The Bible is sufficient to teach us true religion. It’s in the Bible, 2 Timothy 3:15-17, NKJV. “and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
True religion is more than what you say and do, it is what is in your heart. It's in the Bible, Isaiah 29:13, NIV. "The Lord says: 'These people come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is made up only of rules taught by men.'"
Religion needs to be based upon Christ, not men’s philosophies, traditions, or worldly thoughts and ideas. It’s in the Bible, Colossians 2:8, NKJV. "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ."
How can I tell difference between true religion and false religion? It’s in the Bible, Matthew 7:16-18, NKJV. “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit."
What does true religion look like? It’s in the Bible, James 1:27, NKJV. “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
True religion is the work of grace upon the heart, that then flows out in good works. It’s in the Bible, James 2:17-18, NKJV. “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
True religion causes Christians to obey Jesus because they love Him, not to win His love. It’s in the Bible, John 14:15, NKJV. “If you love Me, keep my commandments.”
Are followers of Christ expected to be part of organized religion? Here are some things to consider:
If we are truly connected with God, our religion pervades all our actions, whether small or great, inside and outside of church walls. It’s in the Bible, Matthew 23:23, NKJV. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.”
Meditation, fasting, and prayer in true religion will lead you to save others. It’s in the Bible, Isaiah 58:6-7, NKJV. “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?"
True religion is based on love: for God and for others. It’s in the Bible, Matthew 22:37-40, NKJV. “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Can I practice religion by myself, without organization? If we are baptized by one Spirit, we are baptized into one body. It’s in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 12:13, NKJV. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”
The practice of loving others, requires other people to practice love on, and will be a greater need the closer we come to the Second Coming. It’s in the Bible, Hebrews 10:24-25, NKJV. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
The love of Christ is the mark of true religion. It’s in the Bible, John 13:34-35, NKJV. ”A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The character of true religion will go forth to everyone in the world, and it will bring about the end of the world. It’s in the Bible, Matthew 24:14, NKJV. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
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