WHY RELIGION MATTERS
On their web page “Black Lives Matter”, the Ammanford Christadelphians write (emphasis mine):
The present writer approached them online regarding this matter, simply asking the question: “Could you please provide Scriptural evidence that it does not matter what our religion is?”. However, aside from making the point that the context of their remark was: “how religion is in regards to todays society and how we treat one another,” and paradoxically conceding that “When it comes to God it is very important what we believe and how we approach him”, the Ammanford Christadelphians refuse all discussion on the issue. They instead have blocked us from making any further comments or questions, and deleted the above simple question, rather than to attempt an answer to it. At the time of writing, the web page is still up and running, with no amendment, which indicates that they stand by what they have written.
However, even if the Ammanford Christadelphians refuse to discuss the issue (or provide any Bible basis for their assertion), that ought not prevent us from considering the matter ourselves.
There are 2 questions posed by the postings: 1. Does our religion make us any different to anyone else in God’s eyes? And 2. Should religion affect our relationships with others? We shall address these two questions in turn—with the Bible itself being our only authoritative guide on the matter.
By “religion” we mean the set of beliefs and practices performed in the worship of a particular Deity. It is a way of life, just as much as it is a belief system—which we shall come to consider shortly. Different “religions” worship different deities, and also in the so-called “Christian” group of religions, there are many varieties of beliefs and associations. The question is, do those differences affect whether “we are all the same in God’s eyes” or not. According to the Ammanford Christadelphians, they categorically do not: “there is no difference”. But what saith the Holy Writ?
The first point to note, is how those who have no understanding of God’s Ways appear in His Eyes:
Again, Solomon speaks of this same class of people:
And, according to our risen Master:
Those that do not know or believe the Gospel message are therefore alienated from God:
It is clear then, that to avoid perishing like brute beasts, we need to have an understanding of Divine Ways, and believe the truths that comprise the Gospel. This much, the Ammanford Christadelphians appear to concede, saying in their response: “it is very important what we believe”. But paradoxically, their contention is that despite this, “Our skin colour or religion do not make us any different from anyone else” – and that “in God’s eyes”. The question is therefore, “in God’s eyes” does it matter whether or not we are a Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Mormon, or any other of the sects of Christendom. Does it matter whether we are Buddhist, Hindu or Moslem? Moreover, does it matter whether or not we are Christadelphian? Being that the only source of information about how things stand “in God’s eyes” is the Bible, this is where we must go for enlightenment on such matters.
The first point to note, is that salvation can only come through faith in the Name of Jesus Christ:
This immediately rules out Buddhism, Islam and Hindus—and all other religions that do not place salvation solely upon the basis of the Name of Jesus Christ. But what about the various sects and denominations of so-called Christendom?
According to Messiah, it is essential to know and believe in the One True God and his Son in order to be saved. The worship of all other deities is, by definition, idolatry. So Jesus spake in prayer to his Father:
“This is Life Eternal, that they may know thee the Only True God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (Jno 17:3, see also Jer. 9:23-24).
Again, this rules out salvation to those who do not believe in the Only True God, and His Son. Indeed, it rules out Trinitarians, who believe that Jesus is “God the Son”, and not the Son of God, as Scripture declares. They do not know either Yahweh, the God of Israel, nor His son.
The Scripture plainly states that the adherents to false religion will not be found in the kingdom to come:
From the above, we can see that “in God’s eyes,” Religion is important: God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship him “in spirit and in truth” (Jno. 4:24). Their religion matters, and does make a difference.
Again, we see that Religion does matter: if we are not walking in the light of God’s Truth, we are in darkness, and have no fellowship with either Yahweh Himself, or His Son. It is only if we walk in the light that we can have acceptable fellowship with them both—and the Divine command is to separate ourselves from those in darkness:
According to the Apostle John, the doctrine we believe should directly affect our relationships with other men and women:
It is plain from this passage that our religion does have a bearing on who we associate with, who we fellowship with, and who we receive into our houses. In harmony with the section above, the Apostle teaches that:
“whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God” (2 Jno. 1:9).
And it logically follows therefore, that we ought not to fellowship those who fall into that category. So the Apostle Paul declares likewise:
Again, we find that in order to be “received” by God, we need to separate ourselves, and come out from those who are in darkness. Not only does this reaffirm how that religion does matter in the sight of God, but it also demonstrates that it should affect how we approach others also.
Believers who accept the Gospel concerning the Kingdom of God and Name of Jesus Christ are in a unique relationship with Yahweh. They are “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God …” (Eph. 2:19). They were “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world”. But as the Apostle also states: “now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were afar off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13).
It is clear then, that our Religion should have a very direct bearing on our relationships with others. Those of like precious faith (2 Pet. 1:1) are men and women that we can fellowship with love in the Truth. But to those who are outside of the arena of salvation, who are alienated from the life of God by their wilful ignorance, our relationship is different. We cannot fellowship with them in the same way that we can enjoy the relationships of other believers. But although we have a different type of relationship with them, we must still treat them with respect and help where we are able:
Again, we read:
This is a helpful summary of our position in Christ. Our priority is “especially” to those who are in the household of faith, but we must also “do good unto all men” who are not part of that household. In this, we see that “Religion” is not only a belief system—it has a practical bearing upon our way of life, and interaction with others. So James has it:
We must demonstrate our religion in both doctrine and practice; both in terms of what we believe, and what we do. In this way, Religion does matter, and does have a direct bearing both upon how we appear “in God’s eyes”, and in our approach to those who are outside the household of faith.