Jehovah’s Witnesses are not the only religious group needing to be reached for Christ. Oh no. There are hundreds of religions offering themselves as alternatives to Christ to attain salvation. The one trusting in any one of these alternatives is no better advantaged than the Jehovah’s Witness. Each is a deception, and each will lead to eternal destruction.
It should be obvious to the religionist that, at least, his religion is not required for salvation – for the simple reason his/her religion did not exist at the time of Christ’s duration on earth when Jesus presented Himself as God’s salvation. He declared He would save those who trusted in Him. “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37) When He spoke those words there were none of the religions (other than that of the Jews) that we are familiar with today. Obviously if one could at that time come to Christ to be saved without belonging to one of these groups, it is surely not required today.
Paul (as well as all other apostles and disciples) is a case-in-point. What denomination did he belong to? The word ‘denomination’ did not even exist in his day. Yet he was saved and transformed by his simple faith in Christ. He was an ardent Jew, yes, but in fact his religion was his greatest obstacle to coming to Jesus.
Religion often keeps people from coming to Christ to be saved. Paul’s religion was but one alternative to Christ. Since his day man has invented many more which declare, “You need us. You cannot make it without us. We have a special ‘in’ with God. We are God’s channel of salvation.”
It is not that they directly deny salvation is through Christ, but they add conditions Christ never sanctioned. Salvation, they imply, is not simply Christ, but Christ and…..
Christ and something else. Christ and good works. Or Christ and ‘my’ denomination. Or Christ and a particular religion. Or Christ and a number of rituals. It’s like Christ is no longer able to save but needs the help and endorsement of a religion or denomination. No longer is the precious blood of Calvary sufficient in itself to justify the sinner. Somehow it lost its power over the centuries. Now what’s needed is the sophistication of religion with its hierarchies and decrees and burdens and funny attire and sanctimonious prayers and rituals.
But trusting in Christ and something else is not trusting in Christ at all. God loathes man’s alternatives. God doesn’t need Adders and Subtracters to add to and take away from His gospel. Such are enemies of the cross. God doesn’t need Negotiators and Compromisers to negotiate a different gospel, or water down the simple truth that Christ alone is the way to the Father, the entrance into His kingdom and family. Such are stumbling blocks to those who might otherwise enter.
The religionist (one who leans on his religion or religious practices) refuses to accept God’s salvation as a gift to be received by faith. What glory is there in that? Rather he must earn his salvation. Now that’s something one can take pride in. And so he attempts to prove to himself and to God that he is good enough.
Paul wrote of his own people, the Israelites (Rom. l0:3): “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” These people were so intent on establishing their own uprightness – trying very hard to be good enough, to be worthy by their own good deeds – that they could not recognize the righteousness of God when it (He) stood before them. Christ is the righteousness of God. Christ wanted to make the Israelites righteous in the only way possible, by imputing this righteousness upon them as a free gift. This gift only had to be received by faith. But, generally, they were not interested in receiving righteousness, but being upright in themselves. They therefore “have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.”
The religionist of today is likewise “ignorant of God’s righteousness” which is in the Lord Jesus Christ. He busies himself in being good enough, establishing his own righteousness. Good works and faithfulness to his religion or denomination are his passport to heaven. Or so he thinks.
A challenging question to the one who declares himself to be a denominational or religious person would be, “Who made you one?” For it is not God who makes people such. God makes those who respond to His invitation His children. His sons and daughters. His redeemed. His heirs. But He does not turn men and women and children into denominational or religious people. It is something they make of themselves, or allow others to make of them.
Another thorny question: “When did you become one?” To which they would probably have no answer, because they have no idea when they became one. It is all kind of blurry. It is something they just unintentionally slipped into. First it was a little misty, but the mist evolved into a dense fog cutting off all vision and reason. They became beguiled into thinking that, because of their status in their religion, they do not need Christ.
Religionists are touchy. They are so offended by the ‘intolerant’ fundamentalist who insists that faith in Christ is the only way into God’s kingdom. Such narrow-mindedness! Such intolerance to the convictions of others! “You go your way and I’ll go mine,” they say. Yet Jesus declares there is only one way, and He is that one way. Jesus said, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:16-19)
You see, it comes down to this, the words of Christ Himself. Do you believe Him? Can you trust Him? Or should you, rather, trust in your religion or denomination to save you from perdition? You cannot trust both. To hold to one you must let go of the other.
God sent His Son into the world so the world could be saved through His Son. There is no other way. Pathetic is the one secure in one’s own merit. Pathetic is the one trusting in a religion, or rituals, or a denomination to save him.
Pretend for a moment that you lived in Galilee at the time when Christ was there. There are none of the familiar religions and denominations to confuse. No church buildings. No clergyman, no priests or pastors or anything. You meet Jesus along the road. Just the two of you. Jesus looks directly into your eyes and says, “I am the only way to the Father. I am the only One who can wash you of your many sins. I alone can give you life. Will you surrender your life to Me? Will you trust Me and Me alone to save you from the terrible consequences of your sin? Will you accept My lordship over your life?”
And really, it is that simple. Forget about all the confusing religions and opinions of men, and listen to the call of your Savior inviting you to join Him, to be one with Him. In reality you cannot see Him in person, but His Holy Spirit is drawing you, wooing you unto Him. Jesus has sent people into your life, telling you of His love for you, of His great mercy that is yours for the receiving.
Just you and Jesus. A yes or a no. To not reply is considered a refusal. Now don’t say yes if you really mean no; that’s hypocrisy. Come to Christ in childlike faith. Don’t be blinded by religion. Christ is not calling you into religion, but into relationship – fellowship with Him. You and Jesus. What will it be? Yes or no?