|Which Religion is True?|
Many religious sects today are claiming their exclusive right to Heaven. For fear that they may be shut out from God's kingdom, some people join these groups to take their chance.
Amidst the proliferation of sects telling different versions of the Gospel, how can we know which one is teaching the truth? First of all, it must be said that none of these sects will bring us to Heaven. Only through Jesus Christ can we avail of "our citizenship in heaven" (Philippians 3:20). The apostle John explained that Jesus became the atoning sacrifice not only for the sins of a few, "but also for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2).
Jesus Christ offers this citizenship to anybody who is willing to allow Him in. "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne" (Revelation 3: 20-21).
Not all people are willing to accept this Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). Many religious leaders distort the Gospel to agree to their own teachings for several reasons. "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit up their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
There are those who teach false doctrines and those who devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies (1 Timothy 1:3). There are also those who distort the Word of God (2 Corinthians 4:2) and peddle the Word of God for profit (2 Corinthians 2:17). And there are those who rely on their own wisdom.
The apostle Paul preached "not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power" (1 Corinthians 2:4). Paul warned against relying on our own strength for God's ministry. God's work is by faith (1 Timothy 1:4) and not through our abilities.
How can we know if these religious leaders peddle lies? One way is to watch their motives and actions, for what the Gospel teaches is righteousness. "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." (James 3:17)
As a general rule, we can avoid false doctrines by not going beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6).
Fourteen questions can be used as a guide to determine whether a doctrine diverts from the Word of God. (The Bible provides the complete guidelines.)
1. Does it manifest the glory of Jesus Christ as the Son of God?
The apostle John, in explaining why he wrote his book, said: "these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:31).
Paul: "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Paul: "My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely: Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).
2. Does it manifest the love of God? (John 13:34-35)
Jesus Christ: "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35).
John: "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love" (1 John 4:7-8).
John: "This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loves us and sent His son as atoning sacrifice for our sins" (I John 4:9-10).
John: "If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have no love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have a faith that can move mountains but have no love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have no love, I gain nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
John: "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers" (I John 3:14).
3. Does it manifest the holiness of God?
Paul: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
Paul: "It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God - that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (I Corinthian 1:30).
Paul: "Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace" (2 Corinthians 1:12).
4. Does it manifest the power of God?
Paul: "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power" (1 Corinthians 4:20).
Paul: "Remember this: For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength" (I Corinthian 1:25).
5. Does it manifest the wisdom of God?
Paul: "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (I Corinthians 1:21-24).
Paul: "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Corinthian 2:12-14).
6. Does it manifest the grace of God?
Paul: "In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will - to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves" (Ephesians 1:5-6).
Paul: "Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:4-5).
Paul: "He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy" (Titus 3:5 in part).
7. Does it manifest the fruits of the Holy Spirit?
Paul: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22).
8. Does it manifest the transforming power of God?
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17)!
9. Does it manifest faith as basis of salvation?
John: "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12).
Paul: "For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (Galatians 5:6).
Paul: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
10. Does it warn against sin?
Paul: "There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them" (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
Paul: "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God. Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10).
Paul: "He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power" (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
11. Does it command obedience to God?
Jesus Christ: "If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching" (John 14:23-24).
John: "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. This is love for God: to obey His commands" (1 John 5:1-3).
John: "We know that we have come to know him if we obey His commands. The man who says, "I know Him," but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in Him. This is how we know we are in Him. Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did" (1 John 2:3).
John: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity in him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth" (I John 3:16-18).
12. Does it endorse spiritual maturity among believers?
Paul: "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).
Paul: "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers" (1 Timothy 4:16).
Paul: "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).
13. Does it exhort believers to share the Gospel with others?
Jesus Christ: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).
Paul: "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him" (2 Corinthians 2:14).
14. Does it express joy in waiting for the Lord?
Paul: "Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God" (1 Corinthians 4:5).
"Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him" (Hebrews 9:27-28).
Paul: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Jesus Christ says: "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne" (Revelation 3: 20-21).
If you have not yet accepted the love of God in Jesus Christ His Son, we invite you to open your heart, confess that you are a sinner and receive His gift of salvation. Below is a suggested prayer:
God, the most high, I praise You with all my heart. Forgive me, Lord, for the sins I have committed against You and the people around me. I confess that I am a sinner and could not do anything by myself to reach your righteousness. I am humbled by Your love. Though I deserve death, You love me so much that You sent Your Son Jesus Christ to die for my sins instead. From now on, I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and claim the salvation that He offers to me. I allow Him to dwell in me, so that I will always keep Your decrees in my heart. Let me live as a new creation, with love in my heart. Let me love with actions and in truth, as Jesus Christ loves us, to the glory of God in the highest. Amen!
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