Is a Religion the Way Into the Kingdom
The world is dominated by 2 major religions in terms of sheer numbers (Christianity and Islam). Each promises its believers a place in heaven.
The problem is, the Bible that Christians take as their book does not tell us that the final destination of true believers is heaven. Yet, a better part of over 2 billion speak about going to heaven.
Here is a video I did explaining where is the kingdom of heaven.
Today we look at religion vs the way. Is religion the way into the kingdom? Who or what is the way?
When we speak of religion in this article, we are not speaking about the Muslim religion. We are speaking of the various offshoots of Judeo/ Christian belief. This includes Christianity, Judaism, Messianic Judaism, Hebrew Israelite movement and the many others who fall under this umbrella.
“As of 2010, Christianity was by far the world’s largest religion, with an estimated 2.2 billion adherents, nearly a third (31 percent) of all 6.9 billion people on Earth,” a Pew Research Center report said. “Islam was second, with 1.6 billion adherents, or 23 percent of the global population.”
The report went on to state that by 2050, Muslims will nearly be equal with Christians before surpassing them in numbers by 2070.
What is a religion?
Religion is a set of beliefs surrounding the worship of a supreme being.
A specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects:
eg. the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
The Dangers of Being Religious
Now all of us believers follow a religion, but not all of us are religious. We are religious when the religion or denomination defines the boundaries of our beliefs and we stick within that boundary holding the point (explicitly or implicitly) that we know it all, or our religion has it all figured out.
We already saw this exemplified at the start of this post whereby errors are ignored because the religion holds it as true.
The interesting thing about religion also, is that it brings us into a comfort zone, relying on what the religion teaches to be truth.
Anything outside of what the religion teaches is rejected. Any further revelation must be to enhance what the religion teaches. It must not conflict with what we already hold as true.
So religion is man’s way of setting up qualification. Be a part of the religion and you are chosen. You don’t have to be personally transformed. Just follow what the religion says.
That is why to qualify to lead a congregation, most denominations require qualification from a Bible school. This programs us according to the dictates of the religion and excludes those who have not so been trained.
Religious Phariseeism is alive and well today. It is here in Orthodox/Rabbinical Judaism and you may be surprised to know that it is spiritually here in the form of Christianity.
Both religions have one thing in common. They both are based on the truth to which man’s traditions have been added. The result is simple:
Truth + Lies = Lies.
Religion shields us from the truth
Because religion has its sets of do’s and don’ts, to protect what it teaches there is hardly a religion that tells us to prove everything. We are most likely to hear, “don’t listen to him because he is XYZ.”
Prove all things? The Bereans did!
However, this of course goes against the Bible, which says:
1 Thess 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
If the Bereans were religious, they would not have been saved. They saw the way in the scriptures because they made themselves open to study the word of truth. They didn’t stereotype Sha’ul and reject what he had to say.
Act 17:10-12 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
Now contrast that zeal with that of the religious:
Act 13:43-44 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of YHWH. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of YHWH.
Act 13:45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.
Acts 13:50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.
The religious are not interested in absolute truth if it contradicts their religion. Their foremost concern is to preserve their religion even at the expense of stifling the truth.
Messiah and Religion
Understanding the nature of religion, it is no surprise that he Messiah did not come on earth to start a religion. When he first came on the earth almost 2000 years ago, he was constantly at war with established religion (Pharisees and Saducees).
Their practices he called traditions of men (Matt 15:1-9) and these traditions were different from that which was in scriptures. They added to the word. They held their belief as true, as the standard for everyone to follow.
Matt 16:6 Then Yahushua said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Messiah Came to Show Us The Way
Contrary to what most think, the Messiah came to show us the way, not religion. “The way” means there is ONLY ONE WAY.
Yahushua saith unto him, I am THE WAY, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
He did not say Judaism is the way or Christianity is the way, he said HE is the way. It is only through him, through following HIS commands and examples that we will find our way to the Father and in the end, eternal life.
The Way: Abide in Me
This is summarized in this discourse encouraging us to abide in him:
Joh 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
So we can bear no fruit (fruit of the Spirit?) unless we abide in him. It is not about the “church,” it is whether we abide in him.
What Does it Mean to Abide in Him?
Now very importantly, what does it mean to abide in him?
1 John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
Abiding in him means walking as he walked. And how did he walk?
John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
He walked by keeping his Father’s commandments and most importantly, he did not sin:
1 Pet 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
Which brings us to another manifestation of us abiding in the Messiah, which is:
1 Jn 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
How often have we heard the religious say that we must sin, there is none righteous so we have to sin? We are not perfect, we have to sin?
Abiding in Messiah means living a life without sin. That is what 1 John 3:6 says. Of course IF any man sin, he has an advocate in Yahushua HaMashiach the righteous (1 John 2:1).
Abiding in the Way
So now we can summarize what it means to abide in the Messiah, what it means to follow the way. It means walking as the Messiah walked, in holiness, in obedience to both the Messiah’s commandments and the Father’s commandments. It means living a sinless life.
Compare that with religion. Following religion is walking under the instructions of a religious institution or order as the way to eternal life. It does not necessarily mean you are following the Messiah.
What if We Don’t Abide in Him?
If we don’t abide in him, firstly, we can do nothing.
John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
But it gets worse.
John 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
If we do not abide in him, we are rejects. Withered means dead. We are then only fit to be burnt in the fire.
Abiding in a False Messiah?
Note also, that he way is through the Messiah, but if we follow a false Messiah, then we cannot find the right way! Bear in mind that false Messiahs are created to serve false belief systems. A false Messiah will therefore lead you straight to a false religion.
The Messiah warned us in Matthew 24:
Mat 24:4-5 And Yahushua answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Mashiach; and shall deceive many.
Religion vs the Way
Now here are just some of the differences between followers of the Judeo/Christian religious denominations and the way. Of course, not all characteristics refer to all religious denominations.
There is no competition. Follow the way to eternal life (John 14:6); follow religion to eternal damnation (John 15:6).
Fleeing Religion to Follow the Way!
So now that we have identified that religion is NOT the way, but is the narrow gate to destruction (Mat 7:13), we now have to ensure that we find the FIND THE RIGHT WAY!
The very nature of Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) lets us know that we should follow the way and not religion. We have to be led by the Ruach and not by ourselves (Gal 5:16). That can only happen if we surrender ourselves, even our old religious selves so we can be led into ALL TRUTH (John 16:13).
Indeed, the Mashiach told Nicodemus that he MUST BE BORN AGAIN (John 3:3-8). Nicodemus was a Pharisee (religious) and the Messiah told him that if he wanted to enter the kingdom of YHWH, he must be born again.
This means dying to the old religious self and walking in obedience to the Ruach (Eph 4:22). It means a firm decision to reject any religious organization of which we are members if they teach against the way.
2Co 6:14 – 18 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
And what concord hath Mashiach with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
And what agreement hath the temple of YHWH with idols? for ye are the temple of the living Elohiym; as YHWH hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their Elohiym, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith YHWH, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith El Shaddai.
Do You Follow Religion or The Way?
Most Christian organizations do NOT follow the true Messiah (the way) of the Bible. To find out if you or your assembly is following the true Messiah of the Bible, take a look at 10 Teachings of the Biblical Messiah That Reveal the True Messiah of the Bible. You may also want to look at 10 Characteristics of the True Messiah.