Article of the Month

October 2012

 

THE DISCONNECT

between

RELIGIONS AND RELIGIOUS REALITY

 

There are many religions in this world, and there are many divisions within religions of the same name. This can’t and won’t change until God steps in and makes everything clear. (Psalm 46:10)

It is interesting to note that nearly all of the religions now existing have some common weaknesses. One of these weaknesses is the concept that the religion exists primarily to govern how we act in the here and now. Please don’t misunderstand. The development of and practice of good character traits is an imperative in any religion which deserves respect. What is out of balance, however, is that the purpose of true religion is not the here and now.

This brings us to a second weakness shared by most religions.  The concept shared by the majority of these religions is to teach where we “go” when we die. Again, please don’t misunderstand.  It is inevitable that thinking beings want to know about their personal futures. No religion has much validity if it cannot deal with these questions. What is out of balance, however, is that the purpose of religion is not the assignment of this group or of that individual to a certain destiny. Usually, and unfortunately, these destiny assignments tend to favor the adherents of the particular religion and condemn most everyone else.

 

—  Realities  —

 

Well, someone might say, my religion does deal with the realities of the here and now — not just in “being good,” but also in our involvement with politics and (perhaps) even in getting rich.  After all, if God loves me, shouldn’t I be wealthy? After all, if my God sets certain standards, shouldn’t I force them on everyone through politics?

Another might say, What is so wrong about threatening with or assigning destinies? If heaven or eternal torment are the choices, shouldn’t we let everyone know it?

These “realities,” of course, are not Biblical realities. Religions which do not use our Bible tend, also, to come to similar misplaced priorities for religion. The reasons for this are many.   One reason is that in many cases religions were created or supported in order to keep the population under control. If we believe that our actions and adherence to “approved” standards will guarantee our blissful eternity, we will go through life saying amen to the powers that be.

Another reason for the success of religions which focus on the realities of current life and ultimate destiny is that mankind, as a rule, has a built-in desire to acknowledge and worship something bigger than self. This is not bad, but it insures that religion continues a strong force (even in the face of its contradictions and limitations) because it claims to be the only source of information regarding spiritual relationships.

 

—  The Universal Secret  —

 

The existence of religions for the above and other reasons is just one of those universal facts with which we must live. It is unfortunate that religions have been the cause behind much of mankind’s misery and tumult; but that will be the case until the true universal reality sets in. The religious secret, hidden from the generations of the human race, is that God is quietly, surely, and behind the scenes, selecting a small group from among humans to experience a change of nature. Once this pre-determined number has been selected, God will reveal Himself, and all that has been false and misleading about religion will be exposed — all to the betterment of the human race. This small group of former human beings will have been exalted to a nature like God’s. It will be their assignment to raise the human race out of death, instruct it in the ways of life, and bless it with an eternity of blissful and creative existence on a fruitful and perfected earth. In the words of the so-called “Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6), “Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth.”

Thus, false religions have, over the centuries, been supplying a kind of basic need for society—despite their contribution to wars and tortures! But, behind it all, God has been whispering “true religion” in the ears of a faithful few, grooming them for the greatest assignment in history. In other words, the “world’s religions” have little or nothing to do with the religion which reflects God and what He is doing. They are mostly societal-maintenance institutions.

 

—  The Import of Prophecy  —

 

Prophecy is at the basis of true religion. Regardless of how a person’s character development is progressing, regardless also of where an individual might “go” when he dies, the thrust of  Biblical Christianity is not these things, but rather a very detailed and explicit combination of prophecies beginning in Genesis and progressing through Revelation. The true follower of God will be obsessed with these prophecies because:

 

     they reflect history and explain it;

     they help us to understand God’s character;

     they let us know where we are in the stream of time of order for us to understand the events around us;

     they help us to discern truth from error;

     they allow us to know what is about to happen;

     they instruct us about what we might call “future history” — what is surely to be, and why;

     they allow us to see that “where we go” is not the right question.  The right question is “What will life be like for each and every one of God’s creatures, and when?”

     they keep saints separate from the practices and philosophies of the world; and,

     they form the very basis of true religion:  an unselfish and rational answer for all questions with a focus on the REALITY of tomorrow.

 

Christianity has some fanciful (and horrible) concepts about Jesus’ return and what it will be like. Their expectations are far from comforting, exceedingly unreasonable, and not even remotely in harmony with the beautiful teachings of Biblical prophecy. Christianity’s confusion in these areas — areas which will, indeed, soon be REALITY — are because denominational Christianity is content with “Let me live well now and not go to eternal torment later.” WORKS do not provide salvation, so living well now will save no one. And, as for eternal torment, there is no such thing — a fact which would easily be established by good Bible study instead of the perpetuation of lies enforced by fears.  Shame on an institution which calls itself God’s but which only distorts the messages of God’s Word!

 

  The Objective of God’s People 

 

The lives of the few who are truly God’s people now will be marked by certain characteristics. (It is probably important here to emphasize that the billions who are not now God’s people are NOT LOST. It is simply not now the time for them to understand and be blessed. That time, however, is near at hand.) God’s people are not identified by a denominational name. They are, in this age, all Christians; but most “Christians” probably would scoff at them and consider them, at the very least, weird, but more likely, heretics!

True people of God are fervent in the study of, the application of, and the love of God’s Word, the Bible, because they see God in it, because they see it as the only legitimate source of absolute truth in existence, and because, without it, they are lost; they have nowhere else to turn. They are not literalists because they have found Scripture to be parabolic, allegorical, symbolic, typical, and pictorial. But they do believe it to be infallible — not necessarily in its translations, but in its content.

 

  The Distinction with a Difference 

 

Religions exist everywhere. They are populated with a core of sincere adherents as well as by many other people who are “members” because there are certain advantages to their being associated with the prevailing religious thinking. As much as it might sound unkind or even judgmental, God is ignoring these religions. Again, please do not misunderstand. God puts a premium on faith, and wherever it is exercised, He is taking note.  But, much like Cornelius in the Book of Acts, their faith has been noted by God, but not acknowledged UNTIL THE TIME COMES to deal with them.

What does this mean? It means that religion as most men know it is invalid. It is a counterfeit. It is just another man-construed set of institutions and associations which happen to claim for themselves some kind of spiritual insight. But does this mean that there is no true religion in effect? No. But it is secret — and kept secret on purpose by God. He is working “below the radar” of men’s religions, slowly accomplishing His work of finding and developing a “Messiah”—a body of individuals which He will use to save the whole world—yes, even all those who do not believe in anything now!

The distinction between religions and religious reality is this:

Religions are going on, giving some comfort, little understanding, some bigotry, and, usually, much suspicion of those believing otherwise.

But God, the Maker of true religion (the realities that will bless all), goes on putting on the “finishing touches” for His plan — His reality, soon to become reality for us all. He, Himself, summarized His religion, and the reality in which it will culminate, in the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1:8-10 (as here expressed in the Weymouth translations):

 

“So abundant was God’s grace, the grace which He, the possessor of all wisdom and understanding, lavished upon us when He made known to use the secret of His will!  And this is in harmony with God’s merciful purpose for the government of the world when the times are ripe for it—the purpose which He has cherished in His own mind of restoring the whole creation to find its one Head in Christ; yes, things in heaven and things on earth, to find their one Head in him.”

 

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