Truth In Other Religions - It Can Never Satisfy

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, May 1, 2014 5 comments

by Logan Ames

Being that I live in Findlay, Ohio, a town that is just about equidistant from Columbus, Ohio and Ann Arbor, Michigan, I am pretty much in the middle of one of the nation’s oldest and fiercest rivalries in college sports. If you recognize those cities, you know I am talking about the rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan. I remember when I first heard about the craziness of this rivalry, particularly when it comes to football. I was actually at a baseball game in Pittsburgh in the summer of 2008 and met a couple of guys sitting next to me who were from Columbus. We got to talking because I was planning my move to Ohio from Pennsylvania to go to seminary that following fall. When I brought up the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, one of the guys said, “Oh man, people say it’s like a religion out there but they’re wrong – it’s worse!”

In Monday’s post, Katie did a great job of showing some of the foundational beliefs of other popular religions and how they compare to the Truth found in God’s Word. That got me thinking about what exactly constitutes a “religion.” Webster lists five different definitions for this word. Some of them include references to the divine, but the third definition is “a set of strongly-held beliefs, values, and attitudes that somebody lives by.” It seems to me that every human being who has ever lived has had some type of religion. You may identify with one of the popular ones that were identified in Monday’s post, or you may have a set of strongly-held beliefs, values, or attitudes that are unique to your life and have nothing to do with the religions of other groups of people. Your “religion” might even be sports, music, or politics, in the sense that these parts of your life dictate how you live. I’ve known people in my life who have seemed to be obsessed with each of these things. By the way, “obsession” is another one of the five definitions for “religion.”

The word “religion” is only used one place in the New Testament that I can think of. That would be in James 1:26-27. The brother of Jesus tells the early Jewish Christians who were scattered that “pure and faultless” religion in the eyes of God is “to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” In those same verses, James also says that a man’s “religion is worthless” if he cannot keep a tight rein on his tongue. He seems to be hinting that a lot of us become polluted by the world and it comes out through our mouths. He’s not just talking about foul language either. James knows that even believers do damage with their mouths. Gossip, slander, and words of destruction are just as much of a problem in the Church as they are everywhere else. Furthermore, believers listen to music with lyrics that speak death and evil rather than life. They watch sports and become so obsessed with their favorite teams that losing affects the way they treat and talk to others. Referees get cursed out and even most fights begin with words. Politics is probably the worst. Believers pick sides and only associate with those who agree with them, condemning anyone who opposes.

When there is no one to “talk” to about our chosen “religion” of the day, we often fill our minds and time with media that feeds and supports it. We watch, listen to, or read from those who make us feel good and get angry about those who put down our team, music, or political party. Most of us would never say these things are “religion”, but we must seriously question whether these false gods receive more of our worship than the one true God that we claim to serve. In those verses in James, most scholars agree the word for “religion” should actually be translated “worship” or “spirituality”. So I say again, look at what occupies your time, your thoughts, and your passion. Look at what determines how you live. If it’s anything other than God and his Word, I’m afraid you’re practicing a false religion.

Since Katie already pretty much answered the question of whether some truth can be found in the beliefs, attitudes, and practices of other religions, I will simply speak the truth that nothing else ever satisfies. Other religions may satisfy for a short time, but Jesus himself declares that only he can bring lasting fulfillment. In John 4, he has a long conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. In their discussion about “living water”, he tells her that “whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst” (v. 14). Her direct response is, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water” (v. 15). Then in John 6, Jesus is talking to his disciples about the “bread of life.” He declares that “he who comes to me will never go hungry” (v. 35). Before that, he tells them “the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” and their direct response is, “Sir, from now on give us this bread” (vv. 33-34).

I find it incredibly ironic how similar the responses of the Samaritan woman and the Jewish disciples were. These two people groups would have avoided each other at all costs, like rival sports fans or opposing political parties. But at the end of the day, the absolute truth that they BOTH were seeking was that which would completely satisfy! In that moment, rules and regulations didn’t matter. What mattered was their need for complete satisfaction and their frustration at having to keep DOING things to get fulfilled. Friend, that’s what sets Jesus and his followers apart from any other religion or set of beliefs out there. With every other religion, including the ways of life we wouldn’t necessarily think of as religions, there are things we have to DO to earn salvation, peace, or comfort. But with Jesus, IT’S ALREADY BEEN DONE! I came to know the satisfaction of following Jesus only after I exhausted other possibilities. Even now, when other “religions” tempt me, I am forced to repent and return to Jesus when other things fail to satisfy. If you are feeling stress and exhaustion in an area of “false religion” in your life, I pray you are able to break that chain and surrender to the Living Water, the Bread of Life, and the Complete Fulfillment in Jesus Christ!


Anonymous said...

Sadly I'm a Browns fan. But surprisingly enough when I come upon a Steelers fan I don't hate them for it.

Does it make you happy being a Steelers fan? Great! More power to you!

Lifelong Reds fan? Happy to hear it.

I don't go up to a Cubs fan telling them: 'You haven't won the World Series in 100 years. You need to cheer for the Indians like me.'

Same thing with religions. If it makes someone happy and does well for them then that's great.

What's not cool is this:

Deuteronomy 13:1-18

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

So in other words: If you're not a Steelers fan then you should be put to death.

Not a Christian? Die and burn in hell.

What a great message to send.

Logan said...

Again, you remain anonymous rather than choose to have a relationship with us and let us have a healthy, profitable discussion with someone we know. In contrast, an atheist who has been against our teachings for years chooses to comment on our Facebook links for these blogs and make himself known. He did so on Katie's page when she linked this very blog today. He doesn't agree with us, but asks questions openly and honestly and awaits a response. He also then responds to our responses and allows the discussion to happen. I'd simply encourage you to do the same.

To your actual questions, did I say something about being a Steeler fan? Or were you just using them as a random example as a rival of the Browns? I wasn't really sure on that one and wasn't sure where you were getting it if you were saying I'm a Steeler fan. Regarding your quoted Bible passage, the biggest problem with what you said is a single phrase of four words - "so in other words". You took something that was written in historical and cultural context and applied it to both a sports rooting interest and a decision on whether or not to be a Christian. I'd strongly encourage you to look at future blog posts in the next month or so that deal with WHY we should read the Bible and HOW we should read it. The laws of Deuteronomy were given by God through Moses and were for a specific people in a time and place. At that point, the nation of God's people was fairly new. Their entire nation and race were at stake. They had to rid themselves of anything and anyone that sought to steer them away from God. Desperate times call for desperate measures. To say that it's a mandate for all Christians everywhere in 2014 is irresponsible and would be the same as saying Christians cannot cut their hair, clip their beards, or have tattoos (Leviticus 19:27-28). Death is not the immediate penalty for our sins because Jesus conquered death when he rose from the grave. However, choosing not to accept that leaves us vulnerable to the penalty of our sin. So it's not that we are ordered to put anyone to death. It's that choosing not to accept Jesus as Savior and LORD (which means obeying what he tells us in relationship with us) ultimately leads to death, whether it's instantaneous or not.

Mom Ames said...

Clearly, anonymous has some knowledge of the Bible which is the Word of God, whether he/she believes it or not. Perhaps it would be best to look at the passage in Isaiah that shows God's heart for all who walk in the dark (i.e. sin) He, through Jesus, wants to redeem them and bring them out of darkness into light (which is accomplished through belief in Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins.) The first verse quoted below spells out what awaits those who choose the light of life. The second verse spells out what happens for those who refuse the gift. Here are the verses from the NIV:
Isaiah 50:10 Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.
50:11 But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.
The key difference is a choice that each person makes. There is no middle ground or fence to sit on. We all make a choice. Any choice that does not involve accepting Jesus as the light of life, is a choice to live apart from God. This usually means setting up other things that you prefer to worship as Logan clearly outlined. That is what verse 11 is saying. God allows us to choose and many walk in the light of their own fires. This leads to separation from God and there will be great torment! The Bible refers to that as hell and nobody gets sent there. They choose it by default when they won't choose God's gift of redemption.
Choose wisely! Debbie

Anonymous said...

Not everyone is out with their atheism, especially teenagers, because of the repercussions from family. I'll never forget a friend of mine who was kicked out of his mom and dads house for refusing to go through with his confirmation at his parents church. He was homeless as soon as he turned 18, even though he just started his senior year of highschool. Anonymity allows us to keep our privacy, keep others out of our personal lives, yet still engage ideas without the threat of physical repercussions. Besides, it doesn't matter from whom the ideas come, either. What mayters is whether the ideas are good or not. Welcome to the internet.

Anonymous said...

Different anon here.

"They choose it by default when they won't choose God's gift of redemption. "

So a man enters a burning building and says to a trapped woman "I'll rescue you if you make love to me."

That's rape, not a choice.