Saturday, January 20, 2007

religion can send you to hell

Hindu devotees offer evening prayers on the banks of the River Ganges in Allahabad, India. (above)

Drawn by the pull of the new moon, millions of devout Hindus, led by naked ascetics, plung into the holy Ganges River in Allahabad, India. (below)
i ran acorss these pictures at
a life of religious devotion, a religious lifestyle, a religious zeal...
and unless they come to saving faith in jesus christ, the religiosity will gain them nothing but hell.
then i read this article and thought of the millions who call themselves christians in our own country.
many show much less devotion, live contrary to, and lack zeal for their faith than those hindu's do in their false religion.
i cant help but wonder how many people we know who call themselves "christians" are merely "religious".
do they know the difference? can they see the difference in us?
no one is good enough to deserve or earn salvation. it is only by the grace of god anyone is saved.(rom. 3; eph. 2:1-10).
we should be in prayer often not only for the lost in other countries who are so visibly wrong in their beliefs, but also for the many in our own country in our own communities whose faith lie only in going through the motions of activity of religion, using christian jargon, but ultimately have never accepted christ as the lord and savior.
who is more sincere?? the hindu's in these pictures, or the 63% of southern baptist church "members" in the u.s. who do not attend chruch?
i am inclined to believe that the hindu's in their rituals and ceremonies are more sincere,, but at the end of the day, it doesnt matter.sincerely believing in a false religion, and not participating in the one true religion both result in an eternity in a literal hell.
we often get motivated and fired up about missions. we give money, watch presentations, listen to testimonies of mission stories. all of these things are good.
but how often do we burn to see those who have no signs of regeneration other than thier name on a church roll confronted with the gospel?
i am not suggesting that we question everyone we know and demand answers to our every question in order to decide if *we* think the person has done enough to be a christian.
but i am suggesting that we take the bible seriously when it comes to church membership.
the church is made up of believers. believers are called to gather together and participate together as members. when there are names on the rolls of our churches of people who are capable and able of coming and being involved, but do not, there is a problem that needs to be addressed. to ignore it is similar to looking at the above pictures and looking away thinking, "maybe they'll figure it out."
after walking around athens and observing all of the man made idols, paul stilled refered to those people as religious...
So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects.
"For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD "...(acts 17:22-23)
then he shared the gospel with them.
james admits that there can be "worthless" religion...
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. (james 1:26)
so let us not further the idea, but our words or actions that being religious, even within christian culture, is enough.
being "religious" can send you to hell.
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me - john 14:6
15"Beware of the alse prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
16"You will
know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?
every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
18"A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20"So then, you will know them
by their fruits.
Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'
23"And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you;
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; - phil 2:12

may we fear and tremble at the thought of hoping in anything else but the gospel of christ.


lauren said...

i was reminded of this at an orthodox wedding this weekend. the ceremony was truly beautiful. there were more references to Christ and his bride than in many protestant weddings. i really appreciated the reverence, acknowledgement of god bringing the couple together, and symbolism.

however, the particular denomination has some issues that i cannot accept. a good friend of mine converted to this denomination/religion a few years ago, and while she was going through the catachumen course, she would share what she was learning. the main red flags for me were the veneration of the saints and mary. while she was convinced by the leaders that veneration and worship of are not the same thing, in all practice they seem to be. (i may post the text of the program on my blog soon, if i can find it... it includes explanations of the customs in the ceremony and their symbolism, as well as some bible references...) while the church talks a lot about Christ, it seems that the saints and mary are considered equal with Him, though they would never acknowledge that to be true.

just as it breaks my heart to see other religions filled with obvious idolatry, so is it difficult to see a friend drawn to something "christian" that looks so beautiful but adds to the Gospel. as beautiful as it may be, just as you said..."sincerely believing in a false religion, and not participating in the one true religion both result in an eternity in a literal hell."

that's especially tough to swallow when you've discussed, shown the truth from the scriptures, and have had to agree to disagree with a friend. thank God He is able to do more than we can ask or imagine.i can only pray that her relationship with the Lord is truly based on Christ alone, and not the traditions of the church.

Christi Cavness said...

The only source of hope! Thank you Stephen for the words you share with me at home and here with anyone who is blessed enough to know they are here! You are truly a source of much encouragement and strength for me and you're the biggest blessing from our God I have ever recieved aside from salvation. I love you!