Christianity Is a Religion

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Gimme That Old-Time Religion

Christianity Is a Religion

by

Karen Pansler Lam, J.D.

 

Modern Christians declare Christianity is not a religion – it’s a personal relationship with God.

So, what they’re saying is that for over 2000 years the church was wrong to call Christianity a religion.

And what they’re saying is the godly Bible commentator Matthew Henry and the writers of The Pulpit Commentary and all ministers for over 2000 years were wrong to call Christianity a religion.

And what they’re saying is the Bible is a lie…

If any man among you seem to be religious,
and bridleth not his tongue,
but deceiveth his own heart,
this man’s religion is vain.
James 1:26

So, after 2000 years, what brought about this radical revolution to call Christianity a “relationship,” not a religion?

It started years ago with a false prophecy that God is dissatisfied with old-time religion and wants to do a “new thing” because old-time religion is old-fashioned. This “new thing” is a special revelation to modern prophets who declare that God has told them to overthrow the established Old Church Order and replace it with the New Church Order. Among other things, the New Church Order must offer unholy worship pleasing to sinners instead of holy worship pleasing to God.  And Christianity must be denounced as a religion and humanized as a “relationship.”

Frankly, I’m sick of hearing it: “Christianity is not a religion – it’s a relationship.” But is it true?

 

Definition of Religion

Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language defines “religion”:

1. Religion, in its most comprehensive sense, includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of his will to man, in man’s obligation to obey his commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man’s accountableness to God; and also true godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties. It therefore comprehends theology, as a system of doctrines or principles, as well as practical piety; for the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion.

Let's look at this briefly...

Modern Christianity does not believe in “man’s obligation to obey his commands.” It preaches we’re no longer under the Law.

Modern Christianity does not believe “in a state of reward and punishment.” It preaches, “My God is a loving god who wouldn’t send anyone to hell.” They believe in heaven, but refuse to believe in hell. They worship a god they have created in their imagination.

Modern Christianity does not believe in “man’s accountableness to God.” It preaches “nobody’s perfect” and we’re all under grace.

Modern Christianity does not believe in “true godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties.” It preaches “don’t judge” and denounces holiness as self-righteousness.

And modern Christianity does not believe in “a system of doctrines or principles.” It declares “doctrine doesn’t matter” and “doctrine divides.”

Webster explains: “It therefore comprehends theology, as a system of doctrines or principles, as well as practical piety; for the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion.”

So…

No doctrines and no moral duty to obey God’s will or commands is not religion.

Therefore, according to Noah Webster’s standard definition of religion, modern Christianity is not a religion.

 

Characteristics of True Religion

Modern Christianity is not a religion because it does not meet the standard definition of “religion.” But does it have the characteristics of religion – true religion? Let’s look at the basic characteristics of true religion.

The Sacred. True religion distinguishes the sacred from the profane. A true church is holy, for it is set apart and sanctified by Christ. It is consecrated by the nature of its worship. In other words, the church is not worldly. True religion understands God commands reverence in His sanctuary.

Ye shall keep my sabbaths,
and reverence my sanctuary:
I am the Lord.

Leviticus 19:30

And Jesus said…

It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer;
but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Matthew 21:13

True religion offers holy worship to a holy God.

A true church understands that true Christians do not offer unholy worship to a holy God.

But modern Christianity worships worldly worship. The worship is “awesome”: “Christian” rock ‘n’ roll, color strobe lights and other characteristics of a psychedelic experience. The worship is to please worldly men, not a holy God. There is no sacred worship in the modern church.

Salvation. True religion exists for the purpose of salvation.

Webster defines “salvation”:

SALVATION Appropriately in theology, the redemption of man from the bondage of sin and liability to eternal death, and the conferring on him everlasting happiness. This is the great salvation. Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation. 2 Cor. vii.

True religion preaches repentance and sanctification that leads to salvation: God hath chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the Truth. If you’re not sanctified, then you’re not saved.

And that is why God sent His only Son “for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). If we repent, then He will cleanse us from all our sin and remember them no more. And with the power of the Holy Spirit, we will live in righteousness and holiness. We are sanctified unto obedience.

But modern Christianity preaches a false gospel of salvation without repentance and sanctification. The only requirement is that if you profess with your lips that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, then you’re eternally saved. That’s all you have to do. There is no repentance. There is no sanctification. There is no obedience.

Duty. True religion teaches us the importance of our duties to God, family, friends, and others.

But modern Christianity exists for the purpose of “relationships” between man and God, and human relationships.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (1980) defines “relationship”: 1. The condition or fact of being related. 2. Connection by blood or marriage; kinship.

The word “relationship” does not mean how we act toward God and others. “Relationship” is psychobabble to replace the word “duty.” Modern Christians denounce duty as enslavement. Under the banner of freedom and grace, they rebel against their moral obligations to God and authority, including church authority; and rebel against their moral obligations to others.

But the truth is we have duties…

Obedience, respect and kindness to parents are duties of children.

Loyalty to friends is a duty.

Reverence, obedience and prayer to God are indispensable duties.

Religious instruction of children is the duty of parents.

Love between husband and wife is a duty.

...And so forth.

But modern Christians erase the word “duty” from their vocabulary and substitute “relationship” so there is no moral obligation to do your duty. In a relationship, you can act according to your own terms. 

But the Bible expressly states the whole duty of man is to fear God, and keep His commandments.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God, and keep his commandments:
for this is the whole duty of man.

For God shall bring every work into judgment,
with every secret thing,
whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:13,14

Under the Old Covenant, the Ten Commandments explain our duties to God and man.

And under the New Covenant, Jesus condenses the Ten Commandments into two. These two commandments echo the Ten Commandments.

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul,
and with all thy mind,
 and with all thy strength:
this is the first commandment.

And the second is like, namely this,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
There is none other commandment greater than these.
Mark 12:30, 31

Again, true religion teaches us the importance of our duties to God, family, friends, and others. They are not negotiable.

Creation. True religion believes the Biblical account of the Creation. But modern Christianity embraces the false theory of evolutionism. Evolutionism denies the acts of creation by God.

The Divine Institution of the Church. True religion believes the church is a divine institution established by God with the sole mission to preach and teach the Gospel of salvation, and disciple those who choose to follow Him. The purpose of the church is to disciple Christians so they might be “filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9). In other words, the church is to preach sound doctrine so that Christians increase in the knowledge of God. And the church is to prepare Christians to evangelize and convert sinners and bring them into the church for discipleship. Of course, the true Church is the universal body of believers in Christ. The body of Christ is in a covenant with God; they are in the world but not of it. But the church as an institution is the band of teachers, preachers, and lay persons charged with the responsibility of spreading the Gospel.

But modern Christianity feels the church is in the business of fostering relationships. Modern churches welcome sinners into the congregation so they can “connect” with them and hopefully persuade them to join the church. Therefore, they don’t preach doctrine and they don’t sing doctrinal and sacred hymns because they don’t want to offend anyone. They are not building the Kingdom of God on earth; they are in the business of building church membership by offering a worldly church. And the more members in the chairs, the more money in the church treasury. The modern church is all about numbers: a large number of members equals a large dollar amount in the treasury. Modern church officials are greedy dogs who can never have enough.

The Holy Bible is Truth. True religion believes the Bible is the sole authority which reveals God and His gracious dealings personally to the believing reader or hearer. The sacred Scriptures teach the way of salvation and all Truth. Church creeds, official statements by church leaders, and other manmade doctrines are not authoritative. The way to know the Truth is Scripture alone. All preaching and teaching must be based on Scripture and given the true interpretation – not a politically correct interpretation corrupting the Bible into a humanist manifesto on relationships.

But modern Christianity denies there is Truth. They hate Biblical truths and all truth. To them the old-time religion is a lie, but the “new thing” of relationships is truth. They rebel against the old-time religion and protest that Christianity is evolving. They claim that after 2000 years God has given modern prophets new truth that demands we reinterpret the Bible as a philosophical and psychological manual on relationships. In other words, we have evolved into the age of great spiritual enlightenment: Christianity is all about “relationships.” As one false prophet pompously proclaimed, “After 2000 years, WE finally got Christianity right.” They are under a great delusion and are damned because they believe not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:11,12).

And modern Christianity is experiential. Your spiritual experience supersedes the authority of the Bible. You don’t have to know the Bible; you can know God through your own personal experiences.

Heaven and Hell. True religion believes that those who follow Christ will be rewarded with a heavenly home: the wicked will be condemned to hell, the place of punishment after death.

Of course, modern Christianity believes in heaven, but denies the existence of hell, or that God will send anyone there. “My God is a loving god,” is often used to promote universal salvation. They have become vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart is darkened. They have created a god in their own image.

So…

When we look at the characteristics of true religion, modern Christians are right – modern Christianity is not a religion. But is it Christianity? And are they Christians?

 

Definition of Christianity and Christian

So, what is Christianity?

According to Noah Webster…

CHRISTIANITY, n. [see Christian, from Christ.] The religion of Christians; or the system of doctrines and precepts taught by Christ, and recorded by the evangelists and apostles.

Well, modern Christianity denies it's a religion; or rejects Christ’s doctrines and commandments. It declares “doctrine divides” and throws out Bible doctrine. Then it preaches its own manmade doctrine of “doctrine doesn’t matter.”

Therefore, modern Christianity is not Christianity.

Are those who reject Christianity as a religion really Christians?

CHRISTIAN A real disciple of Christ; one who believes in the truth of the Christian religion, and studies to follow the example, and obey the precepts of Christ; a believer in Christ who is characterized by real piety.

Modern Christians believe in some of the truth of the Christian religion (the promises but not the punishments), but they don’t study and obey the commandments of Christ because they insist we are no longer under the Law. It’s true, we’re no longer under ceremonial law, however, we’re still under moral law. And they are not characterized by real piety. Piety is another word for holiness. Holiness is purity of heart. Modern Christianity ridicules Christians who strive for holiness as holier-than-thou; it ridicules those who strive to obey God’s command to “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).

So, according to the definition of Christianity, modern Christianity is not Christianity. 

And according to the definition of Christian, modern Christians are not Christians.

 

What Does the Bible Say: Religion or Relationship?

For over 2000 years, writers of dictionaries and encyclopedias and other reference books – both secular and religious – have called Christianity a religion. And for over 2000 years, ministers and saints of the church have called Christianity a religion. Now, modern Christians refute this. They claim it’s a relationship.

What does the authoritative Word of God say?

If any man among you seem to be religious,
and bridleth not his tongue,
but deceiveth his own heart,
this man’s
religion is vain.
James 1:26

Notice that James, the brother of our Lord, does not write “this man’s personal relationship with God” is vain. He writes “this man’s religion is vain.”

And notice that James uses the words “religious” and “religion.” The word “religious” comes from “religion.”

This verse is not just talking about sins of the tongue such as lying, gossip, slander, swearing, filthy conversation, and so forth. It also describes the modern Christian. He seems to be religious: uses some Christian terminology (grace, blessings, heaven, and other words of promise), goes to church, and so forth. He has a form of godliness, but not the power. In other words, he denies the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. He pretends to love God while ridiculing those who preach and live the old-time religion of holiness. He loves to run down the glories of the Old Church in order to build-up the New Church. For example, one televangelist quipped, “I’m tiring of hearing about the church of the past. I want to create a new church.” And he went on and on wickedly denouncing the Old Church of holiness. This is the vanity of the New Church. They believe man knows better than God, and will build their church with a purpose-driven plan. Instead of a Spirit-led church, they demand a man-led church.

God’s holy Word says, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.”

If God’s holy Word calls Christianity religion, then it’s good enough for me.

Gimme that old-time religion.

 

The Old Covenant and the New Covenant

Briefly…

Religion under the Old Covenant, recorded in the Old Testament, was the covenant of the moral law – the Ten Commandments. It was a covenant between God and the nation of Israel.

And he took the book of the covenant,
and read in the audience of the people:
and they said,
All that the Lord hath said will we do,
and be obedient.

And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said,
Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made
with you concerning all these words.
Exodus 24:7,8

And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant,
the ten commandments.
Exodus 34:28

The Ten Commandments and other laws and ordinances given by God to the Israelites was a solemn conditional covenant between God and Israel. The covenant required them to perform their main duties towards God first, and then towards man.

Moses told the people all the words of the Lord and the people unanimously consented to the terms proposed, without reservation or exception: “All the words which the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” 

What was the intent of the covenant with Israel? God Himself clearly stated the intent, “Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.”

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel,
and say unto them,
Ye shall be holy:
for I the Lord your God am holy.
Leviticus 19:1,2

The covenant required that Israel be a holy people, because the God of Israel is a holy God. If they obey God, then He will bless them.

The New Covenant, recorded in the New Testament, is the covenant of grace for man’s salvation (Hebrews 8:6; 9:15; 12:24; 13:20,21). The covenant of grace is that by which God bestows salvation on man, upon the condition that man shall believe in Christ and obey all the terms of the Gospel. Hence, Christianity is a conditional covenant between God and man. The covenant is made between God and each individual believer. The New Testament states the conditions of the covenant...

Be ye holy; for I am holy.
1 Peter 1:16

So, the Old Covenant commanded holiness: “Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy” and the New Covenant commands holiness: “Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

What is the Law of holiness? To be sanctified or separated from the world and worldliness – to be God’s holy people.

Under the Old Covenant…

And ye shall be holy unto me:
for I the Lord am holy,
and have severed you from other people,
that ye should be mine.
Leviticus 20:26

For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God,
and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself,
above all the nations that are upon the earth.
Deuteronomy 14:2

God desired that Israel was known to be a holy and wise and understanding people. Therefore, they were not to corrupt themselves and must separate from the pagans and pagan ways.

And this is echoed in the New Covenant…

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 Christ with Belial?
or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?
for ye are the temple of the living God;
as God hath said,
I will dwell in them, and walk in them;
and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Wherefore come out from among them,
and be ye separate, saith the Lord, 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 the Lord Almighty.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Here is our relation to God – not a relationship with God. If we separate ourselves from the world and separate from sin, then God will be a Father unto us, and we will be His sons and daughters. If we are obedient to God, then God will be a Father to us. We show our love of God by obedience to God, and songs of praise to God.

And so what is our relation to Jesus Christ?  The sanctified are His brethren.

For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one:
for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.
Hebrew 2:11

Matthew Henry explains that true believers and Christ are brethren:

II. He shows how much they would be benefited by the cross and sufferings of Christ as there was nothing unbecoming God and Christ, so there was that which would be very beneficial to men, in these sufferings. Hereby they are brought into a near union with Christ, and into a very endearing relation.

1. Into a near union (Hebrews 2:11): Both he that sanctifieth and those that are sanctified are all of one. Observe, Christ is he that sanctifieth he has purchased and sent the sanctifying Spirit he is the head of all sanctifying influences. The Spirit sanctifieth as the Spirit of Christ. True believers are those who are sanctified, endowed with holy principles and powers, separated and set apart from mean and vile uses to high and holy uses and purposes for so they must be before they can be brought to glory. Now Christ, who is the agent in this work of sanctification, and Christians, who are the recipient subjects, are all of one. How? Why, (1.) They are all of one heavenly Father, and that is God. God is the Father of Christ by eternal generation and by miraculous conception, of Christians by adoption and regeneration. (2.) They are of one earthly father, Adam. Christ and believers have the same human nature. (3.) Of one spirit, one holy and heavenly disposition the same mind is in them that was in Christ, though not in the same measure the same Spirit informs and actuates the head and all the members.

2. Into an endearing relation. This results from the union.

(1.) He declares what this relation is: he and believers being all of one, he therefore is not ashamed to call them brethren. Observe, [1.] Christ and believers are brethren not only bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, but spirit of his spirit-brethren by the whole blood, in what is heavenly as well as in what is earthly. [2.] Christ is not ashamed to own this relation he is not ashamed to call them brethren, which is wonderful goodness and condescension in him, considering their meanness by nature and vileness by sin but he will never be ashamed of any who are not ashamed of him, and who take care not to be a shame and reproach to him and to themselves.
https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/hebrews/2.html

Jesus is not ashamed to call true believers brethren!

And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said,
Behold my mother and my brethren!
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven,
the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
Matthew 12:49,50

Blessed words!

Jesus Christ welcomes our love; He makes us His own, very close and very dear to Him; dear to Christ the Lord as brother, sister, mother, if only we do the heavenly Father’s will. This is our spiritual relationship to Christ, not “a relationship with Christ.” Only obedient sons and daughters are His true brethren. Obedience is the tie of kinship. It marks us as the family of God, of which Jesus is the elder Brother. Only by becoming brethren of Christ can we become children of God.

Those who do the will of the Father are nearest of kin to the Son. He is His Father’s Heir. Those who are the children of His Father are His co-heirs.

And if children, then heirs;
heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;
if so be that we suffer with him,
that we may be also glorified together.
Romans 8:17

If we are obedient children, then we are partakers of our Father’s goods because we are children by adoption. We are part of the family of God.

What a joy to have fellowship and communion with the Son and the family of God!

What a glorious promise!

My dear friend…

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved,
let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit,
perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
2 Corinthians 7:1

Yes, the old-time religion of holiness is full of glorious promises for true believers!

 

Gimme That Old-Time Religion

In the 1960s, hippies and liberal theologians declared, “God is dead.”

Today, wicked Evangelicals declare, “Religion is dead.” They declare Christianity is not a religion, it’s a personal relationship with God. And this relationship is unconditional. If we just say we believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, then we are unconditionally covered by His grace. There is absolute freedom from holiness and righteousness because these are religious beliefs that restrict our personal freedom. In a personal relationship with God, there is no moral law to obey because our relationship is a personal arrangement between us and God. They hate old-time religion. They lust after the "new thing" - the New Church Order.

But the New Church Order is right...

Modern Christianity is not a religion because it’s not Christianity – the one true and holy religion.  Modern Christianity is irreligion – contempt of religion.

And since modern Christianity is irreligion, then modern Christians are not Christians. They are irreligionists – despisers of religion.

And since modern Christians are irreligionists, then they are not part of the family of God. God is not a Father to them, and they are not His sons and daughters. And Jesus does not call them brethren. For only the sanctified are His brethren.

But the old-time religion teaches us the Truth...

If we are obedient children, then we are part of the family of God. And Christ is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters!

Hallelujah!

Gimme that old-time religion.

 


August 2019

Liberty Advocate
http://www.libertyadvocate.com/