When I started 46:10 Ministries and launched the God and Our Country web site (https://godandourcountry.com), I made two bold proclamations that our web site and business would always be:
· Religion Free
· Politics Free
Because it is my view that the biggest problem, facing caring and intelligent people, like all of us, today is religion and politics. So, people ask me, how can I be so pro Jesus, God, and the Bible, and be Anti-Religion?
Let’s start with definitions, keeping in mind that all definitions and word usages have been defined by educated, yet fallible, human beings and most are based on their use from the Bible, but not defined by God and the Bible. The four simplest definitions are:
1.) a particular system of faith and worship
2.) a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance
3.) the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods
4.) Religion is a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, and spiritual elements; however, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.
Before I go too much further, I want to clarify that a belief in the one true God and His Son Jesus, is certainly better than not believing. Thus, while I will be critical of some religious beliefs, at least the one’s I will mention still love and worship Jesus and God. So, I am not against them, I just want to clarify that the Bible and Jesus’s Words alone, are all one truly needs to “properly” worship God. Our love of God cannot be measured by certain religious views. In fact, that was exactly why Jesus was challenging the Pharisees and Sadducees. That they had taken His Father’s words, commands, and “rules” as they called them, and perverted them into their own personal and bias views.
Back to the four definitions. I want you to notice the words I have but in bold blue colors. All of these words relate to a human decision, system, belief, behavior, which defines one’s worship. Example of such characteristics can be found in nearly every religion, but none have their exact origin in the Bible. For example, one of my frustrating dislikes is practiced by a certain religion, who by doctrine, do not allow non ordained members of their religion, to take Holy Communion. But the Bible tells us Jesus said: “…all of you…” Matthew 26:26-28 says: “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” He did not say, all of you who practice a certain DEFINED VIEW OR BELIEF – HE SAID “All of you!”
There is also a religion that used to charge their parishioners a penance to have their sins forgiven. Matthew 11:25 tells us that Jesus said: “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” He did not say how much it should cost us or how much we should pay for God to forgive us.
Every religion has their own specific interpretation of what the Bible tells us and thus what they believe and “preach.” One religion believes in actualizing their faith in community — actions speak louder than words. Their three simple rules are: “Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God.” In general, there seems to be nothing wrong with these three views. But with their bias in mind, they define what those actions should be and what is good and what is not. In Mark 9:23: "Jesus said to him, 'If you can believe? All things are possible for one who believes." All things are possible…He did not define how all things are to be done and what things were good and what were not. This type of view and/or interpretation is true with virtually every religion.
The only actual denomination, I will mention by name, “WAS” my very own. I was born, raised, baptized and confirmed into the Lutheran church, and still, I have issues that this church also put’s their own interpretation on what the Bible says. Why else would there be forty (40) different versions of Lutheran churches and beliefs. The Lutherans simply believe we are all saved through faith in Jesus – ALONE!. While I do believe there is a lot of truth to this belief, the various differing Lutheran views define what they believe that “faith” looks like or has to be emulated to be truly saved. But Jesus did not say this particular churches view was how faith was defined. John 14:6 explains exactly what Jesus said and exactly how He defined faith; “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The apostle Paul also reminds us in 1 Corinthians 2:5 that; “That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
There is another religion that has over 200 different denominations and another church has nearly as many different views and interpretations. All of these churches are deeply engrained in their beliefs and their commitment to Jesus and God, and for that they are all very good. But all of them have their own specific views on what they, mortal men and women, believe the Bible means and the meaning of God’s and Jesus’s Words. Thus, all I am saying is that we should go straight to the Word, and believe what we believe based exactly on what it says, not on some other groups view or bias.
Thus, it is my belief, that the Word of God and His Son Jesus, stand alone in their meaning, and thus I, like many, choose to worship these Words alone. However, the trouble is, as I pointed out in my post; “The Bible, or Science…or… Both,” earlier this week, that all these words that we study and believe in, were written by Man. We all believe, including virtually every protestant religion, that God spoke through these men, and that their translation is factual. So, here lies the rub with religion, what are we to believe? I think these religious biases are why so many non-denominational churches have sprung up over the past several years.
However, as God said, and I’m paraphrasing, there is nothing new under the sun. These differences and debates are not new. In fact, they have been common ever since the word of God was first told and then eventually written down. Thanks to Martin Luther, the Bible began to be mass-printed, versus the usual hand written versions of the day. Luther was the first to translate the Bible from the then standard Latin, which mostly only clergy could read, into his native German for all to read. A few years later, around 1455, Johannes Gutenberg used his newly invented printing press to mass print Luther’s translated Bible. This event was, at its time, revolutionary. For two centuries it was punishable by death to print the Bible in any language other than Latin, although the Old Testament existed in Hebrew and Greek. From that day forward, mass printing and the translated Word of the Bible, spread throughout the world. Luther’s view and motivation were widely known and endorsed, as it was said that he “Sought to place the Bible into the hands of ordinary Christians.” The efforts of these two men, would bring the Bible into nearly every home and also start the printing revolution. Still today, the Bible is the largest selling and mass-produced book in the world.
However, these interpretation differences, did not go away with the newly translated Bible. Just a few years later these differences were never more apparent. In January 1604, England’s King James convened the Hampton Court Conference, where a new English version of the Bible was conceived in response to the problems of the earlier translations perceived by the Puritans, a faction of the Church of England. James gave the translators instructions intended to ensure that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology to reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England. The translation was done by 6 panels of translators (47 men in all, most of whom were leading biblical scholars in England) who had the work divided up between them. The Old Testament was entrusted to three panels, the New Testament to two, and the Apocrypha to one. In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament from Hebrew and Aramaic, and the Apocrypha from Greek and Latin.
Yet with all the work done by Martin Luther and King James and his 47 translators, we still have debate as to the true word. Why, because we all deeply care to know God’s Word. Even the Atheists, by definition, need to know God’s Word so they can know what they don’t believe in! 😊
So, what are the truths? Which religion is the best? Only you can determine your own answers and/or views. What I do know, and I believe most protestants religions agree upon, is that God is LOVE – on this we can rely - without doubt. God sent Jesus to Earth for several reasons, not just to save us from our sins. God sent Him to remind us of his love for us – all of us, even those we feel do us wrong and/or our enemies. Jesus calls us to love our enemies, to forgive unceasingly and to follow Him no matter what the cost. He taught us that God calls us to love and serve the people around us no matter what the cost.
Jesus communicated to us through the use of parables and stories to teach us about the kingdom of God. His greatest method was teaching by example. His deeds taught us about many Christian values, such as kindness and compassion. He raised children from the dead out of pity for their parents and accepted disciples from all walks of life. He taught us as different as we all are, we are all loved equally and without reservation by God. More than anything, Jesus told us to care for and love everyone, just as His Father loves all of us.
Finally, He commanded us to Love like He did and like His Father does, unconditionally. He wants us to be mindful of others and all that is around us. He wants us to connect more deeply with Him through our own lives and the people in them, rather than living a detached, disconnected existence. He wants us to be approachable, full of faith, self-giving, and bold. With these simple examples and messages, from Jesus Himself, we will live meaningful, full, and rewarding lives. We will serve all of those around us, and we will love all our neighbors, equally and unconditionally. There is nothing the world can say or do that tops Jesus Word for us.
It’s not just nice words and some crazy dream – this is exactly what Jesus taught us to do and how to live our lives.
So how can we honor Jesus? How do we thank and pay tribute to the Son of God, who humbled himself to come to earth, commune and teach people from all walks of life, and then freely give up His life, to be arrested, beaten, and murdered, just so that we could have everlasting life with Him and His Father in heaven? We need to spend time praying each day. We need to serve others, study the Bible, and share God's word with other people. We need to keep a watchful eye out and do our very best to resist temptation, and we need not put much value in material things.
But most of all, we can best honor Jesus by putting God first, and trusting in His plan.
Each religion has their own view on how to best worship Jesus and His Father God. Some more radical than others and some quite contrary to the true words of the Bible. Because of these differences, and my fear that man has somehow altered the Word of God, I choose to put my total faith in those words directly attributed to God and Jesus. Could I be wrong, that’s an emphatic YES. Could the protestants and/or Catholics be wrong…or right, that’s also an emphatic YES. But I don’t believe God would allow His book, regardless of translation, to be the largest selling, used, and quoted book of all time, many many times more than any other, if His Word, and the Word of His son, were not true.
I have faith, and I have trust. Hebrews 11: tells us: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Ephesians 2:8-9 also tells us; "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." Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to; "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."
And although this too is a Bible Verse, I choose to believe as 2 Corinthians 5:7 says;
"For we walk by faith, not by sight."