Religious - But Wrong (No. 5)
We have now studied examples from the New Testament which show that men may very well be honest,
sincere, and extremely religious but still be in a lost condition. When we read of men like Saul of Tarsus, Apollos, The twelve who were re-baptized in Ephesus, Cornelius, the Ethiopian eunuch, and Ray Ferris many others that could be mentioned, and realize that they were wrong in their religious practices it ought to cause us to meditate very soberly about our own conditions. Everyone of us ought to ask himself over and over again, not just about his honesty and sincerity, but also about the authenticity and accuracy of that which is believed and practiced. Are you sure you are religiously right? Am I sure what I do is from God's plan?
Notice the mistakes these people had made. Saul of Tarsus was completely antagonistic to the whole idea of Christianity. He not only rejected it h:mielf, but tried to persecute in every way possible those who did accept it. He would have gladly removed "this way" completely from the face of the earth. There are many religious people today, many of them honest and sincere, who feel the same way about pure and simple Christianity. Any time a nation or group of people strive by force to promote their own religious ideas, or to prevent others from doing so, they but give evidence of failing to understand the principles upon which Christ's way is founded! They are guilty of the same mistake Paul was making.
Yes, there are many religious people who thus stand in the shoes of Saul of Tarsus. Look at such countries as Italy, Spain, much of Central and South America, and others like these nations. Political force is used to. advance the prominent religion, and to restrain and shut out all others as much as possible. There
is a lesson there for all of us in this land. What will happen when Catholicism gains its desired place in governmental circles in our country ?
Apollos was a good man who had learned much of the way of Jesus, but he was not preaching all of the message of salvation, knowing only the baptism originated by John who was to prepare the way for Christ. He was misleading men into a plan that could not save their souls. He would have lost his own soul if he had refused to change when taught "the way of the Lord more perfectly." There are many in our day who teach part of the gospel of Christ, but who do not deliver all of the message. Yes, they even make the mistake of preaching the wrong baptism as Apollos did.
Some teach that baptism is unessential for salvation from sin; others that sprinkling, or pouring, will do just as well as immersion; still others that babies and other unbelievers are fit subjects for baptism ; etc. Read these passages to see the necessity of baptism, and that it is a burial in water - immersion : Acts 2:38; Gal. 3:27; 1. Pet. 3:21 ; Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12; and many others too numerous to mention. Matt. 28:19-20 and Mark 16: 15-16 show that the baptism authorized by Jesus was for believers, and not for the untaught and unbelievers.
The twelve disciples in Ephesus had become disciples of the Lord as far as their knowledge took them, but they had accepted the wrong baptism. They had to be re-baptized - Acts 19:1-7. Cornelius and the eunuch from Ethiopia were required to render obedience to a different plan than that which they first endorsed. We cannot go into detail to discuss the mistakes of all we have studied, nor the many we have not mentioned, that could be mentioned. The question we notice now is this: Where is the authority for that which you believe and practice in your religious life?
Here are but a few examples of certain things present in the religions of men that have no sanction from God's word. Do you perform a rite called baptism (sprinkling or pouring) upon little babies? It was never done in the New Testament. The only authority for it is an apostate church. Do you think men are saved without burial in water for the remission of sins? That is another perversion of the gospel and was instituted by men against the will of the Lord. Do you use mechanical instruments in your worship of God? It was never done in the early church. The first record of it was more than 500 years after Christ died. It was the cause of great controversy when inserted in worship. Do you look to an earthly head for the organization of which you are a member? Jesus is the only head of the church He established. Do councils, synods, and conferences regulate the practices of the church where you worship? They did not in the -days of the New Testament. There is no end to the questions that could be asked showing the changes that have come over the religious bodies that now exist to make them altogether different from the Lord's church.
Jesus established only one church, and it is called His body, Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18; Eph. 5:23 and in many other passages.
In Eph. 4:4-6 Paul emphasized the oneness of that church. There is only one body just as there is only one God, one Christ, and one Holy Spirit. Can you read of the church of which you are a member in the New Testament, or is it a man-made institution with a man made name and using a man-made creed for its doctrine? In Psalm 127:1 we read "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it . . ." In Matthew 15:13 Jesus said, "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up." He was speaking of religious leaders and their leading astray of the people of His day.
When was the church of which you are a member established? Where was it founded? Who originated the peculiar doctrine that causes it to, be different and seperate from other religious bodies? Friend, you must think seriously about these questions. The eternal destiny of your soul, the most priceless possession in the world to you, is at stake. You cannot afford to be wrong.
It is not enough to, be what mother and father were religiously. It is not enough to join your wife or husband so that a family may be united religiously. It is not enough to be honest and earnest, sincere and zealous in your religion. Hear these words of Jesus in the wonderful Sermon on the Mount: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done manv wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Matt. 7:21-23. Yes, they are religious people, but they will be lost.
Such Passages as II Tim. 3:14-17; II Pet. 1 :3; Jude 3; and Gal. 1 :6-9 are evidence that the bible furnishes me with all that I need to please God; to do everything that is worthwhile in God's sight. They also demonstrate the terrible end of the one who would deviate therefrom.
Again, in conclusion I ask, are you sure you are religiously right? How terrible to go through this life, religious -- BUT WRONG!
Truth Magazine II:4, pp.12-13