Do you 'have religion?' Have you ever 'lost your religion?' So, what is religion anyway?
Many people in this world think that God is religion, and that being 'religious' is believing in Him.
However, is that what God thinks about it?
If you were to look up the word 'religion' on http://www.dictionary.com, you'll find that the 'Word Origin & History' category defines religion as '...conduct indicating a belief in a divine power …'.
May I ask you – Does your conduct indicate a belief in a divine power? If so, does it entitle God's mercy and forgiveness to you? Many questions can stem from the word 'religion.' How 'religious' must a person be to gain forgiveness, to enter into Heaven? - 70% religious, 80% religious, 99% religious –
But where does God draw the line?
Many of us have always been taught that we must be religious for God to be merciful and forgiving when we stand before Him. In other words, it's like saying God's love and mercy are conditional – that they are based on how 'good' we are.
God views our religion just like the definition – conduct! Religion is our behavior, our actions, our good deeds. Though good deeds and behavior are 'good,' They can NEVER get you to Heaven! God can save and forgive a person '… not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy...' (Titus 3:5).
I'm sure you can see that the more we think about it, the less sense it makes.
Let's go to the Bible for answers!
God doesn't want RELIGION! He wants a RELATIONSHIP!
Luke 5:20 says, 'Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” ' Jesus wants to know you as His friend! (cf. James 2:23)
2 Corinthians 6:18 says, ' “And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.” '
John 1:12 says, 'But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.'
1 John 3:1a says, 'See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called the children of God.'
He wants to know us as beloved children, and for us to know Him as our Father! Though we could go on and on with such references in Scripture, the verses above make it very clear to us that the God of the universe desires a RELATIONSHIP with us! How worthy He is, and how unworthy we are, yet He still loves us – in spite of who we've been and become!
The question that really matters is, 'How can I have a relationship with God?'
Romans 3:23 – 'For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God'.
The first step is agreeing with what the Bible teaches here. If you're honest, you won't have any problem admitting that you have sinned. It basically means that you've missed God's holy and righteous standard by doing wrong. Man's relationship with God was perfect in His creation; however, our sin has broken our relationship with God. This is what needs to be fixed.
Romans 6:23a says, 'For the wages of sin is death, …'
This second step is hard for many people to accept. The 'death' that is mentioned here is a spiritual death. From God's Word, we know this to be Hell. Hell is very real and worse than we could ever imagine! Jesus called it a 'furnace of fire' where there is 'weeping and gnashing of teeth' (Matthew 13:50). Jesus spoke more about Hell than of Heaven. For a moment, consider why. He did not do this with joy in judgment, but as a warning of love!
God does not want for any to perish (2 Peter 3:9),
but He does not force Himself upon anyone.
Have you ever thought about these two verses, that your sin makes you guilty before a holy God? Simply put, we ALL deserve God's punishment – Hell.
But... it doesn't stop here! There is good news!
Romans 5:8 – 'But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners. Christ died for us.'
God did not just say 'I Love You' to this world – He proved it by sending His Son, Jesus, who went willingly to the cross to face the punishment of our sin. He did this for YOU! Your name was on His mind while He suffered on the cross. He literally stepped in as a substitute punishment for YOU, that you might walk away free and forgiven! It doesn't stop there; Jesus rose again three days later to prove that death and sin cannot defeat the power of God. How incredible this is!
So, you may be asking, 'What must I do to have this relationship, to have this forgiveness?'
Romans 10:13 says, 'For “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” '
If you can agree with God, according to the Scriptures, that your sin has broken His law, making you deserving of God's wrath, and you can trust that Jesus has stepped in your place of judgment, to die that you may live, and that He rose again – all that's left to do is call upon the Lord. You can do this in prayer. Remember, a prayer does not save you, it's the sincerity of confession and trust that will make you forgiven, born-again, 'SAVED'! You too can become the friend and child of God – from Religion to Relationship!
We would be honored to answer any questions you may have, and show you how to know Christ as your personal Savior!