Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 12, 1961
NUMBER 23, PAGE 6,14c

The Religion Of The Bible

James W. Adams, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Man is incurably religious. He does not have to be taught to be so. There is something inherent in man that clamors for religion. Bible readers understand what that "something" is. They know that man is the "offspring of God," hence has a never-dying spirit that cannot be satisfied with the transient, material things of this life, but rather, which cries out for communion and fellowship with the Creator. The world only knows that all evidence left by man upon the earth through the centuries unites in establishing the fact that man in all ages and in every state of civilization has had a religion of some sort.

The word "religion" means, according to Webster, "A system of rules of conduct and laws of action based upon the recognition of, belief in, and reverence for a super-human power of supreme authority." In short, one's belief and practice in regard to a deity. If a man believes in a deity or deities and orders his conduct in harmony with principles which, he believes, emanate from his deity, or deities, he is religious, and his belief and practice constitute his religion.

Religious people could learn much by consulting a dictionary in connection with Bible study. The idea of "getting religion" originated in a misunderstanding of the word "religion." The meaning of the term precludes the possibility of one's "getting" it. Religion is an attitude of mind plus a course of conduct, hence one cannot "get" it.

Ignorance of the true meaning of the word or subtle deceit also prompts the "Jehovah's Witnesses" to combat what they call "religion" claiming that all religion is of the devil. Whether they know it or not or whether they will admit it or not, the belief and practice of the "Jehovah's Witnesses" constitute their "religion," hence if all religion is of the devil, their belief and practice respecting the God of the universe are of the devil, and they thus stand self-condemned. As someone has said, however, "There is undoubtedly motive in their madness." Nothing is more deceitful and effective in a political campaign than for a politician to fight politics and politicians. In so doing, he gains the support of every disgruntled voter in his district. For a religious leader to fight all religion would gain for him the support of the majority of the disgruntled and apostate members of all religious bodies. Anyone familiar with "Rutherfordism," its fruits, and its representatives called "Jehovah's Witnesses" can testify to the fact that such is true respecting them. Religion is not necessarily "of the devil" nor can one "get" it.

The word "religion" is used five times in the Bible, and the word "religious" is used twice. Twice, the word "religion" is used to describe the belief and practice of the Jews. (Gal. 1:13-14) Once, it is used to describe vain faith and practice. (James 1:26) Once, it is used to describe the belief and practice of New Testament Christians. (James 1:27) Once, it is used to describe the belief and practice of the Pharisees. (Acts 26:5) The word "religious" is used twice, once regarding vain religion, (James 1:26) and once regarding certain proselytes made by Paul. (Acts 13:43)

From a study of the New Testament uses of the terms, several facts are learned: (1) It is immediately apparent that not all religion is acceptable with God. There is "vain religion." (James 1:26) Paul was a religious man before becoming a Christian, yet the Lord required him to make a change, hence his religion did not please the Lord. (2) It is clear that there is a religion styled "pure religion," that is acceptable with God. (3) It is also learned that Christ did not come to the world to make the world religious. The world was already religious. Jesus came to make the world right religiously.

In support of these facts, we learn from other passages of Scripture that a man may be sincerely religious, yet be in a lost condition. Cornelius was a religious man. In fact, he was praying at the time he was told by an angel to "send for Peter who would tell him words whereby he and all his house would be saved." (Acts 10 and 11) As has already been suggested, Paul was a religious man, (Acts 26:5) but was at the same time "the chief of sinners." (I Tim. 1:15) Lydia was a religious woman, but she needed the gospel. (Acts 16) The Athenians were religious, but worshipped in ignorance which God no longer excused. (Acts 17) It is not enough simply to be sincerely religious, one must be religiously right. Jesus came to make man so.

Though man is naturally religious, he cannot, in and of himself, frame a religion that will meet the needs of man and the requirements of Jehovah. "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." (1 Cor. 1:21) "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa. 55:8-9) Man has multiplied "gods" in his efforts to frame a religion that would meet the needs of humanity and please the true God, but has failed signally. God has condemned every human effort along this line, and history establishes the fact that humanity has even degenerated to the level of the beast of the field under all such systems.

Seeing that man cannot of himself frame a religion pleasing to God, it would follow that he must have divine guidance. Divine guidance involves a revelation of the mind and will of God to man. God in his goodness has not left man without such a revelation. The Bible is God's mind revealed to man relative to man's origin, nature, duty, and destiny. In it, three great religions, or perhaps it would be better to say three stages in the development of (rue religion in its most complete form, are revealed: The Patriarchal form given to our first parents and continuing until the giving of the law of Moses on Mt. Sinai; The Jewish form given through Moses to the Jews on Mt. Sinai and continuing until the death of Jesus on the cross; and the Christian religion, the perfect, the final, and the highest form, given through the Son of God himself, becoming effective on the first Pentecost after His resurrection from the dead, and continuing until the end of time. It is completely revealed in all of its facts, requirements, and promises in the New Testament.

Any form of religion in harmony with the divine will as revealed in the New Testament is of God and pleasing to him. Any system out of harmony with the teachings of the New Testament is "vain" and displeasing to God. It is of transcendent importance that we conform to the New Testament pattern in every respect. Submit your faith and practice to a trial by the New Testament standard and determine how you stand with God.

If the religious society of which you are a member is not one time mentioned in the New Testament, your religion is faulty. If the doctrine of your church is not taught in the New Testament, you are religiously wrong. Why not try your religion by the infallible standard? If it conforms to the same, you may know you are safe. If not, like Saul, Lydia, Cornelius, and a host of others, you had better make a change. In conclusion, may the thoughts before stated in this article abide with you: It is not enough to be religious; to be saved, one must be religiously right.