In these days when we speak of getting a vaccine for the China virus, I am reminded of a time when we had the opportunity to see one of Rev. Billy Graham’s crusades hear in Memphis. It was during that crusade that my older son gave his life to Christ at 8 years old.
It was at the Liberty Bowl and it was pretty full, despite the threat of bad weather. Actually, it worked out for the best. Because of the threat of bad weather, they decided to move it all inside to the nearby sports arena. Then, the bad weather cleared and it was very pleasant.
So, Rev Graham spoke to a full sports arena. Then, when done, he came over to the Liberty Bowl. It was sort of a two for one. I cannot speak of what the results were in the sports arena, but there were thousands that went forward to the platform they placed out on that football field.
When my son told me he wanted to go, I thought it was just because everyone else was. After a short talk, I accompanied him down to the field and there, on that day, he was born again. … and all I thought we were going to do was to see a great man speak.
Now what does that have to do with vaccines? That night, Rev. Graham compared a vaccine with false religions. When a person is given a vaccine, he becomes immune to the real thing. When a person starts believing in a false religion, it will, to some degree, make him immune to the real thing.
In the case of vaccines, of course, that is a good thing. In the case of false religion, it is a bad thing. To be sure, it is far easier to lead a person to Christ when he knows nothing about religion.
Hence, one of the Devil’s favorite tricks is to get a person to believe in the false religion – the lie – knowing that it will make it more difficult to get him to believe truth. That was, more or less what his message was that night. I guess I can properly add that, once a person believes the truth, it also makes him immune to the lies.
My point is this. If you have a religion you believe in, you might want to make sure it is the truth. If it is not the truth, you need to find the truth and soon.
Now the question is, how do you know if you believe in a false religion. There are three ways.
- Make sure that what you believe can be validated by God’s Word, the Bible. Many religions will show you the Bible and then set it on the shelf while they teach you from another book. Moreover, some religions teach from one passage of the Bible and ignore the rest. If someone tells you something, ask him to show it to you in the Bible.
- Fruit inspection. Matthew 7:16 says that by their fruits you shall know them. If the religion produces bad fruit, then the religion must be bad. If the person speaking to you is corrupt, then, very likely what he is teaching is also likely corrupt.
- Finally, a person who teaches the truth will point to Jesus Christ, certainly not to himself. Be suspicious of people who have large followings who don’t teach Christ and the cross. It is what Paul taught. It was what Peter taught the day of Pentecost (Acts, the second chapter). Also, be suspicious when he teaches any of the following:
a. baptism or the Lord’s supper is mandatory for salvation. May I remind you, the thief on the cross had no part in either. Yet, by Jesus’ own words, we know that he went to heaven. How much more assurance can a man have this side of death.
b. The infallibility of the leader(s). Not one of us is perfect, not even the Pope. Moreover, Jesus is the only person who took human form and is worthy of worship. He is worthy because He is God.
c. Beware of those who put a lot of importance on ritual. Jesus gave us two ordinances, the Lord’s supper and baptism. They are followed in obedience, not as a requirement. Yet we are warned to take part in them solemnly. Baptism is a picture of our death and resurrection after we are saved. The Lords supper is a picture of Christ dying and giving his life for our salvation. There are no other rituals for Christians.
d. The requirement to give, in some cases, everything to an organizaton is not a biblical command. Those who gave in the early church gave willingly, not by demand.
e. Think twice, or maybe three or four times when a religion teaches that theirs is the only true church. Jesus is the only way. He said as much. However, in Revelation, he had something to say to seven churches, not one.
f. Finally, run from any religion that practices polygamy, self-destruction, or killing.
Believe it or not, God did give us a certain amount of common sense. Real Christianity is common sense. We sinned, so we earned death. Jesus died for us so we don’t have to die. It is a matter of choice.
If you never read another word in the Bible, read John 3:16-18
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
You might notice that Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus (a pharisee), but his words are far more inclusive. Instead of using the word, “you” he use the word “whosoever.” That even includes you. It even means me.
All other religions are based on actions. Christianity is based on faith… faith in Jesus as the Son of God. You cannot earn salvation. You cannot even help to earn your salvation. That would require actions. What Jesus said in the above verses had nothing to do with anything but faith.