January 17, 2018

Religion or Relationship?

George Stiekes

I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. Job 42:5-6

Jerusalem was crowded with visitors at one of the annual pilgrim feasts. Jeremiah’s Temple Address focused on God’s chastening against those who chose to follow a false religion perpetrated by false prophets.

Religion will never get anyone into heaven. Still, many people are secure in their outward display of religion – going through the motions of spirituality. Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice… (I Samuel 15:22). …your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto Me (Jeremiah 6:20). Bottom line: God is not at all interested in religion. Currently, there are over 4,000 different religions (faith or belief systems) in the world. There is a major difference between religion and Christianity.

  • Religion is man attempting to reach God man’s way.
  • Christianity is God reaching down to man and making every provision for His salvation and everlasting life.

The Temple for so many in Jerusalem had become nothing more than a shrine or a fetish. They believed that this shrine was more important to God than their obedience to Him and His Word. Believing this, they felt that they were totally safe from any enemy. Their hope was in the Temple instead of the LORD of the Temple. Jeremiah revealed that it was not too late to repent and that God indeed would protect them (7:3, 7).

Jeremiah’s warning to the people back then needs to be taken seriously today as well. Some of the same attitudes that existed then are prevalent in our day as well, even in many churches that refer to themselves as “Christian,” and have nothing more to offer than religion – false hope and security.

There is so much false hope today in religion. There are thousands of churches across our nation where the Gospel is never preached – NEVER. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away (II Timothy 3:5). If you are in a church like that, the command should be clear – Get out and get to a church that is truly preaching the Word of God.

Jesus was asked a theological question relating to salvation and that brought about a warning against religious presumption. We must avoid religion that speaks of “cheap grace” thinking our eternal destiny is secure based on our religion. So many people today, who are blinded by the enemy of our souls do not take their eternal destiny seriously. There is a narrow door and Jesus made it very clear that He alone is that door. Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able (Luke 13:24). Jesus Himself and not religion is the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me (John 14:6). So many at the Judgment are going to say, “we were baptized, belonged to such and such church, gave much money to charities, served our communities, studied doctrine, we never missed a Sunday.” Over and over again, Jesus is going to say these words – I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7;23).

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I DARE NOT TRUST THE SWEETEST FRAME, but wholly lean on JESUS’ NAME. For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before IN THE WORD OF THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL (Colossians 1:5). Those who trust religion will one day discover their HOPELESSNESS. In Christ, our HOPE is certain and the day will come When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:4).

I trust that you have more than just religion today and that you are growing in your relationship with the LORD. That will take place when you have a spiritually hungry heart desiring to know more of Him Who is our hope.

George Stiekes held successful pastorates in churches in Michigan and Washington among other places. He currently resides in North Carolina and blogs at Reverent Reflections. We recommend his ministry and republish his material by permission.

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