Scripturally Based Answers For life's Questions
Answer- Christianity vs Religion
Many people question what the Christian faith is all about. With there being so many denominations among the churches and many forms of religions that call themselves “Christian,” it is a bit confusing. What is true Christianity? The Christian faith is not a religion, though an aspect of it is religious. The Scriptures speak of pure religion—which has nothing to do with ritualism or forms of worship—that is simply God’s people helping those in need and living a sanctified life.
CLICK-James 1:26, 27 says, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefined before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” So to call Christianity a religion is wrong, but to say it is free from all religion is also wrong.
So, what is Christianity? It’s a faith that has God as its author and completer, and those who believe in Him as He presents Himself in the Scriptures are its full beneficiaries. God is manifested in three persons—both as a person and in His work— as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In a general sense, the Father is the overseer and judge, provider and protector, the Son is the Redeemer and the perfect example to all believers, and the Holy Spirit is the one that empowers, dwells within, and leads the child of God.
What makes the Christian faith different than the religions of the world? There are many things, but I will just mention a few.
People know that they are sinners and sin constantly, but apart from the Christian faith they have no way to be freed from the power, penalty and presence of their sin. Many try to overpower their sin by performing religious activities and seeking to make proper choices, but it does not work. The most it does is sear the conscience toward the feelings of guilt, but it does not remove the guilt. Through the Christian faith there is forgiveness, deliverance and restoration. There is a passage in the Bible that illustrates the power of the Lord Jesus concerning forgiveness and the liberty that it brings:
CLICK-Luke 5:17-26, “And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he's answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? What is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man has power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy) I say unto you, Arise, and take up your couch, and go into your house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.”
Religions teach that the salvation of the soul is something that one must earn, something that is extended by God but based on the merit of man’s own acts of goodness: the works he does, the devotion he has, the behavior he carries. In other words, he must merit salvation to have any chance to obtain it. However, God declares that it is an act of mercy and grace extended to those who will repent of their sinful ways, religious beliefs, or simple unbelief, and then solely and completely believe in God and what He has done through Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit for their hope. God saves the undeserving because He is good.
CLICK-Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Jesus illustrated this in a story:
CLICK-Luke 18:9-14, And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.”
The Bible is a book full of recordings of miracles, wonders and amazing acts of power, discipline and victory. One could say, “That is great, it’s a nice book to read to be encouraged,” but this is what I have personally experienced, both in my life and seeing it in those around me that have believed. I have seen people saved from guilt, delivered from sicknesses, inabilities, and weakness and then transformed into people of holiness and good works; I have seen people delivered from fear and filled with courage; I have seen people freed from addictions that they had no power against and given a complete victory. It is true.
Jesus declared this before He returned to heaven:
CLICK-Mark 16:14-20, “Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.”
In all my years of living, I learned much more about myself, people in general, and most importantly about God by reading the Bible through one time than by living life and learning from people. The wisdom, understanding, insight into mankind and who God is, principles, and truths found in the Bible are incomparable. The declarations of creation and the history and future of mankind are perfectly described. The character of God and the character of mankind is described in depth and beyond our ability to grasp. It explains everything about life.
Jesus continuously illustrates God’s wisdom and power, but this is one passage I love, CLICK-Mark 12:13-17.
“And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Meridians, to catch him in his words. And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that you are true, and cares for no man: for thou regards not the person of men, but teaches the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? Bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it. And he said unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him.”
The remaining question is this: Will you believe?