While watching Jimmy Swaggart’s Message of The Cross this morning, he posed an interesting question. He asked in today’s church, would the Apostle Paul be accepted or kicked out? Good question. I wonder which denomination he would join? Which religion would the Apostle Paul choose? As far as that goes, which religion would any of the Apostles choose?
I began to search the Bible for what it said about religion. In Acts 25:19 I came across the Romans having certain questions about Jesus in regards to their own religion. In Acts 26:5, Paul refers to the “strictest sect of our religion” while testifying of how well he knew the Pharisees and how well they knew him. The Apostle James says in James 1:26 if we think we are religious and unable to bridle our tongue, we are deceived and our religion is useless.
The other day I read a comment asking why 9 out of 10 Christians are so judgemental. Unfortunately this is the perception of many due to man made religion. Some have the same view of us (Christians) as we have of the Pharisees. Man made religion and traditions have tarnished our foundational religion of the Gospel of Jesus. The judgement between denominations and of denominations has put the Blood of Jesus on trial. The fact of the matter is the Gospel of Jesus is not up for debate, nor is It a matter of diplomacy. The Gospel of Jesus is, to put it bluntly, an ultimatum; a choice between life or death. The enemy is not afraid of our man made religions, he is afraid of The Gospel of Jesus. Satan will in fact encourage us to get carried away into man made doctrines, he knows they will fail.
“Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,” 1 Timothy 1:5. A pure heart is only acheivable through Jesus. It is only through faith in His finished work that our religion is undefiled. When we add “our” traditions and rules to religion, we are adding to Jesus’ finished work. We are negating His Cross.
There are many churches today who are earnestly trying to correct man made religions and traditions. They understand how this has driven people away from the church. When we plant the seed of the Gospel of Jesus to someone and the Holy Spirit convicts them, it is still up to them to choose. Regardless of their choice, we still don’t judge. Sometimes we may feel like shaking them and say “don’t you see” but we can’t. This is not our job. We continue on our path, doing the job we are assigned and pray for God to send more of His laborers to cross their path again.
The Lord’s mercy is in His patience with us. He is faithful and patient, wanting all to come to salvation. So we must trust that, even though our patience may wear thin sometimes, it is because of His patience we, as a Christian, are now saved. Even though we want to shake them, our shaking will do no good. It is only the Lord’s shaking, His conviction that turns a heart to Him. We are reminded by Paul in his epistle to Titus “…to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.” Titus 3:2.
Would the Apostles be welcome in our church (as a whole) today? “Of course!”, we say. What would they be fed if they were sitting in the congregation Sunday morning? What gospel would they hear? Who would be convicting them?
There are still Spirit filled churches who are preaching the Gospel of Jesus. Stay close to them, pray for their pastors and support God’s church. They are the ones whose religion the Apostles preached. They are the ones whose religion glorifies Jesus.
“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, …” Galatians 6:14.