtnVJP5alOIdn3Ew-JOBGpH&index=1

    In addition to the substantial and mounting archeological evidence, you have the historical reality of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is one of the best documented events in all of human history (and not just by the bible). You dismiss the bible, but based on what evidence? It is simply not enough to say it is suspect and disregard it without some reason to dismiss the eye-witness accounts it documents. You are not permitted to dismiss eye-witness accounts in a court of law without valid evidence to refute it. The same approach must be taken with history. Indeed, this is how historians approach ancient documented accounts.

    The bible has more textual sources than any ancient document (over 24,000 for the New Testament alone). The accounts were written within a shorter period of time from when they occurred than any other ancient document (15-150 years). It is the compiled written testimony of 40 eye-witnesses. The New Testament accounts of Jesus are also attested to by 20 additional writers outside of the bible! There are as many non-Christian writers that talk about Jesus existence and what he did than there are the Roman Emperor at the time (Tiberius Caesar)! Even the enemies of Christianity at the time write that these events occurred. If you can so easily dismiss the clear weight of historical evidence here without requiring yourself to present any evidence to refute it, you should question your objectivity. Why believe that Alexander the Great really existed? You can read more on the amazing amount of textual support for the New Testament in this blog I wrote: http://missionarybrewer.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/can-the-new-testament-really-be-trusted/

    Even if you completely dismiss the eye-witness accounts of Jesus in the bible (which is a biased and unscholarly approach), I can even verify the events recorded in the bible concerning Jesus’ existence, his miracles, his claim to be God, his death by crucifixion, even his resurrection from the dead, his empty tomb, the testimony of his disciples, and their willingness to be martyred for it . . . all from writings external to the bible! I can even do this from the writings of non-Christians at the time. That’s how well documented a historical reality it is.

    In addition to this, there are over 300 specific prophecies about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament that he alone fulfilled. The prophecies were written down hundreds of years before his birth (as proven by the Dead Sea Scrolls). The fact that Jesus fulfilled them is attested to, not only in the bible, but in other secular historical documents. Peter Stoner was the Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena City College until 1953, and Chairman of the Science Division of Westmont College from 1953 to 1957. Stoner calculated the probability of one man fulfilling only 8 Messianic prophecies was one in 10^17. He further calculated the odds of one person fulfilling just 48 of the over 300 prophecies was one chance in 10^157! It’s ludicrous.

    This is just a start for the volumes of evidence that for the bible. Clearly there is unarguably a great deal more evidence for the bible than for any ancient religion, such as Greek Mythology. Even skeptics must admit that.

    I would be happy to hear your reasons for not believing in the bible and to discuss them. But, be prepared to bring your evidence to the table. Calling Christianity “absurd” and Jesus “a tribal totem deity” hardly qualifies as intellectual debate and does not at all demonstrate your position that there is no evidence for him. It is simply inflammatory mudslinging. It’s the written equivalent to sticking out your tongue at me.

    Jake M.

  76. Eric Says:

    Pastor Driscoll, I’d like to complement your enthusiasm on the catchy notion that “Christianity is not a religion.” It certainly is a new perspective to spark interest in the new and old believers alike. Whether or not you coined the idea I do not know but I can’t help to think that it is merely a “selling gimmick” rather than an honest expression of logical thinking or even in consensus on what you define as religion.

    Now mind you, this is not a theological discussion, this is a logical discussion on which I base this contention. Allow me to explain myself. My contention starts with your definition itself. The definition you used is:

    Religion is a system of beliefs or a code of moral conduct that judges (qualifies or disqualifies)
    a person based on their adherence and obedience to certain codes,
    rules, laws, traditions, or the performance of required acts.

    True, this is a valid definition of the word “religion”. But you base your entire “philosophy”, if you will, is based on one of hundreds of valid, if not even more applicable, definitions of the word “religion”.

    You see, most definitions of religion are such as these:

    “1. a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
    b. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
    2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
    3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
    4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.”
    …www.thefreedictionary.com

    or

    “Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe;
    A particular integrated system of this expression;
    The spiritual or emotional attitude of one who recognizes the existence of a superhuman power or powers.”
    ….http://web.pdx.edu/~tothm/religion/Definitions.htm

    But I’ve found, out of several definitions, one similar to your own. That is:

    “1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe,
    especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies,
    usually involving devotional and ritual observances,
    and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.”
    …http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion

    Here, it says “and often”, meaning, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t include the “conduct of human affairs”. The truth of the matter, Pastor Driscoll, is that there are literally hundreds of ways to describe one thing. They more or less say the same thing. But you’ve chosen one that illustrates the idea that fits your gimmick. What bothers me is that the idea of Christianity not being a religion is contingent, for you only, on that one single phrase.

    My point being, is that, based on all these definitions above, Christianity is still a religion. One might say, “But considering the latter of the three, Christianity still does not require one to perform certain actions to receive the forgiveness that Christ has given us as a result of his resurrection.” I say, absolutely not. Regardless of which definition you use, including your own, Christianity still maintains the full criteria of a religion, as clearly illustrated in all the definitions above because it’s still belief in the supernatural; it’s still a personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief; it still has a set of beliefs values and practices based on the teachings of a certain leader. So, here’s the punch line: if Christianity DOES NOT qualify for any of those, then Christianity is not a religion. The final result: Christianity is a religion!

    So this is why: you cannot negate the application of these other definitions of religion even if Christianity does not require one to regulate ones behavior in the way the old Testament does. These are merely definitions which are subject to the normal variance of society, culture, etc: these are not Federal Regulations where one has to obey one verbatim just as you do when you interpret the scriptures. Even with your definition, Christianity still fulfills all these criteria as given above as well as the hundreds of other definitions on religion which you will find online. Pastor, I implore you, this is not merely my opinion, but simple logical reasoning.

    You say you “hate religion” in hopes to make an appeal not only to people of religion but also of the non-religious, but clearly you, an apologist by example, are merely advertising the religion which you believe and chose to view differently when in fact it’s the same two-thousand year old thing that it always has been.

    Should you decide to reply, simply remember that I said this is not a theological discussion, this is a logical discussion. NO bible verses at play here in any way, please.

  77. philippians1v21 Says:

    Eric,

    I am not “Pastor Driscoll”. My name is Jake McWhirter. I included a video clip in the blog post above from Driscoll because he did a good job of explaining what I am saying on this page.

    I do not intend what I am saying about Christianity not being a religion to be a “selling gimmick”. Far from it! It is something I wholeheartedly believe. I am being very sincere here. There is a VERY profound and significant difference between what Jesus taught and all the world religions. Jesus’ teachings stand alone in a very real way, and are drastically different than any other way to God offered by any religion.

    I really don’t care if you want to call Christianity a “religion” or not. This is a pointless debate that I will not enter into again. I have previously listed several sources that list among their definitions ones that agree with my use here (See my response to Amanda above, comment 48). I have even pointed out that the origin of the word “religion” is from the Latin meaning “obligation or bond”. In your response you even made the point that there are many definitions for this word (and even quoted one that agrees with mine). You also overlooked your definition 3 from the freedictionary.com that you quoted which includes “practices”. Elsewhere from your list: “A particular integrated system of this expression”. All of these are getting at the idea and way I am using the word here.

    What I take away from this is that the word “religion” is a very loaded word that means a lot of different things to different people. I have no issue if you want to use this word to mean something different than I do. All I ask from you is the same freedom. I think the diversity of definitions for this word provide for that. My use is certainly within the scope of how people use this word. If you want me to illustrate this point consider this usage: a dentist saying to a patient, “I want you to brush your teeth and floss every morning, religiously.” Obviously the dentist doesn’t mean the person is to believe their tooth brush is the creator of the universe, should pray to it, that their floss is holy, or have an emotional attitude about it. He means that he wants the person to be devoted to this practice. He wants the person to see it as an obligation required to achieve his goal of having healthy teeth. He wants them to perform the acts required to gain this goal. This is the same meaning I am using. This is simply “logical reasoning”. No bible verses are needed.

    The word you use to describe Christianity isn’t that important. What I am trying to point out is there is something drastically different (at its very fiber) about Christianity from anything else. It is truly alone as the only faith that says that God Himself came down to man instead of telling man what we must do to come to God. It is the only faith where God Himself does all the work required (not us). This is a huge difference! Whether or not you agree it is true or not, you must admit that there is something very unique about what Jesus taught on this. We can argue all day about whether Christianity should be considered a religion or not, but I would much rather talk about this clear difference. You are missing the forest for the trees here. A raft made of logs may have some similarities to an aircraft carrier, but what best characterizes the two is their vast differences, not their few similarities. Give the difference between Christianity and the other religions whatever name you want, let’s talk about the amazing difference!

    At the heart of Christianity is the profound idea that it is only God who can fix the problem of sin and restore us to a right relationship with Him. No other faith actually has a solution to the problem of evil. They all teach some form of the idea that man must become better on our own, work harder, make up for evil they we’ve done, and earn good standing before God. But how can a man, who could not keep from doing this evil in the first place, completely stop committing it in the future? And even if he could, not doing evil in the future does not negate or erase evil already done in the past. We all know this is true. I am found guilty of murder by a jury and I stand up to give my last remarks before I am sentenced and I tell the judge, “Yes I did it, but I have been so good since then. I have walked old ladies across the street and worked at the local food bank”, what do you think the judge would say? He would respond, “Yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that you committed this crime. You must pay the penalty for it.”

    If God is good and just, He cannot simply overlook evil. If He doesn’t punish Hitler He is an unjust judge. But, if He doesn’t punish my sin of hurting my wife with unkind words He would also be unjust. Yours too. No other faith addresses this problem. They expect a holy and just god to be unholy and unjust and simply tolerate evil or to continue to allow flawed, imperfect, frequently wrong-motivated people to attempt to better themselves. The problem of sin and evil remains. This is a logical problem with these religions.

    This is why these religions cannot offer salvation. They do not successfully deal with the problem of our sin. The only way God can remain just and we can go free is for someone to pay our penalty for us. This allows God to remain just by not failing to punish evil, but it also allows Him to let us go free. Other religions have no one who is qualified to pay the debt caused by our sin. It is only Jesus, the God-man, who can step in between you and God and pay this penalty. No other person can do this. They aren’t qualified. They have their own sin. No, the only way would be for God, Himself, to pay it for us. He is the only one who is qualified. He alone is perfect and without His own sin.

    The amazing result of this is that it is not our effort and works that earn us salvation in Christianity, it is God’s work substituted in our place. Jesus did all the work for us. He lived the perfect, sinless life. He died the death and took all my sin upon Him. As a result the teaching of Christianity is that anyone who accepts this gift is immediately righteous in God’s eyes! The righteousness of Jesus blankets and covers them. When God looks at them He sees Jesus’ goodness. It has nothing to do with anything they did. They can never do anything to make themselves more or less righteous in God’s eyes. Therefore it has absolutely NOTHING to do with their own effort and work.

    This is a gigantic and fundamental difference! It is not semantics. It is not a sales gimmick. The very nature of this faith is grounded in an act of God completely alien to all the others. God dying for human beings? God sacrificing Himself to fix our problem? God becoming a human and experiencing evil and pain like us? God being murdered in our place? What religion is like this?!

    God bless,
    Jake McWhirter

  78. Jill Says:

    Jake McWhirter,
    I just wanted to compliment you on your wise words, keep it up. The thing with these blogs is, there will always be someone like “Eric” who wants to destroy the positive thoughts and words that come out of peoples mouths such as your own. I am a faithful Christian, not a religious Christian….and everything you have touched base on makes 100% sense to me.
    May God continue blessing you,
    Jill

  79. Odhran Ritzel Says:

    Hello Jake,

    I must say, this is a wonderful blog you have and am grateful to have found it amidst the garbage I usually find on the internet. I also appreciate your effort to reach out to so many people that seem to have lots of questions. Forgive me, though, because I am one of those people.

    I just want to know that, what if I am not aware of Jesus or any god for that matter and I still do good deeds as a person, where would that lead me? Not that I’m saying that I don’t commit sin. I am a sinner – that I can be sure of. But, since I can be empathic with other people, I might usually find myself asking for their forgiveness or making up for the wrong things I’ve done or the hurt I’ve caused others. However, since I am not aware of any personal relationship with Jesus or any other god, I am not doing these deeds to earn my right for salvation. This necessarily follows that I don’t live by rules set by anyone. I only do these things because I am human, capable of reason and empathy.

    I’ve read that belief in Jesus is not a rule, only that it is a requirement. It is a state of being. But in my own state of being, in which I don’t possess any belief in Jesus or any god (the only belief I possess is doing good for most of my life), what is it that might happen to me? Will Jesus reveal himself to me? I doubt that. If I am not aware of His and other gods’ existence in the first place, then I won’t even know His/their name/s. I won’t even be aware of any personal relationship I can have with Him/them. But that does not necessarily lead me to a life of sinfulness. I do good because I feel and reason that I should.

    I have had this question ever since I was a child. I was brought up in a family that rarely ever spoke of any deity (and I never heard them speak of it until much, much later). They first sent me to a school where it doesn’t preach or talk or share anything about religion or faith. But, being a small child, I frequently got bullied and stuff. That’s when my parents decided to send me to a private school, and coincidentally, it was a Catholic school. I was 8 years old when I first heard of Jesus. I was confused, to say the least. I was thinking to myself, “So all this time, I’ve been doing good to be saved?” Doing good suddenly became a rule.

    Thinking about it now, what if no one told me about Jesus? What if I grew up in a remote island filled with people who did not possess belief in Jesus or any other god, but still lived by ethics similar to that of Jesus’ commandments? Would our lack of belief in Him send us somewhere else other than by his side?

    Thank you so much for any response to this. It would really be helpful to me.

    With Love,
    Oran.

  80. philippians1v21 Says:

    Oran,
    Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the compliment. I, of course, cannot take credit for these ideas. They are not mine. I am just taking the ideas written in the bible and passing them on to others in a way that I hope is easy to understand.

    I have already written a great deal that discusses the questions you raise in your comments. So I think I should just link to where you can read what I have already aid on these issues. I would start by reading my page titled “How to Have a Relationship with God”. This addresses most all of the questions you raise in your comment. After you read and contemplate that page, I would suggest reading my response to Jessica above (comment #11).

    I’ll try to hit an overview quickly here. The short answer is that there are no “good people”. The bible actually says that, apart from the work of Jesus in your life, “no one does good not even one!” (Romans 3:12) This is because even if we do “good things”, they are done to the glory of ourselves, or at best, for another person. They are never done for the glory of the one and only God. You cannot serve a God you don’t know. So, it’s not just that you have done some bad things (some sin) and mostly good things. It is that you have never done ANYTHING good in God’s eyes!

    If this was an old Western movie, we’d all be wearing black hats. There’s only one person in a white hat, and that is Jesus. It doesn’t matter what your faith is, you aren’t good by God’s standard. Everyone falls short. We all have committed treason against our king and we all stand guilty before Him, deserving a death sentence. He doesn’t have to save any of us. In fact, He shouldn’t. If He overlooked our crimes He would be acting unjustly. He cannot remain holy and be unjust. The only way God can remain just and we can go free is for someone to pay our penalty for us. But, this can’t just be another person. They aren’t qualified. They have their own sin. No, the only way would be for God, Himself, to pay it for us. He is the only one who is qualified. He alone is perfect and without His own sin.

    The reason why people are unable to understand this truth and can’t see our sinfulness as what it is (repulsive to God) is because we are all blinded by our sin. They are looking through a window that is so dirty they can’t see clearly, but they are unaware to the fact their vision is affected. Sin is the great human problem. Many people think they are wise, that they know how the world works and how to fix it. But since most people have not faced the reality of their own sin problem their “wisdom” is ultimately folly because they can never get to the real source of the trouble with society, and therefore have no real solution. A few people understand that the problem is really our sin, but they lack the power to do anything about it. It is only God who is wise enough to see the problem and strong enough to have the power to fix it. He did this once and for all on the cross through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

    This is why other religions cannot offer salvation. They do not successfully deal with the problem of our sin. They have no one who is qualified to pay the debt caused by our sin. The debt we owe because of our sin has left us with a major problem. We are separated from God. We are all doomed to hell because God is just and must hold people accountable for what they have done. Because of our sin problem, we are in desperate need of a mediator, someone who can stand between the holy, perfect, sinless God and mankind. It is only Jesus, the God-man, who can step in between you and God and pay this penalty. No other person can do this. Because of his sinless life on earth, death in our place and His resurrection and victory over sin and death, only Jesus can forgive sin. He is the only one equipped to actually solve the sin problem. So yes, it is only faith in Jesus that can save a person. Without Jesus and His accomplishment of victory over sin, we have no way to be made right with God. You will NEVER get there by trying to be a good person.

    Other religions teach you must earn favor and merit from God by the good things you do. However, this does not pay for the bad things you have already done. We instinctively know this is true. If I am found guilty of murder by a jury and I stand up to give my last remarks before I am sentenced and I tell the judge, “Yes I did it, but I have been so good since then. I have walked old ladies across the street and worked at the local food bank”, what do you think the judge would say? He would respond, “Yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that you committed this crime. You must pay the penalty for it.” It is the same with our crimes against God. Being a “good person” doesn’t erase them. T hey must be paid for. Only Jesus can do this.

    At some point every one must decide what to do with Jesus Christ. You can’t get away from Him. His existence is historical fact. Some opt for believing He was just a good moral teacher. This position makes the least sense of all, and yet it is the one many people take. The ex-atheist and author C.S. Lewis makes an excellent point about this:

    “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

    You see, you can’t say a person who claims to be God and the only way to get to heaven is a good moral teacher. He is either a blatant liar, totally crazy, or he is what he claimed. Liar, Lunatic, or Lord. . . those are your options.

    His life, His miracles, His death, and His resurrection attest to the validity of His claim. Fulfilled prophecy shouts it. His disciples (those that knew Him best and were eye-witnesses to His life) believed it so strongly they were willing to die for it. The question you must answer is who do YOU say that He is?

    When “good people die” they will face judgment. Everyone will. There are only two ways you can respond to God in this judgment. You can claim that you are not guilty. You can rely on your own righteousness. Or, you can admit that you are a sinner and are guilty but that you have placed your faith, trust, and hope in Jesus to be your righteousness. There will be no other person in whom you can trust to be righteousness for you. No leader of any other religion can claim they were without sin.

    As for me, I know I am guilty and I cannot stand before a pure and completely holy, sinless, and blameless God and claim to be righteous. I know that Jesus Christ is my only hope on that day. I know that he has already paid my penalty and that because of Him I am forgiven and clean.

    I will be praying hard that God will open the eyes of your heart so that you can clearly see His truth. Please let me know if I can be of any more help or if there are any questions I can answer.

    Praying for you,
    Jake

  81. Nina Says:

    I would ask then what defines your moral code of what is good, what is right & what is wrong? Why is what you do good? Who said and where did this value come from?

    For those who have never had the opportunity to hear of Jesus and make a choice for themselves or are incapable of comprehending and making such a choice there is hope in the Bible, God gives His grace to such people. If you can reason this and ask questions such as you did then you have heard of Jesus and you are daily given the choice to follow him or follow your own path.

    Our God is a fair and loving Father and I trust him 100% to take care of everyone in this world. I don’t know what happens in that moment of death but I know My God is awesome and loves abundantly and forgives abundantly he who heart is pure. I trust Him to provide every opportunity for salvation to everyone but in the end it will be our choice whether or not we choose salvation.
    .

  82. philippians1v21 Says:

    I didn’t have time to answer the question, “what about those who don’t know about Jesus?” But, I think David Platt does a pretty good job of summarizing how the Apostle Paul answers that question in the book of Romans. This is an issue that has been thoroughly addressed by scholars for thousands of years. Therefore, I feel no need to add much.

    The only point I would add is that often this question is a smokescreen. It takes the focus off the guilt and sin of the person who asks it. This person’s issue is not the “innocent” man in Africa who has never heard the gospel. They are not that man. The person who asks this question HAS heard the gospel. The question is what are THEY going to do with it. The important question for this person to answer is: are the claims of Jesus and the bible true? Regardless of how one answers the question about the person who has never heard the gospel, the question that really matters is: is Christianity true? If it is, the answer to the question about the man in Africa is not all that relevant to them. If God exists and has revealed Himself to us, and if Christ is the only way to God, then the question may puzzle us, but it won’t change the truth of the Christian message.


  83. man of God your message is so true it has bless and change my life

  84. Speedy X Says:

    This is what I think! :D Christianity is NOT a Religion! God & Jesus I LOVE you with all my heart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  85. Jay Woods Says:

    There was never a man name Jesus first of all his name was Yahasuia he was a man he died never to return .The stupided of most christians is that there were many saviors like Osiris and other solar god with the same mythical saying Star in the east walk on water and death and Resurrection same sun god that other country like India,Greece and Persia.All are Sun gods not real wake up..your religion is baed on Astrology.12 Constellations 12 tribes of Israel all the same thing

  86. James Woods Says:

    why did you lying cheating christians take my respones off because you no its true keep on believing in your pagan sun god Jesus. most of your paster are nothing but money grabing Pimps

  87. philippians1v21 Says:

    Jay,
    Thanks for taking the time to comment. However, your remarks seem knee-jerk and poorly researched. You bring up several objections you have obviously heard from others and it would seem not fully thought through by you.

    First you claim there was no person named Jesus because his name was Yahasuia. This is somewhat true. His Greek name was actually Yeshua. The name “Jesus” is simply Yeshua translated into English. This is no different than the fact that my name is Jacob in English but a person living in Spain would use Jacobo, Italian is Giacobbe, Russian is Yakov, etc. This is the same with every name. In fact, Jesus is Isa in Turkish and Arabic, Jezus in Dutch and Isus in Romanian. Each language has a different way to spell and pronounce each name but they still mean the same thing and they still refer to the same person. If it makes you feel better to call him Yeshua, go for it. Your point here is not clear and ultimately what you call a person doesn’t really matter.

    You then said that Jesus died and never returned. You call Christians stupid for believing he did. However, you offer absolutely NO evidence to refute the hundreds of eyewitness accounts which state that this event did occur. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is one of the best attested to and documented events in all of ancient history. It is recorded, not only by followers of Jesus, but by Jewish and Roman historians who were hostile to Christianity. The evidence here is overwhelming if you actually took the time to investigate it. I have written about some of this evidence in this blog post. You can choose not to believe the monumental evidence, but what evidence can you offer that it didn’t happen? If you don’t have anything to refute the evidence, it doesn’t seem like a very fair accusation to call people “stupid” for siding with the available historical evidence. Rather, stupidity is simply refusing to acknowledge the possibility that this event actually did occur no matter how much evidence there is for it. You believe in the reality of other ancient events that have FAR LESS evidence that they occurred than Jesus’ resurrection. Your historical objectivity here is simply skewed.

    You then start to claim that Jesus is just a reinvention of other pagan myths. I have already talked much about this here in these comments so I don’t feel inclined to repeat it here. Please read my response to DS in comment 76 above. I conclusively rebutted this claim there. It remains refuted. In fact, the vast majority of ancient scholars do not believe that these pagan myths had influence on the bible or Jesus Christ. This is even true for scholars who do not believe in the bible and are not Christians. This is an old, outdated argument that has been resoundingly defeated by scholars. Don’t commit the False Cause Fallacy. Just because there are similarities between two things doesn’t mean one caused the other. It’s similar to saying “I knew it would rain, I just washed my car”. Washing the car may have come first, but it doesn’t necessitate the washing was a causal factor in the rain coming. The fact that a previous religion has similarities to the bible does NOT imply that they are the cause of bible. You must argue for a causal relation. You can’t just assert parallels and think that implies a causal relation. It does not.

    You say that there are 12 constellations and this is why there are 12 tribes of Israel. Even if that were true (which it isn’t) just because both have the number 12 in no way implies one is the reason for the other. That idea is just silly. There are 12 months in a year. Is that because of the number of constellations? No. It is all about the number of lunar cycles in a complete revolution of the sun by the earth. There are 12 eggs in a carton. Is that because of the tribes of Israel or the constellations. Of course not. You must establish the link and show how one was based on the other. This is a hard case to make here, since Judaism is emphatically ANTI-astrology. Besides, this whole argument is absurd since there are actually 88 recognized constellations, not 12.

    You are free to dialog on this page. However, if you are going to make claims like this, you are going to have to present evidence to back them up. I encourage you to really look into the historical evidence about resurrection of Christ. You may be surprised by what you learn. Many skeptics have been persuaded by this evidence.

    God bless,
    Jake

  88. philippians1v21 Says:

    Jay (James),

    Oh, the lost art of civil discussion. It is so unfortunate that so many people today do not know how to disagree and argue their points in a legitimate way. We have regressed to the point of ad hominems and name calling instead of intellectual dialog and the exchange of ideas founded on evidence. Calling a person a name does nothing to refute their argument. It actually just undermines yours. It is simply conceding your position is too weak to argue fairly . . . and it is poor form (very rude). Regardless of what you say about me, I will never do that to you.

    Your accusations about me and “most pastors” are completely baseless. I had already posted your comment in full. I have never received one cent from anything I have written on this web page or any other. I have never made any money off of sharing the gospel. I work as an engineer at Boeing. I fully fund all the ministry work I do and give of my time, resources and finances to do it. I do this because I care about people. I care about you. I do everything I do for the glory of Jesus Christ and so that I might help as many people as possible come to know Him and His amazing love for them, as I have. It is clear you don’t know many pastors. You certainly don’t know me.

    I sincerely wish you the best. I would be happy to continue discussions with you, but only if you can cease the personal attacks, stop arguing ad hominem, and engage in civil dialog.

    God bless,
    Jake

  89. Debby Says:

    Hate to tell you all this…..but the only “Legitimate” religion out there is the Jewish faith & perhaps Islam & if you really want to push it, then pagans would be on that list. All of the rest of you. The Anglican, protestants, Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, Jehovah & on & on & on & on…..the rest of “religions” have merely sprung off what was once simply termed a Christian. And even the Christians themselves are in mere infancy in the history of men. Sprung off you may ask…..what is she talking about? When a man (at least we woman can’t get blamed for this one) didn’t like what a man with more power had decided, then poof, a new religion was born. “Not true!” you say horrified. We then what about Martin Luther, John Calvin, Joseph Smith, Jan Hus, John Knox, Menno Simons, James Springer White, Henry VIII and yes, even Jesus goes on this list just to name a few.

    I have been a student of history since I was old enough to read. When you begin to examine the histories of our world things take a different perspective.
    Firstly, to all those who don’t believe that Jesus existed, go read a book! He know beyond a doubt that was a real man that walked this earth just like the rest of us. He saw corruption, greed & false men of god & felt the need to rebel against the injustice he saw every day. Well so did Martin Luther King Jr, Liu Xiaobo, Olympe de Gouges & Joan of Arc (and believe me the list goes on & on). Standing up for what you believe to be right does not make one divine…..divinely inspired maybe, but that’s not necessarily the same.

    When will people realize that all of this is just arguing semantic? All of the major religions all preach to us the very same lessons. Love, compassion, charity, brotherhood, integrity, understanding, faith in a greater power than ourselves & to help those less fortunate. They are not as far apart as one may think they are. As far as I’m concerned, you can call that power whatever you want…it’s the same thing in different clothing.

    I have not referred to myself or my own beliefs in here anywhere because my experiences have unequivocally changed my beliefs since childhood. More people have died & been murdered in God’s name than the total of every disease & natural disaster in all our history. Don’t know about any of you but this is not something my god asks of me. It is my sincere hope that I have not offended anyone with this post. That being said, I have always love a good theological debate.

    We are all brothers & sisters of humanity, no less than the trees or the stars. We are all party of the universe as it is a part of us.

    Blessed Be,

    Deb

  90. philippians1v21 Says:

    Deb,
    Thanks for commenting. I also enjoy a good-hearted discussion on the issues you raise. I hope you will allow me to respond to some of the claims you have made. You said . . .

    “More people have died & been murdered in God’s name than the total of every disease & natural disaster in all our history.”

    I must be honest and say that this is one of the worst arguments against religious belief that I have ever personally heard. It is really just sloppy logic and poor critical thinking. In fact, it is a logically fallacy called “argumentum ad hominem”. Even if this comment were true, it does absolutely nothing to argue against the validity of religious belief. Just because people who believe something act poorly, it does not follow that the reason for their poor actions was that particular belief. I am sure Adolf Hitler believed the world was round. In fact, I am sure Stalin, Mussolini, Osama Bin Laden, and Mao Zedong did as well. I am sure most everyone who committed mass murders in the past 2000 years believed the earth was spherical. I suppose, then, using your logical methodology that it is obvious that those who believe in a round earth are clearly disposed towards violence and murder? This is obviously silly, since nearly everyone believes the earth is round. Similarly, we should hardly be surprised by the fact that many people who commit atrocities and wars do so while believing in God. It is simply a fact that 97% of people in the world believe in a god of some kind. 84% of the world’s population identify themselves as being religious. If you go back in history, this number is only higher. So, there is no surprise that most wars and murders were done by religious people, since most all people are religious.

    What actually is interesting, though, is if you look at the deaths caused by secular regimes and by those who claim to be atheists. As a student of history I am sure you are well aware that the 20th century was the bloodiest century in the history of the world. We killed more people in the 20th century than the previous 19 put together! It is not coincidence that this aligns with the rise of secularism and the decline of religious belief. This can be clearly seen from the fact that the greatest atrocities are tied to movements with their basis in secular thought. The secular regimes of China and Russia have killed 60 million people each! Let that number sink in for a moment. It is staggering. It makes the holocaust seem tame in comparison. You should read about the atrocities committed during the Red Guard Rebellion and the Boxer Rebellion in China.

    Your objection is a popular sentiment. Someone once said, “Religious wars are basically people killing each other over who has the better imaginary friend”. Ironically, that person was Napoleon Bonaparte, an atheist who was responsible for over 2.5 million deaths. If modern history has taught us anything, it is that secular and non-religious people are just a capable of atrocity as religious people. In fact, when you remove the restraint of the objective moral standard that religions teach (which you describe in your comment) you far increase the likelihood of vast evil occurring. After all, who is to say it is evil if there is no objective standard from which to define it as such?

    Additionally, your glib dismissal of religions (because of atrocities committed by people who claimed to be religious) ignores the amazing amount of good done in particular by Christianity. As a student of history should also be aware that the Christian church is the largest single provider of healthcare and education in the world, working especially in some of the poorest countries where there is no other care available. There is no close second. The Christian church pioneered modern Social Work. The church is responsible for instituting the first laws to protect children from abuse and neglect. The church founded the American Red Cross and Salvation Army. The Christian church was the first to established homes to care for orphans and currently operates the world’s largest orphanage system. Christians birthed Almshouse institutions to care for the elderly in society. Christianity’s impact on freedom and government is everywhere, including the authoring of the Magna Carta (written by the Archbishop of Canterbury) which is considered the founding document establishing of the freedoms and rights of individuals. It was Christians who founded the first universities and who advocated for teaching everyone regardless of sex. All the way up through 1932, out of 182 colleges in the US, 168 of them were founded by Christian denominations. It was Christians who first urged for public schooling. It was Christians who led the civil rights movements around the world (eg. Wilberforce, MLK, and Mandela).

    I could go on and on here. This list is extensive and remarkable. My point here is not that religious people are better people than non-religious. No. My point is that, despite what you claim, there is something special and unique about Christianity from all the rest. No other religious (or non-religious) group can claim these things. The results simply speak something that cannot be denied.

    You also said. . .

    “When will people realize that all of this is just arguing semantic? All of the major religions all preach to us the very same lessons. Love, compassion, charity, brotherhood, integrity, understanding, faith in a greater power than ourselves & to help those less fortunate. They are not as far apart as one may think they are. As far as I’m concerned, you can call that power whatever you want…it’s the same thing in different clothing.”

    Again, this is a popular notion, but it doesn’t hold up under closer examination. This view assumes that all religions are basically the same on the important things and only different on the small things. The reverse is actually true. They are in contradiction on the major points and only agree on minor details. All religions are basically the same . . . except for the issue of: life after death, the nature of God, the means of salvation, the problem of man and those things. Virtually all religions disagree on these things. What you find is that the only things they agree on at all are some basic morality ideas (and even these can be very different). These minor points of agreement are not even exclusive to religion. Most non-religious people hold them as well. Therefore there is virtually NOTHING that religions teach that is universal in the specific teachings of the world’s major religions. They disagree on the most all essential issues.

    You can’t dodge the fact that all religions make conflicting truth claims. They claim real things that are either right or wrong. Thus, according to the “Law of Non-Contradiction”, they cannot be all true. Modern day Jews say Jesus was not the Messiah, Christianity says he was. Either he is or he isn’t. He categorically cannot be both. Either these Jews are right and Christians are wrong or Christians are right and the Jews are wrong. Under no circumstance can they both be right. When you die you either go to heaven or hell, or you get reincarnated, or you astro-worlds or you lie in a grave, but you can’t do them all, at the same time. Either all of the religions have it wrong or one of them is right. There is no third option of them being in agreement about anything that matters. They simply aren’t.

    You then make an argument that Jesus was just a man who did great things (but wasn’t divine).

    “Well so did Martin Luther King Jr, Liu Xiaobo, Olympe de Gouges & Joan of Arc (and believe me the list goes on & on). Standing up for what you believe to be right does not make one divine…..divinely inspired maybe, but that’s not necessarily the same.”

    You are correct; the fact that he was a moral man who stood up for what he believed was right alone doesn’t make him divine. However this is not the claim of Christianity. It’s a really poor straw-man argument. Christians don’t believe Jesus was God because he was a good man and stood up for what he thought was right. Christianity is founded on the claim that Jesus was God because he taught with the authority, wisdom, and character of God, because he lived a sinless life, because he forgave sins with the authority of God, because he was able to heal the sick by the power of God, because he could drive out demons by the power of his name, because he fulfilled over 300 specific prophecies given by God, because he could perform miracles in the sight of all by God’s power, and because he rose from the dead conquering even the power of death. Most importantly, because he claimed to be God! The claim alone is nothing. But, the claim in combination with his life demonstrating the truthfulness and reality of the claim is powerful evidence. The other men you mention in your quote did not claim this. Even if they had, they did not perform the actions to demonstrate the truthfulness of the claim. Jesus stands alone in this regard. Of the men you mention in your quote, it is Jesus alone who isn’t in a grave (or who will never have a grave).

    Of course, you could say that these claims are just stories invented by his followers. However, there is simply no legitimate reason to conclude that. In fact, the massive weight of historical evidence is on the other side; that the fantastic and supernatural claims about Jesus’ life actually occurred. It is simply not enough to disregard the eye-witness accounts in the bible without some competing source from with to refute them. The bible has more textual sources than any ancient document (over 24,000 for the New Testament alone). The accounts were written within a shorter period of time from when they occurred than any other ancient document (15-150 years). It is the compiled written testimony of 40 eye-witnesses. The New Testament accounts of Jesus are also attested to by 20 additional writers outside of the bible. There are as many non-Christian writers that talk about Jesus existence and what he did than there are the Roman Emperor at the time (Tiberius Caesar)!

    We can even verify the events recorded in the bible concerning Jesus’ existence, his miracles, his claim to be God, his death by crucifixion, even his resurrection from the dead, his empty tomb, the testimony of his disciples, and their willingness to be martyred for it . . . all from writings external to the bible! We can even do this from the writings of non-Christians at the time. That’s how well documented a historical reality it is. Even the enemies of Christianity at the time write that these miraculous events occurred. It is unfair and disingenuous to dismiss the clear weight of historical evidence here without requiring any evidence to refute it. If we do, why should we believe that Alexander the Great really existed and did the things claimed about him? You can read more on the amazing amount of textual support for the New Testament in this blog I wrote: http://missionarybrewer.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/why-believe-in-christianity-over-other-religions/

    You are correct that Christianity is more modern than Judaism. You are wrong about Islam, though. That is newer than Christianity (founded by Mohammad in the 7th century, 700 years after Jesus and Christianity). Of Course Christianity is split off Judaism. No one denies that. It’s a historical fact. This alone, does not imply Christianity is wrong, though. In fact, Christianity claims the truthfulness of every part of Judaism up until the coming of Jesus Christ. All of the Jewish scriptures are included in the Christian bible. Christianity claims to be the correct and legitimate extension of true Judaism. One might say that modern Judaism is a split off of true Judaism (which is called Christianity). The founders of the Christian faith were all devout Jews (including Jesus, all his disciples, and Paul). They remained devout Jews. They often referred to Christianity as the true sect of Judaism.

    Your whole argument essentially comes down to what to do with Jesus Christ. He was either is who he claimed to be (the Son of God), an imposter (a liar) or he was completely crazy. If he was truly the Son of God then all this about Judaism coming before Christianity is irrelevant. This is because Jesus claimed that he came to help us understand the Jewish scriptures and that the Jewish scriptures were actually all about Him. If this is true, then the fact that Christianity came after Judaism is obvious and expected. However, if he is a liar or crazy then there is no reason to hold him in any positive light. In that event, he misled thousands of people and caused the death of most of his followers for no reason other than to elevate his ego. What you can’t do is hold his as a good man (like you did in your comment along with other moral men). He should not make your list of good men who stood up for what they believed.

    Fortunately, we aren’t just left without clues as to which option to pick with it comes to Jesus (liar, lunatic, or Lord). Unlike the other religions, Christianity rises and falls with a truth claim. Christianity lives or dies on the claim that Jesus literally, historically and actually rose from the dead. If this didn’t actually happen as a real historical event, then the whole thing is bogus. But if it did happen, then it elevates Jesus to a level far above any other founder of any other religion (or any great man). If this event is true, then we must look at what Jesus claimed and take him seriously. This is because he claimed to be the only way to God. No other religion gives such a truth test. Christianity is unique in this way. So, it is very important to determine what the historical evidence has to say on this question. I encourage you to read this blog article I wrote on answering this question: http://missionarybrewer.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/why-believe-in-christianity-over-other-religions/ I also challenge you to listen to this short video that presents a quick overview of the substantial historical evidence for the claims of Jesus. http://youtu.be/9sKGsk7M2u8?t=15m44s

  91. Apostle amby Says:

    Christianity as to do having faith in GOD why religion as to do sacrificing a goat in other to be Clean form our sin. we must understand that Christianity is hundred percent far different than religion. on the cross of calaver Jesus destroy the power of relegion. according to Matthew 27 vs 52 and religion demand that people will be outside why the priest will be inside of the holy of holes to sacrifice for the sins of the people but when Jesus die Christianity now demand by faith not by religion. because religion demand good deed why Christianity demand your faith according to Hebrew 11 vs 6-7 and john 1 vs 12


  92. Nice info n God bless u

  93. Herman Preuß Says:

    Hey, I liked a lot of what you said. Besides it seems like you deny the sacraments, i.e. baptism and the Lord’s Supper. I believe everything in the bible. And you say you do to, which is why I hope you believe that the Jesus, when talking to Nicodemus about being born again, clearly refers to baptism (John 3). And he also tells us this IS my body and this IS my blood for the forgiveness of sins referring to the bread and wine in His holy supper. God works through means, and still so when he forgives our sins through the word and sacraments. The word and sacraments are the means He uses. Now, if you were baptized as a child and then never took it seriously until later in life, that doesn’t mean your baptism didn’t make you a child of God, but your “awakening moment” or spiritual baptism, or whatever Pentecostal types call it, did. You remember your baptism and remember that by it you out were burring in Christ’s death and just as he rose from the dead, so also shall you walk in newness of life. I think you’re annoyed at some things that are pretty annoying, but please don’t deny the sacraments. They aren’t works, they are services from God.

    http://bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.php#baptism

    [audio src="http://christforus.org/Sermons/Content/2010/Christ%20for%20Us%207-14-13.mp3" /]

  94. philippians1v21 Says:

    Herman,
    I certainly do believe in the sacraments, however I don’t agree with you about their purpose. I wholeheartedly agree with you when you say “they aren’t works they are services of God”. I agree with that statement. Baptism is given to us as a reminder of what God has done in our hearts. The Lord’s Supper is a means by which God gives grace to us. But neither of these are necessary for salvation. This is where it would seem we sharply disagree. If these actions on our end were the means by which salvation comes to us (means our sins are forgiven, as you said) then salvation would most certainly require our works. They are works we do. In Romans 10, when Paul describes what must happen for a person to be saved, there is no mention of Baptism or the Lord’s Supper. He simply says believing and confessing Jesus as Lord and risen from the dead. Paul was pretty clear.

    “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. ~ Rom 10:9-10″

    Baptism is a symbol of your faith in Jesus Christ. It is a public witness and testimony of what has already occurred in your life. It is a word picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is an outward picture of something inward that has happened to the believer in the Lord Jesus. It is your public statement, to all, that you believe in Jesus, that he died for your sins on the cross, and that He has cleansed you from your sin. You are raised with Him to walk in your new life, a life fully devoted to His service. Baptism does not save you. It does not mark the day you became a Christian. You do not have to be baptized to go to heaven. We have a biblical example of this in the thief on the cross (Luk 23:39-43). He was never baptized, yet was with Christ in Paradise. There is a clear biblical pattern that first you believe and are saved, then you get baptized to tell everyone (eg. Acts 10:44-48). Baptism is not the “means by which God forgives our sins”. The means was Jesus’ death on the cross. That is all that was needed.

    Baptism does NOT make you a “child of God”, as you claimed. Only faith in Jesus Christ can do this. John is clear on this in John 1:12. . . ” But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Notice there is no mention of baptism. Baptism is great. All believers should do it. It does NOT save you though. If it did it would be a work and you would be earning it.

    I do not “deny the sacraments”. I do, however, deny that they are human works required for a person to be saved. So did the apostles. This is religion.

  95. kakobya Says:

    This is what have been looking for. Its a true message

  96. Chelxis Says:

    In my opinion religion is when you place your faith on something materialistic. Christians place there faith in God and God only,for it is written:
    John 4:24. “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth..God Bless you all

  97. Jay W Says:

    Mr. McWhirter,

    To begin with, I’m atheist and I thank you for your patience with all the less than civil comments, as well as not censoring dissenting opinions.

    I don’t agree with the premise that Christianity is not a religion, but I don’t care that you do, and I’m sure that feeling is mutual. I’d imagine Yahweh wouldn’t be terribly concerned with the semantics of the word ‘religion’ as it applies to Christianity.

    The reason I’m writing is that I just heard about this idea the other day from a coworker and I was surprised and interested, so I did a quick search for the reasoning behind it, but I also searched the new testament for the word ‘religion.’ There are a couple of verses that come up that seem to explicitly refer to Christianity as a religion.

    James 1:26-1:27
    26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

    There are a couple others, but they follow along these lines. I’m really just curious how you interpret these passages within the framework of your premise. Do you disagree with my interpretation, the translation, or with the author of the passage, etc.? I apologize if this was brought up previously. I looked through the article and comments thoroughly, but didn’t see it mentioned. Regards,

  98. philippians1v21 Says:

    Jay,
    Thanks so much for writing and for asking honesty questions. It is very refreshing to find people who know how to disagree amiably and carry on discussions and even arguments based on ideas and not attacking people. Your comments and thoughts are welcome here.

    I think your question about James’ use of “religion” is a very astute one. I have actually been waiting for someone to ask this question for quite a while now. I think it is amazing that it was raised by an atheist. I think that does you a lot of credit for looking into the subject and not making a rash conclusion without considering what the bible actually says (and for being willing to ask a question). I wish more Christians would do this.

    You are very correct that James (the half brother of Jesus) does, in fact, commend pure and faultless religion. To be clear, I do not at all mean to imply all in my blog that good works are bad and we should not do them. Of course that idea runs counter to much of what the bible has to say. Jesus called people to “love others as you love yourself” (Mk 12:31) and to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luk 6:31). Paul says that love for others fulfills the law (Rom 13:8-10). I don’t even mean to be saying that people shouldn’t be “religious” about doing good deeds. By “religious” here I simply mean dedicated to the action, consistent, planned, and methodical. Being regimented and disciplined in doing good works can be very helpful and positive.

    The difference here with Christianity and other world religions is why these actions are done. Christianity, at its core, is not religious. It is not based on what you do or don’t do. It is true that Christianity teaches many things about what we should do and how we should behave. But, it is not performance based. All other religions teach that their god(s) can be made propitious (favorably disposed) towards man by good actions, sacrifices, rituals, offerings, etc. I was in an Asian restaurant the other day and at the counter there was a small idol. In front of the idol there were offering left by the restaurant owner to the god in an effort to make this god propitious towards their business. It is this idea that is foreign to Christianity. The bible teaches that there is NOTHING man can do to make God propitious towards us. It teaches that even our best actions are tainted and spoiled by pride and selfishness and are like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6, Rom 3:9-20). We can never earn our way to God or pay for our debt to Him by any action we do (See Hebrews 10:5-10). It is only the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (the sinless and faultless sacrifice) that God’s wrath is appeased and he is made propitious towards us.

    “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” ~ 1 John 4:9-10

    Christianity claims the bizarre and audacious claim that God did everything required for us to be right in His eyes Himself. When a sinful person places their faith and trust in Jesus to be their righteousness, God looks upon them, not as sinful any longer, but as completely holy and perfect. He sees the one who follows Jesus in the same way he sees Jesus.

    This is why a dying, murderous criminal on the cross, who has did nothing good to earn God’s favor and who brought no righteousness to God, was considered pure, faultless and righteous by God. Jesus told the man, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luk 23:43). This man had no opportunity for good actions to balance out the bad he had done. Jesus didn’t grant salvation to the man because he promised to turn over a new leaf. He was dying. This was it. If it depended on the man to earn it or to perform any good actions to make God propitious towards him, he was doomed. But fortunately, all that Christianity requires is faith in Jesus. The criminal had faith in Jesus, so The Father looked down upon His Son’s sacrifice in place of the criminal. The Father saw the perfect life lived by Jesus in place of the wicked life lived by the criminal and pronounced the verdict for the man “paid in full”. As a result, the Father sees the man, not as a criminal, but as completely righteous and faultless in His eyes.

    Yes, the bible tells believers to live our lives in a certain way and to do behave in a specific manor. But our standing before God is never dependent on this. Regardless of how we perform at it, we are still viewed as completely righteous and faultless in the eyes of God. As a Christian I can never make God love me any more or any less by some action I perform. God calls believers to serve Him, not out of obligation or to make Him propitious, but out of love. We serve God because we love God. We love God because He first loved us. Consider the whole passage that I quoted a piece of earlier. . .

    “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” ~ 1 John 4:9-12

    Any good works done by a Christian should be motivated by love and appreciation for God and what He has done for us. They are done voluntarily, not compulsory. This difference between the relationship and motivation for works between Christianity and other religions might be illustrated by contrasting the relationship between a loving parent and a child and a master and a slave. The slave serves the master because he must do so. If he does not comply with the masters demands the master will punish him. If the slave is bad enough, the master may sell him (or in extreme cases kill him). If the slave does a good job at his work, the master may become favorably disposed (propitious) towards him and reward him in some way (or at least be kind to him). If you look at all the world religions, you will see a striking similarity here to this system.

    However, Christianity is drastically different. It is much more like the relationship between the loving parent and child. The child’s relationship with a loving parent is not dependent on his behavior. No matter what he does, he will always be the parent’s son. Some actions the child does may not be what the parent desires, but the parent still loves the child. He still desires the best for the child. The good parent will discipline the child in an effort to help him, not to punish him. The child learns to obey the parent because he loves him. The good child takes joy in making the parent smile.

    All analogies fail at some point. In the one above, the problem is that we are all sinful, and frequently children don’t obey parents out of love and trust. Frequently parents don’t earn that trust because they are not as loving, trustworthy or as gracious as they should be. The analogy does work if you consider how the relationship should be. In the same way, sometimes Christians don’t do good works and love each other for the correct motives. This happens all too frequently. Sometimes we forget our standing with God isn’t dependent on our behavior and we slip back into trying to earn it by what we do. What is needed in this case is a reminder to rest in God’s love and to reflect on all that He has done for us. Meditating on God’s love for us stirs up love within us and motivates us to express it by serving and loving others.

    So, yes, by all means, a Christian should care for widows and orphans. It is good, even, to be religious about doing so. But it is super-important for us to remember what the proper motivation should be for doing this. Notice what James doesn’t say. He doesn’t say that by helping widows and orphans we can earn anything from God. He is simply exhorting us not to be lax in our caring for those who need it most (and who cannot repay us at all). James is assuming the motivation for these actions is love (See James 2:8). While both Christianity and Islam (for example) will call for widows to be treated well the difference between the two is what motivation the followers of that religion are given for doing so.

    Religion may or may not be helpful to the individual. Some people may have such a burden for helping orphans (for example) that they constantly think about it and are prompted to act on it. They may be continually be burdened by a desire to help them. Such a person would have little use for religion to prompt them to action on the behalf of orphans. Others, however, might not think about it so much. They might be prone to go about life not contemplating the fate of those children. To this person it can be very helpful to be a little religious about taking some action to help. One way I do this in my own life is by sponsoring a child monthly through Compassion International. It is an intentional, planned, deliberate (religious, if you will) expression of my love for orphans. I do not feel compelled to do this. I don’t do it to earn favor from God. I do it because I love God, I know He loves orphans; this causes me to also love orphans and want to help them. I get busy and sometimes forget this. So therefore, a little religion helps me be consistent in remembering to express this love regularly. I believe this is one example of what James means by pure and faultless religion. Christianity certainly allows for it and even encourages it. However, it does NOT require it. Remember the criminal on the cross.

    At the heart of Christianity is Jesus. It is all about Jesus. All the moral teachings can be stripped away and Christianity remains as long as Jesus remains. Ultimately, the core of Christianity is faith in the person of Jesus Christ and acceptance of His righteousness in place of ours. This faith and the relationship that comes with it will inevitably change you. It will grow love within you…for God and also for others. Out of this new found, deeper love will naturally flow good deeds and actions. They are not the focus or the cause of the relationship. They are the byproduct. Pure and faultless religion is the byproduct of Christianity, but it is NOT Christianity. The ripples in a smooth lake that occur when a stone is tossed in are the byproduct of stone entering the water; they are not the cause of the stone entering the water. However, you cannot toss the stone into the water without it causing the ripples.

    I hope that helps explain what I mean a little better. I am encouraged by your thoughtful inquiry into this issue. I encourage you to continue to look deeper into Christianity. It truly is vastly different than any religion. It is also supported by true events and much evidence. It is easily the most falsifiable of all belief systems but has never been falsified. Check out this article: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2013/07/christianity-the-worlds-most-falsifiable-religion/

    You can also read some I have written on this here:
    http://missionarybrewer.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/why-believe-in-christianity-over-other-religions/

    I would also be happy to try to answer any other questions you have.
    God bless,
    Jake

  99. Theresa Says:

    I am so happy i can across this blog, there is so much to learn and read here. I do believe that it is guided by the holy spirit. I myself use to beat myself up about not being good enough for God. I winded up leaving the walks for a year because it became to much for me to handle, like you said in one of your response this picture of God was painted of God always being upset and angry about things, although i did read the bible but i also had other telling me it should be this way and not that way. It drove me crazy and i stopped attending church and building my relationship with God. With in that year i realized how much i really need God in my life and i was not happy with not having him with me but this time around I’m trying to learn more on my own rather then getting confused by what others think it should be like (Religion). Jesus says the religious do not enter heaven, i believe that. I do not want to follow religion i want to follow Jesus!

    This article is so helpful and enlightening. There is so much to read, i will book mark and continue reading. I can also relate to Marion, because i felt like that as well, everything just gets worst in my life instead of getting better and i also felt like “God where are you” but i also know that a lot of things that was being told to me was painting a different picture of God and was hindering me from really getting on the level and understanding i need to be on. With that said i can not rebel against God, I need God no matter the storm or how long it is i have to keep holding on to him because he is the only one who speaks to the storm and even the waters obey him. If he did that on the boat then i have to believe he can do that in my life as well!

    I love Jesus!!

  100. Chick Cynthia Kandi Says:

    I am chick Cynthia Kandi from Cameroon
    I love Jesus and like reading about him.This article has inspired me and really cleared many doubts i have.i will like to always receive inspiring messages and teachings from a man of God like you.

    will be pleased to receive more inspiring messages on Gods word.


  101. I do thank for paying the price for the evil i have done.l hate religion and i don,t belong to any religion.
    l am a chrsitian saved by FAITH in Christ Jesus.
    THE LAW CAN NOT SAVE ME

  102. Z Says:

    Our son is a “saved” Christian. The last 6 years he has preached the bible to us to the point the rest of the family wont hardly talk to him. We have been to his church, been there for his two beautiful children. Our oldest son and his wife are adopting a beautiful baby girl. His wife’s sister is gay. Our Christian son cannot congratulate them because the child will be raised in such an environment. And because he is Christian, and we decide not to follow his belief, he is no longer going to have contact with any of us. We are all angry and heartbroken. Explain to me that this is what being a ‘Christian” is all about. We think it is a cult? But when I have been around his Church friends, its not like that. I have read some of your blog, I believe in God, but I cannot believe he works in this way, please help me find some Way of understanding this.

  103. philippians1v21 Says:

    I sent a personal email to this person.

  104. Alex Davies Says:

    I was born and raised in a “Christian cult” for 15 years where parents were enforced to physically beat their children for the minor/major sins they had committed. I’m terrified of Christ, all I’ve been taught is that he seeks out sinful people and destroys them. I find it hard to pray to him because I don’t think I personally am worthy to speak to him. How to I fully love my spiritual father, my creator when I’m so afraid of him and the power he has in his hands?? Please anyone guide me to him.

  105. Cody Johnson Says:

    This isn’t referring to Christianity?
    James 1:27 ESV

    Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

  106. philippians1v21 Says:

    Cody,
    Please see my response to Jay above (comment #102) where I address this question.

  107. philippians1v21 Says:

    Alex,
    I am so sorry to hear of your experience. It certainly makes sense that you would be naturally terrified of Jesus, given your experience. The only thing I can say is to try to understand that the Jesus you are afraid of is not the true Jesus. He is some other imposter. The Jesus you describe and the one you were taught of is a completely different Jesus from the Jesus described in the bible. Jesus does not “seek out sinful people and destroy them”. The reality is that even though we ALL deserve that, Jesus came displaying grace, mercy, and love. Consider the following words about this man whom you fear . . .

    “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” ~ John 3:16-17

    “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” ~Matt 9:36

    “Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” ~ Matt 14:14

    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.” ~ Matt 23:37

    “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” ~ Matt 11:28-30

    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” ~ Luke 4:18-19

    “One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.” ~ Mark 10:13-16

    “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.” ~ John 10:11-15

    This is just a taste. I urge you to open up the gospels and read about the true Jesus who loves you and cares enough for you that he would sacrifice His own life to save you. Don’t let what other people tell you about Him form your whole concept of who Jesus is. Find out for yourself. You will be amazed by the love, patience, generosity, mercy and compassion you see in this man.

    This is especially heightened when you come to the understanding that you don’t deserve this. You really do deserve death and punishment. We all do. To be sure, you SHOULD be afraid of God and the power He has in His hands. God does have the power of life and death and the power to through us in hell (Matt 10:28). In your comment you said that you have trouble praying to God because you don’t feel “worthy to speak to him”. But this isn’t just how you feel, it is the reality. In this case, your feelings are telling you the truth. You are NOT worthy to speak to Him. You are a sinner and your sin separates you from God. You are indeed at risk of hell. All of us are in this situation. No one can approach God by their own worth or by their own merit. It is actually a good thing that you feel this lack of worth because it means you are close to understanding your need for a savior.

    This is why Jesus came. He didn’t come to punish the world. He came to offer freedom to the world. He came to offer you and me salvation from ourselves and from our rightful judgment. He came so that you can approach God, not on the basis of your worth, but on Jesus’ worth. The believer in Jesus can pray and approach God because in God’s eyes Jesus’ extreme worth is substituted in place of their lack of worth. When God looks upon the Christian he sees only Jesus’ worth. This is why Jesus reconciles us (brings us back) to God. He is the bridge, the mediator, between us and God.

    “For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.” ~ 1 Tim 2:5

    You must come to the place where you realize your own sinfulness and guilt before God. You need to repent of this sin and turn to God. Place your complete faith, trust and hope in Jesus Christ as your only hope of being saved. If you do this, you can approach God with no fear. God has no wrath against his children (those who have trusted in Jesus). All of God’s wrath was placed on Jesus Christ when He was on the cross. He drank the whole cup of God’s wrath towards those of us who believe in Him. There is not one drop left. This is why Jesus said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). The child of God gets to run to their Daddy, Father and jump right into His lap (just like the little children did with Jesus in the verses above).

    I understand that it will take time for you to heal and repair your concept of who Jesus is. I believe the best way for you to do this is to keep reading about Him in the bible. Read the book of John. Then read Mark, Matthew and Luke. Keep reading them until you can see Jesus for who He really is. Allow the Word to replace your view of who Jesus is. Allow it to rewrite how you think. Pray that God will open your eyes to see His love and compassion for you. I will pray for you as well. He will do it.

    I also encourage you to read the letter that I wrote to Marion at the beginning of these comments (comment #2). She was struggling with some of the same things you are.

    God bless,
    Jake

  108. Alex Davies Says:

    Jake your words have truly touched me. I honestly didn’t believe anyone could help or provide advice but that was an incredibly negative and realised that’s how I view Jesus Christ. I will read them over and over until those negative thoughts are out of my life for good. Thank you again my brother!

    I do have one more question. When you ask god for help, why doesn’t he help you especially when your desperate and understand he is the only one who could help? Why doesn’t he help us but other times he does? Why does he pick and choose?

  109. zamikhaya Says:

    its so powerful,Religion versus Christianity!

  110. Cynthia Says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I try to explain this to people and it’s like if they can’t have Religion they are not satisfied because they feel the need to feel like they are producing works to lead what they think is the definition of a successful Christian life, meanwhile their life produces nothing for non believers to want to be apart of. I know the Pharisees were religious, So much so that they wanted to Kill Christ because he healed someone on the Sabath day. Religion is horrible and it causes so many problems for people. His word says He is the word, the word became Flesh. To get to know Christ is to be in his word it produces an effortless change. The bible has to be read in it’s context. Each book of the bible was a letter or book. Chapter numbers and verse numbers were added a couple of hundred years ago. I have seen people take a verse or scripture and twist it to mean what they want it to without reading what came before and after of the scripture. Anyway, I thank you so much for writing this. It makes total and complete sense. Very Powerful!

  111. Mike Says:

    First to all Jesus never say those things. One of the problems Christians have by calling Jesus the Son Of God. That is the most stupid thing I have ever heard.

    Jesus was nothing more than a prophet like moses was, if you really want to call some human being God why not call Adam God since we all came from him.

    you stupid idiots.

  112. philippians1v21 Says:

    Mike,

    I welcome you to my blog. You are welcome to share your perspective and opinion here as long as you can do so in a manner that shows mutual respect and civil dialog. It is natural and expected that we don’t all agree on these issues. This is ok, and everyone should be entitled to their opinion. You won’t see me attacking another individual for their beliefs here. I will not allow others to do so, either. If you can’t contribute intellectually, or within the framework of logical discourse, then I will certainly not allow your emotionally charged, attacking, and content-free comments from being posted here. I will excuse your first offense, since you are new here.

    We all grow and learn when it is ideas that are critiqued and criticized, not people. It is perfectly legitimate to attack my ideas. It is completely fair to say that I am wrong about what I have written here and then to provide logical, defensible, evidence-supported reasons for why that is the case. We could both have a meaningful discussion about that. However, it is NEVER fair or valid debate to claim my ideas are untrue, and to support this claim by merely attacking my character, my intelligence, or my person. This is called “Argumentum ad Hominem”. It is a well established logical fallacy.

    It’s a fallacy of logic because my arguments don’t depend on me. Even if you are correct, and I am a “stupid idiot”, this does not defeat the argument I have made. A parrot can be trained to recite Newton’s First Law of Motion. You can’t argue (legitimately) that the content of what the parrot says is untrue, simply because the parrot is not all that intelligent. If you are going to actually defeat the idea, you MUST attack the idea, not the parrot. Similarly, my ideas here are not my own. I did not create them. I am passing them on (like the parrot). Certainly, I agree with them. But, the ideas themselves cannot be defeated by a claim that I am stupid. That’s why this is not accepted logic, and is a rejected means of debate. In fact, to result to ad hominem is a sign that you can no longer defend or support your position by intellectual arguments. It’s in essence the same as sticking out your tongue and yelling, “Oh yeah, well you are a pooh-pooh head”.

    My ides don’t threaten or impact you at all. Why do they anger you so much to the point of attacking and insulting me? Why do you care so much if we disagree? If I am wrong, why does that anger you? It does not anger or upset me that you do not believe in Jesus. It simply doesn’t affect me. I might suggest that there is something else below the surface here that creates this visceral reaction in you. As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “He doth protest too much, me thinks!” Is there perhaps even a nugget in what I have said that you know deep down is true, and that you are trying to overcome by your attack of anyone who accepts this truth? It’s something for you to think on and consider. If you say this isn’t the case, how do you explain to yourself why it upsets you that I believe in Jesus?

    Getting to the little content you did provide in your critique of my blog, you claimed that Jesus never said the things I quote him as saying. Ok, that is certainly an opinion. What evidence do you have to support that claim? None of us should base our fundamental beliefs on ideas lacking any substance or any evidential support, wouldn’t you agree? So I challenge you, what evidence can you provide to support your claim? It’s a fair question. It seems you are the lone expert on what Jesus did and didn’t say. Were you there? If not, then how do you know what he said? Do you have eyewitness testimony from people who were there? No? Ok, well I actually do.

    In fact, what I base my beliefs on are the combined eyewitness testimony of 9 people who were actually there and actually saw what Jesus did and didn’t say. Their testimony is in harmony. These are the authors of the New Testament. It is important to remember that the bible was not written as one book. These writings weren’t consolidated until hundreds of years later. It is simply a collection of writings from eyewitnesses recording what they saw. You can say that you don’t believe the testimony of these witnesses, but why? What reason do you have to reject the relevant witness testimony? What other testimony do you have to offer that is more reliable than these? You can’t do that in court of law, and it is bad historical methodology to do so with history. It is not legitimate historical analysis to reject credible and valid eyewitness testimony simply because you don’t like what they said or you don’t agree with them. You cannot dismiss testimony without valid reason to do so.

    If the testimonies of the 9 witnesses are not enough, I have more. To the 9, I can add 20 early Christian writers outside of New Testament writings, that further backup the testimony of the 9. These additional 20 witnesses recorded what they saw in writings that are not included in the bible, but that further support the testimony of the 9. In addition to these 29 eyewitness sources who were Christians, I can also add 9 sources that are distinctly non-Christian. These are Roman and Jewish writers and historians with no skin in the game in supporting a myth or perpetuating a false claim. Yet, they write about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, supporting all that is written about him by the 9 biblical authors. In fact, there are as many non-Christian sources who describe the life of Jesus (within 150 years of his life) as there are sources who talk about Roman emperor at the time (Tiberius Caesar)!

    So, let’s summarize here. I have 29 confirmed and documented eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus which support the most complete accounts (the ones written by the 9 biblical authors). All together that’s 38 eyewitness accounts! And, tell me again what you have to refute this monumental stack of firsthand eyewitness documentation? Oh that’s right, you know what Jesus said. And we are “stupid idiots” for not taking your word over those who were actually there. Well, maybe you’re right and I am stupid. But, I’m not relying on my own intelligence here. You are. I’m going with the weight of evidence.

    You then claim that Jesus was just a prophet, like Moses. Again, how do you know? You provide no support for this claim. Moses didn’t claim to be God. Moses didn’t claim that all of the law and prophets were written about him. Moses didn’t claim the Passover meal symbolized his body and his blood. Moses wasn’t murdered for claiming to be God. Perhaps most importantly, Moses didn’t rise from the dead. Those are some pretty big differences, I’d say.

    Since you bring up Moses, perhaps we should look at what Moses DID say. You might find it interesting to know that Moses actually prophesied about Jesus. He tried to warn people like you who would refuse to listen to the words of Jesus. . .

    “Moses continued, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you yourselves requested of the Lord your God when you were assembled at Mount Sinai. You said, ‘Don’t let us hear the voice of the Lord our God anymore or see this blazing fire, for we will die.’

    “Then the Lord said to me, ‘What they have said is right. I will raise up a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him. I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf.” ~ Deut 18:15-19 (NLT)

    It is as if Jesus himself were speaking to you, personally, in the passage below . . .

    “Your approval means nothing to me, because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. No wonder you can’t believe! . . .

    “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” ~ John 5:41-47 (NLT)

    Mike, I wish you the best. I would welcome continued discussion with you if you can show respect and avoid ad hominem. If you are interested in learning more about the substantial evidence that supports the New Testament I would suggest this blog I wrote as a starting point: http://missionarybrewer.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/can-the-new-testament-really-be-trusted/

    Jake

  113. stacygturner Says:

    Sorry it is a religion. God “reaching down to man, to burn you forever if you don’t follow his dogma. Follow this god, or burn in hell forever. Sounds like you were cherry picking.

  114. philippians1v21 Says:

    Stacy,
    You conclude Christianity is a religion because of what happens to you if you don’t believe in it. How can you say something is a religion because of what the people who DON’T belong to it do? You don’t judge a club by what those who are not a part of it do. That would be like saying the Kiwanis or Elks Club are not a charitable organizations because there are people who are uncharitable who are not involved in these organizations. The Elks Club and Kiwanis don’t have anything to do with what those who are not apart of them do. They can only be judged by what THEY do and what THEIR practices and requirements are for those who belong to THEIR organization. Christianity has nothing to do with what happens to people who choose not to be included in it. A faith can only be judged as religions or not based on what it requires of those who DO belong to it.

    Unlike any other faith, Christianity does not require those who belong to it to work and earn their favor from God. This is vastly different than any other faith! Christianity claims that man cannot earn anything from God and that favor can only be gained by trusting in God’s actions in place of ours. It is what Christianity demands of its followers that defines it (not what happens to those who choose to reject it). In this case, it is its lack of demands on its followers that sets it apart. It is this lack of requiring people to earn it themselves that differentiates Christianity from religion.

    If don’t believe Christianity is true, why do you care what they believe will happen to those who don’t follow it? If Christianity isn’t true, then the fact that Christians believe you will go to hell doesn’t affect you at all. The beliefs of Christians about what happens to non-Christians should be completely irrelevant to non-Christians. If these beliefs don’t impact non-Christians, and they don’t impact Christians either, then it seems strange to me that it is these beliefs you would focus on to define Christianity as religious or not. It makes much more sense to focus on the beliefs that actually do impact those who adhere to Christianity. This is what sets the requirements for what it means to belong to the faith. What does Christianity require of those who would belong to it? That is the relevant question to answer when you are considering if it is a religion or not.

    Also, your characterization of what Christians believe is a straw man. It’s easy to defeat, but it is a poor representation of what Christians actually believe. Christians believe that it is not God that is responsible for people going to hell, but people themselves. Christians believe that no one will go to hell involuntarily. Everyone who goes to hell will have chosen to go there. Christians don’t believe you go to hell for “not following his dogma”. They believe you go to hell because you intentionally reject the truth. Truth is not dogma. It is a set thing, its not a matter of opinion. It doesn’t change based on what we choose to believe. If I step off a cliff, I will fall downward. This is not a matter of opinion. If I believe I will go up, it doesn’t change the reality. The truth is that gravity is a constant and I am bound by it. I makes little sense for me to rail against nature because it punished me for refusing to accept its dogma of gravity.

    The claim of Christianity is a truth claim. it is the claim that Jesus was God, that he actually lived and walked on this earth, that he really was crucified and died, historically, that he truly rose from the dead, and that he said that those who believe in him, trust in him, and follow him will be saved. This is either true or it isn’t. It is either fact or fiction. If it is fact, it isn’t dogma. If you reject it, you are not refusing to believe some dogma, you are refusing to accept reality. If I jump off the cliff because I refuse to accept the “dogma of gravity”, it doesn’t matter . . . I will still fall. Labeling a truth I don’t like “dogma” doesn’t make it any less true. Christianity claims people will go to hell who refuse to accept reality and who consciously turn their backs on the truth and refuse to believe it. Christians belief that those who go to hell will be the ones who refuse to acknowledge God for who he is. They will refuse to accept the reality that he is supreme and lord over them. They will refuse to submit to him and will try to rule their own lives. This is a conscious choice. It is not a choice of whether or not to accept dogma, it is a choice of whether or not to accept the reality of who God is.

    If you were drowning in a lake and a lifeguard offers you his hand to save you, this offer of salvation isn’t dogma. It is not the lifeguards fault you chose to jump into the lake when you can’t swim. It makes no sense for you to be angry with the lifeguard who is offering you salvation from the situation you created for yourself. You can, of course, refuse the help and choose to drown. That is certainly your choice. No one will force you. However, the fact that some people choose to stay in the water even though they can’t swim and end up drowning as a result, doesn’t cast blame on the lifeguard who is trying to persuade them to accept his offer of salvation. You can call the fact that you are drowning and need help from the lifeguard “dogma” if you want, but this doesn’t change the situation. The reality remains. The lifeguard’s hand is still extended to you and he is still pleading for you to accept his free offer of salvation. You won’t drown because of action from the lifeguard. The life guard doesn’t “reach down to man” and cause you to drown. But, you can chose to drown on your own. The choice is entirely yours.

    All other faiths teach that you must do something to pull yourself out of the water. All of them hold that we are drowning, by the way. That isn’t unique to Christianity. Virtually all faiths recognize that there is a problem and man has rebelled against God and as a result is in need or reconciliation with him. The difference comes in what they require you to do in order to gain that reconciliation. Most all faiths claim it is you that must learn to swim and crawl back out of the lake on your own. Christianity is alone in the claim that it is God himself (the one who was wronged by us) who does the saving. It is God alone who pulls us from the water if we choose to accept his hand. We aren’t saved by our own effort or actions. This is why Christianity IS very different. This is why it is so different, it isn’t actually religious in nature.

    Stacy, I wish you the best and I will be praying that you will see Christianity for what it is. I will pray that you will see Jesus’ hand extended to you, offering you salvation. I will pray that you can see the truth claims of Christianity for what they are, truth, not dogma.

    Jake

  115. Mike Says:

    Jake, I am confused about your statement here: so what you saying in reality is that You have to accept Jesus as your savor in order to find salvation in paradise if not you will go to burning bush??

    This bull: Jesus never claim to be the son of God, in fact Christianity is nothing more than pagan religion that is based on astrology, from the resurrection to the crucifixion is nothing more than a pagan believe. One thing I know though, that each and everyone one of us is responsible for our own actions, and if there is hell and heaven as I do believe, it is not going to be as easy as just being born again to enter paradise. I believe that earth elements were created for a purpose and the fire in hell will be a place for all human beings to experience. How long will you stay there it all depends on what you have done on this life. And the fact that God the one we cannot see and touch, will not like his creation calling him a father who has a son on earth to safe his children’s. And only a very small amount of humans will enter paradise.

    I believed that when a human being associate God’s second hand by that I mean (saints, son’s of god) to save him from the hell of fire. God himself will keep everyone who associate him as a pagan God in the hell of fire for eternity.

    Furthermore, just like each and everyone of us will have to die, each and everyone one of us will have to taste the fire before putting a foot inside paradise! As humans, it is very easy to claim someone else for our shortcomings but in the long rung you I are responsible for what we do in this life. And whatever you think you follow as your religion to be correct, it all depends weather you associate God as a pagan God and hell of fire and your resting place will be for eternity. Jesus cannot take blame to save you from the fire as he never claim to do so.

    I do believe the closes and purest belives from what I have red it is the Quran…and prophet Mohammed who he never claim to be above God and to be nothing more than a servant to God.

    Mike


  116. Mark… You are very closed minded. I have been following the comments on this blog for a while now and 90% of it’s contents disgust me. May I say to all of those who have been cut down or battered for your beliefs, do not change your opinions of religion because of one man or one idea that is different than yours. We each have the right to our own search for religious truth and a personal relationship with the god in which we desire. God is infinite, omnipotent and omnipresent. Therefore, who is to say that god cannot be all of these claims in all of these religions. Every man is different and may interpret god in the way that tends to his life most effectively because it is not for others that we praise his name, it is for him. Taylor your god to your own needs and remove the different names from your practice. If you call your faith by name (I.e. Christianity, Judaism, Islamic, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Atheism, Agnosticism) you are subscribing to religion. I don’t care what bologna this guy is preaching. When you find your own answers within yourself and learn your place beneith the greater power, you are no longer a religious person and are now a spiritual person. Always seek out to know and have a connection with the almighty… That is what pleases him. Everyone knows that deep down after casting aside all of the man made teachings and claims of self righteousness. We are all capable of paving our own path to god.

  117. philippians1v21 Says:

    Mike,
    Let me make sure I end any confusion. Yes, I absolutely claim that if you do not accept Jesus Christ as God and do not repent of your sin and place your faith and trust in his death on the cross as payment for your sin, you will go to hell. This is not only my claim, it is the claim of Christianity, it is the claim of the bible and it was the claim of Jesus Christ Himself.

    I think we have well established by now that you don’t believe this. I don’t think there is any need for you to state that again. I get it. you don’t believe this and you believe something different. What you still have not done is provide any reason why anyone else should care what you believe. You have provided no reason why your belief is superior to mine. I have provided historical evidence for my claim. You have claimed before (and again in your last comment) that Jesus never claimed to be God. But, we have recorded testimony from people who were there stating that he did claim this. You have completely failed to provide any rebuttal testimony. You have completely failed to provide ANY evidence whatsoever for your belief. How can you claim that Jesus never said he was the Son of God when every single eyewitness testimony we have asserts that he did? How is that a logical conclusion from the available information? This question stands unanswered by you and it’s an insurmountable objection until you address it. Here is a link listing numerous time Jesus asserted to be the Son of God as recorded by those who witnessed it: https://bible.org/question/does-jesus-fact-say-he-god%E2%80%99s-son-not-just-infer-it

    You then claim Christianity is just a pagan religion. I am at a loss to even know what you mean by this, since the very definition of “pagan” is that which is not Christian (or not any another major religion). Paganism is defined by being anti-Christian (and anti other major religions). So, it is hard to understand how you can claim Christianity is pagan. If Christianity is pagan, then paganism isn’t pagan! That’s like claiming a circle is rectangle. The definition of a rectangle is a shape that has four pointed corners. It is by definition non-circular. If you say a circle is a rectangle, then what is a rectangle?

    I can only assume that you mean to imply that Christianity is somehow based on an previous pagan religions. If that is what you mean, I have already written much about this claim here in these comments. Please read my response to DS in comment #76. You remark about Christianity being based on astrology is rebutted in my response to Jay in comment #91. It’s a neat sounding claim, but neither you nor anyone who has attempted to make this claim here before you, have been able to provide any evidence to support it. As I have repeatedly explained here, it is a logical fallacy (the False Cause Fallacy) to claim that just because two religions have similar beliefs, that one is based on the other. This is not always the case, and in fact historians have found it is rarely true. You must be able to demonstrate that one and motive and opportunity to base their religion on the predecessor. In the case of Judaism and Christianity, historians and repeatedly confirmed this is not the case. At any rate, it is a wild claim and the burden of proof is certainly on you, since you are making the claim. What evidence can you provide to support your claim?

    As for me, I can provide substantial evidence for the historical reality of the items you claim are nothing more than pagan beliefs (the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus). These events are some of the best documented historical events in the first century. They aren’t documented by pagans, but by Jewish and Roman historians. What reason do we have for disbelieving their accounts? Why do you pick and choose which history you will accept and what history you reject from the contemporary historical accounts at the time of Jesus’ life? This just doesn’t make sense. How can you claim, for example, that the JEWISH historian, Josephus, would pull from pagan myth to describe the death and resurrection of Jesus? He is not pagan. He was a devout Jew. He hated the pagan religions of his day. He is not a pagan source. It is just irrational to conclude his account was influenced by paganism.

    You claim that the Quran is the “purest”, but (unlike the bible) there are clear and unavoidable historical inaccuracies in the Quran. It claims, for example, that Jesus was never killed, but that he only “appeared” dead. This is clearly rebutted by so much eyewitness testimony that was recorded within 100 years of the event. The Quran wasn’t written until 700 years later. Modern medical science has determined that no one could survive the trauma inflicted upon Jesus. Even Jesus’ own enemies at the time admitted that he died and that his body had disappeared. The Quran calls Alexander the Great a righteous man and a teacher, yet he was idolatrous and claimed to be the son of Amun, the God of Egypt. The Qur’an claims that Haman was pharaoh’s prime minister even though Haman lived in Babylon one thousand years later. It calls people Samaritans who lived long before the nation of Sumeria was even established. It claims human beings are formed by a clot of blood. It claims that the sun sets in a spring of murky water. The Quran claims God took Muhammad to the “al-Aqsa” mosque in Jerusalem, but Muhammad died before the mosque was constructed. It claims that Mary, Jesus’ mother, was the sister or Aaron and the daughter of Imran. That would make her about 1500 years old. I could go on. It is fraught with problems.

    As for me, I will stick with the actual firsthand eyewitness testimony. I won’t go with claims that come in hundreds on years after the fact, from people who were not there, when the actual witnesses are dead and cannot respond. I certainly won’t go with what you believe is the truth. I require evidence. The weight of the historical data is on my side.

  118. Alan Jones Says:

    Christ is not God. Let see, everything that I am saying has been recorded and I will be questioned on judgement day. I will remember that when you are in the burning fire and you ask me for a glass of water. I will remind you then to ask Christ to give you a glass of water, and he will tell you, this is not my place, ask God. 

  119. Jason M Darnell Says:

    I have really enjoyed this web mini sermon . I have one thing to point out about the definition of religion the word and it’s definition is made by man and not by God . The only thing we have to go by in this world is the bible and the Holy Spirit . Just as the many different definitions of religion (and may I add I agree with your definition ) .As a relationship with Christ can be felt just as a relationship with another person can be felt it isn’t really tangable you may be able to touch the person but the relationship is a feeling not a man made word or definition . In conclusion I believe the only person who can define us or anything pertaining to or relationship with God is God as his word is the bible and the purity of it is what makes it so special .Thanks for your great work
    God bless
    Jason M Darnell

  120. philippians1v21 Says:

    Alan,
    I’m not really sure how to respond to your comment. It is so angry, unloving, and accusatory. I wonder what I have ever done to earn such hatred from you. I certainly don’t hate you or wish you ill will. I wish you the best, and desire nothing but good for you. In fact, I think the contrast here speaks a lot about the origin of each our positions on this issue. I don’t know who you are or what God you worship. But, if the God you worship can be represented by your callous and uncaring refusal to give a glass of water to someone who is burning, then I am confident that it’s not a god I want to serve, or the “greatest possible being”. In contrast to a god that would condone such hatred, I present Jesus Christ; who loved sinners so much He freely chose to come to earth and die in their place! The bible says He loved us while we were still His enemies (Rom 5:8-10). This is a God who calls His followers to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt 5:44). Quite a stark contrast to your actions here. Your lack of concern for those who don’t hold your position betrays your beliefs as not being from God.

    Given the choice to relying on the compassion of Jesus Christ to give me a drink of water or you, I’ll ask Jesus. He’s demonstrated the character of someone worth asking and worth worshiping. He also claimed to be the “Living Water” and that no one who drinks from Him will ever be thirsty again (John 7:38-39). I’ll stick with Him.

    I truly do wish you the best, and I pray that you will come to an understanding of Jesus Christ and see Him for who He truly is. He stands right now offering you the cup of water you would deny me.

  121. philippians1v21 Says:

    Fatimustonius,
    My name is Jake, not Mark. I agree with you that “We each have the right to our own search for religious truth and a personal relationship with god”. I have never said otherwise here. I have always showed respect to each person’s right to have their own opinion and their right to disagree with me. I have never “cut down or battered” a person for their beliefs. I respect your and others’ rights to disagree with me. I have stated this in virtually every comment I have made to those who disagree with what I am saying here. Your accusation is simply unfounded.

    I think where you get confused is in thinking that one must agree that everyone’s opinion is equally valid (equally correct) in order to respect their right to have an opinion. It is certainly reasonable to demand that others respect your right to have an opinion. However, it is NOT reasonable to demand that others view your opinion as equally valid. It is not reasonable to demand that others view your opinion as equally true to the one they believe is actually true. Just because I think your opinion is incorrect, that doesn’t imply that I am not allowing you freedom to hold it, or that I don’t respect you as a person.

    I have been very careful to attack only ideas and not people in my comments here. Even when I have been personally attacked instead of my ideas (a frequent occurrence), I have responded by focusing my critique on the ideas presented and not on the individuals presenting them. Attacking ideas is fair game. That is what argument and debate is all about. No one ever grows or learns unless ideas are allowed to be challenged. Also, no one ever learns anything when all ideas (no matter how farfetched) must be considered equally valid.

    Just because we all have a right to our pursuit of religious truth, does not at all imply that we all are correct. It does not at all imply that we all find the actual truth. If this was really the case, it would imply that there is no truth to pursue. There would be nothing true to discover. You don’t actually believe in a pursuit of truth, you actually believe in an invention of reality to fit you own whim. Truth is a concrete thing. That is what means for something to be ‘true’ as opposed to ‘false’.

    When a scientists seeks to understand the truth of why the planets move the way they do, he does not suppose that he can simply invent any answer he feels comfortable with and then demand all other scientists hold his idea as equal with anything they come up with. No, he actually pursues the truth. He investigates to see which theory, which explanation fits the observable data best. He doesn’t claim that his idea is equally valid as anyone else’s just because it is an idea. It is only valid as long as it fits the data. Its value must be tested and earned. The scientist welcomes challenges to his theory. Scientists assert positions and challenge the positions of others in a legitimate desire to seek truth. That is what I am attempting to do here.

    It is a given that some theories are correct and others are wrong. This should be obvious because some scientific theories are in clear contradiction. You react so violently when I suggest the same thing is true about religious belief. What I find fascinating is that no one has that reaction to any other situation in life. If a random stranger stops me on the street and asks how to get to Century Link Field in Seattle, I don’t say, “It doesn’t matter, just find the path that works for you, man, and follow it whole-heartedly. You will get there.” If I did respond that way, the person would probably ask me what I’m smoking (it is Washington State after all). Then, they would probably get upset that I didn’t give them a real answer. If I tell the stranger, “Head South on the I-5 Interstate and get off at exit 165A at James St.”, they wouldn’t likely respond saying that I was close minded for claiming there is only one direction to head. If you are seeking how to get someplace, it is logical to assume there is a correct way to get there and many ways that will not get you there. It is simply common sense. However, when it comes to religious truth people want to turn off all logic and reason.

    It turns out that, once you really look this, not all religions can be correct. This idea may sound appealing, but it is simply not even possible. It doesn’t hold up under closer examination. Religions make exclusive truth claims that are in clear contradiction. They can’t all be true. They are like roads heading in completely different directions. If one is right, the others must be wrong. For example, take man’s central problem. Some religions will assert that it is sin, others that it is ignorance, still others that the major problem is unenlightenment. The necessary human response is faith in some, repentance in others, obedience in many, performance of rituals in another, meditation or emptying of self in still others. How the main human dilemma is resolved could be salvation, liberation, or enlightenment.

    Jesus Christ cannot both be God incarnate (the claim of Christianity) and not be God incarnate (the claim of Judaism and Islam). Contradictory religious claims have opposite truth value, meaning that they negate or deny each other. Therefore, exactly one is true and the other false. And, accordingly, Jesus Christ must either be God incarnate or not be God incarnate; no middle position is possible (either A or non-A). Either all of these religions have it wrong, or only one of them is right. There is no third option of them being in agreement. They simply aren’t.

    What is so comical to me about your comment is that you commit the very action that you are accusing me of doing. You attack me for claiming that there is only one way to God and that is through Jesus. I am “closed minded”. However, the very act of you making this statement is itself close minded. You are judging my position as invalid. All ideas are no longer equally valid. How is that different from what you are accusing me of doing? How is that tolerant or open minded? You claim that everyone just needs to define their own truth, but then claim I am preaching “bologna”. It’s so ironic. To make an emphatic, concrete, firm religious claim that there is no concrete, firm religious truth is fundamentally flawed logic, not to mention totally hypocritical. Your claim that there is no one true religion is, itself, is a claim that something is true . . . that universalism is true.

    You are making an exclusive truth claim. Your claim is in competition with other truth claims. They cannot all be correct (or you have no place is criticizing my position). You have already made it clear that you believe my truth claim is invalid (“bologna”). Therefore you are asserting an exclusive claim about what is true about God. How is this different than what I am doing? At least my claim has the benefit of being internally consistent, while yours is clearly incongruent. In fact, it commits suicide. J.W. Wartick puts it this way:

    “The bottom line is that the pluralist has become the exclusivist. Only the pluralist knows the true way. Thus, their system must collapse in on itself. It either relegates all religious claims to become mere reports of human consciousness and thus affirms itself as the only true religion, or it must affirm blatantly contradictory claims like “God exists” and “There is no God” or “Shiva is a god, Vishnu is a god, etc.” and “There is no God but Allah.” The pluralist has presumed much.

    If all ways are true, then none are. Pluralism has failed.”

    It is important to point out that you are making a basic assumption: that no one religion has the whole story. Every religion is like a blind man describing the part of the elephant they happen to be touching. They are describing something they cannot possibly know or understand. That is a bold assertion that demands some evidence to support it. How do we know that no religion has it right? Mysteriously, this same predicament, however, apparently doesn’t apply to you! You are the only non-blind man capable of seeing what everyone else has missed. The problem is that this places you as the only one whose claims about the God are true. Your presumption assumes the invalidity of all other religious claims. Only you can see that all religious claims to exclusivity are false. All of the other systems of belief are “blind men”. You, alone, will tell us “what pleases him”.

    But, this is not the reality. The reality is that you are in the same situation as the rest of us. You have no special knowledge. You are not the only person able to peek beyond the veil to view God. You are not the only man who can see. If all the world’s religions can be compared to blind men, so too can the pluralist. You are just another blind man claiming that all the rest don’t have the correct view. Why, then, should your idea be taken as more probable than mine or anyone else’s? How does he know this? If the true nature of God is unknowable, then how is one able to know that God is unknowable?

    The idea that God doesn’t care about these major aspects of the specific religions is actually in clear contradiction to the teachings of virtually all the religions! In fact, virtually none of the world religions teach this idea. You are essentially trying to uphold the truth of all people’s individual beliefs by denying the truth of something that the vast majority of the world’s religions (and thus the vast majority of people) believe. It is an attempt to establish universal agreement by denying perhaps the only thing that actually has nearly universal agreement.

    You assume that we are all capable of “paving our own path to god”, but how do you know this is true? Are you God’s chosen messenger to us? What source do you draw from that proves or validates this claim? If we are all able to define our own god and our own path, what of the Buddhist or atheist who doesn’t even believe in the existence of a God? What evidence can you provide that supports your claim? Like the scientist who is actually seeking the truth, I want to test your theory against the evidence. I wish to compare the evidence for your position with the evidence that supports mine. What can you offer?

  122. Musa Sammani Says:

    Well honestly I’ve learnt alot it has broadened my mind about what christainity is all about.

  123. Lyra Says:

    thank you so much.

    all grace and love,

    Lyra

  124. Sarfraz Tomas Says:

    Greetings
    I Sarfraz Tomas from pakistan. I have studied your web site, and I found it the most wonderful site to get right to the True Word of God. My suggestion for you is to create your material in my language of Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Pashto, Sindhi, Sraiki, and Balochi also. It will bring lots of blessings of the Word of God for the Pakistani and Indian Urdu and Punjabi and other local languages speaking people. For that purpose, I as a translator will bring your material into my languages and into Indian language as well. I will be printing and distributing your material to my people around me. Although it will take your low expenses as well, as fund for the Word of God to reach out to the deserving people. I my self, work on a local radio station also. Many times it becomes difficult for us to keep doing this because of being minorities and because of the lack of the financial resources. I will wait for your response.
    Sincerely yours
    Sarfraz Tomas

  125. Drew Says:

    Hi, May I correct one thing here please. Buddhism is not a religion that in anyway includes God or a way of relationship with God. It is infact all about self improvement, to put it very simply. I’m not advocating Buddhism but just indicating that this is one point that might be worth correcting. Drew

  126. Drew Says:

    To Marion, I would just like to say that you are much loved by God. Even if you feel he has not met your expectations I can assure you he wants a relationship with you. The best way, at this time, to reassure you that he has not given up on you is to say I have that relationship and others have that relationship that you say you have not experienced after trying for so long. The question is why do I have that relationship and you do not? I’m no better than you. I do not deserve it more than you. God brought me to the end of myself. I was crying out to him to help me find a way to come to this. It was agonising but in the end amazing. The key is to truly want to die to self. To give our lives to him on a daily basis. To listen to his word (the bible) to talk to him (prayer) daily. To live in humility and trust. I’m 60 now. I gave my life to Christ in 1980 and it has has taken me this long to die to self. What a stubborn and foolish man I was. But I had been hurt by life and although I did not really realize it, I had preconceived ideas of how God should help my out of my pain. No scripture quotes here, I’m sorry and I could list so many. Go back to your bible (gods word) look at the word gave, this may help you. There is something in the way of that relationship you wanted so badly. When that is out of the way you will have relationship with your Father. Hugs and love in Christ, Drew

  127. Nformi Jerry Says:

    Thanks immensely for that distinction and clarification….may God strengthen you.

  128. philippians1v21 Says:

    Drew,
    Thank you for the comment. Buddhism is certainly a religion. However, you are correct in that most Buddhists do not believe in God. It is an atheistic religion. This drives home my point home that belief in a supreme deity is not the definition of a religion. I find it ironic that while I have repeatedly been accused of defining the word “religion” too narrowly here, the alternative proposed definitions I have been given (essentially belief in a god) are actually too narrow to include the religion of Buddhism. My definition certainly does encompass Buddhism. . .

    “Religion is a system of beliefs or a code of moral conduct that judges (qualifies or disqualifies) a person based on their adherence and obedience to certain codes, rules, laws, traditions, or the performance of required acts.”

    Like all religions, Buddhism revolves around self-improvement (as you correctly say). Like all religions, the way to reach paradise or the ultimate reality is through our effort. The way to reach “Nirvana” in Buddhism is the “Eightfold Path”. This is essentially acting and thinking better. Buddhism boils down to a plan to better oneself by our own willpower and effort. It must rely on us, since Buddhism denies the existence of a transcendent God. In stark contrast to this, Jesus teaches that man cannot better ourselves by our own effort. As I explained in my blog article, Christianity is unique in this sense. Jesus taught that it was only God who can improve us. It is only God who can earn righteousness. Jesus came to accomplish this task. The way to peace and paradise in Jesus’ teaching is only through Him and His life and death substituted in place of yours. This is completely different. Instead of an Eightfold path, Jesus presented one path, placing your trust and in Him as savior. Jesus taught that he alone was the path (the way). This is why Christianity does not fall in the the same category as all the others.

    So, while I agree with you that Buddhism is not a theistic religion, it is certainly still a religion and it does fit into the same category as all of the other religions (unlike the unique faith of Christianity). I think the essence of what I say of Buddhism in the blog is accurate.

    God bless,
    Jake

  129. Idowu Oluwatoyin Bethel Says:

    Is it true that Jesus Christ practised Judaism when he was on earth.

  130. philippians1v21 Says:

    Idowu,
    Of course it’s true that Jesus practiced Jewdaism. He was Jewish. He was a Jewish Rabbi. He was a descendant of King David. Jesus completed and fulfilled Judaism. He came to end repetative animal sacrifice by becoming the eternal sacrifice for sins, once for all sins. He came to replace the tribe of Levi as the priests, becoming the permanent priest that intercedes with the Father for us. He came to replace the prophets, sending the Holy Spirit to reside in all believers, providing guidance to each of us. He came to end the linage of earthly kings, become the King of Kings that will rule forever. Jesus became prophet, priest and king as well as sacrifice. All of Judaism points towards Jesus. All of Jewdaism is about Jesus, preparing the world for His appearance. With the coming of Jesus true Judaism became what we call Christianiaty today. Those who practice the religion of Judahism today, deny that Jesus was God’s chosen one and are still waiting for their messiah to show up. However, there is no way to really be Jewish today (in the strict scriptural sense). That’s because there is no High priest (the line of priests ended), there is no temple (it was destroyed), there are no prophets (no one has spoken for God sense John the Baptist and Jesus), and there is no king descended from David. This is no coincidence. God is not asleep. With the coming of Jesus, Judahism became the Jewish sect we call Christianity.

  131. Sue Says:

    I just spent several hours reading through this one blog post and ALL the comments. I have a question about something about God and Jesus that bothers me. Why am I here if I am nothing of any beauty or worth to God? Why does God only want to see Jesus when he looks at me? I thought he knew my name. As I have studied Jesus and Christianity, I imagine heaven must be a place where only the image of Jesus exists, if none of us who will be there will actually be ourselves, but covered and look only like Jesus, act like him, etc. I find this a real challenge to my sense of being able to be loved and lovable. It makes me feel like I have to disappear, not be human or have a distinct personality in any way. These are true frustrations of mine. I am not being snide in any way. Why do I have to be so ashamed? Why can’t I trust that God loves ME? If he is a personal God wanting a relationship with me, does he like my sense of humor? The way I love my kids? My patience with my annoying mother? Anything about ME at all? I don’t understand him loving me, dying for me and then not wanting me there, but instead only see himself. I would like to have some peace about God loving me. And I don’t understand Jesus living thru me, either. Why am I here if it’s all about Jesus? Why create me just to tell me I’m nothing but garbage and rags, then say “here, put this on and I’ll let you in”. These are some of my deepest questions I don’t dare ask my Christian friends. I’ve learned they will distance from me and always look at me with the look of “not like the rest of us”. I go to church, I worship, I pray, I study, I’ve grown, but these questions still persist. I’d welcome your input.

  132. philippians1v21 Says:

    Sue,
    Thank you for your comment. Please don’t feel afraid to ask questions. If your Christian friends don’t know the answers or look down on you, go talk to a pastor. I bet they will gladly be willing to sit down with you and answer any questions you have. I certainly am willing to help in any way I can.

    I think you are asking some good questions. The way I see it, your confusion comes from not distinguishing yourself from your sinful nature. Yes, God loves you. Yes, God knows your name. Yes, God desires a relationship specifically with you, as an individual. Yes, he likes your sense of humor. He created it.

    The fact that God loves you does not mean that he loves the sin within your heart, though. I love my child. But when my child decides to cover himself head-to-toe in dirt from outside, I don’t want him in my bed. He must be clean in order to get in the bed. Therefore I am willing to lovingly help him get cleaned up. This is what God does with His children.

    God does love you, but we have all gone our own way and sinned against Him. We all stand like dirty little children covered in our own filth. God loves you so much that He has gone to all lengths to make a way for you to get clean. He desires to clean you up, removing the stains of sin from you, and helping you become the version of yourself He intended. He is the expert craftsman. He designed you. He loves everything about your personality…except the selfishness, pride, and rebellion. Those are a corruption of your true personality. They are the cancer that is infecting it. This is not who you really are. This is the corrupted version of the true Sue. He wants to help you become the Sue He created you to be.

    You ask, “Why am I here if I am nothing of any beauty or worth to God?” Human beings were created perfect and without any sin. We are here to worship and praise God and to bring Him glory. That is our purpose. Our beauty and worth comes from the fact that we are created in His image. Each one of us reflects God’s beauty in a different way. Each of us is unique but equally worthwhile, because we all bear His image. As a result of this amazing fact, we are worth more than any other creature on earth.

    So, to answer your question, you DO have beauty and worth and this beauty and worth is God’s worth reflected in you. You are not here because of your beauty and worth. You are here to enjoy HIS beauty and worth, and reflect that to the world! So, to answer your other question about why you are here if it is all about Jesus, it’s because God created you to bring glory to Jesus and enjoy Him forever. That’s why you are here.

    The problem is that we have all chosen to mar this image. We have covered it up with filth. He have chosen to sin, which is the antithesis of who God is. We have all rejected God and chosen to go our own way. This sin has not only placed guilt upon us, but it has also created separation between us and God. There is nothing we can do to fix this problem. There is no way we can clean ourselves up. We all have dirty hands. The only way is for someone else with clean hands to wash us. This is what Jesus does. He’s the only one with clean hands.

    You asked, “Why create me just to tell me I’m nothing but garbage and rags, then say “here, put this on and I’ll let you in?”. But, you need to understand that He didn’t create you to be garbage and rags. He created you to be beautiful. But, it’s mankind, it’s us, who rejected His design and creation and covered ourselves in garbage and rags. He is offering to clean you up and return you to the state He created you to be. You can either choose to allow Him to clean you up or defiantly refuse and stay in your filth. Whatever you do, you cannot blame God for creating you that way. You are a sinner by choice as well as nature.

    You misunderstand what I said above. I never that God “only wants to see Jesus and not you”. What I said was when God looks at believers He sees Jesus’ goodness and worth, not ours. In other words, God no longer sees our pathetic attempts to clean ourselves. Instead, When God looks at one of His children He sees all the righteous actions of Jesus Christ and credits that to their account! God looks at you as if you had lived the life Jesus lived! He doesn’t look at me and see all the times I was selfish, the times I treated my sister poorly or yelled at my wife. No, when Jesus looks at me he sees me, but he sees me as if I was just as clean as Jesus. He sees me they way He created to me to be, apart from my ugly sin. Jesus’ righteousness covers me. His righteousness becomes my righteousness.

    Once you repent and follow Jesus you no longer have to approach Jesus as a sinner. Instead you can come confidently as His child, just like Jesus. This doesn’t in any way diminish your personality or uniqueness. The dirt on my child doesn’t make him any more lovable or worthwhile. It must be removed for his true beauty to show. This is the same for you.

    “As I have studied Jesus and Christianity, I imagine heaven must be a place where only the image of Jesus exists, if none of us who will be there will actually be ourselves, but covered and look only like Jesus, act like him, etc. I find this a real challenge to my sense of being able to be loved and lovable. It makes me feel like I have to disappear, not be human or have a distinct personality in any way.

    This is an inaccurate view of heaven. All believers will have unique bodies and unique personalities in heaven. This is very clear from multiple bible passages (e.g. Gen. 25:8; 35:29; 49:29; Num. 20:24; Judg. 2:10, 1 Cor. 15:12–57, Matt. 8:11, 17:3; Luke 22:17–18). We will recognize each other and remember past events and people. We will have new bodies that are perfected, but you will still be recognizable as yourself. We won’t all be clones of Jesus. I’m not sure where you got that idea. In the same way that the disciples could recognize Jesus after His resurrection, we will be recognizable. Jesus still even had his scars. You will still be you, just the perfected and glorified version of yourself. You are much more than a body. You are spirit as well. Your spirit will exist in a new body that will have abilities well beyond your current one. It will no longer get sick, deteriorate, or get tired. Your mental capacity will increase. You will no longer struggle with having a sinful nature. You won’t struggle with temptation within yourself to do sinful things. But, you will still be Sue. You will retain your personality, your memories, and your identity.

    God’s relationship with you will be unique. You are His child. Just like our children, we have unique relationships with each of them. In fact, the bible says that Jesus will give you a white stone with a special secret name that only He will call you (Rev 2:17). You will even have a pet name.

    Hopefully this helps clear some of your questions up. Please fee free to ask anything else you would like and I will try to help.

    Jake

  133. Sue Says:

    Thank for your speedy reply, Jake. I will be back to read more tomorrow. This explanation has given me much to think about.

  134. Teri Says:

    Hi Jake,
    Thank you I really appreciate your God given gift to put Gods love for us into words that speak to me. What I am unsure of is how do we get through this life, everyday, how do we hear and see all the evil in this world and not allow ourselves to become hard of heart what is Gods will how do we not be fearful? I want to remain faithful but negativity is everywhere, any advice would be so appreciated God bless

  135. dadon Says:

    Powerful great.thanks a lot got a lot from.This gotta share with others..


  136. […] Religion scared me. I couldn’t grasp the concept of believing in something I couldn’t see, something I couldn’t touch, or feel. Churches were for weddings and funerals. It wasn’t until Tarek, this cute guy I had grown to care for, stared in my eyes as he asked where I thought I would go once I died. […]

  137. Michael Wayne Morrison Says:

    I totally agree but I think you should empathize that the church or congregation shouldn’t be involved in the world that pursues the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. These are the things the world does that are selfish and produce a hatred toward God because lust is not of God for God is love and true love is he. He was also a servant of his servants. (Humble) You need to also stress that adding and taking away from the word of God is the unforgivable sin which religion often does. The Holy Spirit is the word of God also to which you do not want to call a liar. Only by the faith of a little child shall you enter the kingdom of God thus faith is required for salvation. Remember: faith without works is dead. We must try to live a holy existence to show we believe and to never judge someone falling out of grace but to lift them up in times of trial. You are a true Christian my friend as good works are nothing without true faith and belief. Go with God you truly are his friend. Rules are a guided path that we may know the difference but still should be abided by with understanding that we all fail and that’s why believing God can forgive us for all sin except one. Jesus is the Lord, we are not, amen?

  138. philippians1v21 Says:

    Michael,

    Thanks for commenting. I think we are generally in agreement. I certainly believe that a Christian should pursue God, forsake worldly sin and strive to live a holy life. All true Christians will do so, by the gift of God’s grace through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is very true that faith without works is dead, because faith that does not result in works was never faith at all to begin with. A relationship with God is never the result of works but it also never fails to result in works.

    I think I would want to change one statement you made, though. You said, “I think you should empathize that the church or congregation shouldn’t be involved in the world that pursues the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.” While I agree we as believers should not engage in sinning, I do not agree that the church should not be involved in a world that does so. Our example in this regard is Jesus. Jesus was not separate from the world that pursued sin. He entered into the midst of it. He even sought out those who were most steeped in it and hung around them. He associated with the most sinful and worldly people in His culture. I believe the modern church often forgets this and lives too far removed from those who Jesus has called us to surround ourselves with.

    There is a huge difference between being “in the world” and being “of the world”. Jesus has sent us into the world. We are not to separate ourselves from it. What hope has darkness if the light removes itself from it? We can be light in the midst of darkness. That is our mission.

    You say rules are a guided path so that we can know what is right and wrong, but this statement also gives me some pause. It is certainly true that there are rules given in the New Testament that help guide us. But, they really only serve as wide boundaries. Much is left to the Holy Spirit within us. Someone who is following Jesus and is filled with the Holy Spirit has little need for rules. What changed at Pentecost is that we now have the Holy Spirit speaking to us, guiding us, and correcting us. His instruction to each of us is not the same. We are to listen to His voice within us and follow His guiding. The “rules” in the NT only help provide boundaries for us. They are like guardrails on the highway. They are there so that we can make sure we are hearing the Spirit correctly, because He will never tell us to do something in contradiction with what is in Scripture. Hopefully that helps clarify what I am saying.

    The only unpardonable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, or the refusal to believe the Holy Spirit’s testimony about Jesus (as described in Mark 3 and Matthew 12). In the context that Jesus spoke of the unpardonable sin, he was talking of the Pharisees who not only refused to give credit to God for Jesus’ miracles, but attributed these good works done by the Holy Spirit to Satan. These works by the Spirit were done to show that Jesus was the Christ. The Spirit’s ministry was to point to Jesus. To blasphemy Him is to deny the One who He is pointing toward…Jesus. Dr. Henry Morris explains this well. . .

    “The unforgivable sin of speaking against the Holy Spirit has been interpreted in various ways, but the true meaning cannot contradict other Scripture. It is unequivocally clear that the one unforgivable sin is permanently rejecting Christ (John 3:18; 3:36). Thus, speaking against the Holy Spirit is equivalent to rejecting Christ with such finality that no future repentance is possible. ‘My spirit shall not always strive with man,’ God said long ago (Genesis 6:3).

    …In the context of this particular passage (Matthew 12:22-32), Jesus had performed a great miracle of creation, involving both healing and casting out a demon, but the Pharisees rejected this clear witness of the Holy Spirit. Instead they attributed His powers to Satan, thus demonstrating an attitude permanently resistant to the Spirit, and to the deity and saving Gospel of Christ” [Henry M. Morris, The Defender’s Study Bible (Iowa Falls, Iowa: World Bible Publishers, 1995), emphasis added.]

    Another respected Christian theologian, Dr. F.F. Bruce, notes . . .

    “…Speaking against the Son of man might be due to a failure to recognize Him for what He is. So Paul recalls how in his pre-Christian days he thought it his duty to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. But if, having seen the light on the Damascus road, he had deliberately closed his eyes to it and kicked out against the goad which was directing him into the true path, that would have been the sin against the Holy Spirit.

    The Holy Spirit persuades and enables men to accept Christ and enjoy the saving benefits of the gospel [John 16:8; 1 Corinthians 2:12-14; Acts 7:51], but if anyone refuses to submit to the Spirit’s gracious constraint, preferring to call good evil and evil good, how can the gospel avail for him? The deliberate refusal of the grace of God is the one sin which by its very nature is irremediable” [F.F. Bruce, Answers to Questions (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1973), pp. 46-47.

    Hopefully that helps to clarify some things.

    Jake

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