If you are a born-again believer, if you have given your life to the Lord Jesus Christ, then you have within you the assurance of the promises that He has blessed us with. You know that you will reside in His presence for all eternity, safe from the wrath of God upon the lost. You have nothing to run from, nothing to fear, no man can take from you what you have been blessed with, so then my friends, along with this free gift, along with all the eternal blessings, comes a responsibility, and it is in the fulfillment of these appointed tasks that we are known to be His. The question is, can you discern between the born-again believer, and the religious person.
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27) There are actions that the children of God undertake, not only those we have been commanded to ascertain to, but those we do because of our love for Him who loved us first, a difference that some who profess Christ as Lord seem to have great difficulty in seeing. The religious individual has a quota to meet, so to speak, certain actions that must be performed at certain times and in certain ways, obligations that are presumed necessary to show themselves, and to others, that they are of the religious credo. Some call them rites, others traditions, but their intent is the same, an outward sign of what they consider an inward faith, an observance of the religious rules and regulations, pertaining to whatever particular denomination they happen to be a member of.
“Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1:12-13) Religion had its beginnings long before our Lord walked upon this earth, the way each man interprets God is the religion he follows, if this statement were not true there would be no need for the thousands of religious organizations on this planet, our inability to correctly discern the truths in the word of God have made it what it is today. There was only one time in all of history that I am aware of that every single person on the planet, as far as we are told, had one religion, one theological perspective that all adhered to. It was led by a fellow named Nimrod, and things did not go so well for them. “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” (Gen. 11:7) It is a true statement also that you will never find a church that is exactly as you would like it to be, and hopefully that be one that preaches the inerrant, inspired word of God for what it is, truth.
We settle for so much less sometimes, knowing what is preached from behind the pulpit is not what should be counted as truth, but we wonder, where else would we go, is it close enough, is it alright to keep attending as long as I know what the Word says. To find an individual who preaches the entire word, and not just the parts the congregation wants to hear, to find a man who does not side step the truth for fear of offending, who would rather lose his position within the church than be a milk toast-ear scratcher is a rare thing indeed these days. Far too many have taken a subservient rule to the assumed hierarchy within the congregation, a second thought on the next sermon is introduced into their minds by the members of the finance committee. These are not swayed by the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, but by their savings accounts and personal reputations, for them it is better to serve in part than not to serve at all.
These individuals are not emulating Paul when he said “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some,” (1 Cor. 9:22) but instead search out the easiest road, the path of least resistance, and they either lead or are led by an assembly that has decided what the good parts of the Scriptures are, and what sections are to be avoided. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matt. 6:24) Money is not the only master some serve, pride, envy, self, they can all be our task masters, and for some, whether they stand behind the pulpit or sit in the furthest back pew, their interpretation of the Scriptures is written in stone, but it is not the one that should be in their hearts.
A person can be taught a lie their entire life, and if they never do any research into the subject, if they never debate the thoughts they have been taught to believe, they will never come to the knowledge of the truth. They have not only been deceived, but are deceiving themselves, they refuse to study not only the Scriptures, but what others have said about them, what other religious organizations, churches and denominations say of them. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) All who diligently seek God will find Him, not a facsimile of Him, not a close-enough view of His truths, but Almighty God Himself. “For many be called, but few chosen.” (Matt. 20:16) Every one that is chosen knows the truth of who Christ is, what He demands and desires from them, and what their responsibilities are, they are chosen. Not all are profitable, (1 Cor. 10:23) not all are called to be “Apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:11) but all are chosen by God, and all of them know the truth. How much of the truth we have decided to accept has been left up to each of us.
Those who serve Him well desire to serve, they question the errors of others in the right understanding of the Scriptures, they do not strive with their fellow man intentionally for the sake of self, but are many times misinterpreted in their actions, for “Thus saith the Lord” knows no compromise. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Prov. 14:12) It is sad to say that many are on this path, and not all of them reside outside the doors of the church. In a nutshell my friends, study to show yourselves approved, rightly dividing the word of truth, (2 Tim. 2:15) test the spirits, (1 John 4:1) earnestly defend the truths of Scripture when you are asked to give an account for your faith. Do not back down, know whom you serve and why, and be able to show all who ask of you where in the Scriptures you can prove the reason for the assurance of your salvation.