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Should Religion Be A Conversation Taboo?

We’ve all heard the proverbial wisdom, “There are two things you should never discuss:  politics and religion.”  Admittedly, the reason this advice is often because these two topics tend to cause heated arguments, as more than likely the participants strongly hold to their individual beliefs and choose to defend them passionately, usually at the expense of an open mind and polite discourse.  That’s why most people today tend to avoid religious debate and discussion with as much zeal as they avoid telemarketers and pneumonia.

Yet, the greatest men you read about in the Bible did not shy away from discussing religion with others.  On the contrary, they debated religion at every turn.  Moses admonished Israel for idol worship (Ex. 32).  Elijah confronted and opposed false prophets (1 Kings 18:17-40).  Peter and John preached to the religious leaders of their day who were in error and pointed out their sins (Acts 3-4).  The apostle Paul debated Jews who did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 9:29; 17:16-17).  He also debated polytheistic Greek philosophers about their need to worship the One True God (Acts 17:18-34).  In fact, he even disputed with fellow Christians who were caught up in religious error (Gal. 2:1-5; cf. Acts 15:1ff).

These men tried to correct those who held to religiously erroneous beliefs, and they did so because religious error is just as sinful as moral error or ethical error.  Many today cannot see that, in part because they mistakenly assume that Jesus Christ himself would never tell someone who believed in God that they were wrong.  “After all,” they say, “Jesus said, ‘Judge not lest ye be judged…’ (Matt. 7:1).”  Not only do they ignore the irony that they themselves are doing what they condemn when they tell others that they shouldn’t judge, they also overlook the fact that immediately after giving that command, Jesus commanded his followers to “remove the speck from your brother’s eye” in a manner that is free from hypocrisy (Matt. 7:2-5).  In other words, he commanded us to judge, only without hypocrisy and not according to appearance (John 7:24).  He wants us to expose sin and error (Eph. 5:11).

Christ himself was in constant conflict with those in religious error when he was on earth.  For example, on one occasion he pointed out the error of the Sadducees who didn’t believe in a bodily resurrection.  He very pointedly told them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matt. 22:29).  By telling them this, he was basically saying that the Sadducees were wrong in their religious beliefs.  Their error was not that they were ignorant of the Scriptures, but rather that they did not understand what the Scriptures were actually teaching.

How would we react if someone pointed out to us that our religious beliefs were incorrect?  Would we get angry and accuse the person who challenged our beliefs of being hateful?  Would we ignore them and walk away, assuming that we are correct without investigating the Scriptures to be sure?  (2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Thess. 5:21)  Many believe that it doesn’t matter what one believes as long as they are a basically good person and call themselves a Christian, but an open-minded investigation of the Bible shows that Jesus, the apostles, Moses, and many other godly men and women thought otherwise (Matt. 7:21-27; Eph. 4:4-5; 1 Cor. 1:10-13; 4:6; Phil. 2:1-2; Rev. 22:18-19; Rom. 16:17-18; Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:5-6; 2 Tim. 4:1-5).  They risked their lives to teach the truth of God’s Word (John 17:17) and point out the error in which many religious people found themselves.

“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”

So the next time someone wants to discuss our religious beliefs with us, let’s choose to avoid anger.  Let’s choose to not ignore them and walk away.  Instead, let’s remember that this person is only following the example of some of the greatest people in the Bible.  Let’s also remember that the possibility exists that we may be incorrect about a doctrine or practice we hold to, and thus our soul would be in danger (Matt. 7:21-23).  If this person shows us something from the entirety of God’s Word (Ps. 119:160) that contradicts what we believe, they are doing us an eternal favor (James 5:19-20).

Do Consequences Determine Truth?

God warned Christians, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8).  There’s a reason we have this warning.  One of the most effective devices Satan has ever used to deceive mankind are false doctrines and philosophies (Matt. 7:15-20), particularly the false concept floating around these days that truth is determined by its results.

Many believe that truth is defined by whatever works, whatever is good or expedient.  They say a statement is true or false depending on its results.  This has led to the popularity of “political correctness,” a philosophy which seems to promote “tolerance” for everything except Christian commandments and principles.  Therefore, “tolerance” demands that we support abortion and same-sex marriage, and that we must not disagree with any religious faiths (even the ones which go against biblical teaching).  This is different from the notion of earlier generations that tolerance permits each of us the right to believe or disbelieve according to our own conscience.  No, modern “tolerance” demands acceptance of all truths, beliefs, and values…no matter how spiritually or morally bankrupt they are…as being equally valid.

What it all boils down to is this:  What works for you?  That is the key.  If you “need” to have your unborn child burned alive by a saline solution while still in your womb, if euthanasia would make your life easier, or if homosexuality works for you…then those are the right things to do.  “What works” is the governing principle.

Believe it or not, this philosophy has existed from the beginning of time.  Cain and Abel both brought an offering to God (Gen. 4:3-5), but Abel’s sacrifice was offered “by faith” (Heb. 11:4).  Since faith comes from God’s Word (Rom. 10:17), God must have had specifically told them what kind of sacrifice he wanted.  Abel honored what God had said, while Cain didn’t.  The “if it works for me” mindset would have demanded acceptance for Cain’s sacrifice, because what worked for Cain would be all that matters…but God didn’t see it that way.

Nadab and Abihu made a similar error (Lev. 10:1-3).  These two priests decided to off “strange” or “unauthorized”fire in their sacrifices, fire which God had not commanded.  God burned them alive as a result…but they were only doing what worked for them, right?  Apparently that wasn’t enough for God.

Here’s the thing.  “What works” does not determine doctrinal or moral truth.  What determines truth in these areas is and always has been God’s Word!  Read Psalm 19:7-11.  What is the law of the Lord?  Perfect.  What are the judgments of the Lord?  True and right.  What happens when we keep them?  Great reward.  What “is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”?  God’s Word (Ps. 119:105), not the philosophy of “the ends justifying the means.”

The time has come to embrace the philosophy of “Thus says the Lord!”  The time has come to get back to the mindset of not going beyond what is written in the Scriptures (1 Cor. 4:6)!

“What Is Truth?”

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105)

“What is truth?”  Pilate asked Jesus that question and didn’t stick around for an answer (John 18:38).  It’s too bad he had not been in that upper room with Jesus and his disciples on the previous night, because Jesus had clearly defined truth while he was praying to his Father on behalf of his disciples.  He prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your Word is truth” (John 17:17).

There you have it, from the Son of God himself.  What is truth?  It’s God’s Word, plain and simple.  The Bible, the Holy Scriptures, Genesis through Revelation…they contain the truth.  They are the truth because they are the Word, the same Word which “became flesh and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  Jesus, the Word, the only begotten from the Father, is full of grace and truth.  He is God (John 1:1), and the Scriptures are his Word.

The writers of the Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:19-21; Eph. 3:3-5), who in turn received his message from Christ (John 16:13-15), who in turn received it from God the Father (John 12:49-50).  Jesus and his Father are one (John 10:30).  Therefore, it is not only the “words in red” in your Bibles which belong to Jesus.  “ALL Scripture is breathed out by God…” (2 Tim. 3:16), and the words which the inspired writers wrote in Scripture “are a command of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37).  They are all truth, because they come from Jesus…and Jesus is“the truth” (John 14:6).

If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you are interested in the truth.  Perhaps you are searching for the truth.  If so, know that God is pleased with you because he “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).  My goal is to use this blog to teach you God’s Word and God’s Word alone, and you will profit by it if you receive the Word with “meekness” and “hold it fast in an honest and good heart” (Jms. 1:21; Luke 8:15).

Perhaps you desire to challenge or examine the truth.  If so, then you will find plenty to challenge in this blog because my goal is to do nothing more or less than to use this blog to “preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:2) in its entirety (Ps. 119:160; Acts 20:27).  I encourage any and all questions or challenges presented in sincerity and civility, because the Lord has commanded me and all other faithful Christians to “prove all things” and “always (be) prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Thess. 5:21; 1 Pet. 3:15).  Finding biblical, logical answers to your questions and comments will help me to grow as a Christian and strengthen my faith (Prov. 27:17), and so I welcome them…as long as they are presented in a civil manner.  Those who prove themselves to be interested in nothing more than persecution will receive no response and their comments will be deleted (Matt. 10:14-15).

Perhaps you know the truth and want to know it better, defend it and proclaim it.  If so, then you’ve come to the right place.  Our faith comes from God’s Word (Rom. 10:17), and we are called to contend for it (Jude 3), be reminded of it (2 Pet. 3:1-2), grow in it (2 Pet. 3:18), and share it with others (Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:19-20).  I encourage you to share this blog with the lost and with the brethren, and it is my hope that this blog will help all of us to be stirred up “to love and good works” (Heb. 10:24).

“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” (Rom. 6:17-18)

Jesus said to those who believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).  Friends, it’s not enough to simply believe in Jesus (Jms. 2:14-26).  We must also obey him (Heb. 5:9; Matt. 7:21-27).  So let’s abide in his Word.  Let’s be his humble servants in all aspects of our lives.  Let’s know the truth and be set free from the bondage of sin!  I’m looking forward to starting this journey with you.