Thursday, April 12, 2012
Depending on Church or Religion?
It is a sad and shocking fact that many religious people are in Hell. Remember that there are many religions besides the true religion of Jesus Christ. Religion is no guarantee of salvation. The Pharisees were religious but they crucified Christ. They were wicked in their hearts though outwardly they appeared to men to be righteous. Remember that Cain was religious. He offered sacrifices, but God was not pleased with them. He prayed, but God did not hear favorably. So Christian Science, so-called, is a religion - a religion without confession of sin, a religion without blood atonement, a religion without the new birth. So Spiritualism is a religion a false religion, putting people at the mercy, often, of evil spirits. Many Catholics are very religious and very devout, but know nothing about peace in heart and the new birth. Some Catholics surely, we believe, have trusted in Christ alone for salvation, but how many there are who bow before idols and depend upon the church and its ordinances, on confession, on the prayers, on the intercession of Mary and the saints and of masses said by the priests! Clearly, one can be very religious but be utterly lost. Those who say, "Lord, Lord, open unto us," will be very religious, but religion does not keep people out of Hell. Saying prayers, going to church, giving money, being baptized, observing the Lord's supper - these are religious exercises but they do not save the soul.
It is a part of man's wicked self-righteousness to look to human ceremonies for salvation instead of to the blood of Christ alone. Man depends upon self - something he can do, something he can buy, something he can earn for salvation instead of depending upon the mercy of a great God who loves sinners.
You remember that Cain brought an offering, but it was an offering of the fruits of the ground, an offering after his own choice and not after God's choice. It had no blood in it. Cain did not believe in the blood atonement of Christ. He had no faith in God's Lamb who would take away the sin of the world. He is a type of all those religious men who depend upon religious ceremonies to save them, though their hearts are still black, and their sins are still unforgiven.
You say "But I was baptized." And what if you were? If you depended , upon baptism, you went down into the water a dry sinner, and came up a wet sinner. The water does not change the heart. Water will not save - it takes blood! Perhaps you were sprinkled as a baby, and someone else took your vows for you. Do you believe that could change the nature of your heart with all its inherent taint of sin? As a baby you were kept safe by God's mercy, but when you became an accountable sinner, you were lost, and nothing but the blood of Christ can save you. It may be that you were confirmed. It may be that some preacher or priest told you that your sins were forgiven. But I tell you now earnestly and prayerfully that you need more than the word of any man for this. You need the absolute certainty of God's own Word and the sweet assurance of the Holy Spirit within.
Someone else tells me, "Well, I am a Mason. If a man lives up to the rules of Masonry, he will get by." That is what Masonry tells you, but Masonry is a false religion. It teaches men they can save themselves by good deeds, but the Bible says, "Without shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb.9:22). Peter said in Acts 4:12, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Doubtless there are multiplied thousands of lodge members in Hell. They may have been honest lodge members, moral and upright lodge members, but if they depended upon their lodge to save them, or their own good deeds, their works of righteousness, then they were utterly lost. I say to you again that not those who say, "Lord, Lord," will enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but those that do the will of the Father about salvation, that is, those who trust in Jesus Christ, God's Son whom He has sent into this world to save sinners.
From the Sermon "Religious but Lost" by John R. Rice