True Religion—Part 1 (Revelation)
Stan Crowley, Minister, Church of Christ at Schertz
The World Book Encyclopedia says the following about religion:
“Every religion includes ethics, or codes of conduct. But religion is more than ethics. Ethics asks, ‘How should we behave toward other people?’ Religion asks, ‘How should we relate ourselves to the greatest power in the universe?’” [as quoted in Gospel Minutes.]
The word “religion” is a powerful word. It comes from the Latin religio and is formed from the prefix “re” meaning “again” and the root “ligio” meaning to bind together. It means to bind together again—and it is not talking about uniting men with one another to form some sort of society. The word religion means to restore a lost relationship with God.
But, do all religions proposed by man today do that? True religion, one that effectively makes man acceptable in the eyes of God, has several requirements. In school, there were the Three R’s: Reading, ’Riting, and ’Rithmetic.
In religion, there are the Four R’s of True Religion: Revelation, Righteousness, Repentance, and Redemption.
Let us for a few moments consider only the first of these.
True religion requires revelation
This is such a simple truth. Yet, a drifting away from this simple truth has been the downfall of many religious groups today. Let me ask you three questions about things that are absolutely fundamental to religion.
First question: Where is the acceptability of our worship determined? In our worship assemblies, we offer actions in worship to God, actions which must be accompanied by the right attitude in our heart. But, in the final analysis, where is its acceptability decided?
The answer is: In the mind of God. Remember the admonitions of Jesus to the Jews that their actions offered, apparently with a real desire to worship God, were vain (empty and meaningless) to God. Why? Because they were offered according to the precepts or commandments of men and not the doctrine or teaching from God. (Matt. 15:9)
Second question: Where does forgiveness occur? The answer is the same: In the mind of God. For us to satisfy God so that our forgiveness is obtained, we must know what is in the mind of God about forgiveness. (John 5:34, I Tim. 2:4)
Third question: Where is acceptable living determined? Same answer: In the mind of God. We must have revelation from God to know what behavior is acceptable to Him and what is not. (Titus 2:12)
Without revelation, we simply cannot know any of these—all of which are essential.
For example, suppose I walk into a restaurant. There is a waitress there. It is her function to bring me the food that I want to eat. But, how will she know what I want to eat? Will she look into her own heart
and say, “I will bring this man split pea soup and raw fish.” If she brings me pea soup and raw fish, there will be neither a tip nor a return visit, because I don’t like split pea soup, and I don’t want to eat raw fish. By bringing me those items, she showed that she wasn’t interested in pleasing me. She was interested in pleasing herself.
Religion can only perform its essential function of putting man in an acceptable and pleasing condition before God if there is revelation. True religion requires revelation.
Christianity has revelation
And, how blessed we are that our God has given us revelation—in abundance. God has indeed revealed His mind to us so that we do not have to hopelessly and haplessly guess what we must do to please Him.
Paul assures us that God has revealed the things that God has in His heart for us—He has revealed them in words: “…The things which God hath prepared...God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit...not in the words
which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth...” (I Cor. 2:9-13)
God’s message is recorded in the Scriptures. We must know and follow those Scriptures to do all things pleasing to God: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (II Tim. 3:16-17) If the Scriptures provide all this, we must have them, and we do not
need anything else.
If men do not rely solely on God’s revealed will (found in the Scriptures), they are trying in vain to please God, because they are not listening to what God has said pleases Him. They may have found something that satisfies them, but it will not satisfy God. They do not have true religion, because true religion requires having and following revelation.
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